Saturday, September 11, 2010

La Antigua

After a couple failed attempts to enter Guatemala, we finally got through on Thursday morning. We followed the road to Guatemala City and ended up in Antigua several hours later. It's about a 4 1/2 hour trip from here. Eduardo and I had high hopes for the trip since we were taking Ana and Cristina with us to help with Liliana. We had several reasons for taking this trip. For fun of course, but the main reason was to attend the New World Crafts Feria. The fair ended up being a major disappointment, but I did make a couple of good contacts of artisans in El Salvador that I plan on getting a hold of soon for some Christmas ornaments I will take back to Indy in November.

A major disappointment to the trip was when we got to the border and they would not let Cristina in Guatemala without a passport because she is underage. Ana had planned on just putting her on a bus if it didn't work out, but because we switched crossings to Ahuachapan, they do not have a bus service up there so Ana decided it would be best to help her get back home. This was highly disappointing and Liliana screamed and cried the minute they got out of the car. She also continued to scream and cry the ENTIRE trip, which is very out of character for her. Nothing we seemed to do seemed to please her and if it did, it was momentary. That is how the whole 2 days went.

Now on with the good parts! Antigua is absolutely beautiful. It ranks high on my list of favorite cities of all time. We are already planning our trip back, but with nannies next time! We will be going to get Cristina a passport. Other than the beauty, it was so fun. There are cobblestone streets throughout the whole city and it's perfect for walking everywhere. We never even felt the desire to drive. There are little shops and cafes lining all the streets and it's so quaint. The city is catered to foreigners so we saw them everywhere. It was actually a little shocking. And it was so safe! That was the best part. We were able to walk around at night with no problem and felt completely safe the whole time, even in the central park. There are a bunch of old ancient churches that are stunning. We didn't get to visit the museums, but plan on that for the next trip. We got a hotel for $40, but once again I think I will look for something else better next time. There are a bunch of options.

I also was able to do more shopping for my goods to take to the States at the Mercado de Artisanias. We found some GREAT deals and some very cool things. I have a whole collection of childrens' things now other than clothes. I even found baby slings! We met a nice guy that owns his own store that sells the beautiful beaded bracelets I had gotten last time, but in Juayua. He and his family make everything themselves and he is willing to ship to me here in El Salvador. That was a great connection. I wish I could go back again to pick up necklaces and matching rings as well.

So I highly recommend Antigua for a wonderful trip. You can also take little side trips to Tikal and Lake Atitlan and other places from Antigua and you can take English speaking tours. I think my mom is now planning her next vacation!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Liliana's Dental Surgery

As soon as we returned to El Salvador, my first priority was to get Liliana's teeth worked on. We arrived on Monday and met with the dentist on Wednesday. Lucky for us she is only 3 blocks from our house! She sat us down in the chair and examined her teeth. She said straight off that she thought she could save all 4! That we wouldn't have to have them all pulled like the other dentist wanted. Also, she said that she does not recommend doing root canals on children so yound because they usually don't stick and are very painful. I was so happy to hear this because both my mom and I had very bad feelings about the whole root canal thing. The dentist said what she would do is go in and remove all the decay and "rebuild" the teeth. This sounded like a much better plan! And, she said we could put Liliana to sleep! Yay. Not that I wanted my child put to sleep, but it seemed like the best option for the extent of the work that needed to be done. The icing on the cake was that her fees were only $130 and the fees for the specialists to come from San Salvador to put her to sleep were $200. Only $330 total!! Crazy. I was jumping for joy. Now I'm sure you must be thinking there is some kind of catch, but there's not. She has all the latest up to date equipment and everything. And she is the nicest person ever! I totally loved her. So we obviously made the appointment and it would be for Saturday at 9am.

We were ready on Saturday, though I was feeling very sad about what Liliana was about to go through. Dentists aren't fun for anyone, especially a 21-month old. We arrived at 9am, but unfortunately the specialists from San Salvador were running on El Salvador time and were going to be late. We went back home with instructions not to feed Liliana anything until the appointment. This proved more difficult than I thought because I was starving, but didn't want to eat in front of her. She also was very tired, but I was told not even to nurse her so she wouldn't go to sleep. They didn't want her to throw up from the anesthesia. We finally went back at 11am.

I sat down on the chair with Liliana on my lap. She cried the minute we walked in the room. She wasn't so thrilled the first time we were there and must have remembered. They gave me the gas mask to put over her face. That was very difficult to do when she was scared and crying. Poor thing. I held it over her face and asked how long it would take to kick in. They replied "2 minutes". Soon after she fell limp in my arms. It was actually very sad to see her in that state. The assistants helped me lay her down on the chair. They then put an IV in her arm. They traded off pumping the bag with air to keep her lungs breathing normally. It was crazy to think her life layed in their hands. We could also monitor her heartbeat and I was reassured by that. Eduardo then told me I should leave the room because I wouldn't want to see what happened next. They needed to put a tube down her throat to keep anything from going down. I didn't know at the time, but they also taped her eyes shut to keep them from opening and drying out and her nose to keep her from inhaling any toxic stuff. I left the room and sat in the little waiting room crying.

About 10 minutes later Eduardo asked if I wanted to come back in the room. He had stayed in the whole time. We were given the option, which was great. The dentist had taken a look at everything and said she could save 3 of the front teeth, but would have to pull 1. I was as okay as I could be with the idea, especially since I was glad it wasn't more than 1 tooth. She said she would rebuild the other front teeth as well as 4 or 5 more that had been decaying. She said it was a good thing we took her in because another month and it would have been a bad situation.

I caught a glimpse of Liliana at one point and couldn't handle to look again. The sight of her taped up was way too disturbing. I was so glad Eduardo was there with us. There's no way I could have gone through all that alone. At one point, I saw Liliana's body start to shake violently. Apparently it is very common for them to start to wake up. That's why they insert the IV in the beginning so they can add to it to put her back to sleep. Again, I started crying when this happened. Everyone was so sweet. They told me it was good to cry, that it helps to release the stress. What doctor in the States would tell you that?!

After all was done, it was time to wake Liliana back up. She was bleeding from where the tooth had been pulled, but would stop soon. She was very groggy upon waking and she tried to cry, but couldn't because her throat was too dry. It was so sad. She finally woke enough to be scared and one of the assistants told me to come close to her and put my face next to hers so she can smell me. She immediately calmed down and started to fall back asleep. I then sat there for a while with her until she fully woke up and was very upset at this point. she had gauze in her mouth trying to catch the blood that couldn't have tasted very good. We went out into the waiting room and then we paid and left. She calmed down and fell asleep in the car. We got home and she was very groggy. I nursed her and put her in the hammock and she slept for 2 1/2 hours. The doctor called while she was sleeping to see how she was and then called again later in the evening. I thought that was super sweet of her. She woke up later and was still bleeding a bit, but mostly was just mixed with saliva. Her other teeth looked bright white though. The dentist had done such a great job. Liliana was then showing off her "new teeth" and I was so glad she didn't seem too traumatized.

She has been a little fussy since then, but mostly back to normal. I think it's just all the medication being flushed out of her. This is a baby that has never had even one medication or immunization in her life, so who knows what side effects the anesthesia had on her. She is well on her way to recovery though and did so great!! I am very grateful to everyone that helped and to Eduardo for being there :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Liliana´s Teeth

Liliana has had little brown spots on her teeth since they started coming in at 5 months. Over time I have asked a couple of dentists about it. The first one told me that it´s common and something that actually happens when the teeth are forming in utero. The 2nd told me not to worry about it. Boy was that the wrong advice! When we were back in Indy, I expressed my concerns with my mom because I have noticed the spots have been growing and it seems like chunks of her eye teeth are even coming off. I wasn´t sure what to do. Brushing has always been something that has not come easily for us and I have to admit I have neglected it somewhat.

