Welcome to SalvadoranGringo.com! This blog will serve as a place for me to share my thoughts and experiences regarding the integration and blending of two families from different cultural backgrounds. Some of the posts will be topical, relating to cultural, linguistic, historical, and culinary topics, while others will be humorous accounts of our wacky life.
Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Anastasio Húguez, a Caucasian American of mostly German ancestry. Obviously, given my background, Anastasio Húguez is not my real name. I’ve decided to write under a pen name for two reasons; the first is to give a little bit of protection and anonymity to any family and friends mentioned in the posts, and the second is because I write on religious topics as well, and would like to keep the subjects distinct, based on some advice I’ve read on building a niche market for one’s writing. In any event, I will not go to any length to conceal my real identity; I am an Orthodox Christian, and Anastasio is the Spanish form of my baptismal name, while Húguez is the Spanish translation of my last name (uncommon in Spanish, but common in English).
I first met Salvadorans in the Fall of 1993 in Northern Virginia, when I was in Middle School, and in December 1994 I became best friends with Roberto, an American-born Salvadoran. It was through his family mainly that I learned to speak Spanish in under a year. His sister, Pilar, was born in America but raised in El Salvador, before returning at age 15. She was my first true love; we dated for a little over a year as teenagers. After many years, we reconnected, and now have a daughter together. She has three children from her first marriage, and I have one daughter from my first marriage.
Including family and renters, there are nine people who live in our house, and numerous family live close by and randomly stop by at all hours of the day and evening. It’s always a lot of fun around here, even though it can be stressful. Integrating Caucasian and Central American cultures under one roof has been interesting, leading sometimes to insights and sharing, and sometimes to conflict. Both are important learning experiences.
Finally, a note about the title of the blog. I’ve been told for years that I am an “honorary Salvadoran,” “honorary Hispanic,” etc. by dear Hispanic friends whom I love and respect. This was not something I appropriated for myself, but rather something that was bestowed upon me. As a teenager, they called me either Gringo or Güero as a term of endearment, and Roberto’s mother called me her “quinto hijo” (fifth child, after her four natural ones).
One time, however, a guy whom our group of friends didn’t like too much got angry with me and called me a poser for speaking Spanish and hanging out with mostly Hispanic people. I want to make it clear now therefore that I do not see myself as something I am not, and I love and respect my German-American heritage. To me, you cannot erase your own culture and take on another culture; you can, however, add another culture to your own base culture. I will always be a Caucasian American, although many aspects of Central American culture are more pleasing to me and seem more natural after so many years of being surrounded by it. I just wanted to speak directly to this point, so that any Salvadoran people reading this blog who do not know me and my family personally will not get the wrong impression, and so that people from my own cultural heritage do not think I am trying to avoid it.
Finally, Pilar’s ex-husband and his family are Peruvian. After Salvadorans, the largest group of Hispanic people I know are Peruvians, and their culture (which is quite distinct from Salvadoran culture) and cuisine is a large part of my life as well. Occasionally, therefore, there will be references to aspects of Peruvian culture and cuisine.
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