Salvadorans, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

There isn’t anybody who doesn’t know a Salvadoran, or at least, someone who knows a salvadoran. At any rate, a wise teacher was once asked “What is a Salvadoran?” His response was the following:

Oh, the Salvadorans! What a difficult question! Salvadorans are among you but are not one of you. Salvadorans drink from the same cup of joy and bitterness. They make music of their cries and laugh when they hear music. Salvadorans take jokes seriously and make jokes about serious matters. They don’t believe in anybody yet they believe in everything. Don’t even think about getting in an argument with them! Salvadorans are born with wisdom. They don’t need to read, because they know everything! They don’t need to travel, they’ve seen it all! Salvadorans are sort of like the chosen people, chosen by themselves. Salvadorans are characterized as individuals for their understanding and intelligence, and as a group for their impassioned shouts.  Each and every one of them has a spark of genius and geniuses don’t get along well with them. Getting Salvadorans together is easy, but unifying them almost impossible. Don’t talk to them about logic, because that implies reason and measure and Salvadorans are hyperbolic and exaggerated. For example, if they invite you to a restaurant, they don’t just take you to the best restaurant in town, they take you to the best restaurant in the world. When they argue, they don’t say “I don’t agree with you,” but rather “You are completely mistaken!” They have anthropographic tendencies, hence “Se la comio — He ate it!” is an expression of admiration, and to eat a beautiful woman indicates an favorable situation. Saying to someone “eat shit” is a lacerating insult. Salvadorans have so much love for contradiction that they call a beautiful woman “culo– ass” and a scholar they call “animal.” If you are afflicted by any health situation they will advise you “Brother, you should have talked to me and I would have taken you to a buddy of mine, he’s a badass doctor!” Salvadorans offer solutions before they know the problem… For them, there is never a problem. They know what must be done to erradicate terrorism, prosecute poor countries of the Carribean, eliminate hunger in Africa, pay the external debt, who should be president and how the United States can become a world power. They don’t understand why others don’t understand their ideas that are so simple and clear, and they’ll never understand why everyone doesn’t want to learn to speak Spanish. Oh, Salvadorans! We can hardly live with them, but it is impossible to live without them!

Dedicated with much affection to the inhabitants of the best country in the world,

Gabriel Garcia Márquez.marquez