Blanca Regalado

Transcript of Blanca Regalado
Interviewee: Blanca Regalado
Interviewer: Mark Lecker & Dorothy Nygren
Date: May 4, 2014
Place: North Shore Baptist Church, 5244 N Lakewood, Chicago, Illinois
Transcriber: Mark Lecker
Total Time: 43:08 minutes

Copyright © 2014 Edgewater Historical Society

[Italicized words are in another language, typically Spanish]

BR: Hi. My name is Blanca Regalado, and I coming from El Salvador.

BN: Ok.

ML: This is Mark Lecker, we are interviewing Blanca, and it is 11:43, on May 4th. We are at North Shore Baptist Church. So you were born in El Salvador?

BR: Yes.

ML: What was it like growing up there?

BR: What do you mean?

ML: Did you play…?

BR: Oh my life over there?

ML: Yeah. What was it like when you…

BR: When I started to…

DN: When you were a little girl, and your family…

BR: What I remember since I was six years old, I was going to the school, and at the time my country doesn’t have enough schools. So they have a lot of childs doing the learning, and they send us to…like a forest. And they make a table from the stones.


ML: Oh, really?

BR: And they sit with the stones too, and we starting to take class over there, around a lot of fruit trees, like mango, coconuts, and we have a lot of fun over there, like a child would enjoy that.

ML: Did you snack on the fruits while you were in class?

BR: Only when we were in break time. Yes. And I grew up in the situation, helping my mom to do little things, to go and buy this, go and do this. Sweep the floors, you know little things. I went to the superior school, like um…like a no high school, but just, I don’t know how they call it here, like when you’re…this school was like kinder[garten], but after that we go to first grade, second grade, you know. And then I was playing in fifth grade I was playing basketball. But I was playing more baseball, for girls. And before I come over here, before I got my first child, I was playing soccer game…womans were starting to play soccer games, you know. That was my life. Then I know my boyfriend, I got married with him, I had my first child, my three childs born over there too. But when they come over here, they were like in high school. Yeah.


DN: To go back to when you were a little girl, did you live in a farm, or a village, or city?

BR: We live in a village.

DN: What was the name of the village?

BR: [Unintelligible].

DN: How many people lived in the village?

BR: Let me see…in the time, like five hundred people, probably. Not much.

DN: In your family itself, did you have brothers or sisters?

BR: Oh yes. My sisters here…all my family’s here. Only my old sister not. She came over here, but she doesn’t like it. She was ready to put business here, and this is funny, because she was…when we came to this country, we went “wow!” We love everything. And my sister don’t want to keep their business over there, and she want to put it over here, like a little restaurant, do like a [unintelligible] something, [unintelligible], a lot of food that people like. But one day she come on vacation, and then she started to look at it for some place to put it there, the business. And was like, I remember was in November, almost it was Thanksgiving, but it didn’t snow yet, it was snowing a little bit. And one day she decided to go to the store, and buy some groceries, and then she say, “Over there, there is snow. Over here it’s not snow, and it’s like a little water. I’m going to walk over here but that is dangerous.” And she lay down. And all the groceries went around. And some guys, they no help her, they were laughing at her. She was so pissed off. And they say, “I want to go my country…I’m never going to come back over here.” And she not like it anymore.


DN: She got a little embarrassed?

BR: Yeah. And she had a big [unintelligible]. And then she say, “No.” She loves everything, you know, and everything but she no want to come here anymore.

DN: So when you were growing up in the village, where were you in the family? Oldest, youngest, middle.

BR: Uh, I was…at that time I was middle, because I had my old sister, my brother who died already, and me. And after me, two more brothers and one more sister.

DN: So you would play with your brothers and sisters?

BR: Only with my brother who was before me. The others they…there was more to play with them. That only happen to you when you don’t know how to play them. You only play games you were raised. Running and jumping, and so…


ML: What was your favorite thing to play? When you were a little girl?

BR: I don’t know how you call it, and it’s funny, because…the place now someday I got upset because I call my grandchild. Tthey don’t want to go outside, because they’re on the internet or the computer or the Nintendo, and the games. In that time, no. Our playing was…run and touch it…you touch the people, you run and they follow you…

ML: Tag…

BR: And somebody touching you, and you had to run back…then you know that’s how was play. There was one…put the hands back here, and they give us a little stone, and they say it’s a jewelry. It’s a little stone, and they put it in the back, and you say, “She have it, or she have it.” And you are right, then you go. And they ask…question you. That’s the games we…we don’t have much fancy, no.

