His first impressions of the U.S were marked by awe and incredulity. “Los negocios me fascinaban y las ciudades se veían tan bonitas.” (The businesses looked fascinating and the cities looked so beautiful.) All the brightly colored lights on businesses and streets had him fascinated. Honestly, it was as if he was a little kid in a big city for the first time. He even recounts that the transportation system was captivating because he had never experienced so many taxis, buses, and trains all in one city. All the different ways possible to arrive in one place were unexpected. It was suffice to say that he was, initially, very impressed with everything he was seeing. Apart from those first impressions, he also remembers his reunion with his sister.
“Fue tan emocionante verla después de no haberla visto hace años” (It was so emotional seeing her after so many years of not being able to). Those were the words he used to describe his first meeting with his sister. He recalls hugging her and sitting at her table for his first meal. While he does not remember what the meal was, he does remember that he could not help but look at everything with wandering eyes. It was soon obvious to him that his sister lived in better living conditions than his family did in El Salvador. “Era un mejor estilo de vida al que teníamos en El Salvador donde no teníamos ni una silla en donde sentarnos.” (She had a better style of living than we had in El Salvador, where we did not even have a chair where to sit in our house).
To illustrate the differences between his life in the United States and in El Salvador he described to us the two houses he lived in. In El Salvador he lived with many of his family members in one house, where he had to share a room with many of his brothers. In my tia’s (aunt’s) house there was a room for everyone, even tile floor, and a working bathroom inside her house! Life was so different to what he had become accustomed to in his country. It was strange for him to think of everything he had missed out on for all these years. In a way, he talked about feeling as if he was betraying his family by enjoying these commodities while his family was suffering in his home country. Yet that feeling of betrayal was his motivation to work hard to help his family and give them a better life than the one they had experienced.