EL PAPEL

(Today is Spanish Friday, in which I blog in Spanish. Need an English translation? It’s down below!)

Yo estaba diciendo a mi hijito que él dejaba un papel en mi escritorio que necesitaba por la escuela. Recientemente, ni modo si estoy super fustrada cuándo los niños no entienden mi español, yo me rehúso a cambiar a inglés. Es frustrante pero así es la vida bilingüe, no?

Por lo tanto, le repetía a mi hijo,

“La papel está en mi escritorio.”
“What?”
“La papel que quiere tu maestra está en mi escritorio.”
“What? Can you just say it in English, Mommy?”
“Tu maestra, tu profesora, en la escuela – ella quiere la papel que está en el escritorio en mi habitación – la dejaste allá.”

De la sala, mi suegra elevó la voz, “EL PAPEL!”
“¿Qué?” Me molesto por la interrupción.
“EL PAPEL! … Estás diciendo ‘la papel’ … es EL PAPEL.”
Oigo su risa. No me importa ser corregida, sino porque ya estoy fustrada, su risa me hace sentir defensiva. Me decido a ponerla en su lugar.
“Estás riendo pero ni sabes cómo decir papel en inglés!” dijé.

Antes de que podría sonreir de satisfacción, ella gritó otra vez desde la sala,
“Y no es ‘PAPER’, pues?”


ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

I was telling my youngest son that he left a paper on my desk that he needed for school. Lately, no matter how frustrated I get when the kids don’t understand my Spanish, I stubbornly repeat myself, sometimes changing the phrasing slightly – but refusing to switch to English even when they ask me. It’s frustrating but that’s bilingual life, right?

So I kept saying to my son,

“La papel está en mi escritorio.” (The paper is on my desk)
“What?”
“La papel que quiere tu maestra está en mi escritorio.” (The paper your teacher wants is on my desk)
“What? Can you just say it in English, Mommy?”
“Tu maestra, tu profesora, en la escuela – ella quiere la papel que está en el escritorio en mi habitación – la dejaste allá.” (Your teacher, your professor, at school – she wants the paper that is on the desk in my room – you left it there.)

From the other room, Suegra pipes up, “EL PAPEL!” (The paper!)
“¿Qué?” (What) I snap, annoyed at the interruption.
“EL PAPEL! … Estás diciendo ‘la papel’ … es EL PAPEL.” (The paper! You’re saying ‘la papel’ – it’s EL papel.)
I hear her giggle. I don’t mind being corrected but because I’m already frustrated, her giggle makes me feel defensive. I decide to put her in her place.
“Estás riendo pero ni sabes cómo decir papel en inglés!” I say. (You’re laughing but you don’t even know how to say paper in English!)

Before I can smirk in satisfaction, she yells from the other room,
“Y no es ‘PAPER’, pues?” (It’s ‘paper’ isn’t it?)

___

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White Socks

I am not a fashionista. It has only been in recent years that I have dared step beyond jeans, T-shirts and chanclas to mix it up a little and try to find my own unique style, (which still involves an inordinate amount of jeans, T-shirts and chanclas.)

That being said, for some reason, Suegra looks up to me as if I’m a hot celebrity who is up on the latest trends. Should Suegra have a fashion question, it is me she consults. I do my best to advise her, with the very little fashion knowledge that I possess.

So, the other day Suegra comes to me modeling some new shoes. They were formal black, women’s shoes… and she was wearing them with white socks. I told her that unless she’s Michael Jackson, a Catholic school girl, or wearing a poodle skirt, that white socks with black shoes were absolutely unacceptable.

A few days later, we’re getting into my car to run errands. Suegra points to my shoes, outraged.

“White socks! You said no white socks with black shoes! Why are you wearing white socks?!”

I look at her confused, look down at my shoes, and then back at her.

“I’m not wearing white socks,” I said. “That’s my skin.”

Maybe a little time in the sunshine wouldn’t hurt.

Jarritos!


(English translation available below.)

Cuándo Jarritos me invitó a probar unas botellas de sus bebidas y compartir mi opinión aquí en Latinaish.com, claro que la acepté. Tengo muchos años tomando Jarritos y es una de mis cosas favoritas.

Entonces, recibí la caja por correo ayer – (Suegra estaba super curiosa – Preguntandome por qué me mandan los Jarritos. Expliqué que es para mi “trabajo” … Ahora sí, ella piensa que soy alguien muy importante. Jajaja…)

Las ponía al refrige para que se enfríen y las saque en tiempo de cena. Ahora eran los niños que estaban curiosos. No dejo que tomen muchas bebidas con calorias – mejor que tomen leche o agua, pero todo en moderación. (Y los Jarritos tienen sólo 100% azúcar natural – nada de high fructose corn syrup.)