DN: I don’t think you need the whole lot of fancy to still have fun.

BR: You’re right. You’re right.

DN: So did you help your mother prepare food?

BR: Oh yes.

DN: So could you…


BR: Wait, no. I didn’t, no. I’m a liar. With my mother…my mother had business. Let me tell you the truth. My mother had business, she never, never…and this is funny. Never tell us, come and to do this thing, or come and help me to do this chicken, no. Go and do the laundry. Go and bring the water, because we had to bring the water, in our hands, far away. In that time we don’t have electricity, and we not have water around. We have to go to the river to get the water. Or come and do this one, but not in the kitchen, only she wants another lady who was helping her. I learn how to cook with my mother-in-law, is a shame, but I learn it with her. And she know I didn’t know it.

ML: So you’re saying that your mom wouldn’t let you in the kitchen.

BR: No. My mother-in-law teach me how to do everything. Because she knew it, I never do kitchen with my mom. And I told her “I don’t know how to do that.” ’Don’t worry I teach you come one! You have to learn to cook sometime.’”

DN: That is a funny story. And what did your dad do?


BR: My dad died, very, very young. Yeah.

DN: So your mother had the business. It was like the mother and father of the family, keeping track of everybody.

BR: My mother had the business. My father go outside to work. He had another job.

DN: So then you played with your brother, and you went to school. What did you learn in school, when you were young?

BR: Well, this is good too, because I learn more than here, I’m learning in the first grade. In the first grade, I know how to [unintelligible], multiply, the plus, some [unintelligible], I don’t know all the [unintelligible]. And we know all the countries and the cities, which is…mathematic, um…English, no. English we learn it but in like the high school. And then we learned it in the high school, but nobody paid attention because we didn’t need it. It be like you go to school, and you have to learn Spanish. You don’t need it - you don’t care. A lot of things, across the board, all in the world, the president of the United States, who was it, who was our President, how they made the vote, the elections, these people the leave, the camera, they [unintelligible]. A lot of things like that.


DN: And so you finished high school?

BR: Yeah.

DN: And how did…

BR: No, no, I didn’t finish high school, I lie again. I was doing like a kinder [garten], and I went to the seventh grade. Then I didn’t finish, because I got married with my husband. I prefer to have children than go to the school.

DN: How did you meet your husband?

BR: This is interesting too. When I was in the fifth grade, he come to look at his brother, and when I saw the handsome guy, I said, “Oh my G-d, what a guy! He’s cute!” I feel like attraction. He didn’t see me [laughs]. We was with a lot of girls. But that was the moment, and done. That’s it. I continue with my routine, and my house, one day just I was going to the church, I was in the church all the time, I love the church, all the time I love the church. And I was going to the church, because I was in the choir, I remember. He stay on Tuesdays, and one Tuesday I saw him with a girlfriend, in the entry of the church. He didn’t break my heart, no, because I mean he don’t know me. I was in love with him, but a platonic, you know? [Laughs] I said “Oh, my G-d, wow”, you know? And that’s it, [unintelligible], past the time.

I had boyfriend in my school, like a boyfriend like you know, in the second grade, the third grade, he was with me. Then he went to the high school, and I stay in fifth grade. But I didn’t see him anymore, and then one day my old sister invited me to go to a party. And then my mom don’t let us go to the party, very easy, no. “Who gonna go with you, what time you gonna come back? What kind of party?”…a lot of questions. My old sister say, “Don’t worry mom she gonna come with me!” She said, “Ok, you’re responsible for her?” “Yeah. Ok.” I went with her, I remember I put my best dress, but I don’t know what happen because I want to have fun, you know. As soon as I got over there, I was coming inside, and he was coming inside too.

