El Salvador – The much awaited souvenirs

[Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. Apologies that there is no English translation this week. If you have a question about something, ask me in comments and I'll try to answer you. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments!]

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Fuimos a El Salvador en agosto, y claro que trajimos recuerdos!

Si no has visto los blog posts sobre recuerdos de otros años, chéquealos. Hay un montón de cosas chistosas que ya compartí anteriormente:

From El Salvador with Love
From El Salvador with Love (Part 2)
Souvenirs from El Salvador 2011

Okay! Los recuerdos de este viaje!

Un capirucho y un trompo

Un libro sobre tradiciones de El Salvador

Tic Tack (alcohol)

Un librito para enseñar a los niños cómo escribir en el estilo salvadoreño. (Pero creo que ya es muy tarde para ellos. Sus escrituras no son tan bonitas – es típica cómo la mayoría de varones en los Estados Unidos.)

periódicos

juego de futbolito

Huaraches que no me quedan. Una mujer me obligó a comprarlos en el mercado. Me siento mal que los compré y que están en mi closet sin usarlos, cuando hay gente en El Salvador sin zapatos.

pulsera

Pulsera de los santos. Compré dos de unas mujeres fuera de las ruinas de San Andres. Días después, tuve ganas de comprar más pero no las encontré. En una tienda en Metro Centro, pensé que encontré las mismas pulseras, pero al chequearlas más cerca, descubrí que no eran fotitos de los santos pegados a las cuentas – eran fotitos de Justin Bieber.

Me compré esto para colgar las llaves, pero al día siguiente, me encontré una que me gustó más.

Esta la tenemos en la pared cerca de la puerta principal de nuestra casa. Afortunadamente mi madre y vecinos que nos visitan no hablan español.

Este es un huevo de barro y tiene algo muy especial adentro.

Win or Lose, a Day to Remember

I’ve now had two days to recover from the Copa Oro games we went to on Sunday, pero todavia estoy completamente rendida.

The night before, I couldn’t sleep, half from excitement and half from anxiety about the tickets. Following the wise advice of a friend, we arrived hours early at the stadium. (Gracias to Rudy, who we actually got to meet briefly at the game.)

We went straight to the “Will Call” window and I gave them my I.D. I watched them shuffle around and come up empty-handed. I watched them check and re-check. I knew this would happen. They apologized that they didn’t have tickets for me under my name. I called the number of the on-site manager that State Farm had given me in case I ran into problems – he assured me he had the tickets on him. When we met him in the parking lot where State Farm had set up, true to his word, he had the tickets. I resisted kissing him and instead let him tell me about some of the fun things they were doing there.

I talked with someone about the sOccket ball and she showed me how it worked. I also got to check out the State Farm iPhone app, Kick4ACause which allows you to donate electricity just by playing the game. [See video of me playing]

As Carlos and I decided what to do next, a mini-Salvadoran pride parade broke out. Of course we joined in.

The parade went around the parking lot making all kinds of noise. At one point we clashed with a group of panameños, but after dancing with them for awhile, the parade continued on, much to the bewilderment of gringos trying to tailgate in peace.

When gringos tried to interact with Salvadorans though, the Salvadoran response always made me smile. When gringos shouted “U.S.A.!” – the Salvadorans didn’t feel threatened – they joined them in chants for the red, white and blue. I wonder if this made an impression on anyone in that parking lot who had expected a different reaction – to realize that it’s possible to have enough love for the place of your birth, language or culture – but feel equally proud of the country you now live in.

After the mini-parade we sought shade and a late [very expensive] lunch inside the stadium. We found our seats and waited.

Salvadorans seemed amused by my "Guanaco Pitbull" shirt, but I didn't realize how confusing it would be for non-Salvadorans, who seemed to puzzle over what it meant.

While waiting, I observed a lot of Salvadorans who came prepared to not only cheer on El Salvador, but the United States as well. Many wore La Selecta T-shirts, but carried American flags. The “U.S.A.!” chant was alive and well in sections full of Salvadorans during the U.S. vs. Jamaica game.

The game itself was great, but the sky was so cloudy that I wasn’t able to access Twitter on my phone which was frustrating.

After the United States won, we were all full of happiness and hope for El Salvador.

Hearing the crowd sing the Himno Nacional de El Salvador made me tear up a little. To look around and know that all these Salvadorans were here together even though many, like Carlos, were far from their homeland… It’s difficult for me to put in words.

