Loading...

Follow Duolingo | Spanish Podcast on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Cristian Gorbea had been running long-distance races for 20 years when he decided to enter his first ultramarathon. The race would begin at the base of a mountain in Argentina and last 24 hours — at least, in theory. For Cristian, the experience would last much longer, and test much more than his physical endurance. He’d test his faith, patience, and capacity to cede his fate to someone other than himself.

How to Listen

Listen free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Transcript

Martina: On a cold night in September, 2010, Cristian Gorbea was 12 hours into a 24-hour race when the ground gave way beneath him.

Cristian: Caí sin saber cómo o cuándo iba a parar. Hasta que toqué el suelo.

Martina: The night was pitch black so he couldn’t tell that he had fallen down a ravine, and had miraculously landed on a rock ledge. He was suspended 150 meters up in the air.

Bienvenidos and welcome to the Duolingo Spanish Podcast — I’m Martina Castro. Every episode, we bring you fascinating true stories to help you improve your Spanish listening and gain new perspectives on the world. The storyteller will be using intermediate Spanish and I will be chiming in for context in English. If you miss something, you can always skip back and listen again — and we also offer full transcripts at podcast.duolingo.com.

Martina: When Cristian Gorbea wants to relax he runs marathons. In 2010, he was a human resources manager at a bank in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He had already been training as a runner for 20 years.

Cristian: La competencia tiene un rol muy importante en mi vida. Siempre trato de ser el mejor en el trabajo y también en el deporte. Y para poder serlo, trabajo muy duro. Corro carreras de aventuras durante noches enteras. Vi muchos documentales para preparame.

Martina: These documentaries featured competitions under extreme conditions, where the runners risked injury and even death.

Cristian: En 2010, yo tenía 49 años y quería participar en una carrera de 80 kilómetros en un cerro.

Martina: Un cerro is basically a mountain.

Cristian: Pensaba que estaba listo para ese tipo de aventura. Yo ya tenía experiencia en otro tipo de carreras, pero nunca corrí una distancia tan larga.

Martina: 80 kilometers is nearly 50 miles. Races that long are typically called ultramarathons, and this one would have 300 runners competing.

Cristian: Yo quería llegar entre los primeros 30. La carrera era en un cerro que se llama Champaquí. Tiene una elevación de casi 3 mil metros y está lleno de bosques.

Martina: The race is called “The Half Mission”, and it takes place in Córdoba, Argentina. The competitors have 24 hours to finish it.

Cristian: El día antes de la carrera yo viajé a Córdoba con un amigo. Nos quedamos en un hostal en San Javier, la ciudad más cercana al cerro. Esa noche hablé con mi esposa y con mis hijos. Nosotros estábamos todos emocionados por la carrera.

Martina: Cristian’s family knew the drill — this may have been the longest distance he had ever tried to run, but it wasn’t his first extreme race. They were confident he had it in him to finish it.

Cristian: Al día siguiente mi amigo y yo nos levantamos temprano, tomamos desayuno, caminamos hasta el cerro y al mediodía empezamos la carrera.

Martina: All 300 runners kicked off the race at an even pace. Imagine, they’d be running for the next 24 hours, on mountainous terrain and in the dark. This required them to wear many layers and carry extra gear, which only added to the difficulty of the run.

Cristian: Yo tenía una luz alrededor de mi cabeza y llevaba una mochila con el equipamiento básico para este tipo de carreras.

Martina: In his mochila, or backpack, he had cereal bars, fruit, chocolate, and energy gels packed with nutrients for long runs like these. He also had a canteen, a survival blanket, replacement batteries, and an emergency whistle.

Cristian: En este tipo de carreras largas el principio puede ser un poco complicado porque hay mucha gente. Además de los corredores hay personas que los acompañan, periodistas que están escribiendo sobre la carrera y también los organizadores.

Martina: But soon after the race kicked off, people started spreading out, leaving each runner more or less on their own.

Cristian: Después de correr una hora, yo decidí dejar atrás a mi amigo y seguir solo.

Martina: The course varied in altitude as it wound up and down the mountain. It was marked by a few colored flags and reflecting lights for when it got dark, but neither were that easy to spot.

Cristian: Después de 11 horas de carrera llegó la noche y yo no veía a los otros corredores. Yo estaba completamente solo.

Martina: Alone and in complete darkness, Cristian kept running, and at some point it seemed like he had gotten off course. But he could still see the headlamps of the other runners in the distance.

Cristian: Un poco antes, un asistente de la organización me dijo que yo iba en el lugar 32.

Martina: But Cristian wanted to be among the top 30 runners.

Cristian: Así que decidí correr en otra dirección para volver a la ruta correcta. Me puse un poco nervioso, pero me repetí que mi objetivo era correr una buena carrera.

Martina: He went down ravines and crossed meadows. He ran through a forest, and stopped to drink from a stream. Then, he noticed that he couldn’t see the headlamps from other runners anymore.

Cristian: Me puse muy nervioso porque estaba perdido. Ya no me importaba estar entre los treinta primeros; solo quería volver a la ruta correcta.

Martina: He continued running, but more carefully, as he tried to get back on course. And then, all of a sudden, the ground gave way beneath him. He couldn’t see anything; all he knew was that he was falling.

Cristian: Caí y seguí cayendo unos tres metros hasta que paré. “¿Dónde estoy?”, pensé con miedo.

Martina: His headlamp wasn’t working because the batteries were knocked out during the fall.

Cristian: No había luna. Yo no podía ver nada. Sentía dolor, pero no tenía nada roto.

Martina: He felt around and realized that a bush had broken his fall. He stayed very still in the darkness, afraid that if he moved he could fall even further into the void.

Cristian: Yo tenía que esperar la luz del día para decidir qué podía hacer.

Martina: Very carefully, he took his backpack off, put it to the side, and took out the emergency blanket.

Cristian: Me cubrí con la manta y cerré los ojos. Hacía frío. Miré el reloj. Eran las dos y cuarto de la noche, más de 14 horas después de empezar la carrera.

Martina: As he sat still, waiting for the dawn, Cristian could only hear the wind, a small waterfall, and his teeth chattering. He took a few sips of water from his canteen and tried to sleep. What seemed like a long while later, he looked again at his watch.

Cristian: Pasaron solo dos minutos.La noche fue como una eternidad.

Martina: Finally, when the sun rose, he was able to see where he had landed. He was on a ledge just a meter and a half wide, and two meters long.

Cristian: Cuando miré hacia abajo, vi que estaba a 150 metros del suelo.

Martina: If he had fallen even a few centimeters to the right or the left, he would have fallen another 150 meters and would have surely died from the impact.

Cristian: Tenía miedo y estaba feliz al mismo tiempo. Una sensación que no puedo describir. Tenía miedo porque podía morir, pero estaba feliz por estar vivo.

Martina: As Cristian stared out into the valley below, his mind started racing. At first, he was overwhelmed with anger at himself.

Cristian: Miré a mi alrededor y pensé: “¿Por qué no fui más despacio? ¿Por qué me salí de la ruta?” Pero en ese momento, yo no podía hacer nada.

Martina: Above him, there was a sheer rock face, about three meters high. It was almost entirely flat, meaning it would be very difficult and dangerous to try to climb it.

Cristian: Traté de escalar, pero era demasiado difícil.

Martina: It would be impossible to climb. So he was left with one choice. To wait for help.

Cristian: Pensé: “Yo fui imprudente una vez y todavía estoy vivo. No puedo hacerlo otra vez. Tengo que esperar. Necesito ayuda.”

Martina: It was already six in the morning, and there were still six hours left in the race. Afterwards, there would be an award ceremony. Only then would people realize that he was lost. It would be nighttime or potentially the following morning before they found him.

Cristian: Yo llevaba cuatro horas allí.Tenía mucho tiempo todavía. No podía hacer nada. Tenía que quedarme y esperar a alguien. Pero se me acababa la paciencia.

Martina: While Cristian was bracing himself for the wait ahead, his family was anxiously waiting word from him about how fast he had run the race. Once it had ended and they still hadn’t heard from him, they started to worry.

Cristian: Mi esposa Claudia llamó al hostal donde yo me estaba quedando.

Martina: At the hostel they told her that it was common for people to get lost on the mountain. Eventually, they would make it back safely as long as they had taken the necessary gear and precautions.

Cristian: Ella se quedó tranquila pensando que yo estaba bien preparado para una emergencia así.

Martina: But around 5 pm, the police called Claudia and asked her to report Cristian missing.

Cristian: Sin ese reporte, ellos no podían empezar a buscarme.

Martina: An hour later, they called her again.

Cristian: Cada vez que ella contestaba el teléfono, pensaba que ellos le iban a dar malas noticias sobre mí.

Martina: But no. They couldn’t report bad news or good. Nobody knew what had happened to her husband.

Cristian: Mientras yo esperaba, creé una rutina para no volverme loco. Examiné la comida.

Martina: Cristian had four cereal bars, various gels, chocolates and alfajor cookies. Rationed well enough, he figured this could last him five days. He found the extra batteries for his headlamp and put it on. Then he began what would become a routine.

Cristian: Cada diez minutos yo hacía ruido y gritaba para pedir ayuda. Cada quince minutos me acercaba con cuidado a una roca por donde salía un poco de agua.

Martina: The trickle of water was just within his reach. The canteen took 20 minutes to fill up. And then it was time to wait.

Cristian: Pensé que solo podía esperar mirando al campo que estaba 150 metros más abajo. Pero empecé a ver cosas que no estaban ahí antes.

Martina: In the distance, Cristian started to see horses. Four to be exact. And they were just in front of a ranch with a large window. Through it he could make out a Christ on the cross. He could also see five people who seemed to be looking for him.

Cristian: Pero en ese momento, algo se movió y todo desapareció.

Martina: That’s when he realized he had been hallucinating.

Cristian: No tuve miedo porque eso me pasó antes en otras carreras.

Martina: Exhaustion and lack of food commonly cause runners to hallucinate during extreme races. At that point, Cristian had been on that rock ledge for 18 hours already. It was like time stood still. He started to pray.

Cristian: Le pedí ayuda a quienes siempre me cuidan: a Dios, a mis padres que están muertos, a mis ángeles.

Martina: As the sun began to set, Cristian started to feel desperate.

Cristian: Grité auxilio muchas veces. Me senté. El sol empezó a bajar. También la temperatura estaba bajando. A las ocho ya estaba oscuro.

Martina: Resigned to spend another night on that ledge, Cristian covered himself with the emergency blanket and laid down in a fetal position. He turned on his headlamp, thinking just maybe someone would see him. And then he closed his eyes.

Cristian: Pensé que esa noche tampoco iba a poder dormir. Pero lo hice porque estaba muy cansado.

Martina: As Cristian was passing out from exhaustion, a firefighter named José Luis Altamirano was just getting home after running the race. He looked up at the mountain he had just traversed and was surprised to see a dim light. He immediately called the race organizers.

Cristian: Unas horas después, José Luis, junto con policías y otra gente de la organización, fueron a la zona a buscarme.

Martina: The group went looking for Cristian in the general direction of the light, but it was a massive area to cover. They looked for hours, but had no luck. Then a thick fog rolled in.

Cristian: Decidieron parar la búsqueda y bajar a la base del cerro.

Martina: The next morning, Cristian ate one of his chocolates for breakfast and started his routine again: He yelled for help. He blew his whistle. He yelled for help. He stretched his legs. Again and again, until he started to panic.

Cristian: Pensé que no iban a encontrarme. Tenía mucho miedo y gritaba: “¡Ayuda! ¡Ayuda por favor! ¡Aprendí mi lección! ¡Voy a tener más cuidado la próxima vez!”

Martina: Cristian had now been on that ledge for over 40 hours. At some point he felt defeated and laid down… but instead of feeling sorry for himself, he started thinking through the good memories: the day he got married, when his kids were born...

Cristian: Pensé en mi mamá y en mi papá, en mi esposa y en mis hijos, en los buenos momentos que pasamos juntos. Pensé que yo tenía una vida feliz. Pensé que si alguien me decía que este era el final, no quería cambiar nada de mi vida.

Martina: This gave him energy to go back through his routine one more time. And then he heard a noise. He was afraid he was hallucinating again, but suddenly a black helicopter, a real one, flew right over his head.

Cristian: Cuando vi el helicóptero me puse nervioso. Empecé a gritar. Yo sabía que no iban a escucharme, pero empecé a gritar. Entonces el helicóptero se fue.

Martina: Just as the helicopter flew away, he heard voices. He couldn’t see them, but two men were yelling for him from a path below.

Cristian: ¡Alguien me gritaba! ¡Ya no estaba solo en ese lugar!

Martina: The men screaming for him were part of the original group looking for him. They told him not to worry, that they were going to call the firefighters to tell them where he was.

Cristian: Les grité que los estaba esperando por 42 horas. Ellos me gritaron que no se iban a ir sin mí. Yo no entendía mucho, pero no podía parar de llorar de emoción.

Martina: Forty-five minutes later, the helicopter showed up again. This time, they saw him. They dropped down a harness and lifted him out of that rock ledge. They took him to a nearby farm and immediately got him some food.

Cristian: Entonces llegó mi esposa Claudia y algunos amigos que viajaron con ella. Además, llegaron algunos colegas del banco y el amigo que empezó la carrera conmigo.

Martina: During the 42 hours Cristian had been stuck on the mountain, almost 50 people had been looking for him. He was in such a state of shock that he couldn’t bring himself to tell them about his hallucinations or his pleas for help. All he could repeat was this:

Cristian: “Iba 32 en la carrera”.

Martina: “Iba 32 en la carrera”, “I was 32nd in the race.” It didn’t take long for Cristian to recover from this experience. One year later, he ran that same race again.

Cristian: Alguien puede pensar que estoy loco. Yo le respondo que no, ¡que estoy vivo!

Martina: Cristian Gorbea lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His story was written by Federico Bianchini, who is a journalist also based in Buenos Aires.

This is our last story of this season, but we’ll be back soon with more new episodes. In the meantime, you can subscribe at Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening app so you can get the next episode delivered right to you. You can also go to podcast.duolingo.com to find transcripts and audio for all of the stories we’ve produced so far.

With over 300 million users, Duolingo is the world's leading language learning platform, and the most downloaded education app in the world. Duolingo believes in making education free, fun and accessible to everyone. To join, download the app today, or find out more at duolingo.com. I’m the podcast executive producer, Martina Castro — gracias por escuchar.

Credits

This episode includes recordings from tiotilo2003, Leandros.Ntounis, Benboncan, and jimsim under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

This episode was produced by Duolingo and Adonde Media.

Author: Federico Bianchini
Narrator: Cristian Gorbea
Script Editor: Catalina May
Senior Editor: Martina Castro
Sound Designer: Claire Mullen
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Martín Cruz Farga
Executive Producer/Editor: Martina Castro
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Ana María grew up without a father. All she knew about him was his name, but when she set out to find him she discovered that even his name led her astray. Ana María’s endeavor to fill in the blanks her father left in her life story leads her to surprising places, as she learns startling details about her mother’s past and finds guidance where she least expects it.

How to Listen

Listen free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Transcript

Martina: When Ana María García was growing up in Bogotá, Colombia, and people asked about her parents, she always said that they were divorced, and that she lived with her mother.

Ana María: En la escuela era común escuchar esa misma historia. Era “normal” ser hija de padres divorciados.

Martina: Many of her classmates had similar stories. But Ana María’s was a little different.

Ana María: Yo no conocía a mi padre, pero nunca me preguntaban por eso, y yo tampoco lo contaba.

Martina: But when Ana María decided to try to meet her father, she would discover that she technically had two —dos papás— and looking for her real father would be nothing like what she expected.

Martina: Bienvenidos and welcome to the Duolingo Spanish Podcast—I’m Martina Castro. Every episode we bring you fascinating true stories to help you improve your Spanish listening and gain new perspectives on the world. The storyteller will be using intermediate Spanish and I will be chiming in for context in English. If you miss something, you can always skip back and listen again—and we also offer full transcripts at podcast.duolingo.com.

Today’s story: “Mis dos papás” (My Two Dads), as told by Ana María García, and written by Sally Palomino.

Ana María: Nunca cuestioné la historia oficial sobre por qué no conocí a mi papá de niña.

Martina: Ana María was content with what her mother, Inés, had told her: her father’s name was Luis Carlos García; her parents had been married for six years; and they had separated a couple of months before Ana María was born, when he left to be with another woman.