It’s destiny. Do you believe in destiny, because I believe in destiny? And then when I saw him, oh my heart started to woof! And then he come, and then he saw me. And then he say, “Do you like to dance?” I say, “Yes!” We started to dance, and we never stopped to dance. All the time I was over there. But my mom sent my little niece, she’s up there, she’s here. She was like seven years old, probably, and he say, “Hey, Blanca, my mom say it’s too much time, you have to come back home.” I say, “I’m sorry I have to leave.” He say, “Ok, ok, when am I going to see you again?” I say, “I don’t know. Bye, bye, bye.” And I left, you know? And then my little niece say, “Do you have a good time, Blanca?” I say, “Yes.” “Do you have a boyfriend?” I say, “No way, no.” “I think so, because the guy is coming upstairs,” and I saw he was coming behind us. And then he asked me, “Where do you live? When am I going to see you again?” And blah, blah, blah. Can you believe that? And I never see him again. This is crazy. Plus my mom never let us go often, outside. All the time in the house, helping on school vacation. No way, there is no way to go outside. But one day, he was finding out about me, he was asking because the population was not much. He was investigating, and one day my brother, who died already, he tell me “Blanca, do you know this guy who is like this?” And I say, “No,” because I didn’t know his name, too. I say, “No.” “Yeah, he say you know him, he say you met him at this party,” and I was “Oh, oh yeah! Sí (‘yes’), yeah, probably, but I don’t know his name, why?” “Because he say he want to be your boyfriend. He want to come to the house,” blah, blah, blah. That is when he started to come to the house.


DN: Years later, here you are married, with children…

BR: I didn’t get married at that time. See what happened…because my mom was all the time with us. She was very conservative, and then she says I can go outside, but not with him. I don’t know why she was like that. He say all the time “Señora (‘Mrs.’), old lady, can…I want to go to the theater, can Blanca come with me?” She say, “No.” “Señora, I going to go to this and play, can Blanca come with? “No.” I was…he was my boyfriend, but we don’t have liberty to go nowhere. Nowhere. And one day, my old sister say, again, “Hey, we’re going to go to like a picnic, and one place there were pools and waterfalls and have fun, outside the city.” And then she say, “Do you want to come with us?” And I say, “No, my mom…” and she’s my sister. And my mom is going to say no. And my sister say “Mom, Blanca is going to come with me,” and my mom, because she trust my sister, my old brother and my old sister, she don’t trust me! I don’t know why. Then she say, “Well, you are going to take care of her?” And then she say, “Yes.” And then I say, “Well, I’m going to go.” Was on a Saturday, in the evening. We’re gonna go Sunday. My boyfriend left already. My boyfriend didn’t know we were going to go for that picnic, you know. When I was going, I say destiny again. When I was going with my sister, we have to go and take a bus. And my boyfriend was going with all the guys to play soccer, it was Sunday. And when he saw me, I was going with all my stuff over here, my swimming suit, and then tell me on the other side of the street “Where are you going?” And I say, “Picnic.” And he say, “Oh really?” And he come with us, and he was coming with us! I say, “What are you doing? You’re not going to go play soccer?” And he say, “Was. Now I’m going with you.”

Oh my G-d and my mom thought we were lying to her. And my mom want to punish me when I come back. Probably so people, because people sometimes talking too much. Sometimes they don’t want to make damage, but sometimes talking, little things you talk make troubles. So probably someone say, “We saw Blanca with her boyfriend. They look beautiful.” And my mom say, “What?! She not tell me she going to go with him!” And then when I come back, she was so pissed off. She want to punish me, I say, “No.” She not gonna punish me for something that I didn’t do. I didn’t prepare. What she gonna punish me? And I say, “I gonna punish you,” I say, “No.” And I went to him, to his [unintelligible] house was close. To his house, and I say, “Go and tell my mom. What she going to do with that? We are boyfriend, why…?” My boyfriend say, “No way, I’m not going because she’s so pissed off and she going to slap my face, and no, no, no…” Because my mom was something else. She protect us too much. “Please, go, go.”

And my future mother-in-law, she coming and she love me, probably. She say, “You know what? Stay with him. Don’t go anywhere near your mom.” And I say, “No, pero [but] stay with him.” There, that’s it. I didn’t come back to my house. I stay with my boyfriend, typical, in my country. And then when my mom started to look for me. They say, “No, she’s not here.” My mom was crazy. My mom got sick. My mom got… They blame me for that for a few months, but at the end of the day, it was helpful. And then now she died, and I hope is with G-d. But she was protecting us too much, and that protection make damage.


