Lana del Rey – Is she Latina?

Apparently Lana del Rey is the hot thing right now, and her popularity began some time last year – but I had no clue who she was until a couple weeks ago.

I don’t listen to music in English even half as much as I listen to music in Spanish – so that might be why Lana flew under my radar for so long, and she would have continued to remain unknown to me if it weren’t for these terrible headaches I’ve been getting.

These particular headaches aren’t anything to fool around with – I can’t just take Tylenol and carry on as I usually do – and by “carry on as I usually do”, I mean playing Pitbull full blast for at least some portion of my day.

Well, I can’t manage with no music at all and so I decided I needed a temporary replacement for Pitbull, Reggaeton, Norteños, and all the other typically loud-ish music I listen to. One day, with a headache building, I flipped through the satellite radio channels and impatiently stopped on some sort of “coffeehouse” station – I ended up leaving it on the entire week. The music was calm, didn’t distract me from my work and some of the songs they repeated often began to grow on me.

Then one day, this song began to play and I stopped mid-typing, completely absorbed in the hauntingly beautiful music and the singer’s voice.

I rushed to find out the name of the singer and the song, which turned out to be “Video Games” by Lana del Rey. I laughed to myself, seeing the name. Leave it to me to find the only Latina on the coffeehouse station, but when I looked up the artist to find out more about her, I found a number of things I didn’t expect.

First of all, she’s highly controversial for a multitude of reasons. (See here, and here, and over here…Okay, and here too.)

The other thing I found out? While her exact heritage isn’t publicly known, Lana most likely isn’t Latina. Born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, her birth name suggests Anglo ancestry, (though one never knows whose hiding in the family tree.) The Spanish-sounding “Lana del Rey” is just a stage name which some say was concocted from the name of movie star Lana Turner and the Ford Del Rey automobile. Lana tells a different story…

“I wanted a name I could shape the music towards [...] I was going to Miami quite a lot at the time, speaking a lot of Spanish with my friends from Cuba – Lana Del Rey reminded us of the glamour of the seaside. It sounded gorgeous coming off the tip of the tongue.” – Source: Vogue magazine interview

Despite the various controversies over everything from her authenticity to her plump lips, I can’t help but like the girl based on her voice alone. As for Lana/Elizabeth using a Spanish name for her public persona, who am I to judge? If I hadn’t married a Mr. López, maybe I’d have changed my name to Tracy del Rey by now. Is it not one’s prerogative to call themselves whatever they please? What do you think?

Cinco de Yuca

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Tener el pelo largo significa que tengo que buscar formas creativas para atarme el pelo, especialmente en invierno cuándo mi pelo está mojado después de bañarme y me da frío sentirlo tocando mi piel. Usualmente hago un moño desordenado pero a veces trato algo diferente, incluyendo trenzas.

La única cosa es que Carlos se pone un poco raro conmigo cuando me ve con dos trenzas. Su rostro se ve como cuando nos conocimos, sus mejillas cambian a color rojo y sus ojos brillan. “Te ves tan bonita”, me dice, tirando las trenzas. Pensé que me veo un poco ridícula con trenzas. Yo ni siquiera salgo a la calle así, pero si Carlos le gusta, me decido a aceptar sus piropos.

El otro día, cuando tenía el pelo en dos trenzas, Carlos actuó de la misma manera, y luego me llamó su “cinco de yuca”.

“¿Cinco de yuca?” dije, “¿Qué es eso?

Carlos me enseño un video, “La Cinco de Yuca” por Los Caballeros del Sabor.

Ahora sé por qué se pone tan tontito sobre las trenzas!

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Having long hair means I have to find creative ways to tie it back, especially in winter when it’s wet from the shower and it makes me cold to feel it touch my skin. I usually do a messy bun but sometimes I try something different, including braids.