Ana María: Pero con el paso del tiempo, cuando entré en la adolescencia, empecé a querer saber más sobre quién era este hombre.

Martina: When Ana María was 16, she decided she needed to find her father, and meet him face to face.

Ana María: Mi mamá no me ayudaba y no me decía nada sobre él. Ella tampoco tenía fotos de él, y eso me parecía bastante extraño. Empecé a buscar su nombre en las noticias y en los obituarios.

Martina: Internet access was limited in those days. It was the late nineties, and tracking someone down wasn’t as simple as it might be today.

Ana María: Yo le decía a mi mamá que quería encontrar a mi papá. Le expliqué que era algo que necesitaba hacer. Pero ella no me decía nada. Busqué durante dos largos años y no encontré nada. Pasé muchas noches triste y sin dormir.

Martina: One of those sleepless nights, Ana María remembered something that might help her in her search.

Ana María: Me acordé de que mi abuela tenía una agenda donde escribía los nombres, teléfonos y números de identificación de toda la familia. Rápidamente pensé que podía encontrar el contacto de mi papá allí.

Martina: After Ana María’s grandmother died, her things had been put into a trunk that was now in Ana María’s house, so she found the address book easily. Now it was a matter of finding her father’s name.

Ana María: Era un cuaderno azul, pequeño y de cuero. Y ahí estaba su nombre, Luis Carlos García, su número de identificación y un número de teléfono. ¡No lo podía creer! Su contacto siempre estuvo en mi propia casa.

Martina: When Inés saw Ana María with the address book in hand, she asked her daughter what she was looking for.

Ana María: Yo le dije que encontré el contacto de mi papá.

Martina: Ana María was ready to make the call and speak to her father for the first time when she realized her mother was in tears.

Ana María: Con voz firme me dijo: “Ana María, Luis Carlos García no es tu papá”.

Martina: “Wait, what?” Ana María thought to herself, “That man is not my father?”

Ana María: Mi madre me dijo que se sentía mal por no decirme la verdad antes.

Martina: Ana María was shocked. She had never met her father, but at least she had known his name.

Ana María: Mi mamá se quedó en silencio. Fueron solo unos minutos, pero para mí fue como una eternidad. Yo pensé en muchas cosas, incluso que era adoptada. “Si él no es mi papá, ¿entonces quién es?”, pensé.

Martina: At this point, Ana María started crying, too. Inés was clearly anxious about saying anything else, but Ana María held firm, saying she wasn’t going anywhere until her mother told her the whole truth.

Ana María: Ella me dijo que esto no era algo fácil de explicar. Me pidió un tiempo para pensar. Se veía muy confusa y triste.

Martina: So a couple of days later, after hours of silence and worried glances over the dinner table, Inés finally revealed the name of Ana María’s real father: José Leonel Ortiz.

Ana María: Era la primera vez que escuchaba ese nombre, y me sentía extraña. Pero también sentí que mi madre me estaba abriendo una nueva ventana para poder saber de dónde yo venía.

Martina: As the days passed, Ana María learned more about her mother’s relationships with these two men: Luis Carlos García and José Leonel Ortiz. Inés had been married to Luis Carlos for six years; that part was true. She had loved him deeply, but the relationship didn’t work out.

Ana María: Poco tiempo después de divorciarse de él, ella conoció a José Leonel en un restaurante, gracias a un amigo. Poco después de empezar a ser novios, ellos supieron que mi mamá iba a tener un bebé.

Martina: In a matter of days, José Leonel asked her to move in with him. They bought a crib and set up a room for the new baby—Ana María.

Ana María: Mi mamá me dijo que José Leonel tenía una personalidad difícil, pero ella sabía que él la amaba. Además, con él ella se sentía menos sola después de su divorcio.

Martina: José Leonel had served in the military before he met Inés. He didn’t spend a long time enlisted, but it was during the worst years of the armed conflict in Colombia.

Ana María: Parece que esa experiencia lo cambió, y empezó a tomar alcohol frecuentemente.

Martina: He went to college after his time in the army and became a lawyer, like Inés, and an economist. He led a normal life, except for his growing alcohol abuse.

Ana María: Generalmente cuando él bebía estaba furioso, gritaba y se volvía loco. Y bebía siempre que tenía la oportunidad de hacerlo.

Martina: One day he came home after a few too many, and he hit Inés.

Ana María: Era la primera vez que golpeaba a mi mamá y ella se fue.

Martina: José Leonel never tried to get Inés back. So when Ana María was born, her mother decided to register her ex-husband, Luis Carlos García, as Ana María’s biological father.

Ana María: Después de escuchar esta historia amé a mi mamá más que nunca.

Martina: Ana María couldn’t believe how hard her mother’s pregnancy had actually been, and how strong Inés had to be to care for her baby on her own.

Ana María: Pero después de saber toda la verdad sobre mi verdadero padre, todavía tenía ganas de conocerlo.

Martina: So Ana María asked Inés to help her find José Leonel, her actual biological father. The only contact Inés had was with his brother and some nephews.

Ana María: Los busqué y me dijeron que ellos tampoco tenían contacto con él. Su hermano decía que mi padre necesitaba estar solo y beber alcohol después de su tiempo con los militares. En un país como Colombia ir a la guerra es duro, y todos terminan siendo víctimas de alguna manera.

Martina: In the end, Ana María found José Leonel in the most mundane way imaginable: when a new phone book was delivered to the house.

Ana María: Mi mamá lo abrió y buscó su nombre. ¡Y ahí estaba! ¡Era él! El teléfono y la dirección de su oficina estaban allí. Por fin lo encontraba, dos años después de empezar a buscarlo.

Martina: Inés warned Ana María that her father might not want to see her. But she had just turned 18, and felt like an adult. She felt ready to face whatever came when she met her father.

Ana María: No importaba si él no me quería ver; yo quería verlo a él.

Martina: When Ana María reached the office she found José Leonel’s name. She was buzzed in, and once she was in front of his door, her nerves almost made her turn back.

Ana María: Sin embargo, pensé que tenía que seguir porque podía ser el día más importante de mi vida.

Martina: She knocked once, twice. And then, when the door opened, there he was. She looked him over in a matter of seconds.

Ana María: Era bajo, tenía la barba un poco gris, las manos pequeñas y llevaba un vendaje en su brazo. Como yo, también él tenía una marca cerca de la boca, en el lado izquierdo de su cara.

Martina: Ana María looked him straight in the eyes and said, “I’m looking for José Leonel Ortiz.”

Ana María: “Soy yo”— respondió él. Yo tenía ganas de llorar pero continué: “Hace 18 años usted conoció a María Inés Rojas y yo soy su hija. La hija de ustedes dos”.

Martina: When he heard Ana María say that she was his daughter, there was a silence that seemed to last forever.

Ana María: Él vino y me dio la mano. Me preguntó si mi mamá seguía cocinando tan bien como cuando estaba con él.

Martina: He admitted he had wondered about her for years. But he didn’t explain why he had never dared to look for her.

Ana María: Yo creía que lo primero que iba a hacer era explicarme por qué no me buscó para conocerme.

Martina: He didn’t offer an explanation, and his attitude made it clear that, for the most part, José Leonel was indifferent. Ana María felt humiliated.

Ana María: José Leonel estaba ocupado y tuvo que terminar la visita, pero me ofreció vernos en otro momento.

Martina: Despite her disappointment with their first meeting, Ana María agreed to see him again.

Ana María: Escribió mi número de teléfono en su agenda y nos dijimos adiós. Fue el abrazo más frío y sin emoción que he sentido en mi vida.

Martina: After that, they talked on the phone regularly, usually about trivial things. The second time they met, he took her out to eat and gave her presents. Mostly clothes, and materials for school. She was studying to become a photographer.

Ana María: Yo empecé a sentir que él quería ganarme con dinero. Pero los regalos no sirven para eso. Nada podía cambiar el vacío que yo sentía.

Martina: Ana María felt that she had gotten what she wanted: she had seen her father’s face. She knew what he was like, how he walked and how he spoke. There was nothing more she could ask of him.

Ana María: Yo pensaba que podíamos seguir de esta manera. Yo no necesitaba más y tampoco pensé que él iba a transformarse de pronto en el padre que nunca fue. Pero un día, sucedió algo que cambió todo.

Martina: They were in José Leonel’s office. Ana María had recently received the ID card that Colombians get when they turn 18, and José Leonel asked to see how the photo had turned out.

Martina: Cuando se lo pasé miró mi apellido y dijo: “¿Qué vamos a hacer con esto?”

Martina: It was the third time they were meeting, and he was already asking Ana María to change her apellido, or last name, to his.

Ana María: Me dijo que ese cambio podía servirme económicamente. Tal vez él hablaba sobre algún dinero familiar. Yo estaba enojada, sentí que él intentaba comprarme.

Martina: She responded harshly to him, saying she felt like he was trying to buy her love. She never imagined that this would cause him to disappear, that he would dodge her calls when she tried to contact him. But that’s what happened.

Ana María: Cuando pude hablar con él me dijo “olvídate de mí”. Y bueno, como yo crecí sin conocerlo, volví a vivir mi vida sin él.

Martina: So she made peace with her father’s wish to leave him alone. Ten years later, in March of 2018, Ana María learned that José Leonel, her biological father, had been in an accident and passed away.

Ana María: Estaba triste, pero sentía que no podía hacer más. Lo busqué e intenté ser su hija, incluso después de saber que él no me quería. Además, al recibir la noticia de su muerte, yo ya era otra persona. Me sentía bien porque en 2016 recibí un mensaje que me cambió la vida.

Martina: That year, 2016, Ana María received an unlikely message through her Flickr account. It was Luis Carlos García, the man her mother had been married to before she was born. The same man whose last name Ana María carried her whole life as her own.

Ana María: Él me dijo que siempre quiso conocerme.

Martina: After all, he wrote, legally she was his daughter, even though they weren’t related biologically.

Ana María: Gracias a los mensajes con Luis Carlos, empecé a llenar otros vacíos en mi historia.

Martina: During Ana María’s first months of life, Luis Carlos didn’t know that his ex had gotten pregnant by another man so soon after they had separated. But when Ana María was about to turn one, Luis Carlos sent Ana María’s mother a gift.

Ana María: Era un libro que tenía por título Cuida a tu hijo, un manual para madres sin experiencia. Creo que algún amigo en común le dijo que su exesposa tenía una hija.

Martina: But after sending the book, Luis Carlos never contacted Inés again.

Ana María: Finalmente, decidió buscarme cuando era adulta porque él no pudo tener hijos y recordó que yo llevaba su nombre.

Martina: So Luis Carlos figured he could look her up, and there she was on Flickr, still using the last name García. They exchanged messages for a couple weeks and then Luis Carlos invited Ana María to visit him in Medellín. She accepted, but this time, she didn’t tell her mother.

Ana María: Y esa es la historia de cómo un día, casi 20 años después de empezar a buscar a mi primer padre, me subí a un avión para ver a mi segundo padre.

Martina: She figured if the meeting didn’t go well, she could just go straight back to Bogotá and go on with her life as it was before.

Ana María: Cuando nos encontramos en el aeropuerto lo observé con atención. No era muy alto, tenía barba, lentes redondos, usaba sandalias y llevaba un sombrero. Tenía el aspecto de un intelectual. Vi algo especial en sus ojos.

Martina: Luis Carlos invited her to join him for dinner at a restaurant nearby. He asked her about how she had decided to become a photographer.

Ana María: Yo trabajaba en una agencia de noticias en Colombia y también por varios años fui fotógrafa de un periódico nacional. Fue a través de mis fotos que Luis Carlos empezó a conocerme.

Martina: Their conversation was immediately full of trust and empathy. He told her, “I can’t promise you anything, but I’ll do all can to be a father to you.”

Ana María: Al día siguiente fuimos al jardín botánico a caminar.

Martina: At the entrance to the garden they were asked to present IDs and whether they were related. They didn’t hesitate to say they were father and daughter.

Ana María: Nuestros documentos tenían el mismo apellido, pero además sentíamos que esa era la relación que queríamos construir.

Martina: Ana María felt at ease with Luis Carlos. The time she spent with him passed quickly; they had fun, and she didn’t want to leave his side. This feeling was brand new for her.

Ana María: Sabíamos que no éramos familia, pero descubrimos que teníamos muchas cosas en común: nos gusta la fotografía, cocinar, leer, viajar y la naturaleza.

Martina: Two years have passed since that first meeting.

Ana María: Yo ahora vivo en Australia y Luis Carlos sigue en Medellín, pero nos mantenemos siempre en contacto.

Martina: Before she moved to Australia, she finally told her mother that she had reconnected with Luis Carlos.

Ana María: Me preocupaba su reacción, pensaba que ella podía estar furiosa. Para ella fue una sorpresa, pero estaba feliz. Ella celebró que, por fin, yo tengo el padre que tantos años estuve buscando.

Martina: This story was written by Sally Palomino, a Colombian freelance journalist based in Berlin, as told to her by Ana María García.

If you liked this story, we’d love for you to share it with others. At podcast.duolingo.com, you can find a transcript of this story and all of the other episodes. Subscribe at Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening app, so you never miss one. With over 300 million users, Duolingo is the world's leading language learning platform, and the most downloaded education app in the world. Duolingo believes in making education free, fun and accessible to everyone. To join, download the app today, or find out more at duolingo.com. I’m the executive producer, Martina Castro—gracias por escuchar.

Credits

This episode includes recordings from bone666138 and vtkproductions.com under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

This episode was produced by Duolingo and Adonde Media.

Author: Sally Palomino
Narration: Ana María García
Script Editor: Megan McDowell
Senior Editor: Catalina May
Sound Designer: María Murriel
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Martín Cruz Farga
Executive Producer/Editor: Martina Castro
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

When David Martínez was four years old, he and his parents took a bus to the north of Colombia to visit extended family for Christmas. They had many gifts with them, including a ham for the family dinner. But what should have been an uneventful trip turned into a dangerous journey that David would never forget.

How to Listen

Listen free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Transcript

Martina: David Martínez was 4 years old the day his father gave him a surprising present. It was December 22nd, 1997, right before Christmas, in Barranquilla, Colombia.

David: Papá llegó a casa del trabajo. Recuerdo que me llamó y me dijo que yo ya era suficientemente grande para tener mi propio dinero. Abrió su billetera y me dio un billete.

Martina: David received this bill from his dad as if it were a great treasure — his first allowance! He stared in awe at the picture on it.

David: El hombre en el billete era un señor con un mostacho delgado, igual al mostacho que tenía mi padre. El hombre parecía alguien muy importante. Y con el tiempo yo iba a enterarme que ese hombre era Francisco de Paula Santander.

Martina: As is common, the picture on the bill showed a hero from the country’s independence.

David: ¡No lo podía creer! Yo no sabía mucho sobre el dinero en ese tiempo. No sabía que unos billetes valen más que otros. Yo pensaba que con un billete yo podía comprar todo lo que quería, así que me imaginé que era millonario.

Martina: Soon David would be on a journey with his family through dangerous territory, and the gift his parents gave him would end up being as valuable as he had imagined.

Bienvenidos and welcome to the Duolingo Spanish Podcast — I’m Martina Castro. Every episode, we bring you fascinating true stories to help you improve your Spanish listening, and to gain new perspectives on the world. The storyteller will be using intermediate Spanish and I will be chiming in for context in English. If you miss something, you can always skip back and listen again — and we also offer full transcripts at podcast.duolingo.com.

David Martínez was born into a typical middle-class Colombian family. They had just enough money for everything. His dad, Jahir, worked as a product supervisor in a soda factory. His mom, Angélica, was a medical saleswoman.

David: Mi papá era moreno, delgado, alto y tenía un mostacho como el mostacho del Zorro. Su personalidad era tranquila, un poco robótica, quizás por el trabajo que él hacía.

Martina: Angélica, on the other hand, had pale skin, dark eyes, brown hair. She was strong-willed, you could say, but at the same time very sweet. They established themselves in Barranquilla, a tropical city — not too far from the town where Angelica grew up, Sincelejo.

David: Y luego vine yo.

Martina: David was their only child.

David: Mis padres eran la combinación perfecta: mi papá tenía soluciones para todos mis problemas y mi mamá siempre tenía una respuesta para mis preguntas.

Martina: David remembers that they used to travel to Sincelejo every Christmas to visit his mom’s family.

