Thursday, January 31, 2013

Andate a tu pais

"Andate a tu pais" she yelled at me as she poked me in the chest...

A few minutes earlier this same woman almost ran me over with her SUV as I was crossing the street in a crosswalk. A bad word may have slipped through my lips and her window happened to be rolled down. This one word led to her pulling over in the gas station, chasing after me on foot, insulting me multiple times, cursing my unborn child, and finally telling me to go back to my country.

I got married in the city I live in nine years ago. I have lived here on and off over these same nine years.

Never has anyone spoken to me in that manner. Should I have said the bad word I said? No, probably not. But it did not warrant the response.

It was quite the altercation in which I informed her that almost hitting a pregnant woman in a crosswalk is not a good thing, and that, in Ecuador, pedestrians have the right of way. She continued to insult me while I offered to call the police to help with the altercation... (no, she did not take me up on this offer)

Later in the afternoon I was out with my mother-in-law, Arturo, and Kesha. While A and my mother-in-law were in a shop I went with K to buy bread. While speaking with Kesha in English (as always) a man turned to me and in very accented English told me that if my daughter and I are going to live in Ecuador we need to learn to speak Spanish. Ummmmm.... okay. He went on to inform me that when he lived in the U.S. he was basically forced to learn to speak English, therefore the expectation of people who come to Ecuador is the same, they must learn Spanish. 

I do not disagree entirely with this sentiment. I think that people should make an effort to learn and use the language of the country they are residing in. However, I dislike the assumption made about me, and I do not think that others should jump to conclusions about why I am speaking English with my two year old (and I feel this applies to how others speaking English are approached as well).

My reaction? An internal eye roll then I turned to him and in Spanish responded that we both speak Spanish and thank you. 

I spent the rest of my afternoon in tears, feeling unwelcome and unwanted in a country that my husband is from, I am a citizen of, and have chosen to live my life and raise my family in. 

Most of the rest of the evening I brooded about my day, and then decided that I needed to come up with lessons learned to be able to move on. So, what are the lessons here?

Discrimination hurts.
Feeling unwanted and unwelcome, hurts. 
False assumptions hurt.

If someone doesn't speak your language try helping them out - don't jump to conclusions about them not trying to learn the language, or about why are they are speaking a different language, etc.

Don't pretend to know someone else's story - the man in the bread store had no idea what my story was. He assumed I didn't speak Spanish and wasn't teaching it to my child. What he didn't realize was that I am Kesha's only English language model and that if I don't speak only in English with her she will never learn.

Be kind and let things roll off your back - If both the lady and I had chilled out about he almost hitting me then an extremely negative altercation could have been avoided. If we had both assumed that the other party was having a bad day and just let it go both of our days would have been much better.

My whole day yesterday made me think of the song "No Me Llames Extranjero". It's a beautiful song and really resonates with my feelings at the moment. Here is a video of it...

Here are the words to the song... (from
No me llames extranjero, porque haya nacido lejos 
O porque tenga otro nombre, la tierra de donde vengo, No me llames extranjero, porque fue distinto el seno O porque acuno mi infancia, otro idioma de los cuentos 
No me llames extranjero, si del amor de una madre Tuvimos la misma luz, en el canto y en el beso Con que nos sueñan iguales, las madres contra su pecho, 

No me llames extranjero, ni pienses de donde vengo, Mejor saber donde vamos, a donde nos lleva el tiempo No me llames extranjero, porque tu pan y tu fuego Calman mi hambre y mi frió, y me cobija tu techo 
No me llames extranjero, tu trigo es como mi trigo Tu mano como la mía, tu fuego como mi fuego Y el hambre no avisa nunca, y ve cambiando de dueño 
 (Y me llamas extranjero porque me trajo un camino Porque nací en otro pueblo, porque conocí otros mares Y un día zarpe de otro puerto, si siempre quedan iguales El adiós, los pañuelos, las pupilas borrosas de los que Dejamos lejos, los amigos que nos nombran, Y son iguales los rezos y el amor de la que sueña Con el día del regreso. 

No, no me llames extranjero Traemos el mismo grito, el mismo cansancio, Viejo que viene arrastrando el hombre desde El fondo de los tiempos, cuando no existían fronteras Antes que vinieran ellos, los que dividen y matan, Los que roban, los que mienten, Los que venden nuestros sueños, ellos son Los que inventaron esta palabra, “Extranjero”) 

No me llames extranjero, que es una palabra triste Es una palabra helada, huele a olvido y a destierro No me llames extranjero, mira tu niño y el mío Como corren de la mano, hasta el final del sendero 

No lo llames extranjeros, ellos no saben de idiomas, De limites y banderas, míralos se van al cielo Con una risa paloma, que los reúne en el vuelo 

No me llames extranjero, piensa en tu hermano y el mío El cuerpo lleno de balas, besando de muerte el suelo Ellos no eran extranjeros, se conocían de siempre Por la libertad eterna, igual de libres murieron 

No me llames extranjero, mírame bien a los ojos, Mucho más allá del odio, del egoísmo y el miedo, Y veras que soy un hombre, no puedo ser extranjero No me llames extranjero.

Christmas in the Northwest

One of my favorite things about the holidays is going “home” for them!
I put home in quotations because I have two homes, so whether I am sitting in my own apartment in Cuenca, or frequenting one of the many coffee shops in the Seattle-area, I am home! (I consider myself very fortunate in this aspect)
K and I boarded a plane for the very long journey from Guayaquil to Seattle. 3 flights and 15 hours later we landed. Not one delay, not one hiccup in the journey. And my little Bug was a dream during our trip! (so much for my excessive pre-planning and worrying)
Once K saw my parents in Seattle she left my side and went running to them! It was a joy to see her so excited about them meeting us at the airport (especially since she hadn’t seen my dad in about 9 months).
Then then adventures began! Since I could write an infinite amount about how wonderful of a time we had with my parents and all of the adventures we had, I will let the pictures speak for themselves…
Thank you to my wonderful Seattle family (my friends are included here) for an unforgettable 3.5 weeks. We miss you already and can’t wait for our next visit!
Kesha on one of her many visits with Santa

Downtown Seattle with Nana, Grandpa, Uncle BJ, and Auntie Kayla

Reading Kesha's "Book on Every Bed" book on Christmas morning


At Garden d'lights in Bellevue

Decorating sugar cookies on Christmas day

New Years eve day at Seaside, OR

Splashing in puddles at Nana and Grandpa's house

Cooking with Nana

Lots of play time!

Christmas morning

Decorating gingerbread men

One of our many carrousel rides
Christmas lights at Warm Beach, WA with Nana and Grandpa

Lots of Grandpa time!

New years eve at Seaside, OR

Piano time with Nana

Cutting a Christmas tree
We had a wonderful year and ended it in one of the best ways possible, with our family up north.
We are thankful to have our family back together in Cuenca and look forward to what 2013 will bring! (we hope it will include a trip back to Seattle for the entire family!)