Well my mom spoke with a dentist friend of hers that was extremely concerned that we get her in to see a pediatric dentist ASAP. He said it is a common problem and knew exactly what it was and told us to google ¨Bottle Caries¨ online and we would find pictures and everything. I googled and was horrified at what I saw. I was very concerned and went ahead and scheduled an appointment with a pediatric dentist in Carmel. We were able to get in right away, but I was nervous about it because Liliana´s not too fond of strangers in general, so to have someone´s hand in her mouth wasn´t going to be fun.

We arrived at the office and it had a wonderful Alice in Wonderland theme. Liliana loved playing until we went in. The dentist had a look and cleaned her teeth. She screamed and cried hysterically the whole time. We then went back for x'rays, which was equally unenjoyable. I was able to hold her the whole time though. The x'rays showed a lot of decay. It was really bad. She said the two eye teeth could not be saved because they are crumbling and there is too much decay. The two front teeth are questionable. She said she would just have to go in and see if there is enough to save and if there is, she will do a baby root canal and hope that is sticks. But there would be a chance it could blow up if it didn´t! If they were too bad to save, she will just have to remove them as well! I started crying at this point. I felt so bad for Liliana and what she must be going through and how it will be without teeth until she is older. The dentist said that she already has a predisposition for this problem and because Liliana nurses to sleep, the milk stays in her mouth and the sugars slowly decay the teeth. This can happen to bottle fed babies as well. I asked how the procedure would be. She told me that they cannot put her to sleep because that would require a hospital visit. I was horrified at the idea of her being awake for the whole thing. They said they give her some kind of amnesia so she won´t remember, which I think is a crock, and some laughing gas. Then she said for more ¨high stress¨ babies like Liliana, which equally pissed me off that she would say, they basically put them in a straight jacket to keep them still! What am I supposed to say at this sounded horrible, but I coudn´t keep her in pain. I made the appointment for the following week. The price would be about $2000 for the whole thing.

After some fights between my mom and I about what I should do, I went back and forth. Eduardo and I finally had a chance to have a long conversation about the whole thing and decided we would get the work done in El Salvador. He really wanted to be there for her through the whole ordeal. He then spoke with a dentist here in Izalco that he really liked and I felt really good about the decision. I also knew that it would be a fraction of the cost of the States, which appealed greatly to us. It was hard over the next month to know Liliana was in pain and was hoping we made the right decision. Mother´s intuition is always best!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Time in the States

I was in Indianapolis from July 25th to August 30th. Liliana and I had a much needed break from El Salvador for nearly 5 weeks. Unfortunately our time in the States wasn't quite how I had envisioned it to be. But there were also things that were nice surprises, which seemed to equal it all out.

My first order of business when we arrived was to sell all of my Central American Imports that I had been collecting over the months in ES. I had a couple of Open Houses and ended up doing a Farmer's Market as well. It started out somewhat slow and I was feeling down about it, but then things picked up and I come out on top with it all. I am now excited about my new venture and am looking forward to the treasures I find during this stint in El Salvador.

The second order of business was to make Cultured Veggies. This would help fund our plane tickets home. I busted my butt for 4 days while my mom and stepdad were in Chicago. It was a struggle while trying to entertain Liliana at the same time, but we did it and made 7 batches of veggies in those days. I was very proud of myself for that accomplishment. I then ended up doing 2 more batches later in the trip. My mom agreed pay me in full for all the veggies which was a HUGE blessing that I was not expecting! Thanks Mom!!

The third project I ended up taking on was to clear out our 10x10 storage unit we have been paying for to keep all our things while in ES. Well it became very clear that we couldn't keep paying the $75/month for the unit and we had to find another way to store our things. The whole experience was extremely emotional for me. My stepdad hauled van loads of boxes back and forth to the house and their living room became my storage shed for a week and a half. I went through box by box sorting and rearranging all our precious items. I was able to par down a lot and get rid of a lot of clothes and household items. It quickly became apparent I wouldn't be able to keep much though and that was very saddening. Even harder was having to tell Eduardo we couldn't keep all the things he had worked so hard for to buy for our little family. He didn't take it well. Over time though different friends stepped up to help me out! Thank you to Mandie, Sara, Mario, Grandma Judy, Dad and Mom for offering to store different items for us!! It is greatly appreciated more than you know. I also ended up having a Garage Sale too in the end. I was able to make some money and that helped too. My dear Grandma Judy came down from Michigan to help me prepare for that and that was such a sweet surprise. We had a great time talking and she enjoyed her time with Liliana.

My brother moved back from Oregon while we were home. He came to visit us the week before we left and stayed for a couple days. It was really neat to see how quickly Liliana warmed up to him and was playing and letting him carry her around with ease after just a couple hours! I know he loved it. I'm glad we had that time.

Last but not least, Liliana and I went with my mom to Chicago for a day trip. It was a super long day, but were able to visit with a doctor that put us on a regimen to help our allergies and help with several other issues she and I are having. While in Chicago, I got to meet with a fellow I2US member named Amy. She has a son the same age as Liliana and it was really nice to chat over dinner and meet someone else in a similar situation as we are. Nice to meet you Amy!!

Being away from Eduardo was particularly hard for Liliana. After the first week she seemed to realize we were not leaving and asked for "papa" constantly. Every time the phone would ring, she would try to answer saying "papa". It was hard at times, but very sweet. There were days (many days) when she had trouble sleeping. The only way she would go to sleep is if we had Eduardo on speaker phone and he and I would just chat and she would fall asleep next to me. The nights he wouldn't answer were frustrating though! It was a good break for all of us though and I think absence does make the heart grow fonder :)

Our trip had its highs and lows, but all in all it was a good experience. I didn't think I would make it through at times, but as always I pushed my way through. I think Liliana was put in my life to get me through the times that would otherwise seem hopeless and impossible. She gets me up in the morning and pushes me through the day and I am thankful for that.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Reverse Culture Shock

My mom came down to ES on July 8th and was there until the 25th. We went to a beach house for a week and various other places. All in all it was a good time, but not without it's challenges, which seems to be our life since moving to ES.

On the 25th Liliana and I flew back to Indianapolis with my mom. It was a surprisingly good trip. Liliana didn't even fuss at all. She slept most of the time and played and ate when she wasn't. She sat on my lap and we were lucky to have mom next to us.

The first week here was incredibly difficult. It was like reverse culture shock, which I wasn't expecting to experience so intensely. All of a sudden all the things that bugged me about living in El Salvador, I had a new appreciation for. While there I couldn't stand living with so many people all the time, but then coming back and spending most of the first 2 weeks alone, I realized how valuable having family around is. There are always people there wanting to help with anything from taking care of Liliana to cleaning dishes to running to the mercado (market) for you. I took so much of that for granted while being there. I am deeply grateful for this experience so I can have a different perspective during my next trip back.

I also have been struggling with merging the two cultures. I so wish that I could take the best of both worlds and make one perfect world! It's been so difficult to like and dislike both countries at the same time. Sometimes I am not sure where I belong.

One thing that has become very clear is that Liliana and I do belong with Eduardo no matter what. It's been good for our relationship to be apart, but it's also been hard. We both have our ups and downs and it's not always easy to be available for each other via Skype or telephone. But we make do. Liliana asks for "papa" every morning and night and it breaks my heart. She misses him more as the days go on. I will be able to buy or tickets tomorrow for our trip back in two weeks. Although there are things I am not looking forward to about our life in El Salvador, I am looking forward to being a family again. Home really is where the heart is and my heart is in El Salvador right now!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mom's Visit and Going Home

My mom will be here tomorrow and is staying until the 25th! I am so excited. We are staying the first night with her in San Salvador in a hotel so we can all catch up without all the other people around. It will be nice. I think I am more excited for Liliana to see her. It will be very special. I can't wait to see their reactions when they reunite. We have a lot planned for her visit down here. She came with me last year so she is prepared for what El Salvador is like, which is a good thing. Hopefully it won't be as much of a culture shock that way. We have rented a beach house in a private beach club called Atami. We will get to spend a week there starting on Monday. We will take Ana, Cristina and Mama Chica with us and then the kids will come on the weekend. I can't wait to have some time to relax by the pool and beach and actually have someone to talk to! I think that's the best part.