David: Era un ritual. Y ese año, 1997, era especial por muchas razones.

Martina: His parents had bought presents for everyone: shirts and tennis shoes for the adults, a soccer ball for his older cousin, action figures for the younger ones and a Spiderman riding a motorcycle, for him.

David: Pero en ese momento yo no sabía nada sobre mi regalo.

Martina: Also, Angélica had spent hours cooking a huge ham with her special plum sauce. For the trip, she wrapped up the ham and put the sauce in a jar. Everything was right on track except for one detail: how they would get there.

David: Nosotros no teníamos un carro, pero siempre encontrábamos a algún amigo o familiar que nos podía llevar. Sin embargo, esta vez, el día 23 de diciembre todavía no podíamos encontrar a nadie para llevarnos. Tampoco podíamos volar porque era muy caro.

Martina: David saw his parents were worried and he had an idea. He had spent the last hours believing he was a millionaire, so he figured he could buy anything he wanted.

David: Les dije que podíamos comprar un carro nuevo con mi billete y viajar nosotros solos.

Martina: He could buy them a car! “A brilliant idea,” he thought to himself. Why not?

David: Bueno, mi padre me dijo que mejor yo debería ahorrar mi billete para el futuro.

Martina: So that only left one option: the bus.

David: A mi madre no le gustaba la idea. Ella tuvo una mala experiencia en esa ruta cuando ella era una estudiante de 19 años.

Martina: The 90s were a dangerous time in Colombia, especially in the northern region. It was the battleground of a civil war, where paramilitaries battled guerrilla fighters and the military.

David: Y muchos ataques y asesinatos ocurrían en carreteras como esa.

Martina: Angelica had been on a bus on that same road when the driver was stopped by a group of guerrilla fighters. A bunch of men wearing dirty clothes and holding rifles got on the bus and gave them a speech about the problems with capitalism and political corruption in the country.

David: Luego los hombres les pidieron dinero para la revolución. Nadie dijo nada. Mi madre les dio todo el dinero que tenía, unos treinta mil pesos.

Martina: All she had that day was about 10 dollars. Angelica was so scared by what happened, that after she reached her destination, she promised herself she would never take a bus again if she could avoid it.

David: Pero ahora no teníamos otra opción. Nadie nos podía llevar. Así que recuerdo que tomamos todas nuestras maletas, las bolsas de regalos y el jamón, y fuimos a la estación de autobuses.

Martina: At the bus terminal, with all of their luggage and Christmas ham in hand, David and his family struggled to find tickets. The terminal was full of folks trying to catch their buses on time.

David: Mis padres fueron a una empresa con autobuses nuevos. Lo más importante era que estos autobuses no paraban en medio del viaje. Eso era algo muy importante en esa época porque era más seguro. Desafortunadamente, ya no tenían boletos.

Martina: The only one with free seats was a red and yellow ancient bus that looked pretty much like a cartoon: the paint was falling off and the engine was loud like a boat.

David: No era mucho mejor por dentro: las ventanas estaban sucias y tenía un aroma a gasolina.

Martina: It was a really hot day —this is near the equator— and there was no AC. You know, that kind of bus.

David: Nos sentamos y en unos minutos el autobús ya estaba todo lleno. Había algunas familias como la nuestra, pero también campesinos con sombreros y sandalias de cuero.

Martina: Campesinos are farmers and they were wearing leather sandals.

David: Mis padres estaban tranquilos.

Martina: Remember David was only 4 years old, so regardless of what was going on around him, he was happy and in his own world.

David: Yo no quería perder mi billete así que lo puse en el bolsillo de mi camisa. Y allí se quedó cuando el autobús empezó el viaje.

Martina: After the bus left Barranquilla, the driver started stopping on the side of the road anytime he saw people willing to get on. It didn’t matter to him that there were no seats available. Passengers were soon standing in the aisle.

David: En una de esas paradas subieron tres hombres que llevaban bufandas de color amarillo.

Martina: Scarves in the middle of summer? This really made those three men stick out.

David: Los hombres tenían unos 20 años y el pelo brillante, con mucho gel. Uno llevaba puestos unos jeans y una camisa azul. Otro llevaba una camiseta blanca del club italiano de fútbol Parma. Y el tercero, unos shorts, camiseta gris y gafas de sol oscuras.

Martina: They walked to the middle of the bus and stayed there for a while. David felt his mom tense up.

David: Ella hablaba muy bajito con mi papá. Pero nada ocurrió y el viaje continuó más o menos tranquilo.

Martina: An hour before reaching Sincelejo, two of the men walked to the front of the bus while the other went to the back.

David: Ahora tenían la bufanda en la cara y no podíamos reconocerlos. El de la camisa azul, que estaba atrás, tomó un revólver pequeño de su pantalón.

Martina: The one in shorts yelled: “Everyone stay calm. Pay attention to what I’m saying. Don’t hide anything and nothing will happen to you.”

David: Uno de ellos cerró la puerta, así que el conductor y su asistente no podían hacer nada.

Martina: At that point, one of the passengers, a woman about 60 years old, started screaming for help through the windows and praying to God.

David: El hombre con la camiseta de fútbol fue hacia ella y le dijo: “¡Cierra la boca!”

Martina: Some children started crying, and their parents tried to get them to calm down.

David: Mi madre me cubrió la cabeza con sus manos, así que no podía ver nada. Yo no entendía lo que estaba pasando exactamente.

Martina: And then the men started going seat by seat robbing the passengers.

David: El hombre con el revólver se quedó al otro lado del autobús mientras los otros dos iban de un asiento a otro robando dinero, carteras y otras cosas de la gente. Yo no tenía miedo y tampoco pensaba en mi billete, pero podía sentir el miedo de la gente del autobús.

Martina: Anything valuable went into a garbage bag.

David: Cuando llegaron a nuestro asiento, querían robar a mi mamá y le dijeron: “¡Levántate!”

Martina: At that moment, Jahir stood up and told the robbers to leave Angelica alone.

David: El hombre con la camisa de fútbol le gritó: "¡Cierra la boca y mira a otro lado!" Pero mi padre no lo hizo. Él parecía un héroe de película.

Martina: The man with the gun got up close to Jahir and pointed it straight in his face.

David: Nunca olvidaré ese momento.

Martina: David remembers that everyone screamed when this happened, probably expecting the man to shoot his father.

David: En ese momento, mi madre reaccionó y le dijo a mi padre que él tenía que estar tranquilo y no decirle nada a los atacantes.

Martina: Jahir looked back at his wife in shock. He couldn’t believe it! She was scolding him! He turned to her and told her he was just trying to defend her…

David: Ella le dijo a mi padre que estaba loco y él se enojó. Entonces, ella también se enojó con él.

Martina: Now everyone on the bus was looking at this crazy couple who was arguing in front of a masked robber, holding a gun up to their faces.

David: Mis padres ya no tenían miedo por el robo, sino que estaban enojados como cuando estaban en casa.

Martina: Even the robbers looked confused for a little while. But then the one with the gun screamed at Jahir again.

David: Él gritó algo como: “Dejen el show o los mato”.

Martina: The robber looked very serious now. Jahir sat down. And the men proceeded with their business.

David: Los hombres abrieron nuestras maletas y robaron todos los regalos: las camisas, los juguetes, todo. Incluso robaron el jamón que mi madre preparó para la cena de Navidad.

Martina: When Angélica saw they were taking the ham, she stood up and called to the robbers. Tension filled the air again as one of them turned to her menacingly. What was she doing? David can only imagine the fear that must’ve swept over his father’s face.

David: Mi madre le dio la salsa de fruta que usualmente comíamos con el jamón. Y ella le dijo: “Así el jamón sabe mejor”.

Martina: “Take this,” she told him, “it tastes better with the sauce.” The whole scene was like out of a movie!

David: No recuerdo si los hombres o los demás pasajeros rieron. Yo solo miraba todo esto. Después, los hombres hicieron parar el autobús y ellos se bajaron llevando cinco bolsas llenas de nuestras cosas.

Martina: Until that day, David had never seen a villain other than the funny ones dressed up in black clothes from cartoons. In real life, villains looked pretty much like anyone, but also were way more scary and unpredictable.

David: Ese día, por primera vez, vi que mi país era muy peligroso. Y entendí por qué mucha gente tenía miedo de las carreteras, que estaban tomadas por la guerrilla y también por gente peligrosa con revólveres.

Martina: Once the robbers were gone, some passengers were mad at the driver and his associate for not doing anything to help the passengers. Some other folks came to see if Jahir was ok.

David: Él solo les dijo que estaba bien. Mi mamá me seguía abrazando con un brazo. Con el otro brazo, miraba las cosas que todavía teníamos. Solo quedaba mi ropa.

Martina: The bus then stopped at a police station. Jahir and other passengers reported the robbery. Jahir later told David and Angélica that the officers didn’t really seem to care and they said robberies like that were inevitable.

David: Para ese momento, ya solo queríamos llegar a Sincelejo.

Martina: Once they got to the terminal the passengers went to the bus company’s office. A man wearing a big gold watch told them he was going to report the incident to the authorities, but that the company couldn’t reimburse them for what was stolen from them.

David: Muchos pasajeros gritaban. Mi mama le dijo a mi padre que era mejor no protestar porque nadie iba a ayudarnos. Así que salimos de la estación sintiéndonos cansados y tristes.

Martina: David and his parents walked to the parking lot not knowing what to do next. They had no money, no food, no presents. David looked up at his dad and saw he looked worried. But then David remembered something.

David: Recordé que todavía tenía mi billete.

Martina: He put his hand in his pocket, and there it was: the shiny new bill his dad had given him.

David: Entonces, miré a mis padres y, feliz, les di mi billete. Les dije que yo podía comprar todos los regalos, pagar el taxi a la casa de mi tío, e incluso comprar el jamón de mi mamá.

Martina: Angélica and Jahir looked at each other and laughed. They hugged David close to them and let go of the worry that had had overwhelmed them moments earlier.

David: Ellos ya no estaban preocupados. Ahora reían. Papá me miró y me dijo que mejor yo me quedaba el billete.

Martina: “You should save it,” Jahir told David. “It’s only 2000 pesos.” It was worth less than a dollar.

David: Yo, de verdad, no comprendía muy bien. Pensé que ellos no querían gastar mi dinero y yo hice lo que me decían.

Martina: A little later, David’s relatives showed up at the terminal.

David: Mis padres le dijeron todo a los adultos y yo también a mis primos. Ellos empezaron a decir que mi padre era como el héroe de una película de acción al que los villanos no podían ganar.

Martina: On Christmas Eve, when the whole family was together around the tree, David’s only present was a pair of pajamas. You’d think it was a terrible Christmas, but David didn’t feel that way.

David: Yo todavía tenía mi billete. Lo llevé conmigo durante mucho tiempo. No recuerdo exactamente cómo lo gasté, pero el siguiente año recibí billetes nuevos e incluso una billetera. Los nuevos se empezaron a mezclar con el más importante de todos.

Martina: David now lives on his own and every two or three years he travels on that same road to visit his relatives for the holidays. Many things have changed since he took that trip with his parents as a kid. Now there’s a peace treaty between the armed rebels and the Colombian Government.

David: Todas las personas deberían tener una historia sobre cómo descubrieron que el mundo es un lugar incierto y lleno de sorpresas. Yo lo descubrí aquel día.

Martina: But what stuck with him was a lesson his parents offered him on that day.

David: Ellos me enseñaron que los villanos te pueden robar todo, menos el buen humor.

Martina: David Martinez is a radio producer from Colombia, living in Buenos Aires.

If you liked this story, we’d love for you to share it with others. At podcast.duolingo.com, you can find a transcript of this story and of all the other episodes. Subscribe at Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening app, so you never miss one. With over 300 million users, Duolingo is the world's leading language learning platform, and the most downloaded education app in the world. Duolingo believes in making education free, fun and accessible to everyone. To join, download the app today, or find out more at duolingo.com.

And a huge thanks to all of you for helping us make Apple Podcasts’ Best of 2018 list! We can’t wait to bring you another great year of stories in 2019! We are taking a short break for the holidays, but we’ll be back in January with more stories from the Spanish-speaking world. I’m the executive producer, Martina Castro. ¡Feliz año nuevo y gracias por escuchar!

Credits

This episode includes recordings from rayprice, murkertrer, buzzmsc and monkeyman535 under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

This episode was produced by Duolingo and Adonde Media.

Author: David Martínez
Script Editor: Marco Avilés
Senior Editor: Catalina May
Sound Designer: Ana Lucía Murillo
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Martín Cruz Farga
Executive Producer/Editor: Martina Castro
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

After the September 11th attacks in 2001, Juan Pablo Villarino was dismayed to see how people were starting to lose trust in the ultimate good of humanity. So he figured the best way to prove he was still right to trust total strangers was to hitchhike through the epicenter of the war on terror.

How to Listen

Listen free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Transcript

Martina: In Argentina, it isn’t uncommon to hitchhike. They call it “autostop” and also “viajar a dedo”, which literally means to travel by finger. Juan Pablo Villarino knows all about it. “Autostop” is his way of life.

Juan Pablo: Mi primer viaje en autostop fue en febrero de 1998 a Villa Gesell. La ciudad está a unos 110 kilómetros al norte de Mar del Plata, donde yo vivía. Empecé a calcular la distancia total que iba a tener que caminar si nadie paraba.

Martina: Eventually someone did stop; they took him 30 kms, and then another family took him the rest of the way.

Juan Pablo: Era una bienvenida a un mundo nuevo.

Martina: Once he reached his destination, he spent the night on the beach and woke up to see a man sitting close to him, apparently meditating. They got to chatting, and Juan Pablo decided to tell him about his dream of quitting school and dedicating his life to traveling.

Juan Pablo: El hombre me dijo palabras que todavía recuerdo: “Es tan sencillo como que puedes hacerlo”.

Martina: Which means, it’s as simple as just doing it. That advice would kick off epic journeys for Juan Pablo, and eventually lead him to his most challenging hitchhike route yet.

Juan Pablo: Quería hacer autostop en Afganistán.

Martina: Bienvenidos and welcome to the Duolingo Spanish Podcast —I’m Martina Castro. Every episode, we bring you fascinating true stories, to help you improve your Spanish listening, and to gain new perspectives on the world. The storyteller will be using intermediate Spanish and I will be chiming in for context in English. If you miss something, don’t be afraid to skip back and listen again—and we also offer full transcripts at podcast.duolingo.com.

Today’s story comes from Argentina. It’s called Autostop en Afganistán (or Hitchhiking in Afghanistan), and it’s told by Juan Pablo Villarino. Please note that you’ll be hearing Juan Pablo speak in an Argentine accent. They pronounce their double LLs and Ys with a SH sound, as in “aSHer” or “caSHe” instead of “ayer” or “calle”.

Juan Pablo was at home in Mar del Plata, a coastal town in Argentina, on the morning of September 11, 2001. He saw the news of what happened like most people around the world —on tv.

Juan Pablo: Cuando vi a las Torres Gemelas en Nueva York caerse, me quedé sin palabras, en shock.

Martina: Most of us know what happened next: the US invaded Afghanistan to go after Al Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the September 11 attacks. The “war on terror” officially began and it seemed to Juan Pablo like people were quick to divide the world into allies and enemies.

Juan Pablo: Sentí que era el momento de usar mis dos pasiones: viajar a dedo y escribir historias de viaje, para ofrecer otro punto de vista. Mi misión sería comprobar que la bondad y la hospitalidad son universales. Mi destino final sería Afganistán.

Martina: But Argentina was in the midst of an economic crisis, so it was going to be tough for Juan Pablo to save enough money to pay for a flight to Afghanistan. But in 2002, when Juan Pablo was working at a hotel, he met an Irish family that invited him to stay with them back in Ireland.

Juan Pablo: Decidí irme a Irlanda. Era mi oportunidad para ganar más dinero, hacer un gran viaje y convertirme en escritor de viajes.

Martina: Juan Pablo spent another year saving up money and in 2003, he quit his studies and used up all of his savings on a ticket to Ireland.

Juan Pablo: Llegué a Irlanda con solo 10 euros en mi bolsillo.

Martina: At first, Juan Pablo worked as a receptionist in a hotel and then as a machine operator at a cheese factory.

Juan Pablo: El tiempo que tenía libre lo pasaba investigando. Leía guías de viaje y me iba a la biblioteca pública a buscar información sobre los países que pensaba visitar. Hice, con cuidado, mi plan de viaje para Afganistán.

