January 14, 2010 at 6:37 pm
This post was entertaining to read despite being permeated with immaturity and a good dose of ingenuity. The "malinchismo" displayed by certain Salvadorans mirrors that commonly found in Mexico. The new and unknown is revered in Mexico and Central America, repeating the vicious circle initiated with the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores. They were revered as gods until their evil surfaced causing the perdition of entire civilizations. Americans haven't been a novelty in Central America since the first part of the 19th century when U.S. interests started eying Central America as a New Frontier. They were revered as well when the Central Americans set their first gaze upon them. This one-dimensional view rapidly matured into what it is today after over 150 years of U.S. involvement in Central America on all political, economic and social levels. I submit that if the people in Central America knew how the French really are; they would be much less enthused about them. There are few French nationals in El Salvador, and not many at all in all of Central American. Salvadorans in France are such a rarity that I never saw one in my 18 years there. I do have an interesting story to share though. I was born in France and left for the United States on my own when I was 18. I love the U.S. and truly think that despite its problems and defects, it does remain the best country in the world to live in. I am what you can call an “American by Choice”. I lived in Mexico for a year and my wife is from that country. I learned Spanish in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia living among Mexican immigrants, mostly farm laborers and factory workers. I have friends from just about every Latin American country as well as from most parts of the world. I live in Virginia, in the Washington, D.C. area, home to the second largest population of Salvadorans and Central Americans, [second only to L.A.] outside of El Salvador. I have more Salvadoran friends than I can count on two hands and two feet and my godson is Salvadoran. I speak Spanish with a Mexican accent and often am mistaken for one. Maybe it’s the Mediterranean look, not sure. Now that we have set the stage, let’s talk about the experiences of one Central American in France. My cousin moved to Costa Rica about eight years ago and married a Nicaraguan there. After the restaurant he owned in C.R. faltered and the arrival of a newborn, my cousin and his new wife decided to move to France where he had his support system there with his mom, aunts and all. They have been in France for a year and my cousin’s wife HATES it. She misses the Gringos she knew in C.R. The French will only accept you in France if you “blend in” and always say that you love France and their food, culture and society. Yasmina, my cousin's wife, now runs a cafe with her husband in Sete, the Southern France town I grew up in. I have seen that poor woman cry tears of blood when faced with the unrelenting incomprehension of the French. Culture shock doesn’t quite capture it. Yasmina is criticized on a daily basis for the way she dresses, the way she speaks, the way she acts, the way she raises her son, the way she runs her business. This is driving the poor woman batty. She has really taken a liking to my wife and they speak over the phone on a semi-regular basis. My wife and her met for the first time in September on the occasion of a trip we took to France. Yasmina cried and cried asking for us to take her to the U.S. with us. My cousin’s wife has had to endure the French in ways that she could never have imagined. She is criticized for being too loud, for smiling too much, for not speaking French perfectly, to the point where they have said that she is “bête a manger du foin” which roughly translates into “so dumb she could eat hay”. Customers have refused to be waited on by her in her own café because she speaks a shaky, accented French. Other customers have approached her to tell her to go back to her country because she was taking a French person’s job by working in her own business. Yasmina has said on numerous occasions that she would rather go back to Costa Rica and be poor than to remain in France and live as a middle class wife there. I can’t blame her.
[I originally wrote this in response to a blog I ran accross while doing research] The blog address is: http://www.sebastienpage.com/2008/07/02/surf-and-fun-in-el-salvador/