Nube Cabrera’s Interview as told to Ann Jose

This interview is of Nube Cabrera (NC), aged 38. She came here when she was 17, without any expectations and thinking that she will probably be going back. The interview focuses mainly on her life after coming here and what events took place thereafter. Ivette Cabrera (IC), my friend helped in translation and contributed to the interview.

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Why and How We Came:

 NC: We used to live in a farm country. My family used to work there. We came here about 19 years ago. I came 1993 and she (Ivette) was born 1994. Not pregnant when come here though. She was born 5 months later.

IC: I was premature, so that’s why. She was not like THAT you know! Haha Just Kidding!

NC: My husband came later. My father was here and he apply for papers so everyone come here. He said it will be fun. Because when he sent the picture, it look so nice, so beautiful. And I was like O my god I want to go there. But here it’s so different! It’s not same as dreaming. He sent pictures of park; a lot of grass, bright day, and it was sunny. But it’s different because everyone is just working. When I stay here I need to work. My father come here 1981 and now he asks for money. He came for working for ..for ( talks in Spanish)

IC: Oh right he just came crossing the border.

Life in NYC:

NC: But there was no problem when we live there. I like to live there. When I was there I didn’t have job as I am younger so when I came here I was 17 and I had her at 18. When I came, it was the night. It was cold! And it was January too. We came by airplane. The flight was 8 hours. I came with my mother, my brother and my sister. They are all here. I have 3 brothers and 2 sisters. And when we came here, my mother had another baby. So my sister is just an year older than Ivette, just 10 months apart! We live in a apartment when we come. It was just a little bigger than this one. My sister and me used to go my aunt because there was no space. She had two babies but we didn’t really have to take care of them because we needed to go to work too. My first job was not too hard because my father working in factory, cloth…clothe factory. He works over there, then I go to work over there too. Everyone got job at the factory. The whole family work over there. Everybody is working to pay off the rent, the loan that my father took to bring everyone here too. I started working at 8 in the morning and ended at 6 in the evening. I think it wasn’t bad.

I wanted to go over to the park, but I had to work so I couldn’t go. Then my aunt used to work in a restaurant so we couldn’t go as we had to go together. After two months we go to that park. But we didn’t go to that same park , and it wasn’t as good as in the pictures, I wasn’t so.. so amazed.  When I came first, I think o my god not too far from my country, but after some time I realizes its so far. I don’t really want to go back now. I like it here. I don’t have any family over there. Only some cousins that I am not close to. My country is changing now. It is so different as there are a lot of new things, new houses, new streets. . After I came, I just go back once (talks in Spanish)

IC: She is saying that it’s just not the same anymore. When she lived there, she didn’t really go out and experience anything, so when she went back things were even more different.

Life Back at Home:

NC. I have gone back just one time. I went back after 14 years. That’s why I haven’t kept up with my culture so much. I didn’t really go out when there were festivals outside because I didn’t know anyone to go out with. My mom also never go out. They make a lot of food at the festival but I didn’t really keep up with the traditions. We make Ecuadorian food here too. I learned to cook when I was 12.

IC: Over there you learn to cook when you are really small. Some people learn to cook when they are nine. Like they have to. And some dishes that we make are Morocho, Fanesca, Ceviche. You should try it!

NC: Yeah you should. And I thought we will stay here for some time and that it will be easy to go back but when I come here, I find it’s not that easy as we have no money to buy the ticket. I wasn’t really emotional when we left because we didn’t do much there. And later my husband said we should visit the country so we went back to visit. So no it was not too hard to leave as everyone was leaving together.

Beginning of a Family:

IC: Tell her how you met dad!

NC: My husband was my boyfriend in Ecuador too. He came here after I did. He had cousins here so he too come here. I didn’t know he was here. But then we had a party.

IC: O yea she was at a cousin’s party. Probably saying I am living so happy by myself I don’t need to have a boyfriend! (winks at me)

NC: NO! (giggles) I didn’t know that he was over there. When we were leaving we didn’t break-up because I thought I come here and stay for month and then I go back but it was not easy. So in the party I was in another room and I saw him and I was like Oh! How is he here? After that he asked for marriage. He was 28 then. After all the loans were paid off, we didn’t have that much money because my father didn’t have license to work. He couldn’t work during day so he is going to work in night. This was the first city that we came to, and the area is the same too. We like to live here, not with too many people from my country. I don’t like to be judged by them, and they judge and gossip a lot and I don’t like that. (More Spanish)

IC: So she is saying that she likes living here and the people who live here don’t judge you that much. It’s the immigrants who came here later who are less respectable as they think they are more American. She thinks that the people who are born here are more respectable. You know, you are an immigrant too, so why all this judging? She is saying that she hears about this but she hasn’t really experienced it.

Missing home?

NC: What I miss about Ecuador is that you are more free to go everywhere. Its just one street. But when you are here you have to know all the places and the maps and its not straight forward. Over here if you walk around there is just more buildings. But we do go the city sometimes to go shopping, like 34th street. We went on the ferry once. When I had English classes, we had trips to the museum and all so we used to go. I went to the class for 5 years because I didn’t know any English. It was really hard. And my father also didn’t know English because when he came here, he worked in a Spanish restaurant and the clothing factory also had Spanish people so he didn’t need to know any English. But not all of my family went to the class. Only me. They learnt at work . I understand a lot more. Talking is more hard for them but easier for me now. That’s just how life was after we come here.