Barbara por Atras

I lack self-discipline, I’m a complete hedonist, I become intensely passionate about the things I love, and I’m impulsive. This spells trouble not just for my eating habits but it makes many aspects of my life challenging. Carlos, who is the complete opposite, has reformed me to some extent, and being a mother has forced me to change my ways, but it’s a daily fight.

Recently when I decided to get serious about my health, I reached out to mi amiga, Barbara to ask for guidance. She gave me a lot of encouragement and was also kind enough to send me a copy of her book, “…Barbara por Atras: A Latin Woman’s Guide to Fitness.”

I’ve read a lot of books about health but this one connected in a way that other books couldn’t. With mentions of Celia Cruz, nalgas, and piropos as well as healthful ways to prepare arroz con frijoles, tostones con mojo, and flan – I feel like finally someone “gets” me! This book is the jump start I needed. I’m taking steps in the right direction – poco a poco, I’ll make it. Gracias, Barbara.

Disclosure: The book was provided to me at no cost. I did not receive any compensation for talking about the book. All opinions are my own.

Gringa Invasion

While she passes most of her time in Chalatenango proper where her family lives, and Soyapango where Carlos’s childhood home is – Suegra sometimes goes to visit her childhood home which is in a town in the mountains of Chalatenango called San Luis del Carmen.

I visited there one afternoon when we went to El Salvador. Against all my gringa instincts which screamed that I needed a seat belt, I rode in the back of a Tío’s pickup truck with my then one year old baby. They threw cushions from the sofa in to make the ride more comfortable. We rode up, up, up, stopped for some bony looking cattle to cross the road, and then up, up, up some more. San Luis del Carmen was very quiet. There was a pretty white church, typical Salvadoran-style cement block homes lining the road, the ever present chuchos aguacateros (street dogs), and a small store selling soda en bolsas and snacks.

A typical Salvadoran-style house. “DIOS ES AMOR” means & “God is love”

chucho aguacatero (street dog) that followed us

A little store selling snacks, etc.

Carlos enjoying a bag of orange soda and a snack.

Suegra’s modest childhood home has been kept in good repair despite being over 50 years old, though no one inhabits it. The home sits on a fair amount of land – the trees in the backyard are heavy with coffee beans.

That is how I remember San Luis del Carmen, so I was surprised when Suegra told me there are a lot of gringas there now – “jovenes, chelitas, americanas – como vos!” she says, though I imagine they are younger than me – maybe Peace Corp. volunteers or missionaries. She says they are pairing up with young Salvadoran men, (she emphasizes that they are dark-skinned country boys – “pero puro del campo!” she says, as if this made it more shocking, which to me it isn’t. Country boys have their charm though I married a city boy.)

Suegra went to San Luis during the feast day in December. During the festival, the town traditionally picks a “reina” (queen) … This year, the reina was one of the gringas.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. I’m fascinated by the idea of an entire village that ten years from now may be made up of families that resemble my own. Part of me wonders if these girls know what they’re getting into. It’s one thing to marry a Salvadoran who has immigrated here – but quite another to marry a Salvadoran in El Salvador. My mind swirls with the compromises, sacrifices, and struggles they will face. Culture shock. Language barriers. Machismo. They are on his turf. They are on their suegra’s turf. As romantic as it appears on the outside, the situation raises many concerns.

Honestly, I do laugh a little imaging the phone calls home. The parents expect information about when to pick their precious daughters up at the airport now that their volunteer assignment has come to an end. Instead, their daughter’s voice sounding farther away than ever says, “Mom, Dad, I met someone here. I’m staying in El Salvador and getting married!” … Those poor gringo parents! …And then imagine when the parents go to El Salvador for the wedding. Will there be tears of joy or tears of sheer terror for what their daughter has done? (Oh wait, I’m just having flashbacks to my own wedding…jiji…)

But what about the relationships that don’t work out? What if they love each other but the girl desperately wishes to return home? It isn’t easy to adjust to a drastically different culture and way of life. It also isn’t that easy to bring your new novio with you thanks to immigration law which splits us all up into these man-made parcels called countries. Will the girls go home with broken hearts or will it be the muchachos who are left con el corazón en pedazos? (Either way, one must make the sacrifice of being away from their own family and culture.) If the girls stay in El Salvador, get married, start a family and then for whatever reason, end up divorcing, what happens with the children?

