I asked Suzanne’s friend, Patrona, about this five dollar an hour wage. She didn't answer my question, but she and Suzanne started talking in Spanish about F. who got a job working at an ice cream shop in San Salvador. ( I think I understood the most of this story, though my Spanish isn't even close to up to snuff.) Her mom was really excited because it's hard to get a job in an ice cream shop in San Salvador if you are from a tiny village in the hills. Everyone wants a job like that, but no one can afford a place in San Salvador. So the woman who owned the shop let F. stay in her home. What could be more perfect?
Plus F. was starting to see a guy who was 25 and in the police academy too, a guy who was going to be able to make a good living some day. She invited him to a big fiesta she was planning for her 18th birthday, and the plan was that he would ask her father then if he could have permission to date F. (Already her father approved.) This is a big event, the asking to date the daughter event, and usually the young suitor is terrified. Everyone was talking and giggling and asking in suspense.
But then she learned the boyfriend was seeing a 14 year old girl, too. And the woman who owned the ice cream shop stopped paying F.. She kept saying she would, but that times were hard. She had F. working full time and was asking her to do other things, like clean her house. One day F. ran away. (She had to run away? I asked, wondering if she couldn't just have said, I'm not doing this. They nodded and looked at me, as if to say, don't you get it?)
Shortly after her return, C., an old man in the village died, so her eighteenth birthday party (that she'd been planning for weeks with Suzanne ordering the cake, and her mother worrying about the dress . . . and we were all planning to attend) was canceled because you can't have a party when someone in the village has just died. Instead there were seven days of funeral rites with everyone singing and praying into the nights.
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