Those of you know me are probably laughing right now as you read this title. I’m about as gringa as they come and no matter how long I search, I’m not going to find my “inner Latina.”
But yet, my dance instructor tells me to keep on searching. That’s right, folks, I said dance instructor. Jon and I are currently enrolled in Latin dance classes. Now, we became painfully aware at a recent wedding that we are seriously lacking in Latin dance vibes. We have a friend who’s in town for a few months, she wanted to take a few dance classes, one thing led to another…and now we’re spending two hours a week doing the salsa, merengue, and another dance that I can’t remember. Let’s just say that it’s not pretty.
Latin dancing may look easy but it’s actually not so simple. There’s a lot of hip-shaking, crazy footwork, spinning, and shoulder shimmy-ing that goes into it. You’ve got to do things like “feel the music” and ” bring out the Latin flavor.” Only problem is, I don’t have the Latin flavor. My ancestors came from places like Ireland, Germany, and Scotland. Maybe I should try Riverdance instead…
Anyway, I’ve been stumbling through these classes trying to find that rhythm deep down somewhere. I want to find it, I want to feel it in my soul. There are so many more things about this beautiful country that I want to understand. Culture goes far beyond just living in a place…there is so much to know and grasp and feel. The learning curve involves learning the language and I am getting there with that but I still don’t get all the jokes. I understand the words, but why is everyone laughing???? Learning a culture involves reading the books, and studying the history, and just spending time with people. It involves knowing the words to the national anthem and tasting the food, and asking “why” without judgement attached.
Throughout this learning process, something has happened to me. My life, my very soul, is becoming wrapped up in El Salvador. I am still an outsider in many ways, but the things that matter to my Salvadoran friends matter to me. The history here, the pain, the celebration all start to get tied up in the way I view people and the way I think about the world.
I know deep down that there is part of me that will never, ever leave this place. Most likely we will move one day…back to the U.S. or another country. But there is something of El Salvador in my soul that I can never shake…and I am grateful for that.
Now if that “something” could just send a message to my hips…