DN: So what made you decide to come to the United States?

BR: Well, my mom had business, I told you. My mother-in-law had business. My mother-in-law had business like beef, cows. They spend all the meats in the markets, and I was learning that business, and my mother had like a kind of restaurant. She was selling food, you know? My brother, he was starting, and he was prepared to go to the university, but in the university, you put the forms and because they are thousand, probably, you’re lucky they going to call you back. You’re not lucky, you don’t go to the university, you have to wait for another period. And my brother was waiting for the resolution, and my brother say, “Ok.” And then some friends, they come here on vacation. They were living in this [unintelligible]. And then they call him. “It was a beautiful country, beautiful, oh my G-d, you going to love it, come on vacation.” And my brother say, “Ok, I’m gonna go pero I’m not gonna come on vacation. I’m gonna stay there, because I going to see what’s going on in my life.” And then my brother put the balance on this one: if the university call me, I gonna stay. It’s Saturday, if I had my flight already, I didn’t see another solution, I gonna go. Pero before Saturday the university send me something, I going to stay here.”

And we were praying to G-d, my G-d, who him don’t come over here. My mother don’t want him to. But the thing never, we got it. Saturday in the morning we went to the airport, and say to him, “Bye-bye.” Listen, when we come back, from the airport, we find the letter from the university. What did I tell you, believe in destiny. It was destiny. My brother stay here a while and then we made our life over there. We had children, but I never get married with my husband. No, I don’t know for why this we never get married. I tell the family, sometimes it’s put in the longs, you know? And then my brother finally told my mom, “I’m going to come over here, this beautiful country, and I love it,” and blah, blah, blah. My mom come over here, and she saw the possibility to brings us over here, or do something. Which my sister go and started over here, she was started over there, she come with my little sister…


DN: You said your mom saw the beautiful country…

BR: Yeah, and then my mom stay here, she got sick, she had to go to the hospital, she got a surgery, and then we were here for her, like few years. But my country started to put horrible war, people killing people. You remember El Salvador, Monsignor Romero? We were there when they killed him. And a lot of things. And I was keeping her business, I get my mother-in-law business. I keeping my business now. And then when I was over there, people come and they put [gun] in my tummy, “Give me your money, give me everything you have.” But was terrible. Was, you can’t be safe anymore. And you are all the time somebody gonna kill, somebody gonna rob. It wasn’t good anymore for us. Then my mom knew that, and my mom say, “You want to come over here, you can come over here. I going to talk to the lawyer.” She started to do the papers, the legal papers. That’s why everybody want to come to this country. And then when I started, when I come over here, because all my family, they want to study. Tthey want to study, my sister…I started to go to Truman College. And I started to go to Truman College, and I started to learn English, because the day I went to go look for a job, the lady say to my niece, “Does she speak English?” And my niece say, “No.” And I feel bad. I feel, “Oh my G-d, I have to do something.” So Truman College was my college.


ML: How did you like Truman College?

BR: It’s good.

ML: It’s good?

BR: It’s good. You know what? For me, every school, college, is good. I’m sorry [unintelligible] I say that, but alas. We didn’t pay attention when we didn’t have to pay attention. We didn’t get…how can I explain? We didn’t get the situation the government is giving to us! We don’t…I saw people who born here, and learn nothing. And I say, “Why?” We don’t get the opportunities the country is giving to us. You know what I’m talking about? When people get the opportunity, they can be lawyers. They can be doctors. They can be professionals. But we never got it. We’re not gonna get nothing. We gonna go on the street, or do something bad, you know? This is beautiful country. This is the country of opportunity when you want to take it. When you don’t want to take it…


DN: You talked about when you came here, that the opportunity to go to Truman College was very helpful to you, and supportive of making your home here. What other things in the community have helped you feel really at home?