When she goes on the 25th, Liliana and I will be flying back as well. It has been a hard decision, but we finally decided it will be the best thing for all of us. I really need a break from ES and flying back with her will be easier so she can help with Liliana. I will have a chance to make more cultured veggies to sell at Cleansing Waters and make some money. I have also been investing in a lot of goods to take back and try to start up an import business. I am planning a big open house and am really looking forward to that. My brother will be in Indy in August as well so the timing is great.

I'm super sad about the fact that we have to leave Eduardo here though. This weighs heavily on my heart. He is happy for us, but is really sad as well. I can't even imagine he and Liliana being apart at all. they have grown really close since being here and her having her papa with her all the time. It's very sweet. It makes me cry just to think about them not seeing each other, but I just have to focus on how good it will be for her to be back in our own environment. I only booked a one-way ticket home and will purchase another round-trip ticket once I am there. I'm not exactly sure what date we will come back, but plan on going for 4-6 weeks. We'll see what happens.

Friday, July 2, 2010


I copied the last 4 entries off of my Immigration Forum. It gives the overall idea of how our appointments with the doctors and embassy have gone over the last two weeks. All in all, it has been very frustrating to say the least. El Salvador in general has been very frustrating. The last 2 days are the first days we have had in weeks to just relax somewhat. Eduardo did go into San Salvador today to hopefully get his driver´s license finally. He took the bus this time. I just couldn´t bear to go and stand in the heat with a cranky baby waiting and waiting. That seems to be what we have been doing a lot lately. Things continue to be very hard here and we just can´t seem to catch a break. Every day I wake up and think something good has to happen today and again we get some kind of bad news. Eduardo is very depressed. Neither of us are ourselves at all. We have been fighting less lately and are feeling a little closer to each other, but it´s still not how we want our relationship to be. There has been a lot of family drama here as well in the past month and it all just adds up to be one big mess! Importing our car unexpectedly took most of our savings and we are down to our last few hundred dollars. This really freaks us out. My mom is coming for a visit next week and will be here for 17 days. Yay! But after that, Eduardo will look for a job. It will most likely be in San Salvador and he will have to take the bus 2 hours each way every day. My heart breaks for him. I know how it´s all killing him to not be working and providing for his family. He has worked so hard for everything he has in the States and it seems as though day by day it is slowly all getting ripped away from him. I know he will do anything he has to for us, but I just hate to see him like this. His family doesn´t help either. It seems like everyone just wants to give him a hard time for the money depletion and not take any responsibility for their part in it and come up with any solution for it. Eduardo and I have been talking a lot and feel it is best for Liliana and I to take a trip to the States ASAP. I was going to wait until October after my visa extension expires, but I think we need a break. Liliana and I need the comforts of home to perk us back up. My mom has agreed to let us stay with them again. We will just go for a month. Unfortunately tickets have gone back up from $550 to $815 now. And Liliana is too big to be sitting on my lap at this point, unless I can drug her to sleep the whole time! ha ha. I will be able to make more cultured veggies to sell at Cleansing Waters which will help financially. We also have invested some money into locally made bags, pillows and other cool things that I am going to take home and sell. I plan on getting a lot more while my mom is here and am excited to start this import business! I´m just sad to leave hubby here and most of all to break apart him and Liliana. She has gotten soooo attached to him since being here and having him around all the time. It´s such a precious relationship. I know it will just be a month apart, but could be so confusing for her. She just not old enough to understand yet. But it will be good for everyone, I keep telling myself that.

Tattoo Issues at 2nd Appt

Eduardo had his 2nd appt on June 28th. We ended up getting the I864 printed off as well as the taxes. They accepted everything as is. But there was one problem. They would not let Eduardo turn in the waiver or pay our remaining balance. They are making a big fuss about the tattoo he has on his arm. they took him into a room where he had to strip down again and they looked for other tattoos and markings. They asked him if he is in a gang, how many friends he has in gangs, which gangs are present in our town and other ridiculous questions he didnt have answers for. They also asked him where he got the tattoo, which was in the States. They wanted the address, but he didn´t have it, just the cross streets in Indy and they proceeded to google it right in front of him, looking for the store. They didn´t find it. They then took pictures of the tattoo and said they need to do further examination of it, looking at the lettering and coloring. This is not good especially since I know of 2 other gals whose husbands were denied in the last couple months because of tattoos. Gang problems are very prevalent in El Salvador right now and they are very skeptical about tattoos of any kind. They told Eduardo they will call him on a Wednesday to let him know what happens next. He asked if it would be this wednesday and they said no, they will call him some other wednesday. Who knows how long we will wait now!! The countdown hasn´t even started yet. I´m am very depressed by this news and don´t know what to do now. I´m thinking that Liliana and I will be returning to the States for a while.

Eduardo´s 1st Appt

Hubby got to the Embassy on June 21st at 6am. They don´t allow you to stand and wait on the Embassy sidewalks so he waited with some other people across the street. They don´t let you inside until 7am, so getting there really early doesn´t really help. He was one of the first ones in and got to see someone very quickly. He said the guy was actually pretty nice, but a lot of the others there were saying their reps were very mean. Guess he got lucky! They checked over all the docs and made a list of what was was a lot! So frustrating, especially when we are using a lawyer! He needed an updated police record from ES, which we got right away when we left. He also needs a more recent birth certificate with my name added, which is weird. But that is easy to get. The complicated thing is they need 2009 taxes and w2´s from my parents, which are my cosponsors. We have 2008, but not 2009. They just gave them to their accountant recently and it usually takes about a month to get done. My mom said she will call in the morning to see if we can get by Friday. The guy told Eduardo if we don´t have them by Monday, it´s okay but everything will be put on hold and will take even longer! Like it´s not long enough. Then they are saying they need my stepdad´s I864, which my lawyer should have provided and I have emailed her asking what the heck happened!! They have my mom´s info, but not his. They both own their own businesses and file jointly so I guess that complicates things. Lastly, the guy questioned hubby about both of us being married before. Then he saw how I helped my ex go through the process and asked hubby if that was true. Hubby said yes and the guy proceeded to write in red pen on a sticky note and put it in his file! That can´t possibly be good. Once again, the lawyer said that shouldn´t be an issue at all when I asked her in the past about that. I´m really starting to question this lawyer. What does she know about ES anyway! She usually deals with Mexico. I see how important it is to use a lawyer that has dealt specifically with your country.

I wish we never started this process, I´m so frustrated right now. I honestly don´t know how we will make it down here for so long. It´s been very hard to keep my head up lately. Things haven´t gotten any easier here for me. It almost gets more frustrating because things don´t get better. I´m just praying we can make it through...sorry to sound so negative!

Eduardo´s Psych Evaluation

Eduardo had his psych evaluation on June 18th. The appt lasted about 1 1/2 hours. He said he basically had to give his entire life history; when did his dad die, how was that for him, did he go to school, where has he lived, how did he go to the States. All that kind of stuff. He also asked a lot about me too I guess; have I been married before, do I have kids, how long was I married...those kinds of things. He said the doc was much nicer than the medical doc. He did all the talking. The doc barely said anything, just asked questions. I guess we will never really know how it went, but am glad to have it all over with. Afterwards we had to go drop the "sealed envelope" off at the medical doc's office so it can be forwarded to the Embassy. I'm getting super nervous. I just now finished my personal letter for the packet and emailed it to my lawyer to review. We are going to stay at the Holiday Inn in San Salvador a couple blocks from the Embassy on Sunday night so hubby can be there really early to get a number. His appt is at 7:30am Monday morning. Liliana and I will wait anxiously in our nice air conditioned hotel room. Maybe we'll go swimming, workout, have a bite to eat. haha. Yeah right, I'll be biting my nails the whole time!! Liliana has ripped a couple pages out of my packet when I wasn't looking lately so I am frantic to redo those pages and hole punch them and put it back together. If only my darn printer would cooperate! I'll let you guys know how it goes...