Los sabores que tuvimos fue: tamarindo, mandarina, tuttifruti, jamaica, limón, toronja, guayaba, piña, fresa, mango, y cola.

Carlos afirmó el tamarindo para él muy rapido, y me cae bien porque nunca me ha gustado el sabor de tamarindo en nada. Mi hijo mayor quería cola, (que me gusta mucho), y mi hijo chiquito quería mandarina, (que también es buena.) … Por curiosidad abrí la botella de jamaica porque, para mí, Jamaica es un país – no un sabor. No tenía ningúna idea que jamaica es un tipo de flor. Bueno, no me gusto. Suegra rapida venía, “¿Es de sabor jamaica?” preguntó. Le dijé que sí y ella me la quitaba por probar. “A ver sí es buena,” dijó, tomando un trago. Después, Suegra dijó que le gusto mucho, (y me explicó que jamaica es una flor.)

Siempre me ha gustado el sabor de sandía, pero no habia un Jarritos de sandía en la caja. Abriendo todas las botellas y echando un poco de cada sabor en una taza, probe todas. No creo que puedo selecionar una favorita. Me gustaban todas, (salvo jamaica y tamarindo.) …Guayaba, piña, y fresa son muy buenas, pero toronja y limón son más refrescantes. En fin, hay un sabor de Jarritos por cada sabor de persona.

Link: Puedes mandar una botella virtual de Jarritos a tus amigos en Facebook. ¡Qué chévere!

Divulgación: Los productos fueron recibidos con el propósito de la revisión. Esta revisión contiene sólo mi opinión sincera. Esta no es una revisión pagada.

—English Translation—

When Jarritos invited me to try some of their drinks and share my opinion here on Latinaish.com, of course I accepted. I’ve been drinking Jarritos for many years and they’re one of my favorite things.

So, I received the box by mail yesterday – (Suegra was super curious – Asking me why they sent me Jarritos. I explained that it’s for my “work”…For sure she thinks I’m someone important now!)

I put the bottles in the fridge to get cold and took them out later at dinner time. Now it was the kids who were curious. I don’t let them drink anything with calories too often – it’s better that they drink milk or water, but everything in moderation. (And Jarritos are made with 100% natural sugar – none of that high fructose corn syrup.)

The flavors we had were: Tamarind, Orange, Fruit Punch, Jamaica, Lime, Grapefruit, Guava, Pineapple, Strawberry, Mango and Mexican Cola.

Carlos quickly claimed the Tamarind for himself, and that was just fine with me because I’ve never like tamarind flavored anything. My older son wanted the cola, (which I really like), and my little son wanted Orange, (which is also good.) …Out of curiosity, I opened the bottle of Jamaica, because to me, Jamaica is a country, not a flavor. I had no idea that Jamaica is a type of flower. Well, I didn’t like it. Suegra appeared, “Is that Jamaica flavor?” she asked. I told her that it was and she took it from me to try. “Let’s see if it’s good,” she said, taking a swig. Afterward, Suegra said she really liked it, (and she also explained that Jamaica is a flower.)

I’ve always liked watermelon flavor, but there wasn’t a watermelon Jarritos in the box. I opened all the other bottles and poured a little of each into my cup one-by-one to try them out. I don’t think I can pick a favorite. I liked all of them, (except Jamaica and Tamarind.) Guava, Pineapple and Strawberry were all really good, but Grapefruit and Lime were more refreshing. In the end, there’s a Jarritos flavor for every flavor of person.

Link: You can send a virtual bottle of Jarritos to your friends on Facebook. Chévere!

Disclosure: These products were provided for review. This review contains only my honest opinion. This was not a paid review.

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Lucky Soap, Chicken Bones & more

The most recent superstitious thing Suegra has brought into the house is this soap. She got this in El Salvador for Carlos.

The soap is supposed to bring you luck in whatever you need luck in, (in our case, dinero.) Carlos said he wasn’t sure he believed in it but proceeded to lather up anyway.

When I laughed at him, Carlos tried rubbing it on me.

“Hey, you better watch where you rub that,” I said.
“Why?”
“Well, I don’t know how it works but what if whichever body part you rub it on is the one that brings in money?” I said.

Carlos stopped rubbing the lucky soap on me after that.

Usually, I try not to laugh at things like this – I try to be respectful of other people’s beliefs, but some of them seem very strange and even silly, (though Suegra and Carlos think I have equally weird beliefs sometimes.)

