I drew this little comic after observing many familias Latinas who love peluches (stuffed animals/plush toys), so much, that they display them proudly in the living room. Don’t pretend I’m making this up, gente. If you don’t do it, you know a Latino/a who does!

Escritura y Diferencias

September is a special month to me. It’s the month I started this blog last year, and though my husband and I met each other at the end of August all those years ago, September is when we became novios. And so today has me thinking about the early days, when we were new to each other, and I was still discovering all the little things about him that endeared him to me…

I first noticed my husband’s escritura, (handwriting) within minutes of meeting him. He gave me his name and phone number, and instead of the chicken-scratch I was used to seeing from American boys, I held in my hands something not only completely readable, but strangely intriguing.

Yes, after all these years, I still have it.

As novios, I looked forward to his love letters, not just for the words themselves, but the way in which they had been written – the form of each individual letter. Everything about him reminded me of how different we were, from our inability to communicate at times, (I read his love letters with an English-Spanish dictionary by my side), to something as simple as the way we write the letter “e”.

They say “love is blind”, and while I agree with the sentiment, it isn’t literally true. We saw our differences, and were fascinated by them.

Many handwriting experts claim you can’t tell a person’s ethnicity or nationality by their handwriting, but again, I say this isn’t true. (Link is to a PDF titled: “Spanish Handwriting And Spelling” – a document meant for non-native Spanish speakers deciphering Spanish documents to extract information. The fact that such a document exists proves that there are differences!)

Maybe it isn’t fool proof, but I’m able to pick out the handwriting of native born Salvadorans from that of U.S. born Americans. While I haven’t seen handwriting samples from all Latin American countries, everybody in my husband’s family – his mother, his sister, his brother, his cousins and uncles – even completely unrelated Salvadorans I’ve met, all have similarities in their handwriting. I can’t tell you if it’s a uniquely Salvadoran handwriting or a Spanish-speaking/Latin American way of writing, but it is different – and noticing a difference is not a bad thing.

In this politically correct world we’re admonished to look for the similarities, but I say go ahead and look for the differences, and celebrate them, because they’re beautiful.

My hands speak Spanish, too

The other day I took the niños to the pool. Usually I get out a few minutes before them and let them play a little longer. When it’s time to go, I wave them over, since they can’t hear me over all the noise of splashing and playing.

Well, as I waved them over this time, I stared at my hand in disbelief, because completely without my permission, my hand was speaking Spanish.

You see, you don’t actually have to open your mouth to speak Spanish. Different gestures mean different things in different cultures, and while there are many accepted ways to say “come here” for gringos, my hand waved my children over in latino “sign language”.

How NOT to order Pupusas

Last night Suegra made pupusas for dinner. We all sat down at the table and began to eat. I watched my oldest son pick one up in his hands and start munching on it as if it were a cookie.

This is not how you eat a pupusa and it annoyed me greatly. I instructed him to put it down on his plate, pull it open, and eat it with curtido* properly.

Being almost 12 years old, he rolled his eyes but did as I told him, all the while mumbling to himself, “I don’t even like curtido… cabbage and vinegar…two things I hate…especially vinegar…”

I told him that if he ever wanted to go back to visit El Salvador, (he only went once as an infant), he would have to eat pupusas properly or everyone would laugh at him. He considered this for a second and then said something that cemented in reality that he is irrevocably gringo in some ways:

“Well, if we go to a restaurant in El Salvador and we order pupusas, I can always order the curtido light on the vinegar, right?”

* Curtido in El Salvador is a lightly fermented cabbage salad which is served with pupusas. Curtido is made in large batches and kept in jars. It is not something that can be “made to order” under most circumstances.

The Campesino & the Gringo

This is a chiste I heard in Spanish, but with the chiste, I think is a valuable lesson. Here’s my approximate translation to Spanglish.

A group of gringos went on vacation to Mexico. Part of the package included a tour of a local farm. While on the tour, one of the gringos noticed a campesino. The campesino wiped the sweat from his forehead, went to the shade of a big tree, and sat down to rest. The gringo approached him saying:

Hola amigo, ¿Cómo estas?

Muy bien jefe, aquí descansando.

Tell me, why don’t you work more on your land?

¿Y para qué?

To have bigger crops and sell more.

¿Y para qué?

So you can make more money…and buy livestock!

¿Y para qué?

The livestock will reproduce, and you could sell them, and earn more money!

¿Y para qué?

So you could have a pretty house, live in peace and rest.

¿Y qué estoy haciendo?

Adiós conejitos

Last week we discovered a nest of bunnies in our yard. They were adorable all curled up inside the hole, but I decided to leave them alone and told everyone else to as well. Of course, Suegra never listens to me, so yesterday she went out to check on them only to find that all the little bunnies had gone.

Looking into the empty hole beneath the dry grass she commented, “Ya no hay… That mother rabbit must be American. She kicked her children out of the house already.”

¡Ask Señora López!

I have some very exciting news!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been in touch with George of Sofrito For Your Soul. I’ve been a long time fan of his website and when I saw their new “Ask a Latino” feature, I joked with George that if he ever wanted to do “Ask a Gringa”, I was his girl.

My little chiste turned to conversation of a real collaboration, and so we now have “Ask Señora López” which will appear over at Sofrito For Your Soul soon. I’m announcing it here so that we can start collecting questions.

As a bi-cultural person, I consider myself an ambassador, or liaison of sorts. I’ve had Anglos ask me questions about Latinos, and Latinos ask me questions about Anglos. I really love to be able to bridge any gaps in understanding, (and have a little fun at the same time!)

So, if you have a question, ask me! You can ask in English or Spanish, and you can remain anonymous. I look forward to hearing from you!

CLICK HERE to E-mail Señora López a question!