Eduardo´s Medical Exam

We dropped Eduardo off around 9 30am on June 17th. When we called to make the appt they said we didn´t need one and to show up around 7am. That didn´t happen, but we got there early enough. Expat and her hubby were kind enough to drive us and we dropped hubby off and went and ran errands. He called about two and a half hours later for us to pick him up. They only made him receive a couple vaccinations because he had a paper with a list of his previous ones. He had a really horrible experience there though. He was very upset about it on the way home. He said the doctor was just plain awful! He treated him very poorly and in his words as a piece of meat. Poor papito. The doctor gave him a long lecture about drinking and driving because of his prior DUI and very closely looked at his tatto. He took a $100 drug test, which everyone does I guess. All together the visit was around $300. The doctor then referred him to get a psych exam somewhere else and told us to go at 2 30pm. We got there at 1 45 and the receptionist was nice and told us the doc wouldn´t be in the rest of the day and we made an appt to go back tomorrow at 2 15pm. So we will drive all the way back to San Sal again tomorrow. The psych exam will be around $80. While hubby was waiting at the first doctor´s office I guess he had lots of time to talk to the receptionist. hmm. Anyway, she was telling him to make copies of everything we take with us to the embassy because they are horrible about losing documents. I think I will go ahead and make a copy of our waiver packet. I am glad we went today instead of our original plan of Friday since he has to do the psych. Hopefully it goes okay for him. He is being sent for alcohol and tattoo reasons. Luckily our lawyer prepped us for that!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Daniela´s Birthday

On Sunday Eduardo had the chance to celebrate his daughter Daniela´s birthday with her for the first time. It was very special for both of them, though neither one admitted it verbally. Daniela turned 8 years old. We went to Entre Rios for part of the day. It´s a water park about 15 minutes from our house. The water parks here are very different than in the States. There a usually a variety of different pools to swim in, some with slides, some without. At this particular place there are 2 areas with shallow water for the little ones with lots of slides and playthings. The main difference here is that the pools at the parks are typically fresh water. They do not have insane amounts of chlorine added to them. I like this for the most part because I don´t like chlorine and I don´t want Liliana being exposed to it at such a young age. But the flip side is you never know where the other people swimming have come from and how dirty they are. All in all, the parks are pretty and it´s a nice break from the heat. We took Mama Chica with us. She seemed to enjoy herself, but it was also sad. Papa Ticho knew we were going there for Daniela´s birthday and had been commenting to Eduardo about it before he passed. He was excited to see the animals they have there, particularly the monkeys. I remembered this as we pulled up to the entrance and found it interesting that not one person even mentioned going to see the animals. It was a bittersweet day. Liliana was very cautious of the water at first as she always is. She loosened up more through the day and was totally submersed and loving it by the time we were ready to leave. It was so cute to see her having so much fun. I´m glad I got to experience Daniela´s birthday with her for the 2nd year in a row!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Salvadoran Funeral

This is something I never would have wished I would experience during my time in El Salvador. Unfortunately last Monday, May 31st, Eduardo lost his dear Grandpa. His name was Patricio Gabrielle Tepas, aka Papa Ticho and he was 93 years old.

I had the pleasure of getting to spend time with Papa Ticho on two separate occassions. The first was last year on my visit to ES with my mom and Liliana. We took grandma and grandpa with us to the beach and watching Papa Ticho in the water was like watching one of the kids. It was the highlight of my trip. Coming back this year, I got to have that experience again. We decided to go to the beach one day and asked the grandparents if they wanted to come with us. Grandma, aka Mama Chica, got so excited she had to sit down because she got dizzy! lol. We took them and they both got to experience the ocean and water again, which is a rare occasion for them.

Papa Ticho and Mama Chica are Eduardo's grandparents from his dad's side. Eduardo's father died when he was nine years old. His mom was so close to his dad's family that she continues to live with and around them to this day. The grandparents live in a room that connects my MIL's house to Eduardo's uncle's house next door. Although that is their son next door, my MIL has always been the one to look after them. That is the kind hearted soul that she is. She feeds them 3 meals a day and makes sure they have everything they need.

Last Monday my MIL, Ana, decided to take Liliana out for a walk because she was getting fussy. She walked out the door and headed up the street. What happened next continues to haunt me. Ana started screaming for Maynor. Maynor went running and I immediately got up from the computer. I knew something wasn't right. I started out the door and up the street as well. She then started screaming for Eduardo. I got closer and Liliana was standing on the ground by herself looking at the scene. I immediately picked her up and saw blood on the ground. Papa Ticho looked as though he had fallen and hit his head. There was blood on his head and Ana and now Eduardo were trying to sit him up. All the moments after are so clear, but everything happened so fast that it's almost a blur. There were people gathering around. I saw Eduardo and a neighbor doing CPR and trying to get Papa Ticho to regain consciousness. Ana was crying hysterically and Daniela had come to see what was going on. Maynor had gone back to the house and I later realized had been praying the whole time. Papa Ticho came to for a minute and a truck pulled up. Eduardo and I ran to the house to get money and anything he would need for the hospital. We ran back and he had already been lifted onto the truck to go to the local clinic. They left and we waited.

Daniela and I walked back into the house and she immediately sat down next to Maynor on the floor and they both proceeded to pray amongst the sobbing tears. I headed outside and Ana said she wanted to go to the clinic. I grabbed my purse and keys and headed out. Aunt Rosita came from across the street to stay with the kids. Ana and I left with Liliana. We got halfway to the clinic and saw the truck headed back. Eduardo motioned to us to go back and we instantly knew it wasn't good.

We got back to the house and the truck was parked out front. Things are done very differently here when someone dies. Papa Ticho was brought back from the clinic in the truck and there he was, lying like he was asleep. It was almost too much for me to handle. I had never seen anyone die before. I couldn't believe what was happening. I guess he didn't even make it to the clinic. The doctor examined him and said there was nothing that could be done. Apparantly he had a heart attack and that caused him to fall and hit his head and go unconscious.

As we all stood there not believing what was happening, all I could think about was Mama Chica. Why wasn't anyone telling her?! They brought her to the front of the house from the back and showed her her husband. It was so awful. She didn't even react at first, looking as if she thought he was sleeping. Then she realized what had happened and Eduardo explained to her that he was gone.

Within minutes it seemed like a casket was brought to the house and his Uncle's next door was being cleared out to make way for the casket and ceremony. He was put into the casket and put in the house. Ana was frantically calling her family and everyone was showing up or on their way. When someone dies here, they don't preserve the body in any way so it all happens very quickly.

Candles were lit everywhere and flowers were being brought. Coffee and bread were being made and bought and being served to every guest. This continued through the night. On the first night everyone stays up the entire night praying and talking and carrying on. I finally had to put Liliana to bed and myself. I didn't sleep well that night. Eduardo came to bed around 4am and didn't get much sleep either.

The next day preparations were being made for the funeral. I tried to call my mom but she was in Oregan in the mountains with my brother completely unreachable. Eduardo was doing everything everywhere and although there were a thousand people all around, I felt completely and utterly alone. It was one of the worst experiences of my life.