The only thing is that Carlos gets a little weird with me when I wear my hair in two braids. His face looks like when we first met, his cheeks turn red and his eyes sparkle. “You look so pretty,” he says, pulling my braids. I always thought I look a bit ridiculous with braids – I don’t even go out in public like that, but if Carlos likes it, I decided, I will accept his flirtations.

The other day, when I had my hair in two braids, Carlos acted the same as he’s been acting, but then he called me his “cinco de yuca.”

“Cinco de yuca?” I said, “What is that?

Carlos showed me a video, “La Cinco de Yuca” by Los Caballeros del Sabor.

Now I know why he gets so silly about the braids!

Cultura Latina in Gringo Music Videos

A screenshot of Sara Bareilles' video "Gonna Get Over You" which was shot in a Latino market.

This seems like a rather random category, and it isn’t one you’ll find on the Billboard Charts – but I can’t help but congratulate these gringos on adding a little sabor to their music videos.

Sara Bareilles – Gonna Get Over You: Not sure why everyone turns into 1950’s greasers in this video, but I love that it was filmed in a Latino market.

(Korean group) Mighty Mouth – LaLaLa: That’s right, even Asia can’t help but throw a fiesta.

Madonna – Take a Bow: Madonna who once played Eva Perón in the movie Evita, (“Don’t Cry for Me Argentina! The truth is I never left you!…”), is perhaps one of the first gringas to appreciate Latin American culture and use some Spanish in her music, (“La Isla Bonita” anyone?) … “Take a Bow” with the classic Spanish bullfighter is my favorite video by her though.

El Dusty AKA DJ DUS – K Le Pasa: I discovered this at Remezcla.com: This one is cheating. El Dusty isn’t a gringo, but the papel picado and the piñata are too much to pass up. I so want to party with these people.

Justin Timberlake – Señorita : I have mixed feelings for JT, kind of like I have for Pitbull. He’s clearly objectifying women… but damn he’s good. In this video he seduces several “señoritas.” While I love the hell out of this song, I actually don’t see a whole lot of Latin culture in the video unless you count the chicas not wearing pants, (one of them is wearing a serape!)… All my Latina friends totally dress like that by the way …{wink}

Can you think of any others? Add them in comments!

I’ve got some ‘splaning to do

I’m not usually chismosa but I admit it, yesterday I Googled “hijo de Espinoza Paz” … I was CURIOUS, okay? Just curious.

I respect Espinoza’s privacy and blah-blah-blah, but I just wanted to see the cute bebito. So here I am, innocently acting like a tabloid-crazed fan when I should be writing or folding laundry, and here are the Google Images search results I see for “hijo de Espinoza Paz” …

Santa. Mierda. That’s my younger son! The photo is from this post, which doesn’t even mention Espinoza Paz.

Anyway, I just wanted to head off any rumors.

#1. That cute polar bear/child is mine and Carlos’s.
#2. I’ve never even met Espinoza Paz, let alone…
#3. Even if I met Espinoza Paz I doubt he’s into chubby gringas.
#4. IF Espinoza Paz happened to have the same taste as Carlos and he let it be known to me I would say the following:

“I’m sorry, Espinoza, but it isn’t meant to be. I’m happily married. I’m sorry to break your heart, but maybe you can at least get a few good songs out of it? … Can we still be friends?… Actually, I can’t be friends either. You wrote that song ‘Amigos con Derecho’ so it won’t look right, plus my husband, (WHO I’M MADLY IN LOVE WITH), can be a little celoso. I should go… Espinoza, please. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.” {Pulls his hands off my ankle and walks away.}

Now all that’s left to do is hope Carlos doesn’t read this or I’ll end up on an episode of Maury. At least DNA test results would prove I’m telling the truth. Then I could get all up in his face, “I told you! I TOLD YOU!” … Then Maury would have our Polar Bear/Child brought out where we’d hug him together, Carlos would apologize for having ever doubted my fidelity and we’d live happily ever after.

Pero, sheesh, who would have ever thought Google Images could cause such drama?