Here are just a few of the beliefs I’ve encountered over the years while living with two Salvadorans.

Voodoo?

I actually prefer the “silly” beliefs because the alternative is disturbing ones like the time I believe she tried to put a curse on me. I will never forget the time Suegra angrily moved out of our house. During that year that we were “disowned” I was cleaning the house and happened upon something which quite frankly kind of freaked me out.

When I dusted the top of the doorbell box high on the wall, I knocked something down. Whatever it was, it clattered to the floor. I reached down to pick it up and knew immediately that Suegra had something to do with it. It was a chicken bone and I really don’t know why she put it there. She may have put it there as a blessing on the house when we were on good terms – or, more likely, she may have put it there as a curse when she left. I still haven’t asked because I don’t want to stir up anything with her.

The reason I suspect Suegra is the one who put the chicken bone up there is because it’s just too strange for there to be any other explanation. After all, I already know some of her other beliefs, and this wouldn’t even be the strangest. For example, I know that there was a woman Carlos was involved with before he came to the United States. Suegra hated this woman and she told Carlos to stay away from her, but he wouldn’t. This is when Suegra became convinced that this woman had cast a spell on him by putting his photo in her underwear.

Luck & Wealth

Speaking of underwear, I mentioned before that she wears her own underwear inside out for luck.

When one of the children accidentally puts their shirt on inside out, Suegra announces that it’s “Día de San Antonio” and this is also good luck.

Rue plants likewise bring good luck.

A lot of her superstitions revolve around attracting good luck/money and discouraging bad luck/loss of money. She chides me for sweeping in the evening, (the household will lose money.)

Magnets, on the other hand, attract luck/money.

Health

Beliefs that don’t fall into the luck/money category, usually fall into the health category. She avoids quick changes in temperature. If she has been using her sewing machine she says her muscles are “hot” and so she won’t reach into the freezer to retrieve anything – (she has me do it instead.)

Carlos is also this way to some degree though he never explained it. When we first got married he’d come home from work and though he loves to be clean, he would always wait awhile before taking a shower – saying he wanted to rest first. Later I realized that this was part of that same belief. And now that I think about it, I wonder if when Carlos’s Mexican co-workers advised him not to have sex with the ceiling fan on, perhaps the hot/cold thinking is also why they believe that.

Other medical issues – “Empacho” is a gastrointestinal problem which Suegra believes can lead to death. She gets very worried about feeling bloated and will do everything from massaging her stomach to brewing various concoctions to cure it.

Sometimes Suegra also complains of having air trapped in the body. I don’t know if this has scientific merit or not. I don’t know if it has a specific name but she’ll say “Tengo aire” before pounding a fist against her back in an attempt to clear it out.

Other oddities

Suegra believes that if you point at a rainbow, you’ll make it disappear. Also, you should not watch a dog relieving itself or it will cause a sty on your eye.

Have you heard of “Tapa Boca” candles, or “Shut up” candles? If someone is gossiping about you, you light it and by the time it burns out, the person will be forced to stop talking about you. There are dozens of other similar candles for every imaginable problem as well.

In the end, living with Carlos and Suegra all these years has caused some of their creencías to rub off on me.

If the palm of my hand becomes itchy, my first thought is that I will soon come into money. And, if my ears are ringing, I assume someone is talking about me so I bite the tip of my tongue.

No matter how angry I get at someone though, I will not hide a chicken bone in their house.

Links:

A blog post about hot/cold beliefs

Empacho

Lately Suegra has been suffering from “empacho” … This illness has always confused and amused me – And Suegra is equally confused as to how it’s possible that gringos don’t believe in it, and usually have never even heard of it.

“Empacho” is a gastrointestinal illness that many people in El Salvador and other parts of Latin America believe can kill you. I decided to interview her about it for anthropological reasons because it doesn’t seem well documented.

Interview below, (in Spanish.)

Note: The use of the word “chibolitas” in Salvadoran Caliche means “little round objects” or “little balls.” (The word has other meanings in other parts of Latin America.)

(If interested in a translation to English, let me know in comments and I’ll see about transcribing it.)

Duritos & Fútbol

Reading La Cocina de Leslie the other day, I came upon her blog post about Duritos. I knew I had seen something similar at the Latino Market many times before, but I always passed by without really checking them out, assuming it was some sort of healthy spaghetti.

With Leslie’s post in mind, I bought a bag for less than $2 when I went to the Latino Market. I let the kids watch me cook them so they could witness the magic. It’s neat to watch them puff up when they hit the hot oil, (and I never would have guessed you cook them this way. I would have boiled them if I hadn’t been told otherwise!)