The mass at the Church was scheduled for 3pm. At 2:30 everyone would walk alongside the casket up to the church from the house. Luckily before this, I was able to talk to my mom. I told her the story and cried and cried and was able to let it all out. Up until then I hadn't been able to talk to anybody. It was a huge relief. We then set out for the church. I started to walk for a little bit with Liliana while Eduardo took some of the elderly people in the car. Liliana got scared and fussy, so we jumped in the car with them. Thank goodness, it was a long walk! Eduardo thoroughly enjoyed the church service, but I had to excuse myself and go outside with Liliana and play because she wouldn't sit still. After the service everyone walked to the cemetary where Papa Ticho was buried. He was buried alongside Eduardo's dad and his dad and mom I believe. Watching the men all lift him down into the grave was really hard. It was then I really knew I would never see him again. It must have been hard for Ana as well being at the cemetary. Also beside them were the two babies she had lost at two different times in her life. She is such a strong woman to have witnessed so much death and be so kindhearted. I have a lot of respect for her.

Because they are Catholic, they continue to pray for a long time. A vigil is held every day for 9 days in the afternoon next door at Uncle's house. People come and we make coffee and bread is served. On the forth day, today, something more special is given to the people that have been coming to pray. On the ninth day, everyone gathers again and stays up all night praying and have a celebration. Then again on day 40 there is another celebration. I think it's actually a very nice way to honor those that have passed.

Mama Chica is in my thoughts and heart all the time. I've never really known someone to die, let alone live with the surving one. It's been very emotional watching her go through the grieving process. We all try to stay strong for her. Sometimes I can't help it and come to my room and cry. She was really good the first 2 days, but on the 3rd said that the loneliness and emptiness had set in. That broke my heart. Ana and the kids moved their beds into a room with Mama Chica because she doesn't want to be alone. Imagine being married to someone for over 70 years and then waking up one day and they are gone?! Heartbreaking. We later found out that the grandparents had been having their afternoon snack of hot milk and bananas and grandma had sent grandpa outside to watch for a parade type thing that was supposed to be coming. He was going to go back in and get her when it got close. She never saw him again.

I know this is long, but they are memories I want to keep and remember. I especially want to remember my times with Papa Ticho and how he is the cutest old guy I have ever met. He had the cutest voice that I never could understand and he would talk anyway even though I don't speak Spanish. He didn't care. And his laugh...let me tell you. His laugh was the best. It was the cutest little giggle. I remember telling Eduardo on several occassions that I just need to see Papa Ticho every day and it will make my stay here so much better. I wish Eduardo would have told him.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Role as a Stepmom

Spending time with the kids has been an adjustment for everyone. They seem to be loosening up with every visit we have with them and are bonding with Eduardo really well. I struggle at times with boundaries and mostly with communication. Funny thing is I can communicate easier and better with the kids than the adults. It´s more fun too! They seem to enjoy helping me and are eager to learn English as well.

Maynor is a 10 year old cuddly little boy. He is at the time in his life where is voice is changing and when he and Eduardo rough house or he is talking loud, his whiney voice drives me up the wall! Not so much his voice, but his squeel. Poor guy. He is a good looking kid, well they both are actually. I find it interesting how much he likes to cuddle with his papa. It didn´t take long for him to warm up at all. It was instant and their bond keeps getting stronger. It´s really sweet. Maynor just never seems to keep his hands off Eduardo though. I mean seriously, it´s starting me be a little strange for me. If I ever go up to Eduardo and hug him for even an instant, Maynor is right there and has to grab him and hug on him too. I am starting to see a little bit of jealousy forming there.

Daniela on the other hand is the little princess. She has actually taken a while to warm up to her papi and seemed to warm up to me first. She is particulary close with Eduardo´s mom. They are joined at the hip. The more she is warming up to us though, the more independent she is becoming. I can really see her desire for a mommy. It´s really sad and it makes me feel really sad that she hasn´t had that. Not having papi is one thing, but growing up without your mother, especially for a girl is another thing. I feel really good about the bond we are forming and see that relationship blossoming. I feel a maternal instinct with her, but also a strong friendship too.

Kids of this age in general, I have not spent a lot of time around. Eduardo either. It has been an adjustment for both of us. It´s hard for him to have his attention focused in so many directions and it´s hard for us as a couple to adjust to having other kids around that need our attention. I also think that little things that annoy us in other people´s kids don´t so much when they are your own.

The kids spend Monday through Friday morning at their mom´s parents house and our house friday afternoon through Monday morning. We were very close to having them com live with us this week, but after Eduardo consulted with a lawyer, it was decided it´s better for them to stay where they are for now. Legally Eduardo has the right to take them as the father and since the mother isn´t here, but if they fought us we don´t have a very good case right now. We feel it is best is several ways though, especially for our relationship. I´m sure it will all work itself out in time.

I´m not sure if I´ve written before that I have applied for both kids to come to the States as well. I sent the applications off in February. it is a different process for them since they have never been to the States before. It is not as complicated. I didn´t use a lawyer for them to save money, so I´m doing this part on my own and am hoping I don´t mess up. I hope to receive news on their cases soon. If they do get approved they will be able to come and visit. Eduardo wants them to stay in ES until they are 18 and then it will be their choice. They cannot get visitor visas though, so residency is the only way for them to be able to visit us every year.

Appt Date

I realized I haven´t written about our appt date at the embassy, the whole reason we are here! I received an email about a month ago now stating Eduardo´s 1st appt is on June 21st. I was actually pretty devasted hearing the news although I should´ve been happy. We thought our timing was pretty good with when Eduardo quit his job and us coming down here, but I guess we couldn´t have been more off. We ended up being here a couple months too early. I cried a lot at the time, but now realize there is not much we could have done differently. Everything we have done thus far has been with the best intentions and what we thought was the right thing. These things are just out of our control.

So Eduardo will first go to his medical exam on June 19th and then his first appt on June 21st. He then has a 2nd appt scheduled for June 28th. That will hopefully be the final appt. From there on out it is just a waiting game. The current wait times in El Salvador are ridiculously long. The rate the Embassy is processing waivers right now is nothing short of pathetic actually. We are probably looking at 12 to 16 months from the last appt date. Pretty scary. I try not to think about it too much yet because it just makes me sick. We were prepared for a long haul, but it seems to just get longer. I just pray we can make it through this time and that we get a speedy approval, nothing less than an approval! There is no other option!!


I haven´t written in a while and I´m not quite sure why. It´s funny because I write blogs in my head, I just have to get them onto the computer! Speaking of computers, ours is getting a tune up right now so I am typing on the house computer with a spanish keyboard which makes things interesting. We are a little worried about getting our computer back since we haven´t heard from the lady fixing it since last night. Hopefully all is well and we will get it back shortly safe and sound.

So much has happened since my last post. We have traveled a lot and been on quite a few adventures. We visited the El Boqueron Volcano in San Salvador, went to see some Mayan Ruins and drove around beautiful Lake Coatapeque. We also spent a wonderful day at a beautiful beach club. Each of these places deserve their own post, but it didn´t work out that way. I promise I will be keeping up more now.

Eduardo and I have been visiting San Salvador a lot, the capital city. Each time we go I get to hang out with my friend Sarah as well so it´s great. Her and her husband are a great support system for getting through all this adjustment time and coping with living here. Things have still been difficult, but are getting a bit easier. Maybe not easier, but I seem to have gotten into my own groove of things and have some sort of a routine now. I have been cooking a lot and it´s been good to feel like I have something to contribute. Finding foods I want to cook is difficult, but I´m getting by. Sarah introduced us to PriceSmart in San Salvador, which is similar to Sam´s Club or Costco in the States. I prefer to buy the meat their especially. The other option for meat is the Mercado where everything is out in the open with flies all over and hot hot hot. This meat pretty much disgusts me to no end. I will have a whole blog on eating and buying food in ES at some point.