Martina: It took Juan Pablo two years to save up enough money to leave Ireland. The first few places he visited—Poland, Romania, Bulgaria—they felt familiar and similar to places he had visited before. But everything changed when he got to Istanbul.

Juan Pablo: Nunca había estado en un país musulmán.

Martina: Musulmán means Muslim.

Juan Pablo: Y todo era nuevo para mí: las comidas sobre la alfombra, los bazares, la ropa de hombres y mujeres.

Martina: Maybe it would be much harder than he had imagined to hitchhike in a place like Turkey.

Juan Pablo: Pero fue más fácil de lo que pensaba.

Martina: His usual hitchhiking tricks worked just the same there as everywhere else.

Juan Pablo: Iba a la salida de los pueblos o ciudades y elegía un sitio donde los vehículos paraban. Las intersecciones eran lugares ideales porque los vehículos iban más lento.

Martina: There is one hitchhiking rule in particular that Juan Pablo followed everywhere he went.

Juan Pablo: La regla universal, en cualquier lugar, era sonreír y hacer contacto visual. Los vehículos se paran con la sonrisa, no con el dedo.

Martina: From Turkey, he crossed into Syria, and then into Iraq and Iran… Everywhere, he felt very welcomed. In Iran, nobody would let him set up his tent. Instead, they’d invite him to stay in their homes.

Juan Pablo: Me hacían un lugar en sus casas y conversaban conmigo durante horas, curiosos de la cultura de mi país.

Martina: They would chat into the night, relying on Juan Pablo’s basic Farsi.

Juan Pablo: Cuando viajo, siempre hago una lista de 150 palabras importantes en el idioma local. La lista no cambia y tiene palabras como "baño," "comida," "agua," etcétera.

Martina: In Syria he was pleasantly surprised to see that many people drank a tea that’s typical in Argentina, called mate.

Juan Pablo: No necesitábamos hablar el mismo idioma. Solo con mirarnos a los ojos sabíamos si era tiempo de poner más yerba mate o si el agua estaba demasiado caliente.

Martina: In Iran he met intellectuals—writers, theater directors and magazine editors.

Juan Pablo: Una noche me invitaron a una reunión y fue una revelación. Las chicas se quitaron el hejab obligatorio que cubría su cabello.

Martina: A hijab, is a veil or head-scarf often worn by Muslim women in public.

Juan Pablo: Una de las mujeres tenía una botella de alcohol en su mochila que compró en la farmacia. Sirvió un poco en un vaso con bebida de cola. Como vender bebidas alcohólicas estaba prohibido, ellos bebían etanol puro.

Martina: Yes, they drank pure ethanol. That was the only alcohol they could access. It was a hot day in 2006 when Juan Pablo finally reached Afghanistan. The country was at war. The US invasion removed the Taliban from power but they had reorganized and launched an insurgency. It was a violent year.

Juan Pablo: Me sentía optimista por poder llegar a Afganistán y por la hospitalidad que recibí de la gente, pero el mismo día que llegué explotó una bomba en Kabul y mató a casi 50 personas. Miraba la noticia en una televisión en blanco y negro mientras esperaba para entrar al país.

Martina: As Juan Pablo passed through customs, many families were leaving, desperate to escape the violence in their country. The border police told Juan Pablo he was headed into very dangerous territory.

Juan Pablo: Sentí que no estaba listo para lo que me esperaba, que todo lo que leí sobre el país, los mapas que estudié, no me servían mucho. Sentía que ahora realmente entraba a un mundo que no conocía.

Martina: It was getting dark when Juan Pablo started walking along the road that would take him to Herat and from there to Kabul. The landscape was barren.

Juan Pablo: Casi no pasaban vehículos y empecé a tener miedo. Pero de pronto, un viejo automóvil se paró. El conductor se llamaba Karim. Tenía unos 40 años y vestía una túnica blanca. Vivía en un pueblo lleno de pequeñas casas de adobe, sin ventanas y del mismo color que el desierto.

Martina: Juan Pablo spent the night in Karim’s house, where he lived with his two young daughters and father, a man with a very long and white beard. In his limited Farsi, Juan Pablo told them of his plans to hitchhike along the central route to Kabul.

Juan Pablo: Me dijeron que era muy peligroso. Luego, vinieron los vecinos de Karim y jugamos a las cartas. Para la cena, comimos arroz, lentejas, ensalada de tomates, y pan afgano.

Martina: It all went well until everyone went to bed.

Juan Pablo: Me dieron algo para dormir en el suelo de la sala. Por primera vez, empecé a tener miedo de la situación. Pensé en la guerra y al final, decidí dormir con un cuchillo bajo la almohada.

Martina: Juan Pablo’s mind was racing as he laid with his hand wrapped tightly around the pocketknife below his pillow. “What if they decide to kidnap me? What if they sell me to the Taliban?”

Juan Pablo: A la mañana siguiente, el padre de Karim, con su túnica y su carácter tranquilo, vino con el desayuno. Me sentí mal por dudar de ellos.

Martina: After having tea and bread for breakfast, Juan Pablo expressed his gratitude and said goodbye.

Juan Pablo: La misma cosa pasó muchas veces durante el viaje: al principio, yo dudé de sus intenciones pero, al final, la gente siempre resultó ser buena conmigo.

Martina: Eleven months into his trip, Juan Pablo made it to Herat, one of the few cities in Afghanistan considered safe at the time. He arrived in a Land Cruiser driven by two wealthy merchants.

Juan Pablo: Este fue el primer lugar en el que vi mujeres en público.

Martina: Juan Pablo saw the women arrive in carts pulled by horses. They got off to buy groceries for their households.

Juan Pablo: Todas las mujeres vestían el mismo burka azul que les cubría desde la cabeza hasta los pies.

Martina: Unlike the hijab, the burka covers the entire face and body. Around the eyes, there are holes just large enough to allow the women to see.

Juan Pablo: Las mujeres caminaban como fantasmas por el bazar.

Martina: At the time, the road that connects Herat with Kabul was one of the most dangerous in the country, more than 800 kilometers with almost no security forces. Juan Pablo's plan was to hitchhike it.

Juan Pablo: El recepcionista de mi hostal en Herat se llamaba Hamid. Era un estudiante de química y hablaba buen inglés. Él me explicó: “Yo soy afgano, y yo no voy allí. Hay muchos bandidos y talibanes”.

Martina: The morning he was leaving, a group of Afghan military officers tried to convince him to turn around. This time, his resolve to continue faltered.

Juan Pablo: Fue el momento más difícil de mi vida. Me senté en el suelo y pensé en todo lo que hice para llegar a este lugar: dejé la universidad, me fui a Irlanda con solo diez euros. Tuve que trabajar muchísimo para ahorrar el dinero para este viaje. También estudié todo lo que pude sobre los lugares que iba a conocer.

Martina: Juan Pablo had invested too much to give up now.

Juan Pablo: Decidí continuar. Me puse de pie, agarré la mochila y volví a mirar al horizonte, hacia Kabul.

Martina: Juan Pablo continued his journey along the main road. He was mostly picked up by old trucks which moved along very slowly.

Juan Pablo: A veces yo caminaba junto a gente con camellos.

Martina: Camellos are camels. Juan Pablo wasn’t able to communicate with those men because they spoke Pashtun and he didn’t have a handy list of those words.

Juan Pablo: Pero viajar con esos camellos me hizo sentir más tranquilo y también más fuerte. El viaje era tan antiguo como la humanidad.

Martina: During those weeks he spent hitchhiking to Kabul, Juan Pablo faced challenges that he hadn’t anticipated.

Juan Pablo: En países con mucho tráfico lo más difícil es ganarse la confianza de los conductores haciendo contacto visual con ellos. En Afganistán, el problema era que no había tráfico.

Martina: Most cars would pick him up, but sometimes he had to wait up to 10 hours for a car to even pass by.

Juan Pablo: Tuve que tener mucha paciencia.

Martina: Along the route he met members of a non-profit who were building a school. He also met teachers who held their classes in buildings without roofs.

Juan Pablo: Muchas veces los talibanes atacaban las escuelas. Pero los maestros seguían enseñando. Gracias a ellos entendí que la gente local tenía miedo a los talibanes.

Martina: When he got to Chaghcharan, Juan Pablo was halfway to Kabul. As he approached the town he heard a helicopter overhead and saw a military convoy. He had arrived at a NATO base, a stark reminder that all this time, he had been walking through a war zone.

Juan Pablo: Vi tanques de guerra y vehículos con mucha protección. Eso me hizo recordar que mi vida estaba en peligro cada kilómetro que viajaba.

Martina: A few US soldiers invited Juan Pablo to visit the base. They drank beers together and Juan Pablo told them about the people he had met along the road.

Juan Pablo: Los soldados, que no tenían casi contacto con la gente local, me preguntaban a mí cómo eran los afganos. Escucharon sorprendidos mis historias sobre los maestros, los constructores y los nómadas. Parecía que ellos no estaban en el mismo país que yo.

Martina: Juan Pablo continued his course. As he crossed through small villages, children would run up to him, curious about this foreigner who wasn’t in military clothing. But not everyone was kind.

Juan Pablo: En un pueblo, a la gente no le gustó mucho mi presencia. Tenían miedo de mí y pensaban que yo era un espía.

Martina: They thought he was a spy. Juan Pablo went on to Bamiyan, a city known for having the largest Buddha statues in the world before they were destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban. There Juan Pablo was offered a ride by the Afghan army.

Juan Pablo: El comandante me preguntó si estaba loco. Me dijo que los talibanes, habían atacado los pueblos en esa ruta la semana anterior. Atacaron a un grupo de soldados afganos y todos murieron. Él me dijo: “Puedes venir con nosotros a Kabul, pero tienes que saber que somos el objetivo".

Martina: “We are the target,” they told him. Juan Pablo accepted the ride anyway. Inside the military jeep, the atmosphere was extremely tense. The soldiers had their machine guns out and ready to shoot, as they scanned nearby mountains and rooftops for snipers.

Juan Pablo: Yo estaba muerto de miedo. Pensé en los maestros. Esos héroes desconocidos nunca aparecían en las noticias pero sentían este miedo todos los días. Esa imagen me ayudó a ser fuerte.

Martina: Three weeks later, Juan Pablo finally arrived to Kabul safely. The Afghan capital was slowly recovering from the worst moments of the war. He got in touch with an Argentine couple, Fabian and Betty, who were living there with their children.

Juan Pablo: Fabián y Bety eran enfermeros y trabajaban para una organización religiosa. Su misión de ayudar a los afganos les permitía vivir en este tipo de lugares, donde los ataques y las bombas eran frecuentes.

Martina: This couple was willing to face the same dangers Juan Pablo had faced, except they did that every day… all in order to help others and prove their faith in humanity. All of a sudden, Juan Pablo felt like his trip paled in comparison.

Juan Pablo: Las personas como ellos son las que cambian el mundo. Yo simplemente estaba allí para poder contar la historia.

Martina: The end of Juan Pablo’s trip to Afghanistan marked the beginning of his nomadic life. Now writes about his travels for a living. Juan Pablo often thinks back to that man he met on the beach, when this was all just a dream.

Juan Pablo: Recuerdo sus palabras: “Es tan sencillo como que puedes hacerlo”. Fue así como pude vivir mi sueño y comprobar que la bondad y la hospitalidad son universales.

Martina: Juan Pablo Villarino is a professional hitchhiker and author. In the more than a year that it took him to make his way back to Argentina from Afghanistan, he wrote the first edition of his book "Vagabundeando en el Eje del Mal," or “Hitchhiking in the Axis of Evil.” It’s about his travels through Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. The book is now in its fifth edition.

If you liked this story, we’d love for you to share it with others. At podcast.duolingo.com you can find a transcript of this story and all of the other episodes. Subscribe at Apple podcasts or your favorite listening app, so you never miss one. With over 300 million users, Duolingo is the world's largest online language learning platform and the most downloaded education app in the world. Duolingo believes in making education free, fun and accessible to everyone. To join, download the app today, or find out more at duolingo.com. I’m the executive producer, Martina Castro, gracias por escuchar.

Credits

This episode includes recordings from InspectorJ, volivieri, tagirov, xserra, laurent, BrN, susoooo, caquet, Benboncan, Angel_Perez_Grandi and deleted_user_4401185 under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

This episode was produced by Duolingo and Adonde Media.

Author: Juan Pablo Villarino
Script Editor: Teresa Bouza / Martina Castro
Sound Designer: Claire Mullen
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Martín Cruz Farga
Executive Producer/Editor: Martina Castro
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

When she was growing up in Santiago, Chile, Yasna Mussa says it was common for her friend’s families to employ nannies. Even though these workers, mostly women, spent most of their days caring for these families, Yasna remembers them being somewhat invisible. She didn’t take notice of this until she became a nanny herself in a foreign country.

How to Listen

Listen free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Transcript

Yasna: En el año 2011 fui a vivir a París para cumplir mi sueño.

Martina: That’s Chilean journalist Yasna Mussa. She was 28 years old when she moved to France with a dream of becoming an international correspondent. But before getting there, she had to solve a little problem…

Yasna: Yo no sabía ninguna palabra en francés.

Martina: Well, two problems.

Yasna: Con el dinero que tenía no podía vivir en una ciudad tan cara como París.

Martina: So, if you dream of living in an expensive city where you don’t speak the local language, you clearly need a plan. Yasna started to look for jobs where she could make money while learning French.

Yasna: Escribí en Google las palabras: “trabajo part-time + español + París”. Casi todos los resultados eran de agencias de nounou, que significa nana o niñera en francés.

Martina: Yasna applied for the nanny job, and in doing so, she opened a door to a conflicted world: one where regardless of how much time nannies and families spent together, they could remain perfect strangers.

Bienvenidos and welcome to the Duolingo Spanish Podcast — I’m Martina Castro. Every episode, we bring you fascinating true stories, to help you improve your Spanish listening, and to gain new perspectives on the world. The storyteller will be using intermediate Spanish and I will be chiming in for context in English. If you miss something, don’t be afraid to skip back and listen again – and we also offer full transcripts at podcast.duolingo.com. Today’s story comes from Chile, and it’s told by Yasna Mussa. It’s called: La Nana – (or The Nanny)

Martina: Yasna didn’t have experience working as a nanny. But there was one ad that got her attention. It asked for a Spanish-speaking nanny with an accent from Argentina, Peru or... Chile, Yasna’s native country. And it was signed by an 11-year-old girl.

Yasna: El aviso decía: “Somos tres niños que pasamos seis meses en Latinoamérica y queremos mantener el idioma. Este es el teléfono de mi mamá. Pregunten por Chloé, la hija mayor”.

Martina: Yasna applied for the nanny job. And instead of calling the number in the ad, she chose to send an email. She thought it would be hard to communicate by phone, considering she still didn’t speak French.

Yasna: Chloé, la niña, me respondió el e-mail. Me dijo que sus papás me invitaban para una entrevista. Chloé, por supuesto, sería la intérprete.

Martina: Yasna went to the interview and, to her surprise, she got the job immediately.

Yasna: Era una familia rica. Vivían en un apartamento muy grande en un barrio elegante.

Martina: The walls of the apartment were covered with sculptures and pictures from the family’s travels throughout Latin America. They even had paintings by Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican artist.

Yasna: Los padres se llamaban Sarah y Thomas. Mi primera impresión fue que ellos amaban Latinoamérica. La tarde en que los conocí, vimos juntos sus fotos en la Patagonia y Perú mientras los niños me miraban con curiosidad.

Martina: In addition to 11 year old Chloé, there was 8 year old Olivier and 5 year old Emilie. Chloé spoke very good Spanish and she was the interpreter for the family. Olivier and Emilie, on the other hand—they didn’t want to speak any Spanish when they first met Yasna.

Yasna: Pero unos días después pude romper el hielo. Una vez a la semana, nosotros nos sentábamos en la sala y yo les daba lecciones de español. Cada vez que la pequeña Emilie podía decir una frase en español se sentía satisfecha, me miraba y se reía fuertemente.

Martina: Chloé usually pushed Yasna to practice her French.

Yasna: Por ejemplo, cuando íbamos a comprar pan, me hacía practicar frases muy largas. “Bonjour madame. Je voudrais quatre pains au chocolat, s'il vous plaît.”