When Suegra saw me preparing to cook them, she tried to act like she knew all about them even though in more than a decade she has never mentioned them, eaten them or cooked them in my presence. She gets jealous when I know something she doesn’t when it comes to cooking.

She asked where I heard about them and I replied “una amiga que vive en México.” Suegra sniffed and then claimed that El Salvador has Duritos too and that she used to cook them “all the time” – (even though she hung over my shoulder and couldn’t hide her surprise as they puffed up in the pan.)

I wasn’t in the mood for her games so I told her, “I don’t believe you ever ate them or cooked them.” Then, just to get her goat I added, “I discovered them first.” She sucked in her breath and finally left the kitchen saying, “I suppose you invented pupusas too!”

Anyway, we ate them while watching the opening game for DC United which was just as good as the Duritos. The boys preferred the Duritos plain while Carlos and I experimented with Valentina hot sauce, salt and lime.

(Thanks, Leslie, for a new favorite snack!)

Penqueadores

Penquear – (origin Caliche) To spank/hit/slap, golpear

We had finished eating and our youngest son had already run off to play. Carlos, our older son, Suegra and I sat around the table, our plates pushed away, and talked for awhile as we usually do.

Carlos had a small argument with one of the guys at work and was telling us about what happened. The fact that the co-worker was Mexican really didn’t have anything to do with the conversation except to identify which guy Carlos was talking about – but you can’t say “mexicano” around Suegra without her getting started. Like many older people, she has some “preconceived notions” which aren’t malicious so much as misinformed. Of course she pipes up with the usual, “Así son los mexicanos, pues.”

Carlos gives me a look that means I should bite my tongue, but I can’t keep quiet.

“No puedes juzgar a todos los mexicanos así. Tengo un montón de amigos mexicanos y son muy buena gente.” I say.

Suegra shakes her head. We go back and forth a few times. Things are getting a little heated.

“Los hombres mexicanos son muy penqueadores!” she says, as if that settles it.

I start to tell her it’s not true of all Mexican men, and that Salvadoran men have their own reputation as well, but she interrupts, as is her way.

“Y si yo estuviera una joven, jamás me voy a salir con un mexicano!”

This conversation is going no where, so I decide to tease her.

“Y si está bien meloso?”
“De eso miel, no voy a comer!” she says.
“Y si está bien guapo?” I ask.
She looks at me as if I’m an idiot.
“Los mexicanos no son guapos, vos!” she says as if it’s common sense. (Forgetting that I know for a fact she has a crush on Vicente Fernandez.)

I catch Carlos’s eye and decide not to push it further. Insisting that there are plenty of mexicanos guapos will only make him celoso and cause problems for me. The table falls quiet since I fail to return fire, and then our twelve year old, who we had forgotten was sitting there, speaks up.

“Huh,” he says, “I didn’t know Mexicans like to spank people… that’s weird.”

Because he says this in English, Suegra has no idea what’s going on when I start laughing. Carlos also isn’t sure what’s so funny until I explain. Our son managed to pick up on the word “penquear” within the word “penqueadores” – but his only reference for this word is the threat of a spanking, as in, “Te voy a penquear.” Because he doesn’t know the word out of this context, he didn’t realize it could mean “hit” or “slap.”

Of course I set him straight. I explain the word “penquear” and I also tell him you can’t judge people based on stereotypes. My son says, “Of course. I already know that!” …and I knew he did, but I just wanted to make sure. Maybe I won’t convince Suegra, but my children will know better.

How The Robin Got A Red Chest – According to Suegra

(English translation in comments)

A cute plump little Robin perched on the backyard fence. I watched him out the kitchen window as I washed breakfast plates off in the sink. Suegra appeared next to me.

“Ay, qué lindo, vá?” she said.
I nodded, turning off the water and drying my hands.
“¿Cómo se llaman esos pajaros de la garganta roja?” she asked.
“Robins,” I responded, accepting the loss of my quiet bird watching moment.
“Hay una historia de esos Robins,” she said, “No la conoces?”
I shook my head.
Suegra smiled, for she had a story to tell, and there are few things in the world that make her as happy as story telling.
“Bueno,” she began, “Cuándo Jesús se murio en la cruz, tenía bastante sangre, cómo los soldados estaban apuñalandolo…” she pauses to make sure I understand. I nod and she continues.
“Jesús tenía sangre por todos lados, y aquí en el pecho,” she says putting her hand slightly above her heart.
“Venía ese pajaro…el Robin, me dijiste, vá?… bueno, pero antes de este tiempo estaba sólo cafecito el pajaro. El Robin voló por el pecho de Jesús y posó allí…”

I smile because this is a sweet folktale…At this point I have assumed that the bird came to comfort Jesus, and for that, the blood colored his feathers red… but Suegra isn’t finished.