The rainy season has started and it´s been raining almost nonstop for days now. It´s cooled down which is nice, but it makes it hard to go anywhere. We have a tin roof too so when it rains, you can´t really hear anything in the house. It´s incredibly loud. No music, tv or hardly any talking is done. It´s pretty funny. Liliana gets really scared when it gets really loud and we feel bad for her.

Speaking of Liliana it is raining and she´s scared so I must go. Will write again soon.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Ex's Family

I had an interesting experience I just have to share. Eduardo took a taxi last weekend to drop the kids off at their other Grandparents' house. His ex-wife/kids mother lives in San Francisco and the kids spend the weekdays with the other grandparents and every other weekend here with Eduardo's mom. Anywho, when he dropped the kids off the grandparents said they would love to meet Liliana and me! This wasn't exactly my idea of a good time and we all new it was more of a wanting to size me up and pass the info on to their daughter. Well it cost $25 for the taxi there and back, so we decided we would pick them up in the van and take them back. The thing is that Eduardo doesn't have a license here either (long story) and there are checkpoints all over so I have to drive everywhere, therefore I would drive to pick up the kids and meet the family. Yay.

I dressed as cute as I could without going overboard of course and we headed over. It's about a 45 minute trip. We pulled up and I got introduced to his ex's mother and father. The father was super nice and seemed like a nice guy. The mother acted nice, but if looks could kill I wouldn't be here to tell the story. It was very odd. She seemed so disgusted I was there despite inviting me personally. There were two other girls there who I found out after were the wives of the ex's brothers. One was very sweet and the other was very pretty, but the look on her face to me was downright scary! I couldn't follow the conversation, but it all seemed cordial. Apparently they were making us lunch, but Eduardo made up an excuse about us having friends visiting so we had to leave. We had already been there a while as the kids were late getting home from school. Plus, Ana (MIL) had warned me several times before we left not to eat any food they gave me. It was kind of a joke, but actually wasn't! Since we weren't staying for lunch they said they would love for me to go with them to church on Sunday. We graciously declined again. What do these people want from me?! The father shook my hand and said good-bye, but the mother didn't even say goodbye. So weird.

Hopefully Eduardo gets his license soon. It costs about $150 and is very complicated to get, but he's working on it. Until then I will have to just put up with the weird ex-wife's family.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My New Friends

So things finally came to a head with Eduardo and I last night. We got in a big fight, but the tension got released finally and things are back to normal today. Big sigh of relief! I woke up feeling good and even Liliana is being super cute and happy today. The weather has cooled down a lot with the rain. I hear that in a couple weeks it will start raining and not stop for a long time. Should be interesting.

I made 2 new friends today!! American gals that live in ES too. I have been online friends with them for a while. We are all part of an online immigration support group. They are down here going through the same process as we are. It's super cool there are others to relate to. Eduardo had to go into San Salvador, the big city, and do some paperwork so he dropped Liliana and I off on the way and we met up with these 2 gals, Sarah and Kristen. We all hung out for a little bit and it was really great to get to speak English and share stories and complain together. It was great therapy and just what I needed! Sarah lives about 45 minutes away and Kristen is more like 2 hours, but we plan on getting together a lot more now that we have met. Yay!!

Eduardo got a used washing machine while they were in San Salvador for $150 and that's exciting. We don't have to make Ana, MIL, wash all our laundry by hand anymore and I can use MY natural detergent. Good day all in all.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I hate El Salvador!

This is a harsh statemtent, I know. But it seems to be the only way to sum up how my first week in El Salvador is going. We got here Friday night and it is now only Wednesday. It feels as if weeks have gone by and it´s been mere days. It could be because we wake up around 6am with the roosters and go to bed around 8pm well after dark.

Saturday and Sunday were super overwhelming. Almost all I can remember now is that I cried A LOT those first 2 days. The 2 kids and Eduardo´s niece, Diana, were here all weekend and I´m not really used to be around older aged kids. Older than Liliana atleast. Eduardo was with them most of the time and talking with what seemed like hundreds of people that stopped by the house constantly. My MIL went everywhere with us because she knows the towns. It was just all too much, especially after our 9 day car trip!

The last couple days have been better in the sense that I´m not constantly crying. It has been a very long time since I have experienced the intensity of emotions I have since being here. The anger, resentment, sadness and depression are super intense. The negativity surrounding me is disgusting. I barely even recognize myself. Who is this horrible person that has taken over me?! I knew this day would eventually come where life as I knew it would drastically change, but now that it´s here, I just want my old life back. I feel selfish that I don´t want to share my husband with anyone else. I´ve been the center of his attention since we met and Liliana has been papa´s little princess since she was born and now there´s a whole new family we have to share with. Please don´t judge me. I know these thoughts are horrible. I know I should welcome them all with open arms, that´s the type of person I am. But I can´t seem to get the negativity out of my head. It consumes me. I´ve been trying to find the positive things about our situation and I just can´t.

El Salvador seemed so different last year when I was here, but I don´t think it´s the country that has changed, I know it´s my view of it. This time I´m here, I know I will be here a long time. We did find a shower head that puts out hot water! That is a positive point. I couldn´t handle the freezing cold showers even for a day. We bought a king size bed for $260 for the 3 of us to sleep in and we replaced the shitty air conditioner with a brand new one yesterday. We slept well last night! It´s just the whole lifestyle down here that is so different and it will take a while to get used to. A friend of mine sent me a link to a definition of Culture Shock. It was actually really good to read to see I´m not just going crazy, that these feelings are very common for someone in my situation. I´m just praying I will start to feel better before my MIL starts to think I´m just a complete bitch! I´m really not, I swear!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Reunion

As we got closer to Eduardo´s house, I was so tired I almost forgot what he must be feeling. He started to get really nervous and was asking what he should say to the kids and what he should do. I couldn´t believe how nervous he was! Imagine reuniting with your children you have never really known except by phone and webcam. We arrived and his mom Ana cried and cried. The kids were excited, but somewhat reserved. We were all overwhelmed, but it was a great reunion and I was so glad Eduardo gets to spend some time with his family after all these years.

The Road to El Salvador

We left San Marcos around 5am again and headed on with high hopes of reaching El Salvador by the end of the day. We got directions several times and different points and everyone told us to follow this particular road straight and it would take us to the road we were looking for. Let me tell you, this road went anywhere but straight. It would come to dead ends, splits in the road, through towns, everywhere! Somehow we managed to stay the right direction and were making good time.

In the mountains we passed stands on the road that were selling very cool purses and bags and stopped to buy something. I got a bag and got Liliana a miniature version. It was so cute. The guy had 2 children with him and we gave them some treats we had with us for Liliana. it felt very good to share with these people. The man spoke to his wife in their native Indian tongue. She didn´t even speak Spanish, which I thought was awesome. That was the best part about Guatemala. Theare very in touch with their heritage and customs. A lot of women still wear the traditional dress and they all wear their babies on their backs or in make shift slings! It was so awesome. I know my mommy friends will appreciate this.

That is something El Salvador is lacking. It is actually against the law here to wear any of the old traditional clothing or speak the native Indian tongue. The wars here really did a number on the country and the old customs have been banished away. It´s actually very sad. Eduardo´s Grandma is 93 years old and is one of the only ones left that still follows the old ways.

Back to the road, we did take a wrong way at one point but found our way back and were headed to the border. Once again we experienced a horrific border crossing and to get out of Guatemala and into El Salvador took 3 hours! It was deadly hot and it was 5pm by this point. We finally got through and it was only 45 more minutes to Eduardo´s house!

