Confianza. It is a little Spanish word that is hard to translate. Roughly speaking, it means ¨trust.¨ But that does not quite cut it. As a student at the Casa de la Solidaridad, we used to talk about confianza as ¨a willingness to share yourself with someone.¨ The Salvadorans with whom I have confianza are those who have shared their life stories - their joys and their struggles - and with whom I feel safe. So, trust doesn´t quite cut it. I trust my dentist, but would I sit with him, sharing a coffee and a piece of pan dulce as he tells me about how proud he is of his daughter, about his sick father, about his difficulties finding a job? That´s confianza, and that is what so many Salvadorans give so easily.
For the past week I have been living with a homestay family in Mejicanos, an urban neighborhood in San Salvador, not far from San Ramon, where I work. They are great. I live with Ana Miriam, the executive director of ANADES (it´s kind of a big deal), and her husband, Miguel, who works as Hospital Rosales. Her mother Ilda also lives with the family, and she has been great - taking care of me like any abuelita should. She shows me where the buses are and tells me where I shouldn´t go, and makes sure I am well fed and always leave the house with an umbrella (because, fijate bien, we are in the rainy season). There is also Karla, a university student my age who speaks English very well and enjoys watching all my favorite shows. (We also bonded over Twilight. She said she´d lend me Breaking Dawn in Spanish. Meg, you´d be so proud). And then there are two six year old twins, Ana Belen and Miguel, who are both a handful, but very sweet and loving. Ana Belen loves her food, and she is very creative, making up stories to tell me before I go to bed and coloring some beautiful pictures from my Disney Princesses coloring book. (Don´t worry, roomies, I wouldn´t let her rip out the ones you´ve colored for me). And Miguel, though much smaller than Belen, doesn´t let anyone push him around. He has so much energy, which somtimes manifests iteself in tantrums, but they pass quickly, and when he goes around calling everyone ¨mi amor¨and pretending to be a little kitten licking my toes, it´s hard to be angry with him. They both remind me so much of my nephews, it makes me miss them like crazy. They too fight over who is going to take a bath first, and they go to McDonalds just for the toys. This week, Bakugan. SCORE!
It still feels a little awkward living in someone else´s home, using their bathroom, having them insist on serving me my meals and even cleaning my dishes. But poco a poco, I have been trying to develop a little confianza with the family, so we can all feel a little more at home.
This is how it goes:
Ilda, will you take me to mass with you Sunday? Can you show me how you make those pupusas? Karla, does this skirt looks good on me? Miguelito, do you want to play catch? Want to see photos of my family? Can I help you tie those shoes, Belencita linda?