From El Salvador with Love

Every time Suegra returns from El Salvador, she comes with a suitcase or two loaded with gifts for us. She’s like a guanaca Santa Claus. Some of the gifts Suegra buys herself, others are sent by in-laws. The in-laws send gifts partly because they love us, and let’s be honest, partly because they’re hoping to score an awesome “thank you” gift from Los Uniteds. (Awesome = Nike shoes, in my experience.)

Over the years we have accumulated a lot of stuff from El Salvador. Some of it is beautiful, adorable, fantastic. Some of it… is not. A Tío sent pirated DVD’s of Pedro Infante movies. I love the films but feel a little naughty owning them… And speaking of naughty, Suegra once brought me panties – but not just any panties. These panties have a heart emblazoned on the front and the words “I Love You”.

On the sweeter side of things, when the boys were little, Suegra always brought them pajamas from “St. Jacks”, (pronounced San Yacks by locals.) Sometimes she brought them shirts with weird random sayings in English like “Deluxe Auto Umbrella Stick!” and “Super Boy King” … I will have to dig through the niños closet one day and find those.

All of the wonderful items she brings usually have the distinct scent of queso, by the way. The dozens of white bricks of cheese in her suitcase look like cocaine and I’m surprised she hasn’t run into trouble… (Of course, security is probably busy with the buckets of Pollo Campero the other passengers are carrying.)

Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some more of the things we’ve received from El Salvador…

A cross painted in the traditional style from La Palma.

This “God Bless This Home” wall hanging I actually brought back myself. This was at Suegra’s house and I admired it. Suegra took it off the wall and gave it to me. (That was back in the day when she still liked me.)

Capirucho. It’s a toy. You have to catch the ball on the little stick that is attached. We have a few different types but this one is prettiest.

I’m rich! … Oh wait, the dollarization. My colones are worthless.

A little trinket box painted in the traditional style from La Palma. (Though I think this particular artist was a little more exceptional than the others I’ve seen. The detail on this is much more unique than other things I have.)

A hat.

A miniature clay jar.

These are the shoes my husband wore to the United States. The niños find them hilarious. “Daddy wore THOSE?! They look like elf shoes!”

A peasant blouse with pretty embroidery but I can’t wear it in public because it makes me look like a German barmaid.

Detail on the blouse.

One of many bags we own. They’re especially good for going to the beach.

My very fashionable Mauricio Funes bag. (And for those who don’t know, despite his cool sounding name, Mauricio Funes is not a top designer – he’s the President of El Salvador.)

What Salvadoran household is complete without a machete?

We interrupt these photos for a commercial break…Oh wait, that’s just an apron someone sent me. Caja de Crédito de Chalatenango, you’re getting free advertising on today.

A cute ratoncito (mouse) wallet which has been personalized, like many gifts we receive, with one of the kid’s names.

Another wallet, for all the money we don’t have.

A necklace I wear almost all the time.

Perhaps the most hideous doll I’ve seen in my entire life – and that includes those Chucky horror movies. I’m sorry to whoever made this doll. It scares me. After I took the photo, I put it back in the box in my closet where it belongs.

This bracelet is supposed to keep the “mal de ojo” (“evil eye”) away from babies, but I rarely let them wear it. I was worried they’d rip it off their wrist and choke on it.

This is a depiction of The Last Supper. I never hung it up because one of the people in attendance is wearing a witch’s hat and a little boy to the left of Jesus is wearing a baseball hat. It’s just weird.

I love these towels by artist Edmundo Otoniel. The scenes they depict are so perfectly Salvadoran. They’re almost too beautiful to use, but we do use them.

One of my favorites – the hammock. My parents also have one – they refer to it as “The Gringo Tipper” because they’ve both fallen out of it. It’s takes some practice to get used to it, but once you do, those flat-style American hammocks can’t compare. I love to lay in there and watch the clouds, think, read … sometimes I just inspect the weaving, imagine the person who made it – all the work that went into it…


  1. That’s it? I want more!
    You have any idea how many hours we would spend in school counting who could get that capirucho in the stick the most times? It was an art form.
    I have four hammocks from El Salvador. If I could, I’d have them all up.

