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Monday, August 13, 2012

Why I Chose a Spanish-Speaking Godchild

When I made my first trip to Perú, my only interests were improving my Spanish and being exposed to Afro-Peruvian culture. I stayed with a reknown Black family, right in the hub of Afro-Peruvian culture--the District of El Carmen, in Chincha, Perú.

I brought a lot of small gifts and candy to distribute to those with whom I established rapport, including the children. I have no idea why, but my heart went out to three-year-old Daniela who was struggling to remove the wrapper from the candy I gave her. As I went over to help her, I felt a strong, inexplicable feeling of kinship and attachment. And obviously, the feeling was mutual because she asked me over the phone after my return to the USA if she could be my daughter. Her mother, who was standing by and seemingly feeling embarrassed, took her off the phone, and instructed Daniela to say cuidate (take care), and hung up.

When I returned to Perú, her mother, Karina, was happy that my return made Daniela very, very happy. Karina asked me if I had any children, I said only Daniela, and Daniela just looked at me with extreme delight. She and I have a father-daughter relationship. When I'm in Perú, I take her, her cousin, sister, and friends to the beach, play centers, and to dinners and ice cream parlors. I taught Daniela to play the Spanish version of Scrabble and Monopoly, and chess.

Her older sister, Ruth (17), is our chaperone ;-)  ...just making sure that I'm not one of those... “pedophiles.” Of course, she knows better than that but it's better to be safe. I too felt safe because I didn't have to worry about being accused or suspected of anything. When I'm not in Perú, I call Ruth and Daniela to say hello and wire money. I don't know anything about Daniela's real father, other than some gossip I heard about his being a ladies man or a mac-daddy.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that I have to be careful about the gifts that I buy for Daniela because members of her family will take it and sell it. I was flabbergasted and irked six months or so after I left Perú to learn that the brand new bicycle I bought for Daniela was sold by an adult member of her family. Now, I feel that the best I can do is just show Daniela the love I have for her with my time. As of this writing, she is approaching her 10th birthday. I told her that upon my return that I want to teach her pre-algebra and some English.

I'm very happy and honored to be that male figure to fill the void that Daniela needs in her life. I love her as though she were my own daughter, and I often tell her yo te amo, mija (my daughter, I love you).