Friends and family lend each other a hand when they can. Help comes in all different forms, depending on the demand. Olympia cooks for her family, sends money to her 23 year-old-son in Guatemala, and covers for a her friend at a Mexican tienda on Blair Blvd. Forty years later after a four day bus ride from Guatemala Olympia is happy about her decision to pursue a life in the United States. It stated in Texas when she was 19 years old.
“There was lots of drugs and violence in schools in Texas,” said Olympia. In 1990 her two kids, husband, and her packed up their car and drove to Oregon. The recommendation to move to Eugene came from her cousin. “My cousin looks white and she married someone from Oregon,” said Olympia. The two transplant experiences were very distinct from one another. Olympia’s kids speak Spanish. Her husband prefers to watch movies dubbed in Spanish and is proud of his Mexican heritage. Where as the kids of her cousin never learned there mothers native tongue.
The adapting to life in Eugene took a little while. “There were no tortillas to eat with our beans and rice,” said Olympia. When she first arrived the Mexican population was small and close to nonexistent. Only in the past five or six years have some typical Mexican ingredients become readily available. Although Eugene’s Spanish speaking community was small when she arrived it was a better option then trying to survive in the rat race of life in Los Angels.
When she arrived she found work at hotel out on River Road. She worked there until 2000 when she began collecting disability insurance. “Some days I couldn’t help from dragging my feet in my house. I was in so much pain,” said Olympia. She was born with a leg defect and developed a lower back problem from her long and laborious hours as a housekeeper. Now that she doesn’t work she spends her time caring for her chickens and chicks and cooking for her daughter and husband.
Only recently has she tossed around the idea of leaving Eugene. In August her son packed up his car and drove down to Guatemala to live with his Guatemalan wife. Now that her husband might lose his job at the lumber mill the idea of leaving America is becoming a close reality.