Lost in Guatemala

We left from Arriaga around 5am. We got to the border around 9am and proceeded with caution. As soon as we got to the little border town out of Mexico and into Guatemala, the car was swamped with young men trying to help us. From what I had read, it was fairly easy to get in to the country so I didn´t understand why we would need their help. We kept refusing until we realized the hoops you have to jump through just to get out of Mexico. We agreed to let one boy help us and he took us through all the steps out of Mexico and getting us and the car into Guatemala. It was a complete nightmare! We couldn´t believe anyone would consider this any EASY thing to do. It took several hours, but we continued on our way. We drove through the lush landscape and were making good time. We had hoped to get all the way to El Salvador that day. We drove for a couple hours and came to a dead stop in the road. The road was stopped for a couple miles. We followed another car and bus and went around all the traffic only to come to a dead end a ways up the road and had to turn around. We later found out it was Earth Day and the road had been blocked due to a big rally in a nearby town. This info would have been very helpful at the time.

We had found a very bad map, which was the best they had in a local town. Liliana was getting upset and we were all grumpy and frustrated. I saw on the map another way to go around, though it would be longer. We wanted to just get a hotel, but there was nothing suitable in the couple hours we had driven. I just drove on to see where the road would take us. Well it took us up, up, up and away. I have been to Colorado, Canada and even Alaska in my life and have driven up mountains, but this topped them all! It was a very windy road that never seemed to end. Liliana finally fell asleep and Eduardo was getting nervous as to where we were going. I knew it was long, but also knew we were headed the right direction. It started getting darker the higher we went and very foggy. It was a little scary at times, but I drove as well as I could. The view in every direction was stunny, absolutely picturesque. I can officially say I have been in the mountainous jungles of Guatemala.

After several hours of intense mountainous driving, we got to San Marcos. This was the destination and we made it! This was my 3rd favorite place we encountered. It was actually quite a large mountain city, but had very few hotels. We found a very fancy one and we were so excited to stay somewhere nice. We went in and were told there was a carnival in town and they didn´t have any rooms! So sad. It must have been carnival season. They pointed us in the direction of the only other hotel and we went. We settled for the lesser place, but it was somewhere to sleep nonetheless. We walked around the carnival, ate some Chinese food for dinner and went to bed.

I must add this is the day I started to lose my cool. My enthusiasm was way down and I really started to lose my mind. We just wanted to be home so bad I could hardly take it any longer. I mustered up any strength left in me, mostly for Liliana´s sake and carried on.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Immigrants in Arriaga

We slept in until 7am in Acayucan and headed out. We thought it might be possible to get out of Mexico that day, but were just going to see how the day went. We read that if we got to the border town in the afternoon, to not cross and stay until the next day. We got as far as Arriaga and couldn´t go any more that day. It was around 5pm and we were still 3 or 4 hours to the border of Guatemala. We passed a hotel on the main road and went into the small town. As we drove around, we started feeling very sad. Eduardo was reminded of his journey to the US in 2002 by seeing all the immigrants that had traveled up through Central America and were headed to the U.S. via Mexico. There were dozens and dozens of people waiting by the railroad tracks. They knew when the train would start going and they would jump on with hopes of not getting caught. We watched all waiting and felt very sad. I saw Eduardo cry this day. It was only 1 of 2 times I had seen him cry at this point. I cried too and our hearts grew heavy.

I know there are so many people that judge illegal immigrants, but if you had only seen the things I have seen and heard the stories I have from loved ones, you may feel differently. It´s not as though these people just decide it would be cool to live in the United States. They do it to feed their families and find a better way of life. They have nothing and have even less to lose. They risk their lives trying to make the journey North and it´s a long hard struggle. It makes me cry even now just thinking about it. This part of the trip made me so grateful that we are going through this Immigration Process. My husband is the kindest, most giving, hard working, selfless person I know and I am happy to be helping him to be able to continue the life he has built for himself all these years. He has sacrificed being able to be with his family just to be able to provide for them and I know he will never give up trying to better himself and his life.


Our goal from Costa Esmeralda that day was to reach Acayucan and we did, but the rest of the day was not without it´s troubles. After we bought lunch and gas we realized we were running out of pesos. We knew there were lots of toll roads coming up and searched everywhere for a place to exchange money with no luck. We wasted a lot of time doing this. We finally decided to just go to the toll and beg them to take our American Dollars. We got there and they wouldn´t, but they din´t accept credit card. Thank God! I used my bank card for the next three tolls.

We finally reached the outskirts of Acayucan and stopped again for gas. After the gas was pumped I gave them my bank card and it was declined! I tried another card and got declined. Silly me had forgotten to tell my bank I was leaving the country, so they stopped my card for a fraud alert, I´m assuming. We begged and begged the gas attendant to accept our dollars and he did. Once again, Thank God!

We drove into Acayucan, which ended up having a carnival in town and looked for a hotel. We saw a couple nice ones, but quickly remembered we didn´t have any pesos to pay for it. We parked in one hotel and they told us where to go to exchange money. We walked all around never found a place, asking all kinds of people. It was the type of experience where to ask 10 different people and get 10 different answers with directions. Craziness! We went back to the hotel, got our car and drove to find somewhere. It was nearing 7pm by this point and we had reached our maximum toleration for the day. Finally got to a place, exchanged money and went to a nicer hotel we had seen on our journey.

I actually quite like Acayucan a lot. It was the 2nd favorite place of mine. We got the nicest room in the hotel, which actually had a king size bed and a private balcony overlooking the carnival and central area. We took Liliana to ride the carousel and ordered dinner in the restaurant, but had it delivered to our room. Liliana didn´t want to sit still any longer. I had high hopes of sitting on the balcony with my hubby and actually getting to chat and enjoy our alone time. What was I thinking? I fell asleep promptly after dinner.

Topes and Potholes

I didn´t sleep well in Tampico Alto. Liliana and I were sharing a twin bed and she likes to spread out! It was hot and I didn´t feel comfortable in the room. I slept for a couple hours and woke around 12am. I couldn´t go back to sleep after this. Around 3am Eduardo was awake and couldn´t sleep either. Then even Liliana woke up and was wide awake ready to go. I asked her if she wanted to leave and she shook her head up and down very fast! It was so funny! We decided just to get up and go. Once we did, we noticed there were cocroaches crawling around...this disgusted us to no end. We past as fast as possible and left.

Althought EVERYONE says not to drive in Mexico at night, we found it was the better option. We didn´t get pulled over, but we did hit every pothole you can imagine times 100! Every little town has topes, which are speed bumps, but like 10 of them within a mile. The potholes driving at night through the windy roads was enough to keep me alert at 4am! We drove and drove that day.

We passed through a town called Costa Esmeralda. I had really wanted to stay in this town, but the timing didn´t work out. It is right on the ocean in Veracruz and it´s lined with little hotels and restaurants. We decided to pull off and get lunch around 11am. We ate at a nice hotel right on the beach, literally. We were the only ones there and this was the best part of my trip! I´m so glad we stopped.

The Road to Tampico

We got up Monday morning ready to head to the border once again. We were told to be there before 9am, so we left by 8am hoping not to get stuck in too much traffic. We ended being stuck in a huge line that wasn´t moving. By the time it started going somewhere, we realized it was the line for the border, the wrong border crossing! There are 3 bridges going from Brownsville, TX to Matamoros, MX and each has a border crossing. Eduardo jumped out just in time to ask someone where to go and we were able to cut through traffic to get to immigration. We went inside and had to wait for the manager type guy to arrive. He told us he would give Eduardo the visa, but for $150.00. He said he called around and the other official was going to charge $280.00. Whatever!! You have to understand this money was going to this guy personally and we still had the pay the 3 visitor visas plus the car permit to Mexico. It was an expensive border experience. We were also told we had to give $20.00 to the checkpoint officer an hour down the road. We did all this just happy enough we were moving on with the trip.