JLo backs it up like a Tonka Truck for Pitbull

Last night my 13 year old interrupted my very impassioned rendition of Yertle the Turtle, which I was reading to his little brother before bedtime.

“Mommy! Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull just performed on the American Music Awards and it was nasty!”

“What do you mean nasty?”

“Jennifer Lopez was barely wearing anything, first of all.”

“Okay, not shocking.”

“No, but she like put her butt near Pitbull’s… you-know, and Pitbull looked like, all happy, of course.”

(The 10 year old giggles.)

I answered my 13 year old with something like, “Yeah? Well, you know how Pitbull is, honey,” and I went back to the story. I mean, it’s JLo and Pitbull. It’s the American Music Awards… what did he expect? We have these conversations often enough. I’ve told him, sex sells. I’ve told him that at some point very soon (if not already), he will find performances and images like these to be spectacular rather than “nasty.” I’ve told him that no matter how strong certain urges may be and despite what the culture says is appropriate – he should always treat women with respect.

Then this morning I came across a photo from the performance which he had described to me and it made me think.

(I can’t use the photo here since it’s owned by Getty Images. Click the link above to see the original. Here are some screenshots I took from video.)

J.Lo and Pitbull perform at the American Music Awards.Image is a screenshot taken from video.

J.Lo and Pitbull perform at the American Music Awards.Image is a screenshot taken from video

What can be said about these photos? I’ll admit that my first reaction was to laugh – (partly because it appears that Pitbull’s pants aren’t flat in the front and partly because I imagine Marc Anthony watching this from the sidelines.)

Look, total honesty here – I love both JLo and Pitbull. I listen to their music and think they are both talented individuals and exceptional entertainers. Pitbull is one of the very few artists that I’m willing to actually buy the album from, because I love every song and know I can dance through the entire CD from beginning to end. As a woman, I get kind of disgusted with the constant objectification of women in his music – but as a music lover, I can’t get enough. It’s a moral contradiction that I’m totally aware of.

After that initial amused reaction though, the photo also made me kind of sad. Here is JLo, one of the most successful Latinas in the world, bending over for Pitbull like an endless number of women have happily done for him before being tossed aside like used Kleenex.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a meaningless performance meant to entertain and nothing should be read into it. I know it was just a choreographed dance, a music awards moment that lasted for no more than 10 seconds and will ultimately be forgotten – but it just seems symbolic of how women, (Latina and otherwise), are viewed and consequently treated.

The cultural message: No matter how smart, how successful, how kind or talented you are, in the end, chicas, this is what you’re good for.

A peso for your thoughts, gente.

Related Link:

Latinaish.com – Autoestima

T-Pain Microphone – Giveaway!

Okay, if you don’t listen to hip-hop/rap/popular music, you might not know who T-Pain is – so let me introduce you.

This is a photo I took of T-Pain and Pitbull on the red carpet at the 2011 Latin Billboard Awards in Miami

T-Pain is an American hip-hop artist who developed a unique sound and style by consistently using and thus popularizing “auto tuning.” Auto-tuning is basically an audio process which corrects pitch. Auto-tune has taken a lot of criticism from musicians and music fans alike because when abused, it can make even a talentless average-sounding pop singer sound good. While that’s totally true, I think it has its place in the industry.

Here’s T-Pain singing with our favorite naughty Cubano, Pitbull, so you can hear the “T-Pain effect”:

As T-Pain grew in popularity so did auto-tuning. In response to that interest, T-Pain first created an i-phone app that let’s you play with the effect. If you don’t have an i-phone – no worries. Now T-Pain has also created an auto-tune microphone.

K-Mart is selling the microphone and featuring it as one of their “Fab 15 toys” for the holidays with Modern Family actor, Rico Rodriguez.

