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.

Crying in El Salvador

When we went to El Salvador in 1999, I was woefully under-prepared. With a trip to Europe and an afternoon in Tijuana under my belt, I thought I knew what to expect, but El Salvador threw me for a loop.

The weather was hot, I got sunburn and a urinary tract infection, the mosquitoes ate me alive, Suegra arranged for the baptism of my baby without permission, I had to sleep in a hammock, no one in the family had hot running water – (and that’s when the water wasn’t completely shut off), the baby had colic and cried almost non-stop, there were no seat belts so I thought we would all die in a car crash and I was starving because my gringo doctor scared me off eating most of the food saying I could get really sick.

After spending a sleepless night being eaten alive by mosquitoes and trying to hush my colicky baby, Suegra insists we have our son baptized. As you can see, I was crying.

It was unbearably hot and the baby was crying too. Even though I told the Tio not to, he began to strip off the baby’s clothes to cool him down.

More crying. (Carlos and the baby.)

The baby got to bathe in water warmed on the stove. I wasn’t so lucky.

Carlos enjoys a coconut and a break from all the crying.

On a pony… getting ready to cry.

And yet, ever since we left I’ve been saying that I want to go back — I guess I’ve always known that none of this was El Salvador’s fault – it was my fault because I wasn’t ready for it and I was being a spoiled American, (and come on, traveling with a baby can be hell even under the best circumstances.) I could see El Salvador’s beauty even through my tears. There was so much I loved, but I was so completely overwhelmed that I couldn’t take the time to experience it the way I wanted to. The only thing that has prevented another visit has been the expense – year after year, we just haven’t been able to afford it.

More than a decade later, everything has fallen into place so that we’re finally able to return, and the kids, (thankfully at an age that won’t require diaper changes or preparing bottles) – deserve to see where their father came from – a place which probably seems more make-believe than real to them at this point. El Salvador – as if Carlos and I invented a fairytale land of volcanoes, paletas, stray dogs, careening buses, pupusas, debris of war, the sound of green parrots flapping their wings, unexpected downpours which disappear as suddenly as they came.

And so, we re-new our passports with plans to travel sometime in August. We hope to bring back plenty of photos of us smiling, laughing, eating pupusas, climbing a volcano, riding the bus, and abandoning Suegra at a Tio’s house, lest she unexpectedly arrange my forced baptism.

___

Related Links:

The Pichichi
El Policía

Cellphone Fotos #3

Here is my week in cellphone fotos.

We went grocery shopping at Wally World as usual – but this caught me off guard. The toy aisle is right next to the fitness equipment aisle so I guess someone decided to be funny. It made me laugh, and quite frankly freaked me out a little, too. As I’ve mentioned before, dolls scare me.

Another day we ended up at Target. We went shoe shopping for the boys because all their old pairs are either out-grown or barely recognizable as footwear at this point.

Anyway, hanging from the ceiling at Target was a monster-size chancla. I said to my oldest son, “Imagine getting a chacletazo from THAT chancla!” … That inspired this photo:

On our shoe-shopping adventures, we ended up in the vicinity of a Petco, and our youngest son can not pass a pet store without asking to go and “just look.” (In case you need translating, “just look” means he is going to ask us to take home every animal in the store.)

I don’t need much convincing since I find the mice amusing with all their wheel-running and curious beady eyes – but this time I happened upon this ratoncito.

Is he not the most depressed ratoncito you’ve ever seen? Poor guy looks like he has the entire weight of the world on his furry little shoulders. (Don’t feel too sad. When I last checked on him before we left the store, he had gotten out of his food bowl in the corner and looked more cheerful. Mice don’t live long so they can’t afford to wallow in self pity for more than a few minutes. May we learn a lesson from the ratoncito!)

More shoe shopping took us to some outlets. While we were walking around, a car drove by and a guy yelled out to us, “I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!” before speeding off. It could have been a teenager being an ass, but I chose to take it as a random act of kindness. I’m thinking about doing this myself, (telling random people I love them, not being an ass, that is.)

At the outlets there are little kiddie rides here and there. The thing I love about my 9 year old is that he’s at that beautiful age where he’s aware of which things are now considered “childish” – but he’s still too fun-loving to care if he looks foolish.

He jumped right up on the carousel caballito and asked if we could insert some monedas. Unfortunately el cipote looks a little like the depressed ratoncito in that photo because the machine was already jammed with a stuck quarter. Carlos went to work to dislodge the coin but his fingers are kind of thick, so he wasn’t having much success. All of a sudden I had an idea. I pulled the gum out of my mouth, stuck it to the quarter and ta-da! We were 25 cents richer. I remembered a Sesame Street video from my childhood about retrieving a lost jack with a magnet – and that’s what inspired me. Thanks, Sesame Street!

For my last photo, I decided I wanted to show you all the “inspiration board” I have here at my desk because I want to encourage you to make one for yourself. The cork board itself costs less than $5, but you don’t even need one. You can just tack stuff to the wall – but put it somewhere you’ll see it often.