Martina: Which means…

Martina: “Buenos días, señora. Quisiera cuatro panes de chocolate, por favor”. Eran cosas muy básicas, pero que cada semana me ayudaban a mejorar mi francés y perder el miedo de hablarlo.

Martina: But Yasna’s relationship with the parents wasn’t as good as she imagined it would be. They paid her only 11 euros an hour, which at the time was about 14 dollars. But it was customary to pay at least 18 euros an hour, or 24 dollars. They didn’t pay Yasna any extra for giving their kids Spanish lessons, either.

Yasna: El problema era que yo tenía visa de turista y no tenía permiso para trabajar. Yo estaba esperando mi visa de estudiante, y si la visa no llegaba, los padres de los niños no me iban a pagar más dinero. Vivir con lo que me pagaban era muy difícil.

Martina: Six weeks after she started, Yasna took the children to a park near the Eiffel tower, very close to their house. She sat down on a bench to watch them play.

Yasna: El lugar estaba lleno de niños con sus nanas.

Martina: She looked around and realized she was surrounded by nannies—at least 25 women from different parts of the world: Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

Yasna: Eran nanas igual que yo. Fui a decirles hola y me senté con ellas.

Martina: They were all under 30 years old.

Yasna: Muchas eran estudiantes de posgrado que cuidaban niños porque necesitaban dinero para vivir en París; otras eran inmigrantes que enviaban dinero a sus países y que no podían estar con sus propias familias.

Martina: That day, Yasna found new friends. She started meeting up with them to have coffee and croissants to hear about their lives. The nannies’ main concerns were about money, the dreams they worked so hard to achieve and, also, the way their bosses treated them.

Yasna: Una colega llamada Olga nos dijo que, en la casa donde ella trabajaba, la acusaron de robar un anillo.

Martina: But the ring ended up being in her boss’ purse the whole time.

Yasna: La jefa le ofreció excusas y la invitó a cenar, pero el mal ya estaba hecho. Olga siguió trabajando en esa casa solo por el dinero, pero las cosas ya no eran como antes.

Martina: As Yasna heard her friends’ stories about where they worked, her opinion about the family she worked for started to change.

Yasna: Ellos me parecían un poco falsos. Vivían en un apartamento muy bonito. Compraban pinturas caras. Organizaban fiestas frecuentemente. Pero a mí me pagaban muy poco dinero.

Martina: This realization took her, unexpectedly, back to her childhood in Chile… where many of her friends growing up had live-in nannies.

Yasna: Eso es bastante común entre las familias de clase media de mi país.

Martina: These women didn’t just take care of the children: they took care of the whole family, and they often had no days off.

Yasna: Muchas de las nanas venían de otros países cercanos a Chile, como Perú o Bolivia. Ellas vivían lejos de su gente para poder cuidar niños de otras familias. Por primera vez pensé en cómo se sentían ellas.

Martina: Yasna remembered her friends spent more time with their nannies than with their own moms. But, those families still didn’t know much about the women taking care of them… Now, in Paris, Yasna felt her bosses were completely indifferent to her.

Yasna: Además de mi nacionalidad y de que era reportera, los padres de Chloé no preguntaban nada sobre mi pasado, mis proyectos o mis sueños.

Martina: Finally, on the third month, Yasna received her student visa. She approached Sarah and Thomas, the couple she worked for, about giving her the raise they had promised her.

Yasna: Sarah me dio una excusa absurda: que ella no ganaba suficiente dinero y que mi trabajo era fácil porque la hija mayor era casi independiente. Sentí que se reía de mí en mi propia cara. Desde entonces nuestra relación se volvió peor.

Martina: One night, they got home very late. They had agreed to pay for Yasna’s taxi in these situations, so she could get home safely. But this time, Sarah told her the metro was still running so she could take that instead.

Yasna: Yo no conocía bien París ni los horarios del metro. Cogí un tren pero después de algunas estaciones el servicio terminó y tuve que salir a la calle.

Martina: Yasna had to get off the train in a neighborhood she didn’t recognize. It was almost 1:00 in the morning and the streets were empty. Yasna didn’t have a phone to call for help.

Yasna: Había mucha gente borracha. Ellos me dijeron cosas feas y tuve miedo. Un hombre borracho me siguió varias cuadras. Yo solo caminé y caminé por instinto. Llegué a casa a las 5 de la mañana. Estaba cansada, triste y tenía mucho miedo.

Martina: Once Yasna told her friends at the park what had happened to her, they said they had gone through similar situations. “It’s better not to complain,” they told her, “they’ll just fire you.” Yasna couldn’t afford losing her job, but she also felt like she needed to say something.

Yasna: Cuando vi a Sarah y a Thomas les dije que tenían que pagar por los taxis nocturnos, y también les volví a recordar el aumento de sueldo.

Martina: Sarah listened to her intently and agreed. But sadly, Yasna’s friends turned out to be right.

Yasna: Sarah nunca más me volvió a llamar para cuidar a los niños.

Martina: She simply never called Yasna again. And that was it.

Yasna: Yo tampoco insistí porque no creía en su palabra. Nunca pude decir adiós a sus hijos y eso era lo único que me ponía triste.

Martina: By that time, other things were happening in Yasna’s life. One night, a friend invited her to a political event. It was a huge auditorium with more than three thousand people ...

Yasna: Un chico me miró y me dijo “hola” en francés. “I don’t speak French,” le dije. Me preguntó en inglés de dónde era yo. Y cuando le dije que era chilena, me respondió en un español casi perfecto.

Martina: It was love at first sight. He was a scientist. And by the time Yasna lost her first job as a nanny, he was planning to move to Toulouse for Grad School—that’s a city in the south of France. And she decided to go with him. That meant...

Yasna: ...que yo tenía que comenzar de nuevo. Pero esta vez iba a ser diferente.

Martina: Toulouse was a smaller city. Yasna wasn’t confident enough about her French to look for jobs as a journalist. So she looked for another nanny job. She was hired by a family with a 4-year-old girl and a 14-month old baby boy, Claire and Clement.

Yasna: Era la primera vez que cuidaba a un bebé que no hablaba ni caminaba.

Martina: Claire and Clement’s mom was Laura, a blonde woman in her mid thirties that immediately ask Yasna to call her by her first name. She also offered Yasna a formal contract with vacation time and social security benefits. It was already worlds apart from her first job.

Yasna: Laura iba a volver a su trabajo por primera vez en meses, después de haber tenido a Clement. Era doctora en un laboratorio llamado Danone, en una ciudad cerca de París.

Martina: Because of the distance, Laura had to spent Monday through Thursday away from home.

Yasna: Los niños iban a kínder durante las mañanas, mientras su papá trabajaba. Yo los cuidaba desde las cinco de la tarde. Laura usualmente me llamaba por teléfono o me enviaba e-mails.

Martina: The kids father was Mickaël. He was polite, but serious and distant. Yasna addressed him formally as “usted”.

Yasna: Una tarde, Clément y yo estábamos jugando en el piso cuando se puso de pie. Me miró a los ojos y se empezó a mover poco a poco. ¡Estaba caminando!

Martina: Yasna had never seen a baby’s first steps. So she did what anyone with a smartphone would do.

Yasna: Tomé mi celular muy despacio y grabé un video.

Martina: Yasna quickly sent the video to Laura.

Yasna: Ella me respondió: ¡Gracias!

Martina: Apart from those happy moments with the kids, Yasna was uneasy emotionally. She still wasn’t living the life she had dreamt for herself in France as a correspondent.

Yasna: Muchas noches pensaba que tenía que hacer algo radical para cambiar mi vida.

Martina: Five months after starting her job, it was time for Yasna to take her summer vacation. She told the family she would spend it on the beach… but that was a lie.

Yasna: Decidí viajar a Palestina para escribir sobre la guerra. Fui por primera vez en el año 2007. Y ahora que estaba mucho más cerca quería regresar.

Martina: So she bought a ticket to Palestine and contacted news outlets back home in Chile where she could send her dispatches. Yasna just needed to be a journalist again.

Yasna: Fui a hospitales para visitar niños heridos por misiles y mujeres esperando solas en la salas de emergencia. Fue un shock terrible.

Martina: One month later, back in Toulouse with the children, Yasna was exhausted and stressed by what she had seen. No one in the family asked for details about her vacation.

Yasna: Solo les dije que las vacaciones estuvieron bien, así, en general.

Martina: Those first days back, Yasna had bags under her eyes and she wasn’t sleeping well.

Yasna: La primera tarde, Clément y Claire vinieron corriendo a verme. Querían ir al parque, pero yo no tenía ganas.

Martina: It was clear that Yasna was not the same nanny she was before. She was depressed and feeling trapped.

Yasna: Una noche, cansada de esperar, me senté frente a mi computadora y busqué en Internet el e-mail de la editora jefa de Radio Francia Internacional. Le escribí un correo diciendo que buscaba una oportunidad.

Martina: It was midnight when she went to bed. At 2 am, she got an alert on her phone.

Yasna: ¡Era la editora! Quería verme en París la semana siguiente. ¡No lo podía creer!

Martina: She got the correspondent job. Her French had gotten excellent in the year since she had moved to France and she was finally ready. But this happiness came at a cost.

Yasna: Tenía que decirles adiós a Clément y a Claire después de 9 meses juntos.

Martina: The next day, she took the children to the park and told them that she was leaving.

Yasna: Clément no entendía lo que sucedía. Pero Claire comenzó a llorar. Su mamá, que esa vez estaba con nosotros, le explicó que yo no sería más su nana, pero que nosotras podíamos seguir siendo amigas.

Martina: Back in the house, Laura invited Yasna to chat on the balcony. She prepared drinks and cheese.

Yasna: Era la primera vez que compartíamos de esa manera. Era extraño.

Martina: Yasna didn’t really know how to behave, but after a while she decided to relax.

Yasna: Laura, emocionada, me dijo: “Gracias por querer a mis niños y por cuidarlos cuando yo no estaba”.

Martina: For Laura, it had been really difficult to leave Clément and Claire with a stranger. But over the past few months, she had come to trust Yasna.

Yasna: Sentí que la pared que había entre las dos se rompía. Por primera vez ella y yo hablamos sobre nuestras vidas, nuestros países y nuestras carreras.

Martina: They talked a while longer, and even though they still knew very little about one another, they hugged and held back tears as they said goodbye.

Yasna: Hoy veo lo grandes y lindos que están Clément y Claire a través de las fotografías que sus padres tienen en Facebook.

Martina: It’s been almost 10 years since Yasna said goodbye to Clement, Claire and Laura. She is now back in Chile working as a journalist. She doesn’t have kids. But everytime she meets a nanny at a friend’s house…

Yasna: Siempre busco la manera de pasar tiempo con la nana y le pregunto: “¿Cuál es tu historia?”

Martina: Yasna Mussa is a journalist and cofounder of LATE, an online magazine devoted to long-form stories from Latin America.

If you liked this story, we’d love for you to share it with others. At podcast.duolingo.com, you can find a transcript of this story and all of the other episodes. Subscribe at Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening app, so you never miss one. With over 300 million users, Duolingo is the world's leading language learning platform, and the most downloaded education app in the world. Duolingo believes in making education free, fun and accessible to everyone. To join, download the app today, or find out more at duolingo.com. I’m the executive producer, Martina Castro – gracias por escuchar.

Credits

This episode includes recordings from magnumdb, InspectorJ, Ramston and halimturk under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

This episode was produced by Duolingo and Adonde Media.

Author: Yasna Mussa
Script Editor: Marco Avilés
Senior Editor: Catalina May
Sound Designer: Ana Lucia Murillo
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Martín Cruz Farga
Executive Producer/Editor: Martina Castro
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Federico Bianchini had always dreamt of traveling to Antarctica from his native Argentina. But little did he know that the great white continent had a plan of its own for him once he got there.

How to Listen

Listen free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Transcript

Martina: When Federico Bianchini was a kid growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he remembers the first time he heard about their icy neighbor to the south.

Federico: Un día, un amigo de mi abuelo viajó a la Antártida. Cuando regresó, no podía parar de repetir lo hermoso que era ese lugar.

Martina: Ever since he heard of Antarctica’s indescribable beauty, Federico dreamed of experiencing that very cold and remote place. But when he finally made it to the white continent as a 31-year-old journalist, he would discover that it’s a difficult place to get to, and to leave.

Federico: Descubrí que Antártida es más que un lugar. Es un refugio de la naturaleza que tiene su propio tiempo y sus propias reglas.

Martina: Bienvenidos and welcome to the Duolingo Spanish Podcast—I’m Martina Castro. Every episode, we bring you fascinating true stories, to help you improve your Spanish listening, and to gain new perspectives on the world. The storyteller will be using intermediate Spanish and I’ll be chiming in for context in English. If you miss something, you can always skip back and listen again—and we also offer full transcripts at podcast.duolingo.com.

Today’s story comes from Buenos Aires, Argentina, by way of Antarctica. It’s called “Antártida”, told by Federico Bianchini. Please note that you’ll be hearing Federico speak in an Argentine accent. They pronounce their double LLs and Ys with a SH sound, as in “aSHer” or “caSHe” instead of “ayer” or “calle”.

Before embarking on his trip, Federico was required to pass a test about Antarctica’s environment, climate and history. He also received special clothes from the Argentinean government to help him endure temperatures as low as -70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Federico: Un suéter, un abrigo polar, lentes de invierno, y dos pantalones especiales para el frío intenso.

Martina: He felt ready for his big trip. Soon, he’d be exploring the glaciers and interviewing scientists in the field for about a week. And then, he’d come home and write an article about the people who work and live in Antarctica. But first, he had to get there.

Federico: Viajé durante siete horas desde una base militar en Buenos Aires hasta Río Gallegos, al sur de Argentina. Por el mal clima, tuvimos que esperar dos días en el aeropuerto. Finalmente, volamos otras seis o siete horas. En total, fueron casi 5 mil kilómetros.

Martina: After a long three-day journey, Federico finally made it to Antarctica. There they landed on a chilean base, one of many established on the continent by countries conducting climate change research. The landscape was more empty and stark than he had imagined.

Federico: Solo veía el cielo gris, el océano oscuro, casi negro, y la nieve blanca.

Martina: The only living thing within sight were some penguins in the distance.

Federico: El viento era muy intenso. Yo lo sentía como pequeños cuchillos en la cara. Casi no podía abrir los ojos.

Martina: From there, they had to take one more mode of transportation—a ship, to get to the Argentinean base. As they disembarked, Federico could see ten or eleven orange structures. This complex would be his home and only shelter over the next several nights.

Federico: El sábado por la mañana, durante el desayuno, me dijeron que había dos cosas muy importantes que tenía que saber. Número uno: nunca salir solo de la base. Número dos: al salir, informar por radio a dónde iba, dónde estaba y cuándo iba a regresar.

Martina: His showers needed to be super quick—no longer than one or two minutes, so as to save warm water for everyone. There were a lot of rules, but they also had fun and got along. On Fridays, everyone gathered to watch a movie and eat popcorn.

Federico: Después de darme las instrucciones, una mujer me dijo: “Tu vuelo a Buenos Aires saldrá en dos días”.

Martina: Federico’s heart sank.

Federico: ¿Tres días para llegar a la base y solo dos antes de irme de la Antártida? Pero me dijeron que tenía otra opción: un vuelo en dos meses.

Martina: But he couldn’t possibly stay there two months, so he accepted the return trip in two days. He’d barely have any time to do his interviews or get to know this place, to see the penguins or elephant seals up close. He was furious!

Federico: Pero intenté ver lo positivo: solo 3.500 personas viajan a la Antártida cada año, y yo era una de ellas. Iba a tener una historia para compartir con mis amigos y, algún día, con mis nietos.

Martina: So he set out to interview as many people as he could. There were about 80 people at the base: biologists, geologists, glaciologists and military personnel who managed the logistics that allowed researchers to work in such a difficult environment.

Federico: Aprendí que en la Antártida, las puertas de las bases y de los refugios siempre están abiertas por si en algún momento llega alguien que necesita protegerse del clima. En la base nadie usaba zapatos; todos caminábamos en medias. También aprendí que en la Antártida no hay dinero porque no hay nada para comprar o vender.

Martina: Federico filled his three days on the base with detailed conversations, but he didn’t get a chance to go outside; weather conditions made it too dangerous.

Federico: El domingo por la mañana, preparé mis maletas para irme al día siguiente.