“Se posó en el pecho, y empezo a picar a Jesús—“

“Picar?!” I interrupt, “Pero yo pensé que este cuento sería algo más bonito… picar?! Qué feo salio el cuento…”

Suegra shrugs and walks away. When I look out the window, the cute little Robin has flown away.

Image: Elee Kirk

Tatuado

My cumple is at the end of the month, but Carlos wanted to give me his gift un poco temprano.

This is Carlos’s first and only tattoo… y lo amo!

Suegra still doesn’t know about it. When she finds out, she will probably threaten to disown him, (otra vez.) She believes tattoos are a pecado and that only “mala gente” like pandilleros get them. When Carlos told me this I said, “Wait, doesn’t your older brother have tattoos?”

“Yeah,” Carlos said, “but when my mother found out, she slapped him.”

So Carlos’s birthday present to me? A permanent reminder of his love, and the promise of mucho drama to blog about in the coming days.

(Thanks, nene!)

Tosigosa

Suegra está enferma. Ha pasado unas semanas así, tosiendo por todos lados. Después de verla en la cocina, con un gabinete abierto, tosiendo sobre todas las ollas y sartenes, no podía soportarlo más. No podía quedarme en silencio.

“Por favor, cúbrete la boca.”
“¿Cubrirme la boca?” ella repitió, un poco incrédula.
“Sí, por favor, cuando estés tosiendo, cúbrete la boca,” dije yo.

“¿Para qué?” Me preguntó con la cara toda confundida.

“Para que no riegues gérmenes por toda la casa. Nos vas a enfermar a todos,” dije yo, “No te enseñaron eso en la escuela cuándo era niña?”

“No,” ella dijo con desdén. “En El Salvador no hay necesidad de cubrirse la boca. Allá los gérmenes no se quedan en las casas como aquí. Las casas allá están bien abiertas…y aquí todo cerrado…ay no,” suspiró.

Bueno, después de esta conversación, ella se puso un poco molesta conmigo. Cada vez que ella tosía y cubría su boca, me miraba con los ojos entreabiertos como si dijera: Mira! Mira la inconveniencia que me has obligado a hacer!

En la mesa durante la cena, aquella noche, ella continuó tosiendo y cubriendo su boca. Carlos le preguntó entre bocados, “¿Estás enferma todavía pues, madre?” (Como que si no fuera obvio.)

“Ojalá no me vaya a morir de esta gripe,” dijo Suegra, “Porque si me muero, tienes que mandar mi cuerpo a El Salvador.” Ella tosió, cubriéndose la boca, “Y Tracy,” me dijo, “si no acompañas mi cuerpo en el avión, no te voy a dejar en paz.”

Y después de decir eso, ella rió tanto que no dejaba de toser.

___

• Special thanks to mi comadre, Claudia. Carlos y yo tuvimos broncas last night so I had too much pride to ask him to double check my Spanish for errors. Claudia came to my rescue this week! Gracias, amiga!

• Partisipaste en Spanish Friday? Deja tu link en comentarios! Did you participate in Spanish Friday? Leave your link in comments!

English translation:

Suegra is sick. She’s been like this for a few weeks already, coughing all over the place. After I saw her in the kitchen coughing into an open cabinet full of pots and pan, I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t stay silent.

“Please, cover your mouth.”
“Cover my mouth?” she repeated, a little incredulous.
“Yes, please, when you’re coughing, cover your mouth,” I said.
“For what?” she asked with a confused expression on her face.

“So that you don’t throw germs all over the house. You’re going to get everyone sick,” I said, “Didn’t they teach you that in school when you were little?”

“No,” she sniffed. “In El Salvador there is no need to cover your mouth. The germs don’t stick around like they do here. The houses there are wide open … and here they’re so closed up … ay no,” she sighed.

Well, after this conversation, she got a little upset with me. Every time she coughed and covered her mouth, she looked at me with narrowed eyes as if to say: Look! Look at this inconvenience which you’ve obligated me to do.

At the dinner table that night, she kept coughing and covering her mouth. Carlos asked between bites, “Are you still sick then, madre?” (As if it was not obvious.)

“Hopefully I will not die of the flu,” said Suegra, “If I die, you have to send my body back to El Salvador.”

She coughed, covering her mouth, “And Tracy,” she continued, “If you don’t accompany my body on the airplane, I will haunt you.”

And having said that, she laughed until she coughed and coughed.