How do the Salvadoran women of San Luis del Carmen feel about this “invasion” of gringas? Do they feel animosity towards the gringas for “stealing” the men? Was it fair for an outsider to be chosen as the “queen” of the town?

If I were a sociologist, I know where I’d be buying a plane ticket to right now.

Los Herederos del Monte vs. President Obama

As much as I like President Obama, I think those of us who missed our telenovela on account of the State of the Union address are feeling un poco triste today. I mean, don’t get me wrong – President Obama is handsome in his own right, but it’s kind of hard for anyone to compete with 5 shirtless cowboys.

Well, here is a photo to cheer you up. Now, recuerda, I’m doing this for you, not me.

Te sientes mejor? … jijiji… Seriously though, does anyone have any idea how to style hair the way Paula has it? I managed a similar style but I think that my curling iron isn’t fat enough. (After an hour working on it Carlos told me, “Come back to reality! You’re not in a telenovela!” … but when I was all finished he really liked it. Men! They don’t realize that beauty takes time – at least for most of us.)

Anyway… the most dramatic thing that has happened in the past few episodes has been Efraín catching José and Beatriz kissing and then basically kidnapping baby Simón. That’s the subplot that has me most interested right now. I sort of hated Beatriz at first but now I feel bad for her. I also felt bad for Modesto when Sofia told him that Simón isn’t his real grandchild. I don’t like Sofia at all.

Who is surprised that Juan has been resisting Paula’s seduction! Go, Juan! … wonder how long he’ll last before kissing her again? (And yet, I can’t help but feel badly for Paula now that she’s really in love with him and not just playing games.)

Okay – enough chisme. Someone requested lyrics to “Desde Que Estás Aquí” which is Juan and Paula’s theme song. I listened to the song and transcribed the lyrics, but because I can’t find the complete version of the song online, this is only the part of the song you hear on the show. (Gracias to my husband, Carlos, for helping me.)

Desde Que Estás Aquí (Lyrics/Letra)
performed by Paola Vargas and David Castro

(Listen here)

Desde que estás aquí
el centro de mi mundo se movio
llegaste a estremeserme el corazón
desde que estás aquí

Desde que estás aquí
no hay logica respuesta ni razón
late desorvitado el corazón
desde que estás aquí

Dejame ser lo que soy
Ya no se cuál es tu amor
Todo lo que tengo es lo que doy

Desde que estás aquí
Preciso otro momento
Para saber lo que siento
aquí en mi pecho

Desde que estás aquí
tu fuego es mi alimento
quemandome por dentro
Tú tienes como el viento.

Interview with Eva Linares, female fútbol commentator

Over the weekend I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing Eva Linares, the only female soccer commentator in El Salvador, (probably the only female soccer commentator in Latin America, possibly even the world.) Our interview was in Spanish, but I’ve translated my questions and her answers to English as well so no one is left out of the fun!

Durante el fin de semana tuve el placer y honor de entrevisar a Eva Linars, la única comentadora de fútbol en El Salvador, (probalemente la única comentadora de fútbol en América Latina, posiblemente la única en el mundo.) Nuestra entrevista fue en español, pero he traducido mis preguntas y sus repuestas a inglés para que nadie quede fuera de la diversión.

Interview with Eva Linars
Entrevista con Eva Linares

Latinaish.com: Mi primer pregunta es cómo fue que metiste en el mundo de fútbol? Cúando supiste que tú querías ser una comentadora?

Eva Linares: En el 2000 cuando tenía 18 años de edad ingrese a Radio Milenio 92.1 fm (emisora comunitaria que transmite en Santa Ana), comencé siendo presentadora de noticias y en el 2001 el Director de la radio, Julio César González (quien es periodista deportivo y narrador de fútbol de MILENIO y de CADENA MONUMENTAL 101.3 FM) fue quien planteo la opción de involucrarme en los deportes, en un principio era sólo reportera y Julio me propuso enseñarme a narrar, comenzamos las clases, hasta que hice mi primera narración en el 2001. Siempre me ha gustado hacer cosas diferentes, aprender y superarme, gracias a Dios que en mi camino han aparecido personas importantes que han compartido sus conocimientos.

Latinaish.com: My first question is, how is it that you got involved in the world of soccer? When did you realize that you wanted to be a commentator?

