Carolina and Ulises Jr. in New Haven                                                          Photo: Lee Colón

Carolina and Ulises Jr. in New Haven

                                                        Photo: Lee Colón

Love Here Is Love There

by Lee Colón

Carolina Morales uprooted her life in León, Nicaragua, last year to establish a foundation for her family in the United States. She resides in New Haven, Connecticut, where she has found the adjustment to a new home difficult. She is a new mother and wife, and as she struggles to adapt to the weather and way of life, she looks to the future for things to get better.

Why did Carolina make such a move? 

Going back in time to 2006, Carolina was 14 years old when she met Ulises Berrios in La Villa, the community where she grew up in León. She was a native to the land and he was a foreigner to the country, but once their two paths crossed, life as they knew it would never be the same. As he traveled from New Haven to La Villa with a delegation from Wilbur Cross High School, Ulises did not think he would find himself paralleling the Greek Ulysses in his search for home. From one country to another, Carolina and Ulises realized that their lives would take them to an array of places until they found home. 

It didn’t take long for these two crazy kids to fall for each other.

“What made me love him is the beautiful way that he treats me,” Carolina says. 

Because she was raised in a culture where machismo is a dominant ideology, Carolina found Ulises’ attentions different. She instantly fell for him. 

The end of Ulises’ trip did not mean good-bye. Instead, the two said see you later. Initially the two kept in touch via email, but Carolina lost some interest because of her intense focus on her studies. While the challenge of distance and living worlds apart would set in, Ulisses worked at strengthening their ties. Two and three-hour phone calls a day would not only create an expensive phone bill, but also sustain their love and raise suspicion among Carolina’s family. After Carolina came clean to her mother about her boyfriend in America, Carolina’s mother, Maria Elena, accepted this love. For the next eight years she would welcome Ulises into her home when he visited once or twice a year. 

Finally after years of back and forth, on July 24, 2014, in the comforts of her lovely Leon home, Carolina married Ulises. Three short years later, Carolina finds herself residing in New Haven, having an entirely new world to take in. 

What made me love him is the beautiful way that he treats me.
— Carolina Morales

Now, Carolina spends her days in the confinement of her in-laws’ home, caring for her son Ulises Jr., just letting the time pass her by. Ulises Jr. being 21 months old now fills her day with constant play and exploration, but even with a constant routine of housework and childcare, Carolina does find some dull moments. The majority of her time is spent with just Ulises Jr., because her husband works long hours as a chef at Panera. 

While Carolina is glad to have made this move and done so for her family, she struggles immensely with the adjustment to this new life.

“Living here is like being in a jail,” she says. “You can’t compare it [to Nicaragua].”

Life in the United States is nothing like life in León.

“It was a very difficult process to move,” Carolina says, but she knew she had to, to start a family.

In her time in New Haven, she has struggled with the weather, and the lack of work or activities to occupy her time. Yet, the hardest thing of all has been the distance from her family. Although she was warmly welcomed into her in-laws’ home, that feeling of home will always be missing. However, none of this has stopped Carolina from seeing a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

“There is a lot I want to do… the first thing is to leave here,” Carolina says.

Carolina sees her situation as temporary. She is looking to find a job to lessen the boredom, and looking forward to when she can see her son go off to preschool. But she will enjoy all the time she has with him now. 

Down the road, Carolina’s sight is set on Florida; that is where she wants to raise her son and carry out the next stage of her life with the support and love of her family, who are all rooting for her, as am I.