My boys and I got to play with this toy the past few days, (much to Carlos’s annoyance.) I’m actually impressed with the features. You can record with it, (3 minutes of recording time), and then upload it to the internet via a USB hidden in the bottom of the microphone. The microphone also has a headphone jack, MP3 input and 3 original beats to play around with. Chécalo:

Think it looks fun? You’re in luck – I am giving away one I Am T-Pain™ Mic! Check out the giveaway below!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

———————————————————————————————————————————–
THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. CONGRATS TO OUR WINNER: Denisse!
————————————————————————————————————————————

Prize description: “Experience the pop culture phenomenon of the T-Pain Effect™ with the I Am T-Pain™ Mic. Transform your voice into T-Pain’s style of singing with a press of a button. Sing to your favorite tracks, freestyle over exclusive beats, and upload beats from your computer to the mic. Record, save and share online with friends.” Approximate value: $39.99.

How to Enter:

Just leave a comment below telling me what song you’d want to sing into the microphone! (It doesn’t have to be a T-Pain song!) (Please read official rules below.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the company in charge of prize fulfillment. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 48 hours to respond. After 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between October 17th, 2011 through October 25th, 2011. Entries received after October 25th, 2011 at 11:59 pm, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Disclosure: I received this product for review purposes. No other compensation was given. As always, all opinions are my own.

Bilingual signs, accordions, botas picudas y más

I know that some people are totally against signs being put into any language other than English in the United States, but I think that most bilinguals would agree with me that it’s pretty awesome. It’s a learning opportunity, gente! Take advantage of it! Free mini-Spanish lessons in every aisle of K-Mart.

While I walked around admiring the new bilingual signs at our K-Mart, (which I love), I did catch a typo, though.

On some of the signs where they attempted to use the word “cuidado” (care), like this one for fabric care products – they had accidentally switched the “u” and “i” …Oops. I thought about letting management know but didn’t want to seem obnoxious, plus, what if it’s a nationwide typo? … I’ll send them an E-mail.

Other chévere things I spotted while out and about…

This accordion was at Goodwill – I wanted it, but I don’t have $200 and I don’t know how to play it, so that would be kind of pointless, unless I have a third kid, which I’m not going to do. (My oldest son plays trumpet and my younger son is learning to play violin. Carlos has a guitar he’s supposed to be learning to play… I’m trying to create my own personal mariachi group, but without a third child, I won’t be able to start a group to play me norteñas. Rayos.)

Anyway, a few weeks ago we went to eat lunch at a little local Mexican place which is kind of new. It’s not fancy and is privately owned. Its got the expected stereotypical Mexican decorations on the walls but the food is more authentic, there’s a TV that plays telenovelas that the women watch while they cook and the little kids of the employees run around freely in the dining room. It’s kind of nice and makes you feel like you’re eating at a friend’s house.

So while we were sitting there waiting for our food, some of the kids run by and go into the office to play. (They left the “office” door open and there’s actually a bed and a bunch of toys in there.) … While I was looking in that direction, I noticed the coat stand in the corner there. On top was one of the novelty sombreros, and hanging below that was one of the kids’ backpacks, (Washington Redskins themed.) … The symbolism, irony and clash of cultures existing there on that coat stand made me think.

This last photo is from just the other day. We were grocery shopping and while we were in the produce section, this group of Mexican guys walks past. Carlos was watching me so I looked down respectfully and didn’t flirt.

“Look!” Carlos whispered to me. Permission to look? Órale!
I looked up but was confused as to why Carlos wanted me to.
“The boots,” Carlos clarified, pointing with his chin.
“Oh! Botas picudas!”
“Okay, calm down,” Carlos said.

Apparently I had become too excited for his liking, I couldn’t take my eyes off the boots though.

“I wish I could take a photo,” I said wistfully.
Carlos examined an apple and ignored me.

I gauged Carlos’s mood carefully and decided to take a chance.
“Would it be weird if you asked one of them if I could take a photo of his boots?”

Carlos hesitated for a few seconds but before I knew it, he was leading me over to one of the guys who was putting tomatoes into a bag.

