memorias refrescantes en una botella

El sábado, 30 de enero jamás me imaginé que al visitar el Centro Presidencial William J. Clinton en Little Rock, Arkansas, se me iban a venir recuerdos gratos de mi infancia en Nicaragua. ¡Todo por una botella de Coca-Cola!

El Centro Clinton patrocinó una exhibición en celebración de los 100 años cuando obtuvo la patente la famosa botella.  Como “Embajadora Social” del centro, fui invitada a un tour privado de la exhibición durante la Convención de Coleccionistas y Aficionados de Coca-Cola. El Director de Comunicaciones de la Compañía Coca-Cola, Ted Ryan, me asombró con su amplio conocimiento y pasión por todos los artículos originales, ¡sin notas, sin slides, todo memorizado en su cabeza!

La exhibición mostró artículos originales, como 3 cuadros del gran ilustrador Norman Rockwell, pintados exclusivamente para Coca-Cola. Mi favorito es una escena representando el clásico americano de la obra, Lo que el viento se llevó.

Norman Rockwell   Concert on the steps

Al terminar el tour, nos llevaron a otra habitación donde fanáticos y coleccionistas de productos, esperaban ansiosos a Ted, con la esperanza quizás, de que unas de sus polvosas antiguedades llegara a ser valorada más de lo que pagaron por obtenerla. Fue ahí donde conocí a la señora Helen Scott, de Fayetteville, Arkansas, de unos 70 años según mi estimado, pues no quise preguntarle su edad, obviamente, por respeto. Sin embargo, su dulce sonrisa, cabello canoso y el hecho que le costó levantar la hielera metálica rectangular, me recordó a mi propia abuelita. El director Ted, amablemente le ayudó a pasar la hielera al frente, quien dijo ella, su esposo compró en los años sesenta. Ted abrió la gran caja roja metálica, observó su buena condición, donde caben 24 botellas para llevar a un picnic familiar. Me pregunto cuántos picnics la Sra. Helen habrá disfrutado con esa hielera, que ahora solo le trae eso, recuerdos familiares.

Helen Scott Coca ColaTed le dio unas vueltas a la hielera y la valoró en unos $300-500 según la condición y lo antiguo. Le tomé unas fotos rápidamente, intentando capturar la hielera roja que le trajo una orgullosa sonrisa a la señora. Inmediatamente recordé a mi propia abuelita, fielmente empacando sandwiches y botellas de Coca-Cola en una hielera, para llevarnos a un día en las playas soleadas y agobiantes de Nicaragua. Nada como salir de haber jugado en las olas del mar, con una sed tremenda, y que tu abuelita te abriera una botella bien fría de esa dulzura de caña de azúcar en la fórmula latinoamericana. La señora Helen se sentó de vuelta, sin saber que su presencia recorrió mi mente con recuerdos gratos en menos de 3 minutos.

El Centro Clinton le recuerda a todas las familias y turistas que, con frecuencia, las exhibiciones proveen actividades familiares durante los fines de semana. ¡Especialmente ahora que se avecina la primavera y verano, traiga a su familia para crear esos recuerdos de infancia! Para más información del centro y membresía, visite Clinton Presidential Center.

waves: crashing fear in the face

I had ventured deeper than my parents probably would have liked for me to venture alone. But I loved seeing it begin forming, rising slowly, a bump, then higher, a hill, then getting stretched up high like spaghetti, then the shiny, sparkly arch, then crashing down and the white ferocious bubbles rushing towards you. I wanted to get closest to where they were being birthed. The rush was loudest there. I got too close, in over my head, the wave churned me around and I didn’t know which way was up, my stomach filling up with that salty water and a cup full of sand. I gasped and tried to follow the light up. The Pacific ocean wanted to be sure I knew who was Boss. The wave dragged me closer to my dad’s steady legs already walking towards me. His strong hands hitting my back to be sure at least half of the sand got hacked out of my system. My heart was beating fast. Scared at the loss of control. Scared I’d be in trouble. I gasped for breath.

¿Estás bien hija? (You okay daughter?)

I’m okay. Scared but settled down a bit.

Next thing I know, instead of being taken to my mom watching from far away with her Ray Bans, my dad’s arms swoop me up. Uhm. Wait. What are we doing?! I just came from there! He’s walking me into the deep water again. Was this a sick form of discipline to show me never to go deeper into the ocean again alone?! I learned my lesson! Ain’t ever doing that no more!

Whimpering. “Papi, please, no, I don’t want to go in, please I don’t wanna play anymore.”

“You’re going with me.”

“No, papi, por favor…tengo miedo.”…No daddy, please, I’m scared.

I look at the rising waves. I look back at the beach. I look at the crashing roar that just put me in my place. I look back desperately.  I’m thinking if I yell loud enough my mom will have mercy and come get me. Nothing is slowing my dad down. His arm cradling my bottom and with his other hand holding me before I jump out of his arms.

“You’re going with me Inés, you don’t have to be afraid. You have to learn to trust me. If you’re in my arms, you don’t have to be afraid. I’m not going to let you go.”

The ocean water is touching the tips of my toes now. Water up to his waist now. I want to wiggle out, up, higher, like how about I sit on his head maybe that way this dark, sandy water won’t reach me. I’m going to eat all my veggies on my plate from now on, as long as they don’t let me in this deep again. I’m crying quietly and I can’t tell if it’s tears or salt water running down my cheeks and into my mouth. In my dad I see the same boldness I saw in me minutes earlier. To go in deeper. But can someone tell him this isn’t going to end up well? In. Over. His. Head. He stops.

“It’s coming. See? You don’t have to hold on to me Inés. I’m holding onto you. Entiendes? Stop moving. I’ve got you.”

Rising. Welling. Arching. Crashing. Roaring. Approaching. Dad steady as an oak tree. I brace myself. Close my eyes shut. This time close my mouth shut. I know I will be pooping sand for days. The force crashes onto me, but I’m not swept away from his arms like I thought I would.

¿Qué te dije? ¿Viste? No pasa nada.

Sure you told me. Yes I see now. Can we go eat a mango now?

My dad has always known that I have an inherent tendency to fear. And that fear paralyzes me. So he pushes me. I will never forget that huge Pacific wave in Nicaragua that tumbled me like I was a marble. I will never forget me getting scared breathless. Spewing salt water & sand outta my nose. Burning. Heart racing. I will never forget his strong, steady arms picking me up. Come on. Get up. Let’s go. Together. Again?! Fear outta my eyes. Darting. I wasn’t holding onto him.The wave crashed. And he didn’t let go. He was holding onto me.

mama papa abuela oceano

I Will Climb This Mountain

(*trigger warning: some graphic descriptions about plane crash)

The morning of Wednesday, August 6th, 2014, I woke up with a deep anxiety in my heart. I didn’t know at the time that my father had been up knee deep in prayer for me all night, in the quiet of his home back in Arkansas. Meanwhile, my heart was about to explode in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I had made a decision to climb the biggest mountain of my life. I don’t know how tall it was physically, but as tall as my spiritual eyes could see. I wanted to back out of it, but I didn’t think my friend & pastor Bobby would let me. You see, I had invited him and my friend Erin Calaway to climb that mountain with me. I knew I couldn’t do this alone. A steep climb to my own human calvary. The place where my mom was alive last. The anticipation of a whole week of waiting finally had arrived.  Continue reading I Will Climb This Mountain