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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Is It Just My Imagination?


When I first met my goddaughter Daniela during my first trip to Perú, she was only 3 years old. It seemed to be an instant connection between the two of us. I will always remember the exhilarating wave of goodbye and the smile that she gave me as I headed back to the US. It would be another four years before I'd see her again, but I never forgot her. While back in the US, I've called from time to time to say hello and hear her voice. By the time she turned five, she would always ask when I was coming. She even asked if she could be my daughter, which to me was very fulfilling. From that day forth, I referred to her as my goddaughter, but in Perú, I refer to her as mi niña (my child). Her family gets a good laugh when I say that because they, not Daniela, know who her real father is. I generally wire money to her family with my motive being to benefiting Daniela. She was always excited and uplifted when I'd call.

I will never forget my first return to Perú when Daniela was seven, and the loving, ecstatic greeting she gave me. We used to go places holding hands like father and daughter, along with her friends and members of her family.

Today, the rapport that I have with Daniela is not as close as before. On my last trip, the excitement was no longer there, although I could still see it in her eyes. I don't know if she is just getting older (10) and more reserved, like her older sister (17), or is her family planting seeds reminding her that I am not family, only a gringo from America with a pocket full of money. It was strikingly strange for Daniela to hustle me into buying gifts for family members that they don't plan to use, like the bicycle I bought, per her request that ended up being sold by a family member. I was already warned by a Peruvian-American whose exact words were, those people are living in abject poverty and are strictly about the benjamins, moron! Time will tell! Meanwhile, I still feel unconditional love for Daniela, and hopefully, this is just my imagination.