    I don’t bring back too many trinkets anymore. The suitcase is loaded with the best Salvadoran coffee to keep us happy until the next encarguito.

    Great post!

    • @ Ana – Maybe more some day. I got tired of taking photos. I had no idea I have so much Salvadoran stuff. I could open a museum. LOL.

      I believe you about your capirucho practice at school. My husband is great at it. I’ve never gotten it twice in a row.

      We also have a few extra hammocks, (we broke one once. It was the soft white string type that is meant for indoors or dry weather – not northeast coast, USA. One day the family piled into it and BOOM! … lol – So now we have “back up hammocks”.)

  2. TRACY…. this is wonderful! The Capirucho, the butt-face doll, the Last Supper art piece! Fantastic! Loved the undies, and what about the I Love You message! See, suegra does love you (jajajaja) BTW- the Dios bendiga Este Hogar hanging thing, I think is Guatemalan! upps!
    LOVED the post! Thanks!
    Lets celebrate El Salvador’s independence (09/15) you wear the I Love You panties, Manolo Filomeno his shoes and I can have a couple of pupusas!

    • @ Claudia – I think you’re right about the wall hanging being Guatemalan. Good catch.

      I will not be wearing those panties for Salvadoran independence, and I don’t think “Manolo” will wear his old shoes. LOL. How about we share the pupusas in celebration? ;)

      • puchica!! pero si los calzones están idóneos ( Amor a la patria, al esposo, a la suegra etc) Ni modo, a comer pupusas, tú de tu Pupuseria Studio 54 y yo de Jenaritos!

      • @ Claudia – I don’t have pisto for pupusas. Maybe I’ll have to convince Suegra to make some. If she doesn’t seem interested in cooking, I’ll tell her to do it for patria! LOL. Pupusas o muerte!

      • I saw a “machete” somewhere there! Tell suegra (but hold the machete in your hand) Pupusas o muerte! hijole!!!!!

      • @ Claudia – No, no – direct threats with the machete are no good. How about I offer to cut the repollo into curtido with it ;)

    • @ *pol – The towels are actually full size beach towels.

      The machetes? Suegra brought 3 in her checked luggage. I don’t know the legality of it – certainly they can’t be brought in carry-on, but so far she hasn’t had anything confiscated and she brings a lot of stuff.

  3. Hilarious. LOL

    I don’t think there is enough hard disk space on your server for me to share all the stories I know about as well. LOL

    The calzones are way too much. LOL. Reminds me of the “PowerPuff Girls” pillow my wife got, with her name on it — for a wedding gift. LOL

    The apron is so typical. LOL. I am surprised it is not propaganda for a political party, as with your purse, and is usually the case. LOL

    The shoes remind me of a story when I first came to the States. It was common for people to still have their clothes made in those times, including shoes. Anyway, I had a fairly new pair of hand made leather shoes when I first got here. Teachers in school would look at me oddly as they were rather elaborate and of course, most other kids were wearing sneakers (of which I had never owned a pair). Eventually one of the teachers asked me where I got the shoes. I still laugh about it to this day and that was way back in 3rd grade!

    • I had an apron (well kinda)from a political party but I don’t think will go that great with Tracy’s morral/purse (it would only confuse people… well, it might have been a good idea to wear them together, I believe in TOLERANCE)

    • @ Cheleguanaco – Love the story about your shoes! LOL. So cute… Yeah, the first thing my husband bought with his first paycheck? A name brand pair of sneakers.

    • @Cheleguanaco I can’t stop laughing at the PowerPuff Girls pillow comment! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU GOT IT AS A WEDDING GIFT! Te casaste en El Salvador? I remember watching my aunt’s wedding video (she got married in San Miguel)and thinking the presents totally sucked! Hasta pantaletas le calleron! OK, I seriously can’t stop laughing…Poguerpof gerls!

      • @Claudia: Ya que estoy aqui, uno de estos dias voy a salir a darme una vuelta con un cachucha de FMLN, una camiseta de ARENA y unos shorts de GANA. Y de piropo, un par de Nike’s chafeados.

