Author, biologist and fellow blogger, René Corado has a very interesting story about his life and struggles as a young boy in Guatemala. I was so intrigued by his blog and book, El Lustrador (The Shoeshine Boy), I decided to ask him for an interview. Mr. Corado was more than willing to do an interview here on Life of an El Paso Woman. He has traveled the world and won numerous awards. He resides in Camarillo, California.
Me: Tell us about your book, El Lustrador.
This book is about the adventures of a shoeshine boy who ate from the trash in Guatemala. He sometimes had to fight with street dogs for a piece of fruit or a vegetable in the trash dump. He came to the U.S. without documents, an academic education or relatives to support him. He started as a gardener at a museum. He is now a biologist and collections manager of the same museum where he started as a gardener. This museum has the largest bird egg collection in the world with 1.5 million eggs. (He is) a kid who realized the American dream. The book is an inspiration to try to achieve the dreams in life. El Lustrador translates in English to The Shoeshine Boy.
Me: Who or what inspired you to write your book?
It is the story of René Corado, my autobiography. My friend, Dr. Linnea Hall, the executive director of the museum encouraged me to write the book. She believed that my life story would help other people work for their dreams. I started with nothing and was able to achieve many of my dreams.
Me: Is the book written for adults and/or children?
It is a book for children and adults. It is written in very easy to read Spanish vocabulary. A school in the Oxnard School District already ordered 100 books to share with immigrant parents.
Me: I know you currently sell your book online. You mentioned your book is only in Spanish right now. When will the book be available in English and where?
I am planning to translate the book to English in 2017. It will be available at the same places as the current one. Part of the profits from my book sales are going to education scholarships for poor children in Guatemala.
At my page: http://ellustrador.org/libro-el-lustrador/
Me: Do you plan on translating the book into other languages besides English? If so, which ones?
Yes, there are plans to translate El Lustrador in Japanese. I would love to have it in French too but no plans to do the French translation yet.
Me: Based on what I’ve read, your life in Guatemala was a struggle. Tell us more about life in your native country.
I was born in a little village of 13 houses at El Chicał, Morazán, Dept. El Progreso. When I was 8 years old, my family moved me to the capital (Guatemala City). I started as a shoeshine boy at the age of 8. In order to help bring food to the house, I went to school in the morning and worked as shoeshine boy in the afternoon. I asked for food scraps to take to my siblings. When I did not get enough, I had to look for food for myself in trash dumps. I had to compete with dogs. The kids from the city bullied me because I was different. I didn’t wear shoes and my clothes had holes. Also, adults stole my hard earned money sometimes. There was a lot of abuse on the streets of Guatemala but I survived. I decided to move to California at the age of 21 with only a bag full of dreams for a better future.
Me: Tell us about Los Angeles.
We had 36 years of civil war in Guatemala. I couldn’t get a visa to travel to the U.S. or Mexico. I decided to travel without immigration documents. I crossed the Mexican border. I tried to cross the U.S. border three times. One time I ended up in prison in Mexico. The Mexican authorities put me there with the worst criminals only because I didn’t have immigration papers or money. I was held at that prison for more than a month. I wasn’t able to call my family in Guatemala. They eventually deported me to Guatemala by bus. I was finally able to cross the U.S. border by the mountains and arrived in Los Angeles in 1981.
Me: What have you accomplished in the United States?
I came to California without schooling, only with (a) 6th grade (education). As a biologist, I had the opportunity to travel to the Amazon Jungles, by helicopter, boat, foot, horse and car. (I) also worked at waterfalls in Costa Rica and the Jungles of Guatemala to do investigations on (the) conservation of birds. As a biologist, I had the opportunity to travel to different countries including: El Salvador, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Ireland, Spain, and England. There were a lot of adventures in these jungles. Unfortunately, there is not enough space here to mention them but some of them are in my book, El Lustrador. Since I came to California in 1981 without schooling, immigration papers or English, I accomplished a lot.
Now: I speak two languages, I am citizen of two countries, I am a biologist and the collections manager of the museum (where) I started as a gardener. I am a writer, author and motivational speaker. I am very happy with my accomplishments but still (have) more work to do. I am working with the newcomers now, children who started crossing the border without parents two years ago. The Oxnard School District contacted me to help them with these children, to integrate (them) to their new community.
Me: In order for a movie to be created about your book, I understand you are raising funds for it. How are you doing this? Where can the public donate?
I am raising funds for the movie El Lustrador by myself on the (web) site Generosity. The public can donate here https://www.generosity.com/fundraisers/el-lustrador-la-pelicula-the-movie-indie-film
I decided to go independent on this movie and raise the funds myself. If the movie makes any money, part of the profits will go to education scholarships for poor children in Guatemala. Whoever donates money for this project, his/her name will be in the acknowledgments at the end of the movie.
Me: When and where will your movie debut?
We will film in Guatemala, Mexico and California. We are planning to start filming in August 2017. The movie premiere will be in Guatemala then in Hollywood, California.
Me: Do you plan on writing more books? If so, when?
A new book for children is coming early next year El Lustrador Ilustrado, The Illustrated Shoeshine Boy or The Shoeshine Boy Illustrated. It is a book with illustrations in color. It will be bilingual in Spanish and English.
For more info., visit Mr. Corado’s blog here on WordPress El Lustrador
Photos courtesy of Facebook, Mr. Corado.