“Excuse me,” Carlos said in Spanish. “My wife likes your boots. Do you mind me asking where you got them?”

The guy seemed a little weirded out and kept looking at us funny. He looked over his shoulder, either looking for a hidden camera (or something worse), or perhaps trying to get his compañeros attention so they could come rescue him from the cuckoo Salvadoran guy and his gringa.

He told us where he bought them and that they cost him $300.

“They’re really nice,” Carlos lied, (because he hates botas picudas. He was only doing this for me.) “Do you think my wife could take a photo of your boots?”

The guy waited a second to see if Carlos was joking and then laughing nervously, nodded his head yes.

“Gracias! Son padrisimas!” I squealed with all the enthusiasm one might give to a movie star upon getting their autograph.

“Calm down,” Carlos reminded me.

“Okay,” I said, kissing him on the cheek. “Thanks, nene.”

I always say that he’s lucky to have me because I put up with his hot temper and celos … but I’m lucky to have someone who puts up with my locuras, too.

El Grito de México en Washington D.C.

[Today is Spanish Friday so this post will be in Spanish. For an English translation, please scroll down. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, please leave your link in comments!]

Anoche fui a una celebracion por el aniversario de la independencia de México. El evento estaba en un edificio bien bonito cerca del Washington Monument en Washington, D.C., que se llama The Organization of American States.

Primero, comímos. (¡Claro!) Había…

Ceviche y burrititos.

Guacamole.

Tamalitos, chiles rellenos con atún cubiertos en semillas de granada, y diferentes tipos de empanaditas.

De tomar había…

Un montón de cerveza, tragitos de tequila y más – pero mi esposo Carlos (quién no fue al evento), me dijo que tengo que portarme bien. Entonces, sólo tome unos vasos de horchata.

Tuve el placer de conocer a el embajador de México y su esposa.

El embajador de México y su esposa (izquierda)

También tuve una charla con la madre del embajador involuntariamente. La manera en cómo paso fue que había una dama cerca de mí, que se parecía mucho a mi maestra de español en la escuela. Como Washington D.C. no es muy lejos de mi antigua escuela y este evento era sobre México y en español, yo pense que era posible podria se mi maestra.

Bueno, busque el coraje de preguntarle y la tocque en el brazo.
“Disculpe,” dije, “Su apellido no es S———, verdad?”
“No,” me dijo la dama, sonriendo amablemente.
“Oh, perdón. Usted parece a una maestra que tenía yo.”
“No pasa nada,” ella dijo graciosamente, tocando mi brazo, “Soy la mamá de el embajador.”
Casi me muero allí mismo. De todas las personas en esa gran sala, me encontré con la madre de el embajador!
“Oh!” dije yo, cuando encontré mi voz otra vez, “Mucho gusto.”
Ella seguía sonriendo y dijo “pero, soy maestra también.”
“Entonces,” dije, “Yo no estaba totalmente equivocada!”

En cuanto el evento, fue muy divertido.

Había música del “Trío Anaya.”

Me encanta la canción Cielito Lindo.

y había música de Mariachi – “Los Amigos.”

Aquí estoy portandome bien, aunque había tequila y mariachi. (Si no lo crees preguntale a mi amiga bloguera, Mariana. Ella estaba conmigo todo el tiempo! También conocí a Kety Esquivel y otra bloguera que se llama Julie. Todas eran muy amables!)

Miramos este video sobre México que era super bello:

Y claro, había la ceremonia del Grito.

“Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz.” – Benito Juárez

Mi agradecimiento especial a: The Ambassador of Mexico, Arturo Sarukhan and Mrs. Veronica Valencia-Sarukhan, The Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS Joel Hernández and Mrs. Socorro Flores, The Mexican Embassy, The Organization of American States, and Kety Esquivel for the invitation.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Last night I went to the celebration of the Anniversary of the Independence of Mexico. The event was at a really beautiful building near the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. that is called The Organization of American States.