        Te cuento si alguien me dice algo. LOL

        @Tracy: LOL (1st paycheck/shoes). They also used to get puzzled at the way that I would do my math. Schools in El Salvador don’t allow you to markup your work to remember things like that fact that you carried a 1 or the like. So the teachers would be baffled at how I kept track of it. LOL

        @Emisela: We got married in the States. She got the pillow on her first trip back to ES after our wedding. She actually took the trip by herself. I was laughing my ass off, literally, when I saw it. Too much.

  4. je je je hilarious. Tracy this is a great post.
    I can’t stop laughing… machete, panties, shoes and the wallet are my favorites so far.
    my hubby 1st wife is salvadorian.

  5. Your commentary had me LOLing,for real! I too, have quite a few of those same items in my posession. I find that amazing in the fact that I don’t have a suegra nor a latino esposo, yet I still have these crazy things that my gringo father brought back from his exursions. I do love my beach towel and my little cross though. I’ll have to take pictures one day. Oh, and that’s not all! I have stuff from all over South & Central America. Boxes of it…some good, some bad, and some plain ugly! :)

  6. The horseshoe necklace? Your luck is running out! Seriously, the horseshoe should always be ends up so your luck stays in.

    OMG I’m superstitious!

    Nice mementos from El Salvador!

    • @ Rox – I had the same belief but maybe Salvadorans don’t since that’s how the necklace was designed to hang… Don’t worry – I have a real metal horseshoe on my dining room wall and I have it right-side-up. It balances out ;)

  7. OMG!I can’t stop laughing at the “Santa Cena” artwork!! Your description is hilarious! Why would there be a witch AND a baseball player with Jesus Cristo?!?! This is the best post I’ve read in a LONG time. Great work Sra. Lopez :o)

  8. In todays tough economic time it is really better to support your local arts & crafts people rather then buying factory made things from department stores.

  9. Hahahaha! I don’t even know where to begin! Love the post. Elf shoes?! Hahahaha. I also have some of those items from trips to El Salvador, but I think a couple of those things might be Guatemalteco? Just sayin…
    We also bring back a huge suitcase with gifts from family when we go to Guatemala. We’ve gotten a lot of great stuff, we we’ve also gotten stuff (both homemade & purchased) where I was like, “there is no way in hell I’m going to be wearing that/hanging that up in my house”. We’ve been able to pull it off, but now with the Suegros arriving next week, I’m hoping they will have forgotten about some of the stuff (that is clearly NOT being used in our household)! Ooops.

    • @ Melssel – LOL – Exactly! I have a box of items I have to go put around the house when in-laws visit. As for Suegra, because she lives with us, she has just had to get used to the fact that I don’t hang up/use everything she gives me. I’ve found it’s best to just be honest from the start because she is always trying to give me stuff I don’t want. I tell her “No thank you. I won’t really use it.” — She thinks I’m a spoiled brat, but oh well.

      (To clarify – I wouldn’t be rude enough to turn down a gift she has specifically gotten for me, but almost on a weekly basis she’ll pick junk up at yard sales and say, “Do you want this?”)

  10. LOL Tracy! I can’t stop laughing about your comments on the shirt!! And then the last supper picture details, hahahaha! My 2 favorites but all the post is great!
    How amazingly similar are latin countries, tou could finmd very siilar things from Venzuela as well!

  11. My parents also brought me back from Mexico a hammoc a while back. I love it! Mine is in a natural tan color. Every Spring the first thing we do is hang it (and we have the perfect two trees to hang it from). (BTW- how do you keep it from getting mold? This year- for some odd reason- mine got a lot of it and I want it gone! The humidity here wasn’t even as bad as other years. Hum.)
    Anyway, enjoy the last few days on your hammoc before it begins to freeze. (Have I ever told you I can’t stand the cold?)

    • @ Lisa – The hammocks aren’t made for the weather we have around here. It’s best to bring it indoors within the next couple weeks. Make sure you have a few dry days first so there’s no moisture before storing it for the winter… If it got mold I’m thinking maybe you’ve got one of the softer ones, (the one we use now is a harder, waxy string – not like cotton.) … For the cotton ones, maybe you can soak it in a bathtub with a little bleach and then hang it to dry for a few days?


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