BR: Church. I was going to the…not this church. I was going to the [unintelligible] church. It’s on Paulina, over there. We stayed over there, and we no have complaints. Church is very important for the people. Believe me. And then when I started to learn little things, in three months, I was speaking, I was writing, and understand what the people were saying. And I go to look for a job for myself. And I got a job in the hotel. Cleaning rooms, of course. But I knew it doesn’t matter. Cleaning room, but they ask, “You speak English?” And some people gonna say, “I gonna make the beds and clean the toilets, what I need the English? I don’t need the English.” They need it. And then I was filling out my application, and talking with the boss. They interview me, and I tell them, and I got the job. I was coming back to my house, I saw Hyatt Hotel. And the other hotel they told me, “You can start tomorrow,” I say, “Yes,” because I needed job. But I go and apply in this hotel too. And I go into the Hyatt Hotel, and I fill out the application, and I started to work next week. So I let the hotel that’s…what the name of the hotel here, it’s in [unintelligible]…


DN: Holiday Inn?

BR: Holiday Inn. I started that one. And then next week, because this one was much close to my house, and my sister was working there, I changed it. I change it, I work for Hyatt for twenty-six years. And then I continue going to the school, I was making my schedule, I bring my son. I bring my other son. I was working maybe [unintelligible]. I was working in the hotel, every day, was working for the money, I was doing a lot of job, because I wanted to make more, wanted to bring my son, you know? It’s not free, have to pay lawyer, have to pay flies, I have to travel over there and get him, bring him, so…but I continue to study, and in my break time in the Truman College I started English. I was going to downstairs. I was playing the computers, and then computers started to [first] come out. You know, computers? That was new. Computers and telephones. Which I not like it, not like it very much. I started to learn it, everything. I was taking my time, like a crazy. Because the lady talking to me, that one made me feel like, I had to do something. When my boss saw I was speaking and I learn everything about it, he tell me, ask me, “You want to do supervisor?” Supervisor? What?! Really? Ok, let’s go! I started to make supervisor. Which my partner, they were not happy, they were upset with me because I was housekeeping, and now I gonna go…”She gonna do our supervisor? What? What? No.” But my boss work. Then I was the boss for the department, the housekeeping. My problem, for me…not quick. Because my two knees, they got broke. And I have surgery. And I got knee replacement, with one foot is not really good. And then the doctor say, “You can’t work anymore,” because in the hotel you have to give a hundred percent running, doing this, doing that…and I disability. Because I couldn’t work anymore. But I was all my life in the hotel.


ML: When did you move to the Edgewater area?

BR: Um, the Edgewater area, we moved for the district zone. My niece, who is not my niece really, is my niece’s husband, she come to live with me. She was coming on vacation to…and she was living and working, and her aunt say, “Ok, time to return to my country,” and she don’t want to return back because she was in love with this country. She come to me and then she say, “Help me, help me, auntie! I don’t want to go to my country, because I love it over here!” I [unintelligible] who love this country, because it’s different to our country. And then I say, “Ok, let me talk to this people, the people who renting me.” And I talk to them, and they say, “Yeah, she can come live with you.” And then I talk to this lady working, and she come to live with me, she was miserable. She was [unintelligible]. She have no boyfriend or husband. And then at the beginning I told, “You gonna stay with me, I want to go to Truman College.””That’s my college! “Truman College to learn whatever, English, or whatever you have to learn.”

And I was coming to her, and we fill out the application and everything. But the area is not really good. The area is bad area. Believe me. And this is true. They don’t do nothing to us, because they know us. But people who don’t know, they can steal. They very trouble. It’s too bad to say that. But one day, she was coming, she was working, she was coming and a black guy stole everything from her. And she have boyfriend already, and because she was virgin. The boyfriend said, “No, I don’t want to…rape her or something. This is crazy.” She started to look for…to move, you know? And Edgewater we have our friend. She have a house with her friend. When she buy the house both friends. But the other lady, her husband died. She couldn’t pay it anymore. She had to move. And then my friend, he build a house. And she say, “You want to move over here?” I rented the first floor, was beautiful house, I said, “Ok.” That was [how] we come to live over here, in this area.

ML: One of the interesting things about Edgewater is how diverse it is. There’s people from literally all around the world. Do you find that it builds a strong community because everybody seems to be from somewhere else?