Eva Linares: In the year 2000, when I was 18 years old, I started at Radio Milenio 92.1 FM, (community radio station broadcasting from Santa Ana.) I started out as a news reporter and in 2001 the Director of the radio, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, (who is a sports journalist and football commentator from Milenio and Cadena Monumental 101.3 FM), was the one who brought up the option to involve me in sports. At first I was only a reporter but Julio proposed the idea of teaching me to commentate, I started the classes, until I did my first commentating in 2001. I’ve always liked doing different things, learning and overcoming. Thanks to God, important people always appeared in my path and those people share their knowledge with me.

Latinaish.com: ¿Qué ha sido lo más difícil y cómo lo has superado?

Eva Linares: Lo más difícil ha sido superar en mí temores, temores al qué dirán, ¿se me escuchará bien? – Tantas cuestionantes que surgen cuando emprendemos algo nuevo, esas incertidumbres las he ido superando preparando, haciendo mi trabajo con pasión y con la ayuda de amigos y amigas, de mi esposo, mi familia que siempre me empujan a seguir.

Latinaish.com: What has been the most difficult and how did you overcome?

Eva Linares: The hardest thing has been overcoming fears, fears that say, ‘can they hear me well?’ So many questions arise when we try something new, these insecurities have been overcome by preparing, doing my job with passion and with the help of friends, my husband, and my family always pushing me forward.

Latinaish.com: ¿Tienes algún memoria favorita de fútbol?

Eva Linares: En primer partido tenía muchos nervios, me preocupaba si podría gritar el gol, práctique mucho, llego el partido y los primeros 15 a 20 minutos de mi narración fue un desastre, me enrede, confundí nombres, totalmente UN DESASTRE, termino el partido y el marcador fue 0 x 0 , en el primer partido NO HUBO GOLES, así que mi tensión por cantarlos tuvo que aguantarse hasta el siguiente partido donde sí cante mi primer gol.

Latinaish.com: Do you have a favorite soccer memory?

Eva Linares: The first game I was so nervous – I worried if I could yell “goal!” – I had practiced a lot, and then the day of the game came. The first 15-20 minutes, my commentating was a disaster – I got tongue tied, I confused names, It was a complete DISASTER. I finished the game and the score was 0 to 0 – in that first game there were no goals, so my tension to yell that first “goal” had to wait until the next game, where I got to do it.

Latinaish.com: ¿Tienes un equipo o jugador favorito?

Eva Linares: “La Selecta” , Club Deportivo FAS y por solidaridad con mi esposo (Alexis Triviño), quien es chileno “La Roja” y “Colo Colo”.

Latinaish.com: Do you have a favorite team or player?

Eva Linares: La Selecta, Club Deportivo FAS [Salvadoran teams], and for solidarity with my husband, (Alexis Triviño, who is Chilean), “La Roja” and “Colo Colo”.

Latinaish.com: Si tú podría dar algunos consejos a las niñas de El Salvador, o en realidad, las niñas de todo el mundo, ¿cuáles serían? ¿Qué deben hacer si quieren ser o hacer algo que tradicionalmente las mujeres no lo hacen?

Eva Linares: Creer , creer amigas en ustedes mismas, somos maravillosas, tenemos tantos talentos y habilidades que tenemos la obligación de explotarlos al máximo, venzan sus propios temores, los pretextos sobran para no hacer las cosas pero son más las razones por las cuales debemos lanzarnos, ponganle mucho amor a sus sueños y piensen ahora en lo que desean y vivanlo como parte de la realidad. Bendiciones a tod@s!!!!!

Latinaish.com: If you could give some advice to the girls of El Salvador, or really, all the girls in the world, what would they be? What should they do if they want to be or do something that traditionally women do not do?

Eva Linares: Believe, believe friends that you are amazing – we have so many talents and abilities and we have the obligation to use them to the maximum. Defeat your own fears. There are too many excuses for not doing things but there are more reasons why we should go for it. Put a lot of love into your dreams and think now what you want then live it as part of reality. Blessings to all!!!

__

Muchísimas gracias, Eva. Fue un placer y un honor. Espero que eres una inspiración a niñas y mujeres en todas partes. Ya has demostrado que nada es imposible. ¡Muy buena suerte!

Much thanks to you, Eva. It was a pleasure and an honor. I hope that you’re an inspiration to girls and women everywhere. You have already demonstrated that nothing is impossible. Wishing you lots of luck!

___

(Images provided by Eva Linares. Interview and images not to be reprinted without permission. Thank you.)

