El Salvador to California


Maria Hernandez (name changed), my mother, is 43 years old, and was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador. My mom left her home country to come to Richmond California and soon moved to Redwood City, California where we currently live. At this point, my mother works and in her free time she likes to cook different kinds of dishes like pupusa which are corn filled paddies and tamales which are steamed cornmeal that has chicken or pork inside. In the past I have heard stories of her journey in a train.

She had told me that in El Salvador, parents have many children unlike in the United States where they have few children. My mom says that families in El Salvador are in poverty and sometimes do not have much to eat but my mom said that she was lucky because of her family, two parents, and nice siblings, was not really rich but her father had land that made her family’s problems a little easier. She left El Salvador when she was 27 years old because of the economic problems. She wasn’t really leaving anything in her house except her bed because she didn’t really own anything in El Salvador. The only thing that she left was her family which was a sad thing for her because she was leaving her 2 year old daughter. The only thing that she was looking forward to was to have a better life and reunite with her favorite sister who she hadn’t seen in a long time.

She was brought to the United States by a coyote which is a person that people pay to bring them to the United States fast and safe. Her journey to the United States was difficult for her because she spent so much time that was only supposed to take about a month and the danger of being caught by la Migra which is the border patrol. During the trip, she was very sad about leaving her family but during the trip, she met my father. One of her worst situations during the journey was when she was forced to go on the engine of the train because some Mexican soldiers took them out. She said that to get in the train’s engine, there was a door and inside the room was the engine. The room where the engine was located was very hot and there was a lot of smoke and ashes. When she slept she said that my father would hold her so that she wouldn’t fall on the engine that was very hot and could’ve caused big and dangerous burns. She said that at one point she cried in the engine’s room because she had a mental breakdown and she was worried about her daughter. The trip for her was very horrible and she doesn’t wish to go through that ever again.

Once she got to the United States, she felt a little relief and the first thing she did was call back home and inform her family that she was safe in the United States. She stated it felt very strange to be in a new country because she wasn’t used to the city life and there were so many people, unlike the countryside where she lived. The thing that she was very excited about was to see her sister. The people that helped her get comfortable were her sister and brother that both had been in the United and had experience here. She had friends within the first month of her arrival but now she doesn’t remember the names of the people she made friends with.

The first job that she got was taking care of Latino children where she got paid a little. The family that my mom worked for made her a baby shower for her first child which was me. Over time she has continued to work as a nanny but found better paying nanny-jobs. In this new country, she really loved the new food because back in El Salvador she didn’t have the money to buy the food but now she did. Her favorite food from this new country was the chicken sandwiches from McDonald’s. She did not have enough money for new clothes. The only clothes she had was from her sister’s boss.

Her life in the United States is pretty smooth compared to her other sisters that are still living in El Salvador. She feels that she has got comfortable with the culture and environment of the United States. Now she is able to speak some English. Even though she has been living in this country for so much time, she still misses the things from El Salvador because she remembers the things she did before she came to America. She is grateful that she is in the United States because if she wouldn’t have been here then she would be in poverty and she wouldn’t have met my father.

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