El Salvador, Pupusas, and a Spanish Lesson

Summary: Our two largest immigrant groups in Washington DC are Ethiopians and Salvadorans.  I recently rode back to Alexandria with Rolanda (not real name) who is originally from El Salvador.  Along the way, she helped me with my terrible Spanish and shared what she liked and didn’t like about being a driver.

Rolanda: Como Estas? (How are you?)

Bryan: Muy bien.  Lo siento.  No hablo mucho espanol.  (Very well. I am sorry. I dont speak much Spanish)

Rolanda You are doing fine.  A Donde vas? (Where are you going?)

Bryan: Voy a ver mi mujer. (I am going to see my lady)

Rolanda  You shouldn’t say it like that.  That’s too macho (flexes and grunts). Is she your wife?

Bryan:  Yes.  So I would say “Voy a ver a mi esposa” right?  (I am going to see my wife)

Rolanda:  That’s the better way to say it.
Bryan: De donde eres? (Where are you from?)
Rolanda:  Yo soy de El Salvador (I am from El Salvador)
Bryan:  We have a very large population of Salvadorans in Washington DC.  I like Salvadoran food.
Rolanda:  Most Latinos here are from El Salvador.  Not many Mexicans.  No tacos in Washington DC!  Salvadorans know how to make very nice pupusas.  I feel bad for people who have never had a good pupusa.  The ones they sell in the 7-11 and other fast-food places are terrible.  Once someone has had a good pupusa, then they will know what they have been missing.
Bryan:  Have you been driving a long time?

Rolanda:  I’ve been driving a couple months.  I am a chef in a restaurant and I would like to have more hours but I do not have the seniority.  Whenever I have time, I can make some extra money. Sometimes I just want to stay at home but I am not helping myself when I do that.

Bryan:  Are there things you don’t like about driving?

Rolanda:  Most people are nice like you.  Some people are disrespectful though.  Especially young couples (hugs herself and makes loud kissing noises).  They should not do that.  They may be paying for the ride but this is my car.  It is like my office.  I would not do that in their office.

Bryan:  What other things do people do that bother you?
Rolanda:  A lady got into my car and I knew right away she was Latina.  I am one so I recognize one.  I spoke Spanish to her and she got upset and told me that she didn’t like Spanish and I shouldn’t speak it to her.  Why should I not speak Spanish?  Do other drivers tell you what bothers them?

Bryan:  Sure.  My last driver was telling me how he picked up two women during PRIDE.  There were dressed as pixies with wings, wands, and all sorts of glitter.  They had been drinking and got in a big fight in the back seat and there was glitter flying around.   So one of the pixies stormed got out of the car and the otherwise was crying and said she wasn’t ready to go home and demanded he drive her around the neighborhood until she calmed down.  He said he has been finding glitter in the backseat weeks later.

Rolanda:  At least no one threw up.
Bryan:  As a female driver, have you ever felt like you have been in danger?

Rolanda:  I don’t drive late at night so nothing too crazy happens.  For female drivers, its is better to finish early.   There was one time I was scared.  A man, also Latino, gets in and we were speaking Spanish.  He kept saying things to me like “You need to be careful driving alone….someone could just pull over and rob you…you need to watch out because you never know what could happen” and I was starting to feel uncomfortable.  When he got out of the car he lifted his shirt to show me that he had a gun on him.  I don’t think he would have done anything – but he had a gun, so he could have if he wanted to.

Bryan: That is scary.  At least with Uber and Lyft you know the identity of the person in the car with you.  And most people realize the drivers aren’t going to carry money on them since everything is done electronically.
Rolanda;  That’s true. It might be different for us if we had to carry cash.
Bryan: Here is my place.  Gracias.  Nos vemos! (See you!)
Rolanda:  Hasta la proxima! (See you next time!)