(Imágenes proporcionadas por Eva Linares. La entrevista y las fotos no deben ser utilizados sin permiso. Gracias.)

Galletada

"Tamalada" - Artist: Carmen Lomas Garza

This has always been one of my favorite paintings by one of my favorite artists. “Tamalda” by Carmen Lomas Garza depicts the Latina tradición Navideña of tamal-making as a family.

Every year as I make tamales by myself, I think wistfully what it would be like to be surrounded by generations of women, each of us with our own task, but sharing laughter and conversation, working together to make tamales and memories.

Growing up in an Anglo household means my grandmothers, my mother, aunts and sisters do not know how to make tamales. This is not a family tradition from my side of the family that I am continuing, rather it is one that I’m trying to start for my own children – although they are boys. Maybe I will teach their wives, or their daughters some day – but when they think of Navidad, I want them to close their eyes and taste tamales – I want them to have that connection to their roots.

I’ve been asked why I don’t making tamales with my Suegra, which is logical since Suegra has certainly participated in many “tamaldas” with her sisters – but she goes back to El Salvador each year for the winter, so it isn’t something I share with her and it’s not something I learned from her. Our recipes are very different; Suegra favors the green banana leaves for wrapping her mild-flavored tamales, and I prefer corn husks to wrap my spicy tamales. Like many things between us, making tamales together probably wouldn’t work out.

I’m not as saddened about making tamales by myself anymore though, because this past weekend, my mother, sisters and nephew came to my house for our annual cookie-baking. As I watched my mother alternate between rolling out the dough and moving galletas in and out of the oven, while my sisters and the boys sat around the table decorating the trays of cut out sugar cookies she provided, I remembered the Carmen Lomas Garza painting.

Maybe an annual “tamalada” is not possible, but our “galletada” is close enough.

Autoestima

Over the weekend I heard a new bachata song by Prince Royce called “Corazón Sin Cara”. I immediately loved the lyrics, noting how different they are from a lot of the music I listen to. In this song, Royce sings:

Y si eres gorda o flaca
Todo eso no me importa a mí
Tampoco soy perfecto
Sólo sé que yo te quiero así.

This flies in the face of the dominant message directed at women in today’s popular music, which is that your physical beauty is the most important thing about you. I’ll admit to listening to and loving Reggaeton – but I hate how degrading it is to women. It’s all about “sexiness” and defining a woman by her beauty, specifically her body. Reggaetoneros are lacking creativity. There are so many things in this world that they could sing about, and yet we get lyrics like this:

Tú eres una Barbie
muñeca princesa
y no es de Mattel
Tú eres perfecta
Tu cara tu cuerpo
tus ojos también tu piel
te quiero completa
baila sensual así te quiero ver
juntitos, solitos nos vamos a complacer.

- “Es Un Secreto” by Plan B

Being bombarded with messages like this on a daily basis can have a brainwashing sort of effect on one’s self-esteem, so here are some songs to help you detox.

“Corazón sin Cara” by Royce

“Ella” by Bebe

“Ella Es Bonita” by Natalia Lafourcade

“Baja Autoestima” – Los Cipotes

¿Quieres Más?

Dra. Eréndira López-García talks about how to fix self-esteem issues en español (Very much worth 10 minutes of your time.) [link]

Spoken word poetry, “Pretty” by Katie Makkai. (English – strong language) [link]

Rosie O’Donnell – Beautiful Girls (English – strong language)
[link]

Fútbol, no sólo para los hombres

My love of fútbol was made well-known during this year’s World Cup. Since then I have had to find other ways to entertain myself, from playing fútbol with the kids, to watching Javier Hernández play for Manchester United, (I like him better with El Tri, but I’ll take my “Chicharito” any way I can get him.)

I also spent some time encouraging people to sign a petition in support of our bid to bring the World Cup to the United States in 2022, which we ended up losing to Qatar. ¡Qué desilusión! … I have to say though, their proposed stadiums are absolutely breathtaking.

Still don’t feel better about losing our bid for the World Cup? Okay, here are some events to look forward to: The 2011 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, the 2011 Copa América and the Women’s World Cup 2011!

Speaking of women, I just saw a report this evening about a Salvadoran woman named Eva Linares. Ms. Linares is newsworthy because she is the only female fútbol commentator in El Salvador, most likely the only one in Central America, and possibly even the only one in all of Latin America. I think she is super chévere.