Being at the actual game instead of watching it on television is a unique experience. I’ve watched a lot of Salvadoran fútbol games on T.V. but never heard the crowd whistling in unison. Salvadorans have a unique way of whistling, (I wish I had caught it on video), but when you have thousands of people doing this, it sounds sort of like a forest full of parrots.

Speaking of whistling, at one point in the game, a Salvadoran player fell on top of a Panamanian player in a position that looked somewhat compromising. This got some funny responses from the crowd which I won’t repeat, but you definitely don’t get that on T.V. either.

As for the game – La Selecta missed a lot of opportunities on the field, but they did get this penalty shot which was very exciting.

Another highlight for me was seeing a guy run across the field with the Salvadoran flag. I know that’s frowned upon but it amused me, (and he was really fast. Maybe La Selecta should draft him?)

An unidentified man carries an El Salvador flag as he runs on the field during the second half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Panama and El Salvador. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

(You can’t see on my video, but you can see in others that the Panamanian goalie threw the U.S. flag out of the goal. That’s what the booing was about at the end of the video.)

El Salvador was ready to win… and then Panama scored a goal in the last minute… at least they say they scored a goal. I’ve watched the replay two dozen times and can’t decide if it was good or not. If only there was video of it from the other side – pero ni modo, what’s done is done. There’s no use being bitter about it.

Okay…maybe a little.

Cover of El Diario de Hoy / Deportes

Here are some of my favorite photos I took during the game:

As you see, some guys had a banner that proclaimed Zelaya to be better than Chicharito. While I was there to support La Selecta with all my heart, I’m not so sure I agree. My Pitbull didn’t do much better. The game was full of excitement, tense moments, joy, disappointment – the poor Salvadorans around me went from elated to crushed over and over again. One guy often took his frustration out on the empty stadium seat in front of him. By the end of the game I was kind of surprised he hadn’t managed to rip it out as he repeatedly pounded on it screaming “P*TA! P*TA! P*TA! HIJUEP*TA!”

Carlos was calmer than that though I heard him say a few choice words under his breath after the final penalty shot shoot-out decided our fate.

Win or lose, it was an amazing experience. I know it was particularly special for Carlos. I asked him what it felt like being in the stadium surrounded by so many Salvadorans. He said it reminded him of home and the games he used to go to with his friends. The good thing about Salvadorans is that even though Carlos didn’t have his old friends with him, the guys seated around us were more than willing to fill-in for the day. I know Carlos to be a mostly quiet guy, but when he’s with other salvadoreños he opens up and is actually quite talkative. I love to see him uninhibited like that. [ Read Carlos's post about the day here.]

The game came to an end, but the brotherly love was far from over. On the way out of the stadium I was nearly crushed, (this panicked me for a minute but I knew Carlos would throw people left and right if I were in any danger.) … Then we missed the first Metro train because it was impossible to fit anymore people on it. We waited twenty more minutes for the pleasure of being crushed on the next train. Besides myself, I think there was only one other woman on the train – it was packed with young men wearing blue, and all of us, (myself included), were in serious need of some deodorant after a long day in the sun.

Despite the heat, lack of personal space, exhaustion and loss of the game, the group on the train remained in good spirits.

“Yo soy salvadoreño!” shouted one man still full of pride and warrior spirit, “Soy guerilla!”
A man from the other side of the train answered him back,
“Guerilla mi c*lo!”

(Don’t ask me to translate it to English. Somehow, it’s not as funny like that.)

Disclosure: I attended the Gold Cup games at the invitation of State Farm. All opinions are my own.

Pitbull (not that one)

Tomorrow we go to the Copa de Oro (Gold Cup) quarterfinal games in D.C. – That’s right, plural – games! … I totally didn’t even realize that it was a doubleheader, which means two games one after the other at the same venue which are attended with the same ticket. So not only will I get to see the U.S. team play against Jamaica, I get to see the game right after it. Do you know whose playing?

EL SALVADOR vs. Panama! … I’m freaking out. The only way this could be more chévere is if Chicharito showed up and bought me a beer, but let’s keep things realistic, shall we?

