Returning to El Salvador: The Life I Might Have Had

It has been 12 years since I last set foot in El Salvador. When I first came, I was 17, I didn’t speak any spanish, and had just met my birth family the year before. My adoptive parents, my brother and I had decided to spend the holidays of 1998 touring Central America. We went to Panama, Costa Rica and then El Salvador. I don’t remember much from back then, only meeting lots of people who looked like me that I knew little about. I had a feeling this time it would be very different.

As my plane made its final decent, we flew past the city and out towards the coast. We headed out to sea, as if we only passing by this tiny country, the same size and population of Massachusetts. Over clear blue waters we did a 180 degree turn and headed back toward land. Moderate winds bounced us up and down some as we got closer to the runway. Instead of thickly settled housing I saw small shacks and green fields. Instead of grid locked city traffic I saw famers on horse back.

I got off the plane and headed toward customs. An agent greeted us and directed us into the appropriate lines. She asked me if I was Salvadoran and with a little smirk on my face I replied no. After sorting through all the days luggage at the only operational baggage carousel, I was on my way. Walking out of the airport I was confronted by a couple hundred people waiting for various family members to arrive. This was a little overwhelming, but luckily I found my cousin without any difficulty. We then made the 45 minute drive back into the city.

That night my cousin, her two sisters and my aunt took me out for buffalo wings. Watching the three of them interact and joke around reminded me of me and my siblings. They seemed so close and…almost normal. Then a strange thought hit me. Am I looking at the life I could have had? Is this what it would have been like if we had never been separated?

Rarely do we get to experience “what could have been.” We often imagine how our lives might have turned out, but to be confronted by it is something else entirely.

It made me question the choices my parents made. El Salvador is still a mess. There is still a lot of crime, violence and lack of opportunity. Did the revolution really change anything? If they had not joined, would it have mattered? My aunts and uncles didn’t fight and their lives seemed to turn out alright. I’m sure life in El Salvador isn’t easy, but at least they have each other. At least they are together.

How An American Learned to Love the World Cup

Watching the World Cup brings back so many memories of visiting my family and being exposed to new cultures. I was in Central America for the ’98 and ’02 tournaments. Growing up as an American we knew about the World Cup, but experiencing it was something completely different.

In 1998, I was in Panama and every business that you walked into had a game on. The broadcasters were so energetic and would scream GOAL until they ran out of breath, and then do it again. I remember watching the days replays and being blown away with the incredible goals that were scored.

I returned home before the end of the tournament and was shocked to find that the American stations were not showing the games. Thankfully the finals were broadcast, but even then the atmosphere was completely different. I was at Lacrosse camp and watched with all the other American teenagers attending. I felt like we were watching it just because it was the World Cup, not because we loved the game. It would take another four years before I learned how to really watch a soccer game .

In 2002, I was in Costa Rica and they had made it into the World Cup. It seemed like the entire country had World Cup fever. On every conner, street vendors had carts stuffed full of Costa Rican flags, shirts, hats, wrist bands, whistles, horns, and anything else they could print the flag on. That year the Costa Ricans were facing the extremely dangerous Brazil. My sister invited a couple of friends over to watch the game.

The “Ticos” where not favored to win, but you couldn’t tell that from the way they cheered. Every time the ball was on the Brazilian side they screamed at the TV, trying to will the ball into the goal. Brazil went up 3-0 and things didn’t look good. Then out of no where Costa Rica scored two. The country went crazy. You could hear everyone cheering, cars honking in the street and fireworks in the distance. They ended up being eliminated, but seeing how they got so into the game left a lasting impression on me.

Today I have a new appreciation and love for the game. I admire the skill and artistry the world’s best players bring to this tournament. I love the way each country gets so into it. I wish that Americans could experience the game the same way I did. We would be great fans. If we brought the same passion and intensity that we have for American Football to Soccer, we would go far.

The way He works – by Eva

Have you ever thought about your purpose in life? Have you ever thought about the mission you have and the reason why you are here today?

Day by day I live thinking about the reasons that brought me here where I am. Day by day I try to think what makes me be the woman I am nowadays. Sometimes I go back long time ago and start thinking about everything what had happened to me and my family, and sometimes I just happen to think about what is coming next…

Whatever I think gets me to one point: God’s will, and watching today at the video of the interview my brother made, makes me be even surer about that. What a wonderful opportunity this interview was to tell others the story.

But also I was thinking to myself, what a great opportunity we had to meet Amanda, Mr. and Mrs. Gross and Cristina that nice Saturday here in Costa Rica. I have to say at the beginning I thought they seem to be very nice people, but then as long as I got to know them I thought to myself they happen to be not only nice people but really wonderful people. As the conversation went on, I found they are a wonderful family and I was so glad to get to know them. Once we went for lunch somehow we started to talk about our story very naturally, one thing brought to another and then we found ourselves talking about what had happened to our family. And there we were, my brother trying to tell the story in a logical way so they could understand, and me, trying to explain with my lack of English how does it feel to have him back. Someway words just went out and it was really nice to see them immerse in it and trying to understand.