Martina: But just a few hours later, he was told plans had changed: A snowstorm was coming, and the flight out was cancelled.

Federico: Esa noche, sentí el viento de la tormenta. Era muy intenso.

Martina: When he left his sleeping quarters to go to the dining hall, Federico decided to confront the wind.

Federico: El viento era tan fuerte que cuando intentaba caminar, me caía en el piso de hielo.

Martina: Federico could hear the gusts of wind of more than 100 mph slam up against the shelter. Then came the snow, which didn’t show signs of stopping. Someone said they were not going to be able to leave the shelter for days.

Federico: La naturaleza era un animal salvaje.

Martina: The joy Federico had immediately felt to get to stay a few more days, started to transform into a creeping anxiety.

Federico: Los días siguientes, casi no pude caminar alrededor de la base. El miércoles, después de 5 días, preparé mis cosas de nuevo y fui a hablar con los científicos y los militares.

Martina: But once again, he was told that his flight would be delayed. This time, for another week.

Federico: La tormenta seguía. El viento continuaba siendo agresivo. Algunos decían que el avión estaba en una misión humanitaria. Otros decían que no podíamos salir por el clima.

Martina: By now, he’d been there for almost a week and now he’d be staying for another. He wondered nervously to himself:

Federico: ¿Y si pasaba lo mismo la semana siguiente? ¿Y en dos semanas también? Quizás yo iba a regresar a Buenos Aires en dos meses. Estaba preocupado pero no podía hacer nada.

Martina: Federico has always considered himself a city person—he would complain if he needed to wait in line at the bank or squirm if he found himself stuck in a boring conversation. But in Antarctica there was nowhere to go. So things like time and personal space worked differently there.

Federico: Sabía que debía quedarme tranquilo. Alguien me dijo que en la Antártida, lo más peligroso después del clima era la posibilidad de volverse loco.

Martina: Since he didn’t have much to do, he started to pay more attention to what and who was around him. For example, he was first to arrive at the dining room for every meal. Slowly, he got to know the other people on the base by where they sat to eat.

Federico: En la mesa al lado de la cocina estaban los militares. En la mesa siguiente, los científicos que estudiaban a los mamíferos...

Martina: Mamíferos are mammals…

Federico: Después, los científicos que estudiaban a las aves...

Martina: Aves are birds…

Federico: Finalmente, los buzos…

Martina: The buzos were the scuba divers.

Federico: Estaban en la base desde hacía muchos meses.

Martina: Before traveling to Antarctica, Federico’s friends had asked him if he was afraid of being so isolated and far from civilization. Now that he was there, being alone was much harder than he had imagined.

Federico: En Buenos Aires conversaba con diez o doce personas por día. Pero en la base, le decía “buenos días” a casi sesenta personas, todos los días. También tenía que hablar con más de 30 personas durante el desayuno, el almuerzo y la cena.

Martina: Once a day, Federico would stand in a long line of people waiting to access the satellite phone to talk to their family and friends back home.

Federico: Había internet pero era demasiado lenta: mandar un mail era imposible. Todos los días llamaba a mi novia y, cada vez, ella me preguntaba "¿Cuándo vas a regresar?"

Martina: On his fifteenth day at the base, Federico's boss reached out to him — “When are you coming back?,” he asked. Federico still had no answer.

Federico: Empezaba a desesperarme.

Martina: Federico was desperate to leave but was also settling into the rhythm of life at the base. He slowly started to accept that his departure wasn’t up to him, and he struggled to explain this to his family back home.

Federico: Era difícil explicar mi desesperación a personas que no conocían la Antártida. Nadie podía hacer nada para cambiar las cosas. Llevaba dieciséis días en la base y no sabía cuántos días más me iba a quedar.

Martina: One day, Federico chatted with a group of soldiers at the base who told him they’d been there for 12 months—a whole year! You can come to Antarctica, they told him, but you don’t know when you’ll go back home. Here, they said, you’re nothing more than a speck in a vast white expanse.

Federico: Los científicos y los militares me consideraban un amigo. Era extraño, porque no me conocían.

Martina: This immediate camaraderie among the people at the base was infectious. Over the two weeks Federico spent with everyone, mostly indoors, something had shifted. He was starting to feel something resembling kinship. It’s what the locals call “the Antarctica family.”

Federico: Una noche, un biólogo me dijo: “Después de un tiempo, empiezas a ver que tus compañeros en la base son como tus hermanos”. Y entendí en ese momento que no importaba no conocer muy bien a los compañeros. La mejor manera de vivir en esa parte del mundo es sentir que estás con gente querida.

Martina: Around day 17, the rain and the wind subsided. Finally, Federico could leave the base and walk around.

Federico: Caminando en la nieve me sentía en un lugar mágico.

Martina: His gaze lingered on the black rocks that accentuated the pale vastness beyond. He took in the luminous snow, the stillness of the blocks of ice floating in the deep blue sea. The wind was rough and persistent.

Federico: En el horizonte, el cielo se mezclaba con el océano. No se podía ver dónde empezaba uno y terminaba el otro.

Martina: First, Federico shadowed a couple of biologists who went out to count the dozens of sea lions that slept on the beach. He marveled at the sound and size of these sleeping giants.

Federico: Regresé a la base caminando cerca de la costa, entre algunas rocas negras. Escuché un ruido: no era una roca. ¡Era un lobo marino!

Martina: The biologists had warned Federico about the sea lions—a bite can easily get infected and require evacuation.

Federico: Corrí rápido y con miedo, con el animal detrás. A los pocos metros, se olvidó de mí y decidió volver a su descanso.

Martina: Federico went out another day with a glaciologist to share a mate on the glacier. Mate is a special type of tea Argentinians commonly drink in each other’s company.

Federico: Acompañé a los biólogos a ver a los pingüinos. ¡Toqué un pingüino! Gritaba y se movía mucho. Trataba de picarme. Más tarde, fui en un bote con científicos y encontramos peces muy raros, con cabeza de triángulo y miradas que daban miedo.

Martina: These were full and intense days. Each morning, a member of the military would give Federico the weather report.

Federico: Y yo preguntaba: “¿Cuándo vamos a regresar a Buenos Aires?” Y siempre recibía la misma respuesta: “Paciencia”, me decían. “Todavía no tenemos noticias”.

Martina: By day 20 of his trip, Federico was filling every single moment of his days with activities. He continued his routine of watching movies and reading books, but he added ping pong games and even took salsa dance lessons from one of the biologists.

Federico: En la Antártida, uno no sabe qué va a pasar. Hay pocas cosas garantizadas; la gente es amable, las comidas, la rutina...esas cosas se volvían más necesarias en ese vacío tan enorme. En la base estábamos juntos en la base pero, al mismo tiempo, nos sentíamos solos.

Martina: Even amongst all those people, loneliness was in the air on the base.

Federico: La siguiente mañana, durante el desayuno, un militar nos dio el reporte del clima, como todos los días. Nos dijo: “Hoy, hay buen tiempo. ¡El vuelo va a salir!” Todos gritamos felices.

Martina: Federico went back to his small room. His bag stood next to his bed, neatly packed each night, ready in case the weather changed and he could fly out the next morning. After 25 days in Antarctica, he was finally on his way out.

Federico: Un helicóptero nos llevó a un barco que nos llevó a un aeropuerto militar donde nos dijeron: “Si el clima es bueno, volveremos a Buenos Aires mañana”. Pero yo no podía esperar un día más. Compré un pasaje para salir esa misma noche.

Martina: As Federico saw the skyline of Buenos Aires through his plane window, the traffic and blinking lights below, he thought back to the rhythm of life he had left behind in Antarctica. He would have never settled into it, or embraced it, had he not gotten stuck there.

Federico: Ahora, cada vez que subo al tren, que salgo a correr o tomo un taxi pienso que en ese momento, hay alguien en la Antártida que está tratando de irse de allí.

Martina: But just maybe they'd be better off.. if they had stuck around a little longer than they had expected. Federico Bianchini is a journalist and author of the book “Antártida: 25 días encerrado en el hielo”. He lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. If you liked this story, we’d love it if you shared it with your friends who are also learning Spanish. Send them a link to podcast.duolingo.com. There, you can find a transcript of this story and the rest of the episodes. Subscribe at Apple podcasts or your favorite listening app, so you never miss one. With over 300 million members, Duolingo is the world's largest online language learning platform and the most downloaded education app in the world. Duolingo believes that everyone should have access to education of the highest quality for free. Learn more at duolingo.com. I'm Martina Castro, gracias por escuchar.

Credits

This episode includes recordings from Pandion.mx and soundmary under the Creative Commons Attribution License. It also includes audio field recordings in Antarctica by Cheryl E. Leonard.

This episode was produced by Duolingo and Adonde Media.

Author: Federico Bianchini
Script Editor: Ruxandra Guidi, Martina Castro
Sound Designer: Ana Lucia Murillo
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Martín Cruz Farga
Executive Producer/Editor: Martina Castro
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Flamenco is famous for the emotional intensity of its songs and dances. Argentinian Samanta Gamarra discovered that this ancient art from southern Spain has another quality that is less known for, the ability to heal wounds, the deepest ones.

How to Listen

Listen free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Transcript

Martina: When Samanta Gamarra thinks back on Sundays of her childhood in Buenos Aires, she hears music. But not the tango songs one would stereotypically associate with Argentina. She hears Flamenco, specifically songs of great artists like Paco de Lucía, Lola Flores or Camarón de la Isla.

Samanta: Me despertaba con esas canciones cada domingo. Escuchábamos música en casetes. Mamá y yo cantábamos las canciones mientras yo intentaba bailar flamenco.

Martina: Samanta's grandfather migrated to Argentina in the 1930s from Spain’s southern region of Andalucia—that’s where flamenco was born. It’s a mix of dance, singing and guitar playing and is famous for its emotional intensity. It’s been around for over two hundred years.

Samanta: Estoy segura de que mi mamá ponía esa música los domingos para recordar a su padre. Creo que ella dedicaba ese día a recordarlo.

Martina: Listening to flamenco was how Samanta’s mom reconnected with her father, Samanta’s grandfather. And decades later, it would serve as a connection between Samanta and her own mom, when she most needed her.

Bienvenidos and welcome to the Duolingo Spanish Podcast — I’m Martina Castro. Every episode, we bring you fascinating true stories, to help you improve your Spanish listening, and to gain new perspectives on the world. The storyteller will be using intermediate Spanish and I’ll be chiming in for context in English. If you miss something, you can always skip back and listen again—and we also offer full transcripts at podcast.duolingo.com.

Today’s story comes from Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s called “Flamenco” told by Samanta Gamarra. Please note that you’ll be hearing Samanta speak in an Argentine accent. They pronounce their double LLs and Ys with a SH sound, as in “aSHer” or “caSHe” instead of “ayer” or “calle”.

Angela Romero, Samanta's mother, had hazel eyes that appeared to shift in color depending on the weather and the light.

Samanta: De pequeña, me gustaba mirar sus ojos. En los días soleados eran verde claro y en los días nublados eran de color marrón.

Martina: Angela’s facial expressions changed along with the color of her eyes. For example, she would sit quietly when she drank mate, the tea that Argentines typically drink. And, absorbed in her thoughts, her face would take on a tragic look.

Samanta: Pero esa expresión trágica desaparecía cuando reía. Mi madre podía parecer seria pero rápidamente veías que era una persona feliz. Caminaba con la cabeza en alto y con los ojos brillantes.

Martina: Samanta also distinctly remembers her mother’s voice.

Samanta: Tenía la voz grave, pero dulce. Siempre estaba cantando alguna canción.

Martina: Samanta, her parents and her brother lived in Nueva Pompeya. This is a working class neighborhood in the south side of Buenos Aires where many of the first tangos were written and performed. Music was always playing in their home.

Samanta: Mi mamá trabajó de joven en una disquería.

Martina: Una disquería is a record store.

Samanta: Ella no podía estar sin música. Nos enseñó a escuchar todo tipo de música como rock o boleros. Todos los días, después de levantarnos, escuchábamos canciones de Queen, Michael Jackson, Nat King Cole, Buena Vista Social Club, José Feliciano y muchos más.

Martina: Samanta found refuge in her music-filled home and in her close relationship with her mother. At school, she was quiet and shy. So she had trouble starting up conversations with her classmates.

Samanta: Con mi mamá no necesitaba hablar. Solo con mirarnos ya sabíamos qué pensaba la otra. Mi madre era quien sabía mis secretos. Era mi mejor amiga de niña y en la adolescencia.

Martina: They were such good friends, that Samanta never hesitated to turn to her for help. For example, Samanta had trouble sleeping as a kid and this persisted into her teenage years.

Samanta: A veces yo no podía dormir. Incluso hoy me preocupo demasiado por todo. En ese tiempo me preocupaba por mis notas en la escuela, por no encontrar una ocupación al terminar la escuela secundaria.

Martina: This constant worrying would keep Samanta awake at night. When she couldn’t sleep, she’d get up from bed and look for her mom.

Samanta: Sabía que mi mamá estaba en la sala o en la cocina, tomando un té o leyendo. Me sentaba cerca de ella y esperaba a oír alguna historia de cuando ella era chica, de mis abuelos o del libro que estaba leyendo.

Martina: Samanta found her mother’s stories soothing and instantly calming. Ángela was a constant presence in the house after Samanta was born because she decided to leave her job and be a stay-at-home mom.

Samanta: Los sábados y los domingos me despertaba con su voz. Mamá estaba siempre haciendo algún trabajo en la casa: limpiando, organizando, reparando algún mueble. Era el espíritu de la casa.

Martina: In December of 2008, the Gamarra family was living a quiet life and getting ready for Christmas. Samanta was close to getting her degree in literature.

Samanta: Enseñaba clases a niños y jóvenes en escuelas. Estaba también ahorrando para hacer un viaje a Europa. Todavía vivía en casa con mis padres y mi hermano mayor.

Martina: While doing some Christmas shopping, Angela asked Samanta to get her a bag of tomatoes. She kept repeating “tomatoes”, but she was pointing to a bag of nuts.

Samanta: Yo no la entendía y ella estaba cada vez más nerviosa. Cuando íbamos a casa, intenté convencerla de ir al médico. Me dijo que después de las navidades. No le gustaba ir al médico, pero entre mi padre, mi hermano y yo la convencimos.

Martina: The next day, at the doctor’s office, they discovered Angela had a brain tumor. That's what was affecting her speech and confusing her. Surgery was scheduled to remove it after the holidays, and it looked like the prognosis was good.

Samanta: Esa navidad la pasamos tranquilos. Mi hermano y yo pensábamos que mamá se iba a mejorar. Mi padre no decía nada.

Martina: They had dinner at home like every Christmas Eve but they canceled their traditional lunch at a restaurant on Christmas day. Angela didn’t have much of an appetite.

Samanta: Esa Navidad escuchamos música como siempre. Celebramos a medianoche el 24 y nos acostamos temprano. Al día siguiente almorzamos en casa y vimos películas.

Martina: Angela underwent surgery at the end of January. They did a biopsy and removed part of her tumor. Several doctors and tests later, they confirmed their worst fears: Angela had late stage brain cancer. She started chemotherapy right away.

Samanta: El diagnóstico fue muy duro para todos. Mi mamá salió bien de la operación pero después de eso se puso peor.

Martina: In less than two months, Angela could barely move or speak.

Samanta: Ella decía pocas palabras y era difícil entenderla. No se levantaba de la cama. Sufría también cambios rápidos de carácter. Se enfadaba o lloraba sin ninguna causa.

Martina: Angela spent 15 days hospitalized after surgery in January. She went again for physical therapy. And as her condition worsened, she had to be treated for infections and other health problems. Samanta was constantly in and out of the hospital with her mom.

Samanta: Yo estaba preocupada, pero creía que iba a mejorar. Una noche, leyéndole uno de sus libros favoritos, ella me dijo que tenía miedo. Yo me sentí muy triste, pero ella no lo notó.

Martina: Just before Easter Sunday, Angela had just finished a session of chemotherapy when she suddenly suffered a heart attack. She did not survive.

Samanta: Murió el 12 de abril del 2009 a los 59 años. Yo tenía 26. Su muerte vino por sorpresa como un golpe que no esperas.

Martina: The months after her mother’s death are all a blur for Samanta.

Samanta: Yo dormía todo el día. Me sentía mal por su muerte, por no haber visto los síntomas. Estaba paralizada por su ausencia. No salía de casa. Paré de ir a la universidad.

