When Gloria and her family crossed into Mexico early in October, they did so with the avowed intention of going on to the States, the good ol' U.S.A., the land of milk and honey, and all that. They had acquired the services of what is often called a coyote, someone who promises to help you cross the borders by whatever means necessary. Unfortunately, all too often these coyotes turn out to be very unscrupulous individuals and abandon their clients along the way, sometimes with very disastrous results. In this case, it was even worse. The character who led them out of El Salvador was supposedly a church pastor, a man of the cloth, when in reality he was nothing but a wolf in pastor's clothing. Some days earlier he had met Yolanda and Rosa, Gloria's sisters, and convinced them he could see them to their goal. But his true motivation was merely to go to bed with Rosa.
When he was unable to achieve that, he left the whole group just past the border into Mexico and was never seen again. Lucky for Gloria and all, they had the presence of mind to recover their passports and visas from his bags beforehand, or things would have been immeasurably worse further down the line. As anyone knows who travels to foreign countries, there is always a time limit to one's visa. And by the beginning of November their time was drawing near its expiration date.
On the 6th of that month, they crossed the border with Guatemala in order to renew their tourist visas. I know that I felt some worry about their safety. After all, they were for all intents and purposes my "little family" by now. Permission to be in a country like these with scarcely any financial resources evident is something not to be taken lightly. At least I owned a van and carried U.S. currency on me. On the other hand, they were only one small notch higher than common "wetbacks".
So it's easy to imagine the extent of my concern when only some of them returned two days later. Gloria was not among them! My agony was somewhat assuaged when they told me not to worry, Gloria would be back a little later. She had decided it was time to bring her other daughter, 11-year-old Sonia, out of El Salvador in order to be with us. So I just had to be patient.
My patience was greatly rewarded when someone in the institute called out to me, "Terry, there's a telegram for you!" Sure enough. My diary has this entry for Saturday, the 8th of November: Gloria sent to me a telegram saying she'd return on Monday! (And yes, it was even written in red ink.) The words in the telegram were:
TERRY LLEGARE EL LUNES. I LOVE YOU. GLORIA.
Whew! Finally I would be united once more with her, and we could get on with our lives together.
You can imagine my great happiness when Sunday evening around 9 o'clock or so as I sat in the front door of the school - the same spot where I first met her a month earlier - she suddenly appeared again. This time accompanied by a dark-haired little girl, who she presented to me as "Terry, Ústa es Sonia, mi otra hija [Terry, this is Sonia, my other daughter.]" My family wasn't quite so "little" as it was before.
Sonia and Gloria in the park one evening
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