Our tickets are supposed to be at “will call” which makes me nervous, but I’m told this is a reliable way to do things and I don’t have a choice in the matter, so primero a Dios and fingers crossed. The reason it makes me nervous is because these games are todo sold-out. I have a feeling it’s going to be crazy getting in. A friend who will be at the game advised us to arrive hours early, partly to avoid a really long line and also to enjoy the pre-game atmosphere. You’re going to have a parqueo full of guanacos, panameños, Jamaicans, gringos and a mix of others … I don’t know how hard everyone else parties, but the Salvadorans alone will make plenty of noise and fun – not to mention that they’re clever business people and I’m sure a lot of ventas will be going on. If Suegra were coming, (which she’s not!) I know she’d be out there hustling, selling pupusas, hand-embroidered delantales, joya, and whatever else she could carry.

Like I said, Suegra is staying home to watch the cipotes so it seems we’re ready for the games – except what to wear?

Carlos and I have been looking everywhere for a shirt to wear to the game. You would think we owned a La Selecta shirt but every time we asked Suegra to bring us one, she’d come back with tourist T-shirts. One time she got closer and brought us a team shirt for Chalatenango, but purple stripes are not as cool as “La Azul” – (not to mention, the shirt is too small – the chorizo look is not a good one.)

So we went to various sporting goods stores. One store we went to I asked where their soccer shirts are and the guy said, “Um, we don’t have… soccer…shirts… We have soccer balls?” … The other store had a U.S. MLS shirt, but it was $50… So not happening.

We tried department stores, where I found a really cool shirt for El Tri, which, (while I still want it), would have been an inappropriate choice for the game. (I may wear my “Mexico Numero Uno” shirt here at home and deal with the wrath of Carlos and Suegra, but I’m not tonta enough to wear it in a stadium full of Salvadorans.)

Wally World was also no good. They have a lot of patriotic shirts due to the season, but not anything I would be caught dead wearing. (Glittery kittens with fireworks? Seriously? People like this?)

Finally I had the idea to make a shirt. I bought a nice bright blue T-shirt for $3 and some iron-on letters… but what to write?

That’s when I remembered my new favorite player – Salvadoran, Dennis Alas.

While I was watching El Salvador play Cuba on television, I noticed that the commentator kept referring to one of the players as “Pitbull.” I thought this was just a silly, quirky thing that this particular commentator had come up with, but after searching the internet a little, I found out that Dennis Alas is known as the “Salvadoran Pitbull” – (I’m thinking it’s the shaved head.)

"Salvadoran Pitbull" - Image source: Guillermo Estrada/elsalvadorfc.com

After reading more about the player and looking up video of some of his past goals – I’ve really come to like him.

He actually didn’t score any goals against Cuba. Here’s him missing one though. Oops.

No me importa. His nickname is too chivo for me not to like him and I think he has potential.

So anyhow, Dennis “Pitbull” Alas inspired me to create a camisa for the game. I think I will be the only person in the stadium, (or in the world), with this one-of-a-kind shirt. If you watch the games mañana, look for me.

Disclosure: I will be attending the CONCACAF Copa de Oro/Gold Cup games at the invitation of State Farm. All opinions are my own.

El Trompo

Una tía de El Salvador está visitando. Nos trajo trompos y fuimos al parque para que Carlos pueda enseñarnos (yo, y los cipotes), cómo hacerlo.

An aunt from El Salvador is visiting. She brought us toy tops and we went to the park so Carlos could show us (myself, and the kids), how to do it.

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

Charamusca

When I peeked into the ice cream freezer at the Latino Market, I saw amongst the usual popsicles and choco-bananas, something new.

“What’s that in the plastic bag?” I asked Carlos.
“Charamusca,” he said.

At 50 cents each, I decided to bring one home and give it a try. “Charamusca” in Mexico is a twisted caramel candy – but in El Salvador “Charamusca” is what they call a type of frozen treat. They come in various flavors, (the one I bought seemed to be coconut milk), but they’re frozen in plastic baggies.

Carlos showed me how to eat it: You simply bite a corner of the plastic off with your teeth, and then work it out through the hole while sucking on it.

These would be easy to make with kids over the summer: Just pour juice or a homemade fruit smoothie into plastic baggies, tie closed, and freeze. (I recommend eating them outdoors. They get sticky!)

While trying to find out more about “charamuscas”, I stumbled upon this odd music video. Say what you want about Salvadorans, but they know how to have fun.

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.)