After that the idea of the interview came, and it was done….

Telling the story not only identify ourselves as the persons we are, but also it goes further than that. And today watching at the video I thought how the testimony is allowed to be spread out for more people. And then I wonder again: is that one of our purposes in life? We have to talk about what happened to us, and point the good in it, our story is filled of sad episodes but also it is flowed of happiness and hope, and miracles and blessings!

How wonderful is to tell that in the end, there was something for my brother and I that made us even closer; I guess the story touched hearts.

How wonderful is God who speaks and works in so many ways. There is always a message to give, a message to receive and a message to share! Maybe that is one of our missions now, to touch as much hearts as we can…

Thank you Amanda, Mr. and Mrs. Gross! I am very happy that we get to know you all that beautiful Saturday, and I am sure that was not just a matter of luck, because you know…God is working around…

Sunny Side of the Street Interview

In October during my visit to Costa Rica I met up with a friend from the states. My sister and I met with her and her parents and we shared our story. Her father has a TV show on the local cable network. He invited me to come on the show and at the beginning of November and I took him up on the offer.

It was an interesting experience. I think I was a little nervous to start, but I think it turned out very nicely.

Let me know what you think!

A different Friday – by Eva

I’ve been waiting for this Friday since I knew he was coming. I wake up early in the morning trying so hard to be awake and start up my day, I have to be ready for work today, but I am so exited cause it is not a normal day for me, reason why I look for a nice dress and try to make myself look a little nicer. It feels like you are going to meet someone that you’ve been really looking forward to meet. So I make it to work and finally get there, start my day as usual but somehow is not the same, then my phone rings and I pick up: “Hey there!, can you hear me?” … my heart pumps up! That’s him…” Hey guess what? My flight was canceled and now I will be delayed, I will be there at 7pm your time…” And I think to my self: “Great! I really want him to be here and they cancel the flight! Any way, waiting for tonight is not a big deal” so I replay: “ Don’t worry I will be there!” and the conversation ends with the same words as usual: “ OK, love ya! Bye…”

The day seems to be slower than usual but it turned to be longer! Another call saying he will be arriving even later! I can’t believe it! Somehow it makes me think about the day we fist met, there was no longer day than that day, but tonight waiting at the airport for almost 3 hours is getting close.

Finally he made it! Looking at him walking through the gates carrying a lot of suitcases and a huge box made me think to my self: “He is definitely part of the family, right?” and the next step: hugs and kisses, welcomes and lots of love! I have him here…

Every time he comes is a really nice experience, no matter my responsibilities, the job I have to perform and the time I may not share with him, he is here! These days I wish I could be 4 persons at once, but all the effort is good while we have our singular chats at night, we just can’t go to sleep, we gotta talk! Sharing our life and feelings, always keeps us close, and that’s our mission in life: to be there for each other.

Memories – by Nelson/Roberto

I’m running as fast as I can. I stop short at the gate fence. In a few quick moves, I jump up, grab the top, swing my legs over and jump down on the other side. I keep running only to be greeted buy the dog. Before he can get near me I duck into the door way to my left. Jumping over some paint cans I turn sharply to the right and hid behind some boxes. I’m out of breath but I try not to make a sound.

I stay here for a minuet. I don’t hear anything. Slowly I creep back into the hall way and look around. Poking my head into the next room Ernesto looks up at me and laughs.

“What are you doing?”

“Shhh..she’ll hear me” As soon as I say it I hear screaming coming from the next room.

I turn to run again but the stupid dog followed me into the room and is in my way. Great no where to go. I turn, knowing whats coming next.

“I GOT YOU!!” My little sister screams as she grabs my shirt. I try to loosen her grip and tell her she is stretching the shirt. No good. Shes got me and she is NOT letting go.

Giving I pick her up in my arms and we head back to the house to get something to drink.

I often think back to those days when she was a little kid and we would run around the house chasing each other. It was so much fun. I have so many memories.

There is a gate outside of my father’s house in panama. The entrance had a nice little ledge just big enough for someone to sit. I use to picker up on my shoulder and put her on the ledge when she was being “bad.” She would laugh trying to figure out how to get down.

Then there was the time I broke her bed. I picked up and pretending to be a wrestler dropped her on the bed. It completely fell apart. She was fine but started to cry when she saw her bed in pieces. We were able to fix it right up and minuets later she was grabbing on to my shirt again like nothing every happened.

I’m so glad that I have been able to be a part of her growing up. She is a lot older now and has become a wonderful young lady. I still remember the little girl who ran up to me that first night at the airport. She will always be my little sister.

Meeting my sister and growing up with her has been one of the best parts of this entire experience. I couldn’t imagine my life without her.

I know how much she looks up to me and that is where I get so much of my motivation. Her pictures hangs on my wall and I always look it when I am feeling down.

Many families are spread all over the world and don’t get to see each other as much as they would like. Thats not an option for me. I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure we’ll always have memories to look back on.