El Salvador

This is
Deborah Saraj-Ridelman (1983) 

Country of origin
El Salvador 

In the Netherlands since

Purchaser in the textile industry

First impression Amsterdam
She saw snow for the first time

El Salvador in Amsterdam
That's nowhere. But sometimes you smell something at the Albert Cuyp market that reminds you of El Salvador 

My family, the weather, the food, the beach and the extreme polite people.

Would like to find in Amsterdam
Pupusas, I really miss the taste of that.

Still would like to
Open my own showroom 

“I was six when I came to the Netherlands. My mother is a national, and my father from El Salvador. They had met at a kibbutz in Israel. I was born at the start of the civil war. My father is a doctor and has seen some of the most horrific things in his line of work. My sister is eighteen months younger than me and seriously handicapped. This was one of the reasons my parents decided to move to Holland. Medical care is much better here.

We went to live in Brabant and I clearly remember one of our first visits to Amsterdam. My cousin was with us and he held his sweater over his nose as he thought he’d die if he inhaled the weed fumes. It was gorgeous weather and the streets were busy. You saw a lot of different people. There was a real mix of nationalities and there were a lot of tourists.

In El Salvador we think that people in Amsterdam smoke joints all day long and walk round the Wallen. They also think Gay Pride is crazy and really can’t imagine anything like it exists. They also find it strange that people live together and have kids before they get married. My mother had worked as a teacher at my grandfather’s school in El Salvador, and once had a gun pointed at her. The first thing she thought of when that happened was that maybe these people had found out she wasn’t married to my father, and yet they lived together. That’s how important marriage is over there.

I got married after the birth of my first child. My husband is a real Amsterdammer. He thinks IJburg - where we’re now living - is outside of town. As for me, I’ve reached a phase of my life where I don’t see the advantage of city living. Amsterdam in the summer is wonderful: the canals, the nine streets, and the forest. It’s all amazing. So I feel proud that I live out here. However, when it’s winter and both children are home I find our house too small, and miss the colour green.”

8 people in Amsterdam have the Salvadoran nationality


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