My father’s name is Carlos Guarinex Rodriguez Estevez. My mother’s name is Sonia Maria Rodriguez Martinez. My parents got divorced when I was four years old and my brother, Starlyn, and I lived with my father in Santiago Rodriguez, Dominican Republic. My Dad sold salami at the market on Saturday mornings.The night before the market, he would come home with the back of his red truck full of salami. It was my favorite day. I didn’t like salami that much, I was just really happy to see my father.
Everyone says that I look just like my father. We both have dark brown eyes and the same big smile. We also have the same name. My Dad loves to laugh. He is always friendly and never shy.
I started helping my Dad at the market when I was eight years old. The market was on a big street with blue tarps hung over it to try and keep the people cool. It would be cold in the morning, but by 12 o’clock the sun was so hot that people rolled up their sleeves, and sometimes men took off their shirts.
Vendors would arrive at 5 or 6 in the morning to start setting up their stand. There were plantains, yucca, rice, beans, avocado, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, onion, eggplant, jeans, dresses, shoes and socks, meats, soda, juice, water, and beer. A friend of my father’s sold candies at the market, too. They were my favorite. They were soft and made with milk and coconut. They smelled sweet. My Dad would buy me five candies every Saturday when I worked with him.
Our table was always piled high with salamis – maybe 150 of them. There were many thieves in the market in Santiago Rodriguez and my job was to protect our salamis. I sat on a big bag of rice with my arms crossed because that made me look strong. No one ever stole a salami from my family with me protecting them.