Martina: Angela’s death also hit Samanta’s father and brother very hard, but they were able to keep functioning. Samanta, on the other hand, continued to be paralyzed by her grief. Everything in the house was a constant reminder of her mother’s absence.

Samanta: Yo veía la taza en la que ella tomaba su té por las noches, el libro que no terminó de leer en la mesa de la sala, su ropa en el armario con sus zapatos. Ella estaba en todas partes. En ese momento, yo volvía a la cama.

Martina: When it came time to deal with her mother’s belongings, Samanta found it excruciating to give any of them away.

Samanta: Yo no quería tocar nada. De esta manera, me parecía que en algún momento ella iba a entrar por la puerta y todo iba a volver a ser como antes.

Martina: Little by little, Samanta started coming out of the house, but the painful memories of her last months with her mother kept coming back.

Samanta: Yo pensaba en sus últimos momentos en el hospital, en las noches durmiendo a su lado, esperando a verla mejor. Fueron noches difíciles. No dormía para estar alerta por si ella necesitaba algo. Me sentía sola.

Martina: On the anniversary of her mother’s death, Samanta started thinking about activities to help her move forward.

Samanta: Volví a mis clases de piano y francés, pero no encontré la motivación. No me gustaba el deporte y no quería ir al psicólogo.

Martina: But one day, out of the blue, she remembered the Sundays of her childhood...

Samanta: … cuando me despertaba con la música flamenca que mi mamá ponía para recordar a mi abuelo.

Martina: It turned out, a friend from college was taking flamenco dance lessons. Samanta asked her about the studio and decided to register for a beginner class. She took classes once a week and felt inspired by her teacher, Claudia, whom she calls her “flamenco mom.”

Samanta: Clase a clase aprendí nuevos movimientos. El proceso era difícil; necesitaba mucha energía y yo trabajaba duro. En esos momentos mi cabeza no estaba ocupada pensando en mi mamá.

Martina: But as the classes got harder, Samanta became more critical of herself.

Samanta: En las clases de flamenco las personas bailan enfrente de un espejo para aprender los movimientos. Yo me miraba cuando bailaba. No me gustaba como lo hacía.

Martina: During class, she would critique herself in the studio’s full-length mirrors. She would try to imitate her instructor, striking strong and forceful poses with her arms, but Samanta thought hers looked awkward and flimsy.

Samanta: En esos momentos no podía parar de pensar en mamá cuando estaba en el hospital, en la cama. Quizás mis movimientos mal hechos me recordaban a cómo estaba ella en sus últimos momentos.

Martina: On a rainy day in July of 2010, Samanta was the only person to show up for class. While practicing steps with her teacher, Samanta confessed to her that she was thinking about quitting. She said she didn’t think she had enough talent to dance flamenco.

Samanta: Ella me miró sorprendida y luego me dijo que hay que sentir el baile. Me dijo que el baile tiene que salir solo, que no hay que pensar. Solo bailar.

Martina: “Just feel the dance,” her teacher told her. She also said that if she practiced more, the moves would feel less awkward.

Samanta: Había algo sincero en lo que me decía. Pensaba demasiado, recordaba demasiado y no sentía el baile.

Martina: So Samanta decided that’s what she’d do: she’d practice, a lot. She even bought a small piece of wood where she could practice the rhythmic stomping known in flamenco as “zapateado”, from the word “zapato”, or shoe. She practiced the steps a few minutes every day.

Samanta: El baile flamenco tiene, como una de sus características, hacer percusión, es decir, golpear con las palmas de la mano o con los pies en el zapateado.

Martina: Flamenco shoes actually have pieces of metal on the toe and heel, so that they make a very particular and very loud sound when you stomp.

Samanta: El zapateado ocurre cuando el cantaor no canta.

Martina: El “cantaor” is the flamenco singer.

Samanta: Es un momento muy intenso y es cuando la bailaora hace sus movimientos apasionados.

Martina: “Bailaora” is the flamenco dancer. Samanta practiced her steps every time she thought about her mother’s disease. It didn’t matter were she was. Even in public, if those thoughts came… she’d start stomping… always to that particular flamenco rhythm.

Samanta: Hacer los zapateados con pasión me sirvió para quitarme el dolor y me ayudó a recordar a mi madre. Dejé de verla enferma en la cama del hospital y empecé a pensar en ella antes de su enfermedad.

Martina: At the end of the year, Samanta’s dance teacher organized a flamenco show with musicians, “cantaores”, and other students.

Samanta: Después de solo siete meses yendo a clases y dos meses practicando diariamente, llegó el gran día. Era mi primera vez en un escenario. Tenía miedo de no poder hacerlo, pero entonces recordé las palabras de mi profesora. Solo tenía que bailar y sentir la música.

Martina: Before getting on stage for the show, Samanta thought about her mother.

Samanta: Mi hermano y mi papá estaban en el público.

Martina: She was about to dance what is known as tango flamenco, a basic form that’s ideal for beginners and known for being joyful. Once she was out on stage, Samanta let herself feel the music, and feel the movements as if they were her own.

Samanta: Pude imaginar a mi madre sentada en el público, al lado de mi hermano y mi padre.

Martina: As she went through the choreography, Samanta imagined her mother out in the audience watching her, smiling and proud.

Samanta: Y después de mucho tiempo, mientras bailaba, me sentí feliz.

Martina: This story was written by Samanta Gamarra. She is based in Buenos Aires and she is still taking flamenco lessons every week. She works as a facilities coordinator for the Education Department and as substitute teacher.

If you liked this story, we’d love it if you shared it with your friends who are also learning Spanish. Send them a link to podcast.duolingo.com. There, you can find a transcript of this story and the rest of the episodes. Subscribe at Apple podcasts or your favorite listening app, so you never miss one. With over 300 million members, Duolingo is the world's largest online language learning platform and the most downloaded education app in the world. Duolingo believes that everyone should have access to education of the highest quality for free. Learn more at duolingo.com. I’m Martina Castro, gracias por escuchar.

Credits

This episode includes recordings of flamenco music and dance classes featuring Melissa Cruz and her students dancing, singing by Feliz de Lola and José Cortez, guitar by Itamar Shapira, and palmas by David Paez, Kerensa DeMars, José Cortez and Carola Zertuche.

This episode was produced by Duolingo and Adonde Media.

Author: Tali Goldman
Narration: Samanta Gamarra
Senior Editor: Catalina May
Script Editor: Teresa Bouza
Sound Designer: Claire Mullen
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Martín Cruz Farga
Executive Producer/Editor: Martina Castro
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

When Andrea Krichmar was a girl, she spent an afternoon at her friend’s dad’s house. This was during the dictatorship in Argentina, and that afternoon, without knowing it, Andrea witnessed a scene that would change her life and make her key to the country’s historic return to democracy.

How to Listen

Listen free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Transcript

Martina: When Andrea Krichmar was in elementary school, Argentina was in the first years of a brutal dictatorship. But she was only 11 years old, so she was mostly oblivious to it.

Andrea: Lo más importante para mí era jugar con mis amigas de la escuela, especialmente con una que se llamaba Berenice. Éramos mejores amigas.

Martina: One day in 1976, Berenice invited Andrea to play at her father’s house. What occurred that afternoon would follow Andrea for years, and would convert her into a key witness in proving the atrocities committed in her country. Bienvenidos and welcome back to a new season of the Duolingo Spanish Podcast — I’m Martina Castro. Every episode, we bring you fascinating true stories, to help you improve your Spanish listening, and gain new perspectives on the world. The storyteller will be using intermediate Spanish and I’ll be chiming in for context in English. If you miss something, you can always skip back and listen again—and we also offer full transcripts at podcast.duolingo.com. Today’s story comes from Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s called La Testigo (The Witness). Told by Andrea Krichmar and written by Tali Goldman. Please note that you’ll be hearing Andrea speak in an Argentine accent. They pronounce their double LLs and Ys with a SH sound, as in “aSHer” or “caSHe” instead of “ayer” or “calle”.

Andrea: El juego preferido mío y de Berenice era actuar como los personajes de nuestra serie favorita que se llamaba S.W.A.T.: un grupo de policías que atrapaba a ladrones.

Martina: During recess, the girls would hum the theme song of this police show, and would roll around on the ground imitating the actors.

Andrea: Un día Berenice me invitó a pasar el día a la casa de su papá. Sus papás no estaban separados, pero como él trabajaba mucho, se quedaba a dormir en su lugar de trabajo. Entonces ella iba a pasar los fines de semana con él. Eso me dijo ella.

Martina: Andrea’s friend Berenice told her that the house where her dad lived was very big and that it had a huge garden where they could play all day without anyone bothering them.

Andrea: Yo estaba muy emocionada. Así que esa misma tarde le pregunté a mi mamá si podía ir y me dijo que sí, que no había problema. Unos días después me llevó temprano a la casa de Berenice, que estaba cerca de la mía.

Martina: Before leaving her daughter, Andrea’s mom told her to take a sweater with her in case it got cold. Andrea put it in a little purse and jumped in the car.

Andrea: Cuando llegamos a la casa de Berenice, nos pasó a buscar un chofer en un auto grande y verde.

Martina: This driver was to take them from Berenice’s house to where her father lived and worked.

Andrea: Estábamos muy emocionadas. El viaje fue un poco largo porque la casa estaba al otro lado de la ciudad.

Martina: As soon as they arrived at Berenice’s father’s house, Andrea realized it wasn’t like other homes she had played in. It was a massive property, many blocks wide. There were various buildings and a big park.

Andrea: Después de llegar, el papá de Berenice me preguntó qué llevaba en mi bolsita. Yo le dije que era un suéter que me dio mi mamá. Pero él no me creyó.

Martina: Berenice’s dad snatched Andrea’s purse from her and began to search it. Andrea: Yo no dije nada.

Martina: They went inside to eat lunch together. Berenice’s dad sat at the end of the table, and the girls on either side. This was Andrea’s first time meeting Berenice’s dad, and she noticed that he was very serious, dressed in full military uniform, like all the men she saw walking around the property.

Andrea: Unos meseros de guantes blancos nos servían la comida y Coca-Cola en botellas individuales. Para mí eso era algo nuevo. En mi casa nunca comíamos con meseros ni con botellas de Coca-Cola. Yo estaba feliz.

Martina: After eating, Berenice told Andrea that she had something to show her, but that it was a secret. She grabbed Andrea by the hand and snuck her into her father’s bedroom.

Andrea: Cuando estuvimos solas con la puerta cerrada, Berenice abrió el armario. Había más de diez armas.

Martina: Andrea was shocked to see so many guns. She had never seen one before.

Andrea: Yo me quedé en shock y Berenice siguió enseñándome lo que había en la habitación de su papá. Me dijo: “Mirá aquí debajo de la almohada”.

Martina: Almohada is a pillow. Berenice swiftly walked over to her dad’s bed and as Andrea turned around to see what she was doing, she saw Berenice grab something Andrea had only seen in the movies: it was a grenade.

Andrea: “Y mirá esto”, ella me dijo y abrió el cajón de la mesita de luz. Yo tomé aire y caminé hacia ella: había una pistola.

Martina: Berenice and Andrea snuck back out of the bedroom without anyone noticing, and went to sit in a big living room to watch a movie. Afterwards, they played pool in another enormous room where they wouldn’t be bothered.

Andrea: Pero mientras jugábamos, escuché un ruido que me llamó la atención. Miré por la ventana para ver qué era. Vi un auto verde, igual al que nos trajo hasta ahí.

Martina: The car Andrea saw come onto the property parked right in front of the window. She clearly saw two armed men get out with a woman at gunpoint. She was handcuffed and blindfolded.

Andrea: Yo los observé hasta que no pude verlos más.

Martina: All of this happened in a fraction of a second.

Andrea: Pero yo estaba impactada.

Martina: Andrea asked her friend what that was all about.

Andrea: Ella me dijo que era como la serie de televisión que veíamos, S.W.A.T., la de los policías que atrapaban a los ladrones.

Martina: “It’s just like our favorite TV show,” she told her.

Andrea: Después, volví a mi casa sin saber que ese día me iba a cambiar para siempre.

Martina: Andrea didn’t tell anyone in her family what had happened. She felt like they wouldn’t understand her and treat her like she was crazy. In her house, nobody talked about what was happening in the dictatorship at the time.

Andrea: Mis padres eran parte de ese gran sector de la población que en Argentina decidió mirar para otro lado y ser indiferente.

Martina: But since that day, Andrea wasn’t able to look the other way as her parents had done. She knew she had seen something, even if she wasn’t sure what it was. Time went by and the image of that hooded woman got more engraved in her mind.

Andrea: Yo sabía que vi algo violento, pero no entendía qué significaba la imagen de esa mujer. Yo solo tenía 11 años y esto estaba fuera de todo lo que conocía.

Andrea: ¿Adónde estuve yo? ¿Qué era ese lugar? ¿Quién era esa mujer? ¿La iban a matar? ¿Quién era el papá de mi amiga?

Martina: These are the questions that plagued Andrea for years. When democracy was restored in Argentina in 1983, Andrea was 19 years old. She would frequently visit social and cultural organizations where people openly talked about the terrible things that happened during the dictatorship.

Andrea: Yo estudiaba para ser maestra. En la universidad, los grupos de derechos humanos denunciaban lo que pasó durante la dictadura. Ellos hablaban de 30 mil personas desaparecidas y 400 bebés robados.

Martina: The harsh truth of what people were just starting to discuss openly, gave Andrea a unique opportunity. She felt like she could start looking for answers to the questions she had carried with her for the past 7 years.

Andrea: En ese tiempo descubrí que el padre de Berenice, Rubén Chamorro, fue el director de la ESMA durante los primeros años de la dictadura, cuando yo era niña.

Martina: ESMA is short for the Mechanical School of the Military. At that time, word was getting out that it had been a secret detention center during the dictatorship. There the military jailed and tortured political dissidents.

Andrea: La ESMA, ese fue el lugar que yo visité. Pero yo nunca pude preguntarle a Berenice sobre eso. En 1981 ella y su familia se fueron a Sudáfrica y perdimos el contacto por completo.

Martina: Testimonials from family members of people who had disappeared during the dictatorship started appearing in newspapers. Andrea read these and was motivated to participate in marches to protest what had happened.

Andrea: En ese punto me preguntaba: ¿Dónde está la mujer que vi? ¿La torturaron? ¿La separaron de su hijo? Sentía un dolor cada vez más grande.

Martina: The same year democracy was restored, the Argentine government created an agency called Conadep, or the National Commission for Disappeared Persons. It would gather evidence on those who had disappeared during the dictatorship to be used in trials against the military a few years later.

Andrea: En la televisión había mucha publicidad sobre la Conadep. Invitaban gente a dar testimonio si sabían algo. Cada vez que veía las publicidades había algo en mi cuerpo que me decía: es hora de hablar. Pero, ¿era importante lo que yo vi cuando tenía 11 años?

Martina: Andrea’s boyfriend at the time, Alejandro, had been a member of the communist party. One afternoon they were at his parents’ house watching TV, and they saw one of those Conadep ads.

Andrea: Por fin, por primera vez, pude decirle a alguien lo que pasó. Le dije a él quién era mi amiga de la infancia, adónde estuvimos jugando y lo que vi esa noche.

Martina: Alejandro was shocked by what Andrea told him. He immediately told his parents and they all sat down to talk with her. They proceeded to answer all of the questions Andrea had secretly been carrying around with her.

Andrea: Finalmente pude ver de forma clara lo que ocurrió. Yo fui a un lugar en donde se torturaba gente. Y estuve con la persona que era el jefe de ese lugar: el papá de mi amiga Berenice. Vi sus armas, comí en su mesa y vi a esa mujer, una de las miles de personas capturadas.

Martina: But even though Andrea now understood what she had seen, she still didn’t have answers to all of her questions.

Andrea: ¿Qué tenía que hacer yo con todo esto? ¿Sería útil para algo?

Martina: One day in September of that same year, 1983, Andrea went to downtown Buenos Aires to run some errands. She happened to walk by the Conadep office.

Andrea: Entré casi sin pensarlo. Yo me sentía mal por esa mujer. Ella probablemente fue torturada y tirada al mar, como la mayoría de la gente desaparecida. Quería justicia para ella.

Martina: That happened to be the last day Conadep was taking testimonials from walk-ins, so there were dozens of family members waiting to be interviewed.

