Welcome to the kastle. According to my rent receipts, I took possession of this house on May 27, 2010 twenty days after Margarita and I were joined in wedlock by the governor of the Department of Santa Ana. I moved my stuff in from my three-room cottage by the end of the month. But it wasn’t until about three weeks later before we had the beds for the four kids, dressers and other pieces to put clothes so that Margarita could move down from Casa Blanca. I was used to sleeping alone but by then I wasn’t liking it.
A year has passed. It’s been an adventure. We harvested some puny ears of corn planted by the previous resident. Some of my transplanted pepper plants produced some sad looking green peppers. We had some spinach but little else that I planted after the corn was picked.
The church’s school shut down and that left me with more free time on my hands than I’d planned for. In a way it was good. Margarita and I had our mornings together while the kids were in school. In the afternoon the older two studied and the younger two were mostly at CDI learning to be good kids.
Meanwhile, we were learning to cope with each other’s cultural habits, tastes in food, and child-rearing techniques. She’s so laid back and tranquil. It slowly rubbed off…well, it’s still slowly rubbing off…while I learn her definition of patience. The kids mostly cling to their cave-dwelling habits of eating with their hands, wiping their noses and faces with their clothing, and passing food and drink from mouth to mouth…and wondering why at least one is coughing, sneezing, or both. I’ve introduced bottled water to drink, a family doctor, and a dentist who doesn’t just yank teeth when the pain becomes unbearable. The youngest child, Adriana now seven, is the most adaptable. When she’s of the mind, she’ll eat bread rather than tasteless heavy tortillas that don’t sop gravy, Cheerios rather than Corn Flakes, and “American” food rather than beans and rice. They get meat or chicken once a day and plenty of vegetables to go with all the junk food they’re given between meals.
But we were living under a scare from the beginning. Margarita had been diagnosed with cancer before we committed to each other, but prayers were answered and the cancer disappeared. Nevertheless, just before Christmas she had surgery that removed her baby-making apparatus. She had no problem with being neutered. I had to bear it in silence. I wanted to have a Salvadoran son to carry on my name after I was gone. Six months later, she has problems with pain in the area operated on. The health-care system is such that she won’t see the surgeon until the end of July.
We were gifted with a plancha so Margarita could make her own tortillas. Not having to buy these staples saved us a little cash. Then we bought a washing machine that saved her enormous time and labor. It was good to see her be able to relax for the first time in her life.
In November we had our church wedding. It was a gala for El Refugio. The man who would become our new pastor six months later performed the ceremony. We were truly blessed with so many guests who came to witness our vows to God. It was one of the happiest days in both our lives.
We’ve also bought a living room set of two chairs and a sofa. They’re good looking but hard. When we bought the washer, we also got a reclining chair so I can relax. Not that I relax that often. I use it for watching “Millionaire” on Wednesday nights. We limit our TV time due to the high cost of electricity if we go over 99 kwh per month. We lose the $16 government subsidy. Our house is looking more like a home. We’ve certainly got more than what Margarita had in Casa Blanca. I’m told that some women are jealous. Works for me. Margarita’s a queen and deserves something better than what she’s had in this life.
With the new year, Luís and Adriana easily adjusted to the public school where they were reunited with former classmates from the church’s school. María joined big brother Juan in the high school. Margarita took on some responsibilities at the church. Her transition from a prophetic Pentacostal church to our Baptist church with a diabolical tyrannic woman pastor was amazing. Margarita is a very spiritual woman, God-centered and Christ-oriented. She loves to read her Bible and can preach with the best.
I started running again and continued in my effort to resuscitate our church. It was dying but didn’t know it. It was a linguistic struggle for me to convince some of the church leaders (under the pastor) that we needed to change a lot of things. When the bulb finally lit up, God’s truth came to bear. She took a leave and ultimately resigned. God sent us a new pastor and the church is back on track. Margarita is now a deaconess.
But all is not well. María, now 16, found a 23-year old boy friend and decided she doesn’t like to study. Without a word to me, she quit school and has been laying around the house until the afternoon when she goes with her mother to CDI and helps Margarita in the Chalet selling junk food. She has no plan for the future. I had a fatherly talk with her that was all one-sided. She just smiles.
So, Margarita and I no longer have our half-day of privacy. I get into the computer and she talks to María and does her house work…while the girl who thinks she’s an adult paints her nails and eyelids or plays with her cell phone. My concern is not so much for the girl as the bad example she is setting for her younger brother. He’s as lazy as she is if not moreso. The boy can’t stand up without leaning on a wall or chair. He eats laying his face on his hand so his arm will support his head. When everyone is occupied, he lies on the floor doing nothing in particular. He’s nine and has bothered girls in his class whom he “likes”. Thank God Adriana is more like Juan. She loves to learn new things and is quicker than Luís to pick up. She does a lot more on the computer than he can.
Juan did some cement work below the window in the girls’ room. He’s quite handy and has more experience in such chores than I have. They do things differently here. He’s a good fellow. He’s been spending his nights here as opposed to running to Casa Blanca to stay in their old house and have his grandmother feed him in exchange for his helping her around her house.
Well, other than Margarita and I having had our wedding rings stolen at knife point by some punks on the bus in Santa Ana, that seems to be about it for our year. Like any “young” couple, we long to have a home of our own. I had dreams. I guess I was too generous over the past eight years in helping families who were in need. But even if we have to rent, we’re happy together and anxious to see what our second year will bring.