The road to Tampico was not as bad as I had expected at all. I also had heard from several sources it would be a 13 hour drive and it didn´t take that long at all. I hadn´t even planned to reach Tampico. Once we got to the city, we were looking for the road that goes around the city opposed to going through. It´s a lot faster. As I was driving I noticed a policeman on a motorcycle behind me. I knew this couldn´t be good! He gestured for me to roll down the window and wanted me to pull over. I did this and Eduardo got out of the car to speak with him. He told him that our tinting on our windows was too much and we would have to pay him $300 or he would take us to a place where they would remove it for us. This was a bunch of crap of course! We then had to follow him to a place with not as many people watching. Eduardo told him he only had $20 and showed him his wallet. He said that wasn´t enough and that we needed to figure out what else we could give him. He was the biggest asshole ever!! After a LOT of negotiating, we finally got off with paying him around $50, some pesos, some dollars and went on our way.

We were so flustered by this experience that we got all turned around and went the wrong way several times. The police told us not to drive through town or we would get pulled over again. We finally found our way and decided to drive a little further to Tampico Alto. We reached Tampico Alto around 7pm and got a hotel. There were only 2 to choose from and we thought we got the better of the 2, but looking back who really knows! We had dinner and reluctantly got into our shabby beds and attempted to sleep.

Stuck on the Border

Eduardo woke me up in a hurry. It was 20 past 4 and we were supposed to be up at 4am. We hurriedly got ready and headed out the door. We stopped for gas and I noticed the clock on the wall. It was only 3am! I couldn´t believe it..all that precious sleep I lost. Well we continued on with Liliana asleep in the back. We finally reached the border by 10am. We pulled over and got questioned, they looked through the car a bit and we parked to go inside to get our visitor visas. Unfortunately they wouldn´t let Eduardo in the country. Salvadoreans have to get special permission to go to any other country not in Central America. WE were told he could get this permission and he would have to pay a fine, but we could do it. Thank Goodness! Well then the person who supposedly could do it for us was not there that day. It was Saturday morning and we were told we would have to wait until Monday morning! So many thoughts ran through my mind. What would we do? Eduardo couldn´t get back in the States or Mexico. The official told us we could stay in Matamoros on the border until Monday, but if we went any further we would eventually get to a checkpoint and then he would be in trouble.

We drove into the border town, which was WAY better than Tijuana so I wasn´t as worried as originally thought. We looked up hotels on the GPS and found a Best Western. We got there and it had gated parking, hot water, a restaurant and wasn´t too expensive. Once we got settled in we actually were happy to have the weekend to relax. We all slept and lot and the food was excellent in the restaurant so we ate a lot too! Although it added two full days to our trip, looking back it was a very nice vacation of sorts.

Friday, April 16, 2010

On the Road - Stateside

We left home yesterday at 6:45am. It was a tearful goodbye, but we were happy to finally start the journey. Liliana slept for almost 3 hours...yay!! We drove all the way to Memphis and went to check out Graceland. It wasn't very exciting so we decided just to head on to Texas. We stopped a little bit later around 3pm for the night. I was exhausted from not sleeping the night before so Eduardo had driven most of the way. We didn't even eat dinner, we all just fell asleep at 8pm :) That was after our failed attempt at taking Liliana to the pool! We were very happy she did very well in the car. We stopped at one point and let her run around and had a picnic for an hour. That really helped.

Today we got up at 4am and were in the car by 5am. We thought Liliana would sleep for hours, but she woke up an hour later! We stopped at Cracker Barrel for a lousy breakfast (indy is way better). Then we got back on the road and drove and drove. We finally saw our 1st Starbucks after a while. Yes, the 1st one!!! We were so excited. I got my soy Chai and stayed alert to drive the rest of the day. Today was a long one. The highway to Dallas was closed so we took a detour that went to Houston instead, which seems a little shorter, I think. Thank God for GPS. It's my new best friend. We saved hours of looking at maps, very worth the money :) We then hit Houston around 4pm rush hour. Spent a while getting through traffic and finally found a hotel, 12 1/2 hours from the time we left!! Liliana was a trooper. We stopped at a couple great rest areas, one with a playground. We all got out and played and ran around. That helped a lot. We are now at our hotel in our jacuzzi suite! Hopefully we get to use it! Eduardo went to get dinner just now and got pulled over. I knew when he left this was going to happen and I was worried sick. Luckily the guy let him go and just said he didn't want to see him driving here again! Thank God!!! This has been my biggest fear.

We are on to Mexico tomorrow. Hoping for an easy border crossing and hoping they don't want us to take EVERYTHING out of the car! Until next time...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

In Limbo

Since my last post we have gone through a lot of changes. Our March 29th date changed to March 31st. Then a couple days before we were to leave, we got an RFE (request for additional evidence) from the NVC (National Visa Center). We didn't know what it would be so the lawyer wanted us to wait to leave until we found out. This made us super depressed and we felt as if we are living in limbo. Eduardo has now been out of work for almost 3 weeks, so we have been living off our El Salvador savings. No good! When we were at our lowest feeling so hopeless, I received a call from our lawyer. She got the RFE and it was something very simple. We went on Friday and took the rest of the documents we needed and she said we can leave this coming up week. We have the best lawyer! She is going out of town, but she knows how bad we want to leave so she is preparing our waiver packet to be ready by Wednesday. We are super excited. We can finally leave. We will pick up the waiver (all of our evidence as to why they should give Eduardo residency in the States) and then we can leave any time. We picked Thursday morning of course! We hope to leave very early in the morning so Liliana can sleep as much as possible in the car the first day, although I know how any Liliana planning ends up, so I am just praying for the best :) My mom asked me today if I have butterflies in my tummy about leaving and I think normally I would. This process has just taken such a toll that I am actually completely ready to go. The future is scary because it is the unknown, but it's also exciting. We are mostly packed, but will pack the van on Tuesday and see how much we want to take actually fits. It will be interesting.

We will most likely be gone about 14 months at this point, I am hoping not longer. The El Salvador Embassy unfortunately is one of the slowest at processing these waivers and they are very far behind. Please pray for us to get an easy and speedy approval!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Leaving Soon!!

We had a great meeting with the lawyer today. We are feeling more optimistic now! We still don't officially have a date in El Salvador yet, but we have decided on a departure date. We have decided to leave March 29th! 3 1/2 weeks away...crazy!! Because we are driving, we need to allow ourselves extra time to get there before the appt. If we get the appt time this week or next and it's 2 months away, we will wait, but for now we will be leaving soon.

It's such a mixture of emotions. We've been waiting soooo long for this and as soon as I realized we are really going, I cried. They are happy and sad tears. It's relief that I can finally finish the preparing and actually go. It's sad that we are leaving my family and friends and that Liliana will be away from her Grammy that she desperately adores! And it's happy that Eduardo will be reunited with his 2 kids and mom that he hasn't seen in 8 years!

I'm going to be working hard to next couple weeks trying to catch up with friends, make Cultured Veggies, put together our packet for the consulate, pack everything for storage and the trip and prepping the car. And that's just the beginning...ha!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Waiting for the date...

I decided to create this blog so family and friends can keep updated with where we are at in the whole immigration process, as well as hearing our story of the crazy drive to El Salvador and our attempts at a "normal" life there.

Right now we are waiting for the date of departure. The Consulate in El Salvador should be sending us an appt date for when Eduardo needs to be there very soon. Once we receive this date, we will decide when to leave. We are busy now getting everything together...there's a lot to think about when you are moving to another country for a year! I am busy packing, organizing all the paperwork and preparing for the drive down. I am also still making Cultured Veggies for Cleansing Waters and entertaining Liliana of course! You could say my days are very full!! All the while, Eduardo is working crazy hours to be able to support us financially for the year. We are trying to be as positive as possible and look forward to this adventure. Of course we have our highs and lows, but we know it's all for the best!

I will update this again when I have more info from the lawyers.