The Wooden Dog


Since my suegra retired to El Salvador, I haven’t talked about her much here, but things have been good between us. She calls daily to talk to Carlos and Carlos keeps me updated about her and vice versa. Whenever either one of us needs anything, we do our best to help each other out.

Like when she needed someone to fill out Social Security paperwork which was in English, I took care of it. When I broke my toe and my foot was swollen, she said “pobrecita”, advised me to put honey on it, and asked regularly if I was getting better. When she requested a garment steamer, electric kettle, and various other things, I bought them online and had them sent to Carlos’s brother to deliver to her on his trip to El Salvador. And any time I have a question about Salvadoran cuisine or slang, she’s happy to share her knowledge.

Then about a month ago Carlos told me she was going on an overnight trip to the town of Ilobasco to see a friend and I was excited because they make clay figures there, and somehow I got it in my mind that I’d really like a little clay dog for my office area. So Carlos asked Suegra if she could get one while she was there (to be sent to the United States with a visiting tía) and she agreed even though she’s never really understood my obsession with “chuchos.”

Come to find out later (from the tía) that Suegra couldn’t find a clay dog. She went to various places in Ilobasco and spent a lot of time searching, but had no success, and she had to return home to Chalatenango with her ride. She was really upset and telling anyone who would listen that she needed a clay dog, so one of the tíos tried to make one out of clay, but it fell apart.

Finally, Suegra found a dog figure, but it was made of wood. She bought it for me and hoped for the best when she sent it wrapped up along with conserva de coco, and camote, and various other gifts she sent along in a tía’s suitcase.

Now this cute little dachshund sits on the bookshelf near my desk, and every time I look at it I remember the trouble she went to for me.


  1. Hi Tracy!
    I really enjoy your blog, mainly because I was searching for a recipe for the “chuletas” your husband loves. I was starting to think I had imagined that my aunt made those when I was very little.

    Anyway, I wanted to share a picture of my nativity that I got two Christmases ago on my visit back to El Salvador. My sister wanted to do everything and go everywhere, I just wanted to eat fritada and go to Ilobasco to find clay figurines for my nativity.

    I found this lovely Nativity. I carried it like a baby the whole trip back and treasure it more than anything I own.
    Here is my little treasure! :)

    • Oh wow, what a special recuerdo! I’m glad you were able to get it safely back without breaking it. The little cow is my favorite. Thanks so much for sharing that with me and for your kind words :) (And I hope the chuletas came out well!)

  2. I’m happy to hear there’s less tension (… probably because she doesn’t live with you!). She sounds like a good person, although a bit misguided at times if I remember correctly.

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