Stories From El Salvador: Karla

Feb 15, 2019
3:50 PM
Originally published at Stories From El Salvador

Pedir de Fiado
By Karla

My mama tells me she used to pedir de fiado to make sure I could participate in cultural school activities. She had a comadre who had a puesto en el mercado who knew many merchants in the town. I never realized until I went to El Salvador for the first time what pedir de fiado was. It was like a mix of asking for a favor, a credit, and sometimes a paying it forward sort of thing.

I learned in university about solidarity economies but pedir de fiado wasn’t that either. I learned about micro-credits in some nations in Africa but it wasn’t quite that either. Truth is that until I know it still seems like a mystery on how it worked because my mama says her comadres wouldn’t even write down what she was fiando. So how did they keep track? I often wondered.

I met one of her fiadoras once. My mom would go to her if I had an unexpected expense related to school, like a uniform to play sports, or a piece of textile for a custom. She told me my mom was the best cook in town and prepared her the most delicious tamales for her parties. My mom would charged her very little and all of her guests would compliment them. So, was this it? The reason why she’d trust my mom with unpaid merchandise? Based on her delicious tamales? None of them ever confirmed or explained how pedir de fiado defined their relationship nor they seem bothered explaining it to me.

What I knew for sure was that yo me crié with this notion of pedir de fiado and all I can feel right now is eternal gratitude for the people that made this happened. And besides, my mom always takes them un recuerdito, even if it’s small. But that’s another story in itself.


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