BR: Well, I had a bad experience over there. The area’s nice. It’s quiet and…and clean. Especially the area behind the hospital. Was hospital in Edgewater. But I have a car, finally I have…I was, I learned to drive, and I have a car who a guy sell me, he sell me…he don’t want to sell, he want to sell it, but when I ask him how much he wanted for your car, he told me, making joke, “how much you want to give me?” And I say “I can give you two hundred dollar.” He say, “Done! Give me the two hundred dollar, I give you the car.” Was a Plymouth, ’74, I got it in good condition. It very clean, very nice car. And I like the car, because you see the movie, an old movie, with this car, Clint Eastwood, and he was working with a chimpanzee. His car was my car. My car was famous, in the movie. I love it! And then when I come to this area, I had that car, and every day, almost every day I find paper that says my car, this car need to be in the garbage. This is bad car for this area. This car is ugly…oh, my car! All the time, they put it on my windshield, papers.

One day, I was tired, and I pulled back, and I say, “This car is paying taxes. This car is good. It’s running. This car is my car. Why don’t you [unintelligible]. I put whoever…whoever is writing this…and one day they break the windows. They broke the windows. And I go and put the windows back, but I didn’t know who was doing that. And I was watching people, [unintelligible]. But you don’t know. They maybe are midnight probably, whoever is watching them. But um…finally, they leave me alone. I knew it was a lady in the corner who she was from France, or from Italy, something like that. I don’t know. Who knows? The area is good, I love the area. It’s very nice.


DN: Do you feel at home here, Blanca? Compared to being in your country, where would you say is your home? Would you say here?

BR: Oh, yeah.

DN: Why?

BR: The reason is that this is the country of opportunities. When you are doing the right thing, you get the right things. I feel sorry for all those people who they are now…scheming to be legal, and probably they feel the government is doing something bad to them. I feel sorry, and probably when one of my brother or my sister was in the same situation, but government is so kind. Certain things, you know? During or watching this way, and you have your house, and somebody is coming to stealing you, or leaving you without your permission, it not right. And I against that, I love them. I have a lot of friends who they are feeling same way. But we have to be realistic. You know what I’m talking about. Realistic. A lot of people from my country, from Mexico, I know those people, I didn’t know they were Mexican. And the government was behind them, because they wouldn’t leave. You know what I talking about? But this is great country, probably that’s why people is running over here. Because in our country, (sigh), sometimes it hard to say it but our government is not doing exactly what they need to do. And people have to look forward to futures. It’s sad.


DN: I’d like to, to ask you to share…you were telling me before about some wonderful cooking you did.

BR: Yes.

DN: So I’m asking you to share your recipe for…

BR: La pupusas, pupusas is very famous in United States. Pupusas is like Mexican taco. Our pupusas are coming from the corn, we make the pasta. Like when you make tortilla, and then we make the pasta for chicharŕon, cheese, and beans. Fried beans. Refried beans. Make the pasta, you want to use only chicharŕon, or you want to use only cheese, or you want to use only beans, right? Then you make the tortilla, then you want mix it, which is good, you mix it chicharŕon, cheese, and beans. And you make it, the tortilla, and you have the grill, very hot, and you put it to cook it like a tortilla. And then you serve it like, we called cordito, but you would call sauce, but we put vinegar, hot pepper, and salt and onions, and oregano. And we make that kind of…and we make the pupusas.

ML: Is that your favorite thing to cook?

BR: Let me tell you something, it’s a shame because I love it, I like it, it from my country but I don’t know how to do it. My mom used to do it, my sister…this lady, she send me some. She knows how to do it. If I do it, it’s to keep around, because if I do it, it gonna be like on my hand, [unintelligible] is to make it around. That’s the miracle [laughs]. And then it’s a lot of typical place in my country.

DN: Are there any other questions, Mark that you’d like to ask?

ML: Not that I can think of.

DN: This is your story, Blanca, so are there any other things you’d like to share with us before we finish the interview?

BR: No, something you want to ask me something else?

DN: I’d like to ask you one other thing: are there things from El Salvador that you miss? Here in the U.S.? And can you get them in Edgewater grocery stores and things?


BR: No. At the beginning when I come here I was crying, because I had most of my family over there, my sons. Friends…you don’t have friends anymore when you have a lot of times in that country. And when you come back, you don’t know, it’s new people, different disappear, I don’t know what my friends are, so…no. No. I don’t…I miss my country, because it’s my country, pero no not like oh I crying to go over there.