Andrea: Todo era muy triste y yo me comencé a sentir mal.

Martina: As she waited to be seen, Andrea started to feel sick, so she went up to the woman organizing the line of people and said to her:

Andrea: “Yo tengo algo para decir y quiero saber si es útil de alguna manera porque si no, me voy. Yo era amiga de la hija de Chamorro, el jefe de la ESMA. Cuando era pequeña fui a pasar el día ahí y vi a una mujer capturada saliendo de un auto”.

Martina: The woman asked Andrea to wait. A few minutes later, four men in suits came down the stairs and asked for her. They took Andrea into an office and asked her to tell them everything she had seen.

Andrea: “Usted no tiene idea de la importancia que tiene su historia”, me dijo uno.

Martina: Another one of the men said to her, “we are the lawyers dealing specifically with everything that happened at the ESMA.”

Andrea: “Nosotros hemos trabajado mucho para enseñarle a todos lo que sucedió en ese lugar”, me explicaron.

Martina: “Your testimony is going to be key to our case,” they told her, “and if we had a bottle of champagne right now, we would be celebrating.”

Andrea: Cuando salí del lugar me sentí mejor. Mi mente estaba libre y me llené de energía. Pero no estuve así por mucho tiempo.

Martina: When she reached her parents’ house, Andrea decided it was time to tell them what had happened. They immediately got very angry with her, saying she had put them in danger. They begged her not to get further involved. She refused, and their relationship would never be the same.

Andrea: Dos años después me llegó una citación para ir a la corte.

Martina: This was the first trial against those responsible for the thousands of disappeared, tortured, and killed in Argentina during the dictatorship. Since she wasn’t a victim or related to anyone who had disappeared, Andrea’s testimony, or declaración, was very important. It was considered the least biased.

Andrea: Ese día me acompañó mi novio Alejandro. Antes de mi declaración estuve en un cuarto con familiares de personas desaparecidas. Ellos también iban a declarar. Fue bastante tenso.

Martina: When Andrea entered the tribunal, she realized she was in a room full of family members of people who had disappeared and various members of the press.

Andrea: Yo estaba nerviosa, sentada enfrente de todos. Cuando llegó el momento dije todo lo que vi. Sentí que la justicia que buscaba para esa mujer estaba llegando.

Martina: Berenice’s father, Rubén Chamorro, had died of a heart attack in 1986, before his trial. The ESMA was proven to be one of the most important secret detention centers during the dictatorship. Approximately 5,000 people were tortured and killed there.

Andrea: La última vez que vi a Berenice fue cuando teníamos unos 15 años, en un bar. Sentadas frente a frente en una mesa, la charla no fue fluida.

Martina: As they chatted, something seemed different about Berenice.

Andrea: Yo la veía diferente, algo había cambiado. La sentía lejos, vacía.

Martina: Years later, Andrea found out that Berenice had committed suicide. She didn’t even get a chance to go to her funeral. That’s when certain questions returned for Andrea:

Andrea: ¿Qué más vio Berenice cuando era niña? ¿Cómo era tener a un papá represor? ¿Fue Berenice una víctima de su padre?

Martina: 28 years passed between Andrea’s first visit to the ESMA as a little girl, and the second time she ever set foot there. It was march 24th, 2004, and the center was being inaugurated as a memorial to the people who had died there.

Andrea: Durante muchos años fue difícil para mí hablar de esto. Fui testigo del horror sin quererlo. Mientras yo jugaba o veía una película, ellos estaban torturando gente o llevándolos para hacerlos desaparecer.

Martina: Andrea now tells people that she didn’t ask for this. For the longest time she didn’t understand it or know how to process it.

Andrea: Pero fue el hecho que finalmente definió mi vida.

Martina: Today, Andrea Krichmar is a human rights activist. Her story about Rubén Chamorro and his daughter Berenice is now part of the museum of memory that was installed on the ESMA property. This story was written by Tali Goldman, a journalist based in Buenos Aires.

If you liked this story, we’d love for you to share it with others. At podcast.duolingo.com, you can find a transcript of this story and all of the other episodes. Subscribe at Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening app, so you never miss an episode. With over 300 million users, Duolingo is the world's leading language learning platform, and the most downloaded education app in the world. Duolingo believes in making education free, fun and accessible to everyone. To join, download the app today, or find out more at duolingo.com. I’m the executive producer, Martina Castro; gracias por escuchar.

Credits

This episode includes recordings from Domar1979 and Mmiron under the CC Attribution License from freesound.org

This episode was produced by Duolingo and Adonde Media.

Author: Tali Goldman
Narration: Andrea Krichmar
Script Editor: Catalina May
Sound Designer: Claire Mullen
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Martín Cruz Farga
Executive Producer/Editor: Martina Castro
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

When Sonia González was a child, her father was the center of her universe, always leading the family on adventures to different parts of Venezuela. But one day, all of that changed and Sonia and her siblings became the leaders of the most challenging adventure the family had faced yet.

How to Listen

Listen free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Transcript

Martina: When Sonia González was a child, her father was the center of her universe.

Sonia: Mi papá vivía en un mundo de grandes aventuras e historias románticas.

Martina: Like the story about how he met Sonia’s mom, on a diving board five meters up in the air.

Sonia: Se conocieron en una piscina en Caracas, Venezuela. Mi papá tenía 19 años y mi mamá, 18.

Martina: Sonia’s father went to leap off the high dive and found her mother sunbathing there, on the diving board, her long black hair flowing in the wind… and, as the story goes, he immediately fell in love…

Sonia: Con mi papá, la vida era mágica y cada experiencia era una nueva aventura. Pero un día, todo cambió y tuvimos que vivir la aventura más difícil de nuestras vidas.

Martina: Welcome to the Duolingo Spanish Podcast — I’m your host, Martina Castro. Each episode we bring you fascinating first-person stories from Spanish speakers across the world. The storyteller will be using intermediate Spanish and I’ll be chiming in for context, in English. But these are not language lessons, they're real life lessons through language.

Martina: José Antonio González Cordero and Alicia Cebollada were born in Spain, and in their teens they moved to Venezuela with their families.

Sonia: Cuando mis papás se conocieron, mi mamá era secretaria y mi papá estudiaba agronomía. Mi mamá dice que, cuando lo conoció, mi papá era muy simpático y siempre estaba feliz.

Martina: Eventually, they got married and moved to Maracay… a city near the capital, where Sonia’s father was finishing his degree in agriculture.

Sonia: Primero nació mi hermana, Aliana, y el año siguiente, nací yo. Poco tiempo después, cuando yo tenía 3 años, mi familia y yo comenzamos a mudarnos a nuevas ciudades por el trabajo de mi papá.

Martina: Sonia doesn’t remember some of the times her father moved the family because she was too young… But others she remembers very well.

Sonia: Cuando yo tenía 10 años, vivíamos en Caracas. Yo era feliz con mis muñecas, mis amigas de la escuela, y mi rutina en una gran ciudad. Un día, mi papá me dijo que nos íbamos a mudar a Tucupita, una ciudad remota y muy pequeña que está a 12 horas de Caracas. Yo no quería ir, pero mi papá decía: “Tucupita es un lugar fantástico”.

Martina: He told his family, “It’s in the Orinoco delta. A magical place, that the natives call ‘The land of water.’ Don’t worry” — he said — “this will be a great adventure”.

Sonia: Yo estaba furiosa con mi papá. Lloraba y pensaba: “vamos a vivir muy lejos de todo, de la gente, de mis amigos, de mi escuela”.

Martina: And then they got to Tucupita. With the moving boxes still unopened, Sonia’s father encouraged her to go outside. She sat alone in the street, amazed: not a single car went by, the silence was deafening. She took off her shoes and started to run barefoot through the streets.

Sonia: Yo estaba muy feliz: correr sin zapatos en la calle era maravilloso. Después, Aliana y yo fuimos al río cerca de nuestra nueva casa; era un lugar hermoso y tranquilo. Solo se escuchaba el agua del río y pájaros cantando. Por primera vez, entendí la palabra “libertad”.

Martina: From that day on, Tucupita became an exciting place for Sonia. And her parents made the adventure all the greater.

Sonia: Mi papá me daba permiso de invitar a mis nuevos amigos a mi casa. Y mi mamá nos leía libros de arte o de historias fantásticas, como el libro El Principito.

Martina: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was one of Sonia’s favorites. She often marvelled at the world around her as the main character did, all thanks to the way her parents raised her. Especially her dad.

Sonia: Mi papá siempre organizaba excursiones los fines de semana para explorar el área.

Martina: Sonia’s father also liked for the family to eat together, because it was a chance to talk about the world and to tell stories. Sunday breakfast was shared with friends as well, and he made sure the youngest of the group always had the right to speak up.

Sonia: Cuando yo invitaba a mis amigos a mi casa, mi papá nos hablaba y preguntaba sobre muchos temas: tecnología, historia y curiosidades. Mi casa era el lugar favorito de mis amigos porque allí reíamos, jugábamos al ping pong y leíamos libros. A veces, nos vestíamos y hablábamos como las personas de esas historias.

Martina: Tucupita was surrounded by islands, and, more than anything else, there was a lot of water. Everywhere. Inspired by her father’s adventurous spirit, Sonia formed an expedition club with four of her friends.

Sonia: Nuestro lugar favorito era la “Isla Feliz”, un lugar con muchos peces, pájaros y piedras de colores diferentes. Corríamos y jugábamos en la playa, sin preocupaciones, desde que comenzaba el día y hasta que llegaba la noche.

Martina: Around this time the family adopted Sonia’s brother, Tomás Alberto…

Sonia: Recuerdo el día en que Tomás Alberto vino a casa, fue como una fiesta. Él tenía 9 meses y nosotros le habíamos comprado ropa de bebé. Pensamos que iba a ser un niño pequeño y muy delgado, pero fue lo contrario: era un bebé hermoso y gordito. ¡La ropa era muy pequeña para él!

Martina: The family had to run to the store and immediately buy him bigger clothes.

Sonia: Mi padre siempre decía “somos como la familia Robinson” y comenzaba a reírse.

Martina: The members of the shipwrecked Swiss Family Robinson were just a few of the literary characters that Sonia’s father would reference as if they were real.

Sonia: Así era nuestra familia: vivíamos una aventura sin final, sin importar dónde estábamos. Y nuestro padre era nuestro guía.

Martina:* He was their guía, or guide. In Tucupita, Sonia’s second sister, Milagros, was born. Four years later, they moved again. This time Sonia’s father took them to Sanare, where he dreamed of learning how to build an agricultural co-op.

Sonia: Era un lugar muy diferente a Tucupita. Sanare es un pueblo frío en la montaña, en Los Andes. En la tierra crecen papas, tomates, lechuga, fresas, café, cebolla...

Martina: It was there that Sonia says she learned to really connect with rural life… .

Sonia: Hacía mucho frío, pero nosotros reíamos y nos divertíamos; todavía sentíamos esa libertad.

Martina: But a few years later, it was time to move again.

Sonia: Cuando cumplí 16 años, nos fuimos a vivir a La Paragua, cerca del río Amazonas.

Martina: There, the family learned to raise pigs and to defend the tomato crops from leafcutter ants, which in one night were capable of eating all the shoots they had planted.

Sonia: Un día, mi papá dijo que iba a empezar a cultivar peces.

Martina: Yes, he wanted to start planting fish. He called it a “fish plantation.”

Sonia: Nadie entendía lo que mi padre decía. Nadie creía que era posible cultivar peces.

Martina: But with the help of an excavator, he made a deep pit in the ground, and then laid down a material on the bottom, so the water wouldn’t leak out. Then, they added some aquatic plants and fish eggs…

Sonia: Unos días más tarde, encontramos como a doce peces nadando en el agua. No lo podíamos creer.

Martina: But even as amazing as the “fish plantation” was... Sonia remembers the trips to “la piedra”, or the rock, as being the best memories of that time.

Sonia: “La piedra” es una zona detrás de la casa donde había muchas rocas gigantes.

Martina: The rocks are so massive, that when you stand on one, it is easy to imagine you had landed on the moon, because you can’t see anything around you except for that rock.

Sonia: Mi familia y yo íbamos a “La piedra” todas las tardes, para ver al sol esconderse en el horizonte. Mi papá nos decía “¡Vamos a la piedra!”, y mis hermanos y yo corríamos para ver quién llegaba primero. Cuando llegábamos, mi papá nos explicaba cómo esas piedras se formaron millones de años atrás, en la era de los dinosaurios.

Martina: Sonia loved this world of wonder and far-off adventures… But eventually, life brought them back to the capital, to Caracas. At first, it was because of a crisis.

Sonia: Mi abuela se enfermó, tenía cáncer.

Martina: The whole family returned to Caracas to care for her. After she passed away, most of them stayed.

Sonia: Durante las siguientes décadas en Caracas, mis hermanos y yo fuimos a la universidad, trabajamos, nos casamos y tuvimos hijos.

Martina: After decades in Caracas together, the family got into the flow of their new lives and their new homes. And then, one day, Sonia’s father went out for a drive in the city, and he got lost.

Sonia: Fue un momento muy raro. Mi papá nunca se perdía en la ciudad.

Martina: He just wasn’t the sort of person to get turned around. On the contrary, he loved to drive and Sonia remembers he knew the city streets really well. So everyone was a bit surprised when he started losing his way.

Sonia: Un tiempo después, las cosas se pusieron más extrañas. Un día, estábamos viendo una foto familiar y mi papá no podía recordar el nombre de mis hijos. Estaba nervioso y cambió la conversación. Unos meses después, notamos que mi padre no usaba más la computadora, o necesitaba ayuda para completar tareas básicas como ir al banco.

Martina: Gradually they had to accept what was happening: Sonia’s father, the man who had steered the ship of adventure in all of her most treasured childhood memories… was losing his memory. Not long after, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Sonia: En el caso de mi papá, su Alzheimer se manifestó poco a poco. Actuaba con inteligencia para esconder lo que pasaba. Así nadie podría notar sus problemas de memoria.

Martina: For example, if he ran into someone he didn’t recognize…he’d steer the conversation to a topic he could still talk about at length. That way he’d keep the person from realizing he didn’t remember them.

Sonia: Mi padre hacía lo mismo con sus compañeros de trabajo y también con nuestra familia.

Martina: For a while, he was so good at it that even his children had trouble seeing that the disease was advancing.

Sonia: Un día, fui de visita a la casa de mis padres y él, como siempre, me llevó de regreso a mi casa en su coche. Pero en medio del viaje, él no podía recordar las direcciones, y yo tuve que llevarlo a él de regreso.

Martina: They soon discovered that not only was the disease affecting his driving, it was also starting to affect his performance at work.

Sonia: Un día, un compañero de su oficina nos llamó. Nos dijo que mi padre olvidaba reuniones importantes o detalles de sus proyectos. Era triste, pero claro: mi padre no podía continuar trabajando.

Martina: Meanwhile, the political reality of the country was changing drastically. Clashes in the street, food scarcity, and lack of medicine were making it impossible for the family to feel safe. Finally they made an emergency decision: they would all leave Venezuela together.

Sonia: Mi hermana y yo decidimos salir de Venezuela con nuestra familia. Unos meses después, viajamos a México con mi papá y mi mamá.

Martina: This move would be the biggest one of them all for the family… Nothing compares to moving to another country, especially if you know you can’t really return to the country you’ve always considered home.

Sonia: México era similar a Venezuela: allí aman la música latina y la gente es muy amigable con los inmigrantes.

Martina: But it was very different in other ways… like the way people speak to each other, which is somewhat reserved compared to Venezuela. And on top of this, her father —and their relationship with him— had changed.

Sonia: Antes, cuando íbamos a una nueva ciudad o pueblo, mi padre era nuestro guía. Ahora es diferente. Ahora somos los hijos quienes tomamos las decisiones.

Martina: Now, each day, Sonia’s mother sits her husband down and goes through a specific routine.

Sonia: Todas las mañanas, mi mamá le repite información básica para que mi papá no la olvide: su nombre, su edad, su año de nacimiento. También le muestra fotos de sus familiares y repite los nombres de sus hijos, nietos, sobrinos. Otras veces, mi mamá le lee cartas viejas o pone música que mi papá escuchaba cuando él era joven.

Martina: All of these activities have a single goal: to help Sonia’s dad remember his past.

Sonia: Hoy, mi padre no es el mismo de antes. Pero