First we ate. (Of course!) There was…

Ceviche and little burritos.

Guacamole.

Little tamales, chiles stuffed with tuna and covered in pomegranate seeds, and different kinds of little empanadas.

To drink there was…

A whole lot of beer, shots of tequila and more – but Carlos told me I had to behave so I only drank horchata.

I had the pleasure of meeting the ambassador to Mexico and his wife.

I also involuntarily had a chat with the ambassador’s mother. What happened was that there was a lady standing near me and she looked a lot like my high school Spanish teacher. Since Washington DC isn’t very far from my old school and this was an event about Mexico and in Spanish, I thought it could very possibly be my teacher.

Well, I found the courage to ask and touched the woman on her arm.
“Excuse me,” I said, “Your surname isn’t S———, is it?”
“No,” the lady said, smiling kindly.
“Oh, pardon me. You look like a teacher I had.”
“No harm done,” she said graciously, touching my arm, “I’m the mother of the ambassador.”
I almost died right there. Of all the people in that big hall, I found the ambassador’s mother!
“Oh!” I said, when I found my voice again, “Nice to meet you.”
She kept smiling, “But, I’m also a teacher.”
“Well then,” I said, “I wasn’t totally wrong!”

As for the event, it was really fun.

There was music by “Trío Anaya.”

I love the song Cielito Lindo.

And there was Mariachi music by “Los Amigos.”

Here I am behaving very well, even though there was tequila and mariachi. (If you don’t believe it, ask my blogger friend, Mariana. She was with me the whole time! I also got to meet Kety Esquivel and another blogger named Julie. All were very nice!)

We watched this video about Mexico that was super pretty.

And of course there was the ceremony for El Grito.

“Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.” – Benito Juárez

A special thanks to The Ambassador of Mexico, Arturo Sarukhan and Mrs. Veronica Valencia-Sarukhan, The Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS Joel Hernández and Mrs. Socorro Flores, The Mexican Embassy, The Organization of American States, and Kety Esquivel for the invitation.

El Salvador – The Mariachi Story

We went up into the mountains to a place near Parque Balboa in Planes de Renderos because we heard there was a good pupusería up there. Abbi Pupusería is located up the street from a scenic view called El Mirador and was once host to the making of the biggest pupusa which occurs each year on National Pupusa Day.

This is also where I had a humiliating run-in with mariachi that marked me as an obvious tourist in front of dozens of people.

Our driver parked his car in the tiny parking lot, aided by an energetic attendant who seemed to really love his job, directing traffic and fitting the patrons’ vehicles together in an impossible jigsaw puzzle that only he knew how to deconstruct when someone wanted to leave.

We invited our driver to come eat with us because he had become a good friend, and we lined up to order our pupusas. For myself, I ordered two revueltas – one cooked in the traditional corn masa, and another “de arroz” – which I’ve been wanting to try for years.

We chose a seat on the sheltered patio at one of the long, heavy wooden tables with benches and we sat down to wait. The restaurant was really busy – almost every table was full of people either eating or waiting to eat and the atmosphere was really festive. Sitting there that evening in the cool mountain air heavy with the scent of pupusas, everything felt kind of perfect… but that didn’t last very long.

Lost in my own thoughts, Carlos touched my arm and pointed out across the patio to men with instruments in hot pink shirts. “Tracy, mariachi,” he said.

Before Carlos could stop me, I had grabbed my camera and run off to get a good shot. I heard him calling over the noise of the other patrons, “Wait! Wait!” but wait for what? I didn’t want to miss getting a photo of mariachi and decided I’d find out what he wanted when I came back.

The mariachi were playing a song when I sat down right in front of them. While I usually try to be unintrusive when taking photos, I figured these are performers, entertainers – they should love to have their photo taken – so I snapped several photos of them before putting my camera away. To be polite, I stayed until they finished the song. As they finished the song, before I had a chance to go back to my table, they started talking to each other about me.