ML: Do you visit often?

BR: Before, yes. I had to go for my sons. Now I have eleven or ten years, I don’t go over there. All of my family is here, you know? My mom died four years ago. My young child too, killed himself. Also my sons they go with my sister-in-law. My husband’s sister. They go and visit her, my sons. But no, I had the opportunity to go and…I don’t know for any reason, for any reason I don’t go over there. And we have beautiful things to visit, we have beautiful beaches and…very nice. I like the food over there, I love the coconuts, with the water, the cocoa. Our food is good. The drinks are good. We have a lot of kind of drinks over there. But…


DN: But you’re happy here in this country, and Edgewater, and with the life you have here now?

BR: Oh yeah. Oh yeah, because you make new friends. You make your own life. You make plans, where you gonna go on vacation, what you want to do this summer, what are we gonna do this winter, drinking hot coffee. Yeah, pero I like it.

DN: Great and I think that…

ML: There is one more thing. We were actually talking earlier about social identity. Do you identify as El Salvadorian? Do you identify as American, maybe an El Salvadorian who lives in America now? When you think about how you identify yourself, what do you think about?


BR: Well, I don’t know you are thinking like me, but I think that everybody think different.

ML: That’s true.

BR: But everybody…I don’t know what you think. I don’t know what you thinking, you don’t know. I don’t know what you like. You don’t know what I like, everybody thinking different. Like probably things I like, you cannot like it. Working in the hotel, I got the opportunity to know a lot of people, different countries. Because this is a cosmopolitan country, there is a lot of people from everywhere. And I was talking with different people, and everybody thinks different. So…for that reason, I stay, you know, believing what I believe in, and respect everyone. I want everyone to respect me, so it’s the best situation to live together with the people…


DN: In peace.

BR: …With a lot of people, yeah.

DN: So I think what Mark was trying to get at, was do you feel like an American now?

BR: If I feel American?

DN: Yeah.

BR: When I got my citizenship, honestly, I was going to the school. I started to learn English. I don’t know what the people says in English. Only I know the letters to put in this one, and repeat. I was repeating what she said, but I don’t know what it mean.


DN: When you got your citizenship…

BR: Uh huh. They just was saying something, in English, but only remember he say, “This is your country now. It’s beautiful country. Welcome to our country. Our arms are open for you, things” and he started to say north, south, everything. Like it remind me that’s all the American, beautiful sunset…and I feel like…emotional. I feel like, “Oh my G-d they don’t know us, they say welcome? This is how…?” And but that made me feel like I am America. I know what I am. I know I am El Salvadorian. I know who my country, and this is beautiful country, I love it, pero never gonna forget my country. Never.

ML: Ok. That makes absolute sense.

BR: My culture, my culture, never.

DN: I understand that, because you were born in El Salvador…

BR: Exactly.

DN: …and this is where you grew up. And this is something you always take with you. Memories of childhood.

BR: And I have found over there, like I have found over here, and I have nice things over there like I have nice things over here. Problems, they’re gonna be everywhere. Everywhere. And that’s out the question. But if I gonna forget where I come from? No, never.

DN: But you do feel at home here now?


BR: Oh yes. Oh yes, because like I telling you, everywhere I respect me, I respect everybody. And…

DN: And your children, do you think they feel very much at home here?

BR: Oh yeah, they’re American citizens too.

DN: And so, and your grandchildren too.

BR: Oh yes, oh yes, oh my G-d… [laughing]. They just, they don’t even know my country. They don’t know…

DN: Except maybe from the food.

BR: From the food… Well, my son was married with a Columbian girl, and they love Columbian food. My other son was married with a Honduran lady, and they love that kind of food. But when we make a party, they not make any difference. They eat everything! You know what I’m talking about?


DN: Yes, yes. Well that’s the story of America, they eat everything.

ML: Food brings everybody together.

BR: Exactly! It brings everybody. It all delicious, delicious. If you’re hungry, you eat everything.

DN: And I think that’s a very good note, to end the interview. Thank you so much, Blanca, for sharing your stories with us. Thank you.

ML: Thank you very much.

BR: You’re welcome. My pleasure.