Friday, September 17, 2010


Snow in Denver
Beginning 1956 in Guatemala City, Central America, I believe one year after I got married, I celebrated the arrival of a beautiful baby girl, my wife and I named Miriam Elizabeth. At that time, I was working very hard, many hours a day, but the salary I was earning was not enough to keep up with the needs of the household. My best friend, Sal Ayala, and I had been friends since we were 12 years old, but he had left Guatemala two years earlier. He was lucky in this country. He always tried to encourage me to come to the United States, but I was always afraid to come to this country without speaking any English. At that time, he was bilingual and helped me with Spanish and English communication. He went to school for a few years and had a career in real estate.

Sal used to return to Guatemala every six months for business in a different car, selling it and returning by plane. He used to visit me and try to convince me to come to the United States, so I decided finally to pack my things and sell some of my belongings. It was hard for my wife to let me go, but she took a big chance and let me leave. People in my city thought that I would leave her forever. However, it certainly was not like that.

My trip was not very happy because there was not one English word in my vocabulary, and no communication with the people. I arrived in New Orleans in December. Another friend was waiting for me and let me stay at his house. The next day, I started my trip from New Orleans to Denver, Colorado. I did not know this trip would take about three days and two nights. Something that really surprised me was the discrimination against people from Mexico and Central America. Every time we stopped to eat, we had to go to a different restaurant, and we had to ride in the back of the bus.

I also had a little problem getting something to eat. My English was bad, and I could only order coffee and apple pie, so for three days, I couldn’t eat much. Now I am committed to helping the friends I have.

When I arrived in Denver, to my surprise the address I had was my friend's place of work. It was one of the luckiest days of my life because my friend was working that day. I went inside, and he was surprised to see me, and even more surprised to see me talking with my hands and arm signals. He gave me his apartment keys, and the taxi took me there.

In Denver I started to work as a dishwasher at night. It snowed day and night, and I had never seen snow in my life. Four months later three friends and I decided to go to San Francisco.
The week I arrived here, I started to work at American Poultry Company, where I worked forty years. Two years after I left my country my wife and daughter, Miriam, arrived in San Francisco, and Juliet and Mike Junior were born three years later.

They are all married now, and we have four grand kids; Angela, Jasmine, Javier and Math. Mike Jr. is an engineer in electronics with the U.S. Army, Airborne Division. Miriam graduated several years ago from S.F. State University in chemistry and biology and is now working at Summit Hospital in Oakland; and Juliet is a bookkeeper in a big company in San Francisco. My goals have been achieved, and I thank God for all the help He has always given me.

I am retired now. My plans for the future are to continue doing what I am doing at the moment; coming to school and studying computers, English, and computer repair and to have a diploma from City College of San Francisco. I have been trying to write a column in one of Guatemala's news papers together with my niece, and I feel competent to go into commercial business in computer repair. There is a lot of competition, and I have been trying to install some memory in my computer, but I think the memory card I have is not compatible with my PC.

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