“Esa mujer sí es bonita,” one said.
“Mira los ojos bien chulos,” another responded.

The lead singer approached me, “Veinte dolares, cuatro canciones,” he said.
I told him I didn’t have money. He smiled and shook his head like I was the cutest little liar he ever saw.
“Veinte dolares, cuatro canciones,” he repeated.
I told him again, seriously, I don’t have money. (And I honestly didn’t. Carlos had all the money.)

At this point my youngest son came up beside me.
“Este es mi cipote,” I said, hoping to change the conversation.
The mariachi said nothing.
“Okay… gracias,” I said getting up and grabbing my son. “Let’s go back to the table, hurry up, come on,” I said to him out the side of my mouth.

The mariachi all started chanting, “Siguela, siguela, siguela” (follow her, follow her, follow her) – and they did. Hot on my heels, they arrived at our table right behind me. Carlos gave me an angry look.
“I told you to wait,” he said in English through clenched teeth.
“You’re the one who said ‘Tracy, mariachi’… How long have you been married to me? What did you think I would do?” I said under my breath, because all eyes were on our table.
“Veinte dolares, cuatro canciones,” the lead singer told Carlos.
“Veinte dolares?” Carlos said, incredulous.
The lead singer nodded and he guitarist strummed his guitar.
“Y por sólo una canción?” Carlos asked.
“Veinte dolares, cuatro canciones,” the lead singer said, completely unwilling to barter and let us buy just one song instead of four.

Carlos sighed and gave me a mean look out the corner of his eye as the entire restaurant watched. He started to pull out his wallet.

The lead singer held up his hand and told him he could pay after.

And so we sat there through four songs. I tried to pretend that it was romantic but by the way Carlos tapped his fingers on the table top I could tell he was annoyed at the whole situation rather than enjoying the music. Meanwhile I felt sick about having wasted $20, (this wouldn’t be the first or last time I had caused us to lose money in El Salvador due to acting like a stupid tourist) – and I was dreading the fight that awaited me once Carlos could talk to me in private.

After the four songs Carlos sighed and opened his wallet, but when he tried to pull out a twenty, some other twenties fell onto the floor. One of the mariachi hissed through his teeth. This made the whole thing even more embarrassing – dropping twenties all over the place like we were rich when we had initially haggled over the price of the songs.

For some reason, (I guess because he was embarrassed about dropping the money), Carlos gave them an extra $5 tip. They insisted this meant we got a 5th song, (a cumbia this time), and so our humiliation was further drawn out a few more minutes.

When our pupusas came, we ate and talked a little but I knew Carlos hadn’t really cooled off. Our driver was siting there at the table with us and Carlos just didn’t want to make a scene in front of him. When we got back to the privacy of our hotel, Carlos had one of his Ricky Ricardo moments and I ended up crying a la Lucy, because what should have been romantic, wasn’t at all.

Thankfully the fight was short-lived and by the next day we were laughing about the whole thing. I imagine the mariachi were also laughing… all the way to the bank.

Music prodigy, deported

Yerko DiFonis / Image source: NYdailynews.com

This is Yerko DiFonis, a 17 year old piano prodigy who has perfect pitch and has followed his dreams despite the obstacles, in part thanks to his determined parents.

Yerko was born in Chile, blind and partially deaf. When his parents discovered his musical talent and grew frustrated with the lack of opportunities for their son in their native country, they sold everything and came to the United States. In New York, Yerko flourished. Fitted with special hearing aids and attending the prestigious La Guardia school of the performing arts, Yerko, an honor roll student, learned to be independent and spent his days pursuing his passion but in October of 2010, U.S. Immigration deported Yerko and his family.

Now living in Chile, Yerko continues with his music, but dreams of coming back to study in the United States some day.

To read more of Yerko’s inspiring story, or to make a donation which will go towards continuing his education, visit the Hear The World foundation.