What do you put on your inspiration board? Anything that inspires you, reminds you of your goals/priorities, and makes you smile. I put a lot of quotes on mine, (including fortunes from Chinese take-out, but now that I’m eating healthier, I won’t be adding more to my collection.) … I also have a drawing from my youngest son that says he missed me, (he drew it while at school but it reminds me to spend time with the kids.) … As you can see, I also have photos of Chicharito and Espinoza Paz. Carlos objected to their inclusion. I told him that they inspire me but he doesn’t buy it. He said, “I’m going to make an inspiration board and put girls in bikinis on it.”

I told Carlos he’s being totally ridiculous. His comparison isn’t even valid – I mean, it isn’t like Espinoza and Chicharito are half-naked in the photos.

…(If anyone has photos of Espinoza or Chicharito half-naked though, you have my E-mail.)

Link: What’s On Your Phone Tuesdays

Cellphone Fotos #2

My week in cellphone fotos:

A little carnival set up in a parking lot that we didn’t go to. I could smell the funnel cake tempting me, but I had a cart full of healthy groceries to take home.

See? These are just some of the fruits we brought home from the grocery store. We also bought strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and many varieties of vegetables.

I also bought a new hot pink hoodie jacket. I used to shy away from bright colors but this shade of pink has been calling to me – I don’t know why. As you can see, I’m also wearing my RPM Miami shirt. Who else is watching with me?

Speaking of RPM Miami – Carlos pulled into a car dealership to look at a car, (even though we can’t afford one right now.) … I usually don’t get excited about cars but this one caught my eye. Lo quiero! … I can imagine myself driving this green Camaro in carreras like on the show. Jijiji… And if you want to see how vastly different Carlos and I are, go check out the car he wanted.

Link: What’s On Your Phone Tuesdays

Cellphone Fotos

Well, I’ve been loving the cellphone photos mi amiga over at La Cabrona shares each Tuesday, and I take a lot of miscellaneous cellphone photos myself which aren’t exactly worthy of a blog post on their own – so this seemed like a good way to share some of the randomness.

I buy a lot of canned foods, but I draw the line at canned rice.

I don’t really like Doritos because they remind me of the boys in high school – they always had Dorito breath and sometimes even an orange-tint to their upper lip… but I thought the design of the new “taco flavor” bag was cute.

A WalMart Cinco de Mayo display. My younger son said, “Look! Sombreros! Take a picture and blog about it!” Oh yeah, he knows his Mama well.

We went to one of our favorite Mexican places for tortas and decided to walk around the shopping center while we waited for our order. We happened upon this store front. Not sure what “Solo pa’ la Raza” sells or used to sell. Looks like it may be closed down. It would have been funny on multiple levels to have my photo taken in front of the sign but Carlos refused to take it. (Él es un aguafiestas sometimes.)

Speaking of Carlos, for those who don’t know, he’s blogging. It takes forever to write even one blog post because he’s not much of a writer and his English is a work in progress but he’s learning. If you want to visit him: A Salvadoran In Gringolandia

What photos are on your cellphone?

Link: What’s On My Phone

Día de las Madres with the Tíos

My Día de las Madres was … not normal.

I will let my tweets tell the story.

11:59 am – Salvadoran relatives just showed up without calling & I’m not wearing a bra. Fantastic.

1:31 pm – now we’re off to the National Mall for the day. Love these last minute plans inlaws come up with.

2:50 pm – Suegra took us to Roy Rogers for lunch & complained it’s too $. Tio is taking fotos of the Fixins Bar ROFL

3:12 pm – OMG Carlos esta pidiendo permission por los tios to take a foto in front of the portrait of Roy Rogers #muriendo

4:42 pm – Just saw a guy taking a photo in front of Washington Monument holding it as if it’s his penis #creativetourist

Unfortunately, I stopped tweeting after that because I was too busy rushing the Tíos through the museums. (Most of them close around 5:30, but of course, since this trip was last minute, nobody thought about that.) … Since I’ve been to the museums a million times I would be like, “Este es el gorro de Presidente Abraham Lincoln,” – then I would rush to the next interesting thing while they took photos, call Carlos on his cell phone and tell him where to meet me next.

My method would have worked better if the Tíos were more obedient, but they kept wandering off. Nine times out of ten we’d find them admiring some type of taxidermy animal.

In case you don’t believe me:

Faces alterted to protect the somewhat innocent.

Thankfully I did have time to take a few more artistic shots that didn’t involve large Arctic animals. I’ve taken a million photos of the Washington Monument, (though I don’t have one where I’m pretending it’s a penis) – so I always try to get a new angle on it… This is my favorite from yesterday.

And my older son took this photo of me and Carlos.

Tracy and Carlos, Washington D.C. 2011

I also filmed inside the METRO station as a souvenir for the Tíos. Surprisingly, the video does not end with me throwing myself in front of the train, but only because it was Mother’s Day and the kids were there.

Miami Randomness

Carlos arrived in Miami a few hours after I did. When I kissed him hello he asked if I’d been drinking. “Just one Cuba Libre with Carrie,” I said. He sat down. He stared out the window. “You’ve only been here a few hours and already you’re drinking? … That’s not good,” he said.

We weren’t off to a very good start. I took his photo while telling him, “Cheer up! We’re in Miami, trick!” … That didn’t help. I promised no more drinking unless he was with me. He stopped pouting and we went for a walk.

The first order of business was to buy the boys a post card. I wanted to send it right away so it would arrive home before we did – We found a CVS and I bought one. (I later wrote the message, addressed it, put postage on it, and sent it… To this day, it has not arrived.) … While Carlos paid for the post card, I wandered outside. This dog was tied to the bike rack. I thought he was cute.

Both of us were starving so we continued to walk, in search of lunch. Carlos was looking for familiar fast food. I was looking for something new and exciting. This is a metaphor for our relationship in general. Carlos wants the comfort of the predictable. He wants things to stay the same – he wants to know what to expect. I, on the other hand, want to explore and discover. I want to try anything and everything. I think that frightens Carlos sometimes.

Eventually, Carlos relented and let me have my way, again, pretty typical for us… I think I’m just more willing to “argue to the death” as he says, and he gives up.

I was on a mission to find Cuban food. Every time someone who seemed “local” would walk by, I’d nudge Carlos and say, “Ask them!” and he’d say, “No, you ask!” … This happened a few times. When I finally got up the nerve to ask an elderly Cuban guy hobbling by with a cane, (I assume Cuban only because he was wearing a straw fedora, but I could be wrong), I realized we were standing in front of a place called “Bernie’s L.A. Café.” I saw some Cuban food on the menu in the window so we went in. The bilingual waitress was super nice, the prices were decent and the meal was simply amazing – very fresh, high quality food.

We both got the Cuban sandwich, (and tostones just because.) They served these really tasty pieces of toasted bread with a basket of different hot sauces. Mango habanero, (judging from the amount left in the bottles), is the most popular, and it was certainly my favorite.

The tostones came with “mojito dipping sauce” … I don’t know what it was made of but I need to find out. It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had. The sandwich portion was so big that we both only ate half and brought the leftovers to our room for a second meal later.

By the way, another must visit place – InStyle Cupcakes. Last time I went to Miami, Carrie introduced me to them. I like cupcakes to begin with, but with varieties like Dulce de Leche and Churro, I became a little obsessed. Since I knew we’d be back in Miami, I took to Twitter stalking them. If we’d have been given more free time, I was more than willing to invest the money in taking a taxi to visit them, but thankfully InStyle delivered a box to Carrie’s room.

Surprisingly, though I’m not crazy about fruit-flavored things most of the time, guava is my favorite. Next time I’m in Miami and don’t have such a full schedule, hopefully they’ll agree to a taste-testing tour of their actual location… for journalistic purposes of course.

Anyway, after lunch we stopped at Whole Foods which was like a block from our hotel, to buy bottled water and some snacks, etc. for our hotel room. We don’t usually shop Whole Foods cause we’re too poor, but it was a good experience. (And their sushi is awesome.)

After dropping our things off at the hotel, we went back out to make the most of our day. We met with Dean of Surropa.com, who I’ve been in touch with via E-mail, Facebook and Twitter for over a year now, but had never met in person. We had a nice chat and he gave us a lot of tips about where we should go for fun before dropping us off on Lincoln Road.

I could have walked around hand-in-hand with Carlos all night, but I had a busy two days ahead. During those busy two days, Carlos began to feel some discontent growing inside him. At first he couldn’t sort out just what he was feeling and why. I became frustrated with his negative attitude, chalked it up to simple macho jealousy issues – so we argued, (apologies to whoever slept in the room next to 307 that night.) …Once we calmed down, we talked and talked until we unraveled the problem.

It turns out, Carlos is feeling “stuck.” He see’s me following my passions and he’s proud of me, but he doesn’t feel like he’s growing or achieving anything himself – and he doesn’t know what to do about it.

I told him he needs to mix it up, try new things, and see what happens. He was resistant at first, but then he made the brave decision, against his natural tendencies, to see what possibilities are out there. I’m happy for him because I know what he’s capable of despite what he was told growing up – despite what he came to believe about himself, and despite the challenges of living in this country as an immigrant. He’s the only one whose been holding himself back.

All these years he’s supported me while I follow my passions – now I will be there for him.

Disclosure: I went to Miami at the invitation of Telemundo. I have not been paid by any companies or restaurants mentioned. All opinions are my own.

Special Thanks to Corrientes for the use of their song “Tiempo y Espacio” which was perfect for my video. (Check them out: Jamendo.com.)