We’re from Chalatenango, in a place about ten blocks from town. That’s why we call it the Kilometre. The people here like to sing. And laugh over nothing. Almost all of us are poor but we don’t consider poverty a disgrace. Nor is it something to be proud of. It never mattered to us that life has been the same for many years. No major changes. We all know each other and treat each other as equals. Someone who owns a cart is no different from the man who owns nothing but a machete.

José is my husband. He plays guitar and sings rancheras, popular political songs that are so good they drive you a little crazy. Or else he sings love songs; for instance, ‘Look how I yearn for your love’ is his favourite. Or maybe it’s merely the one he knows best.

We like the rancheras because they have pretty lyrics and everyone can understand them. It wasn’t so long ago that we started singing the new songs: around the time that the boys arrived, the ones who used to accompany the priest. Those songs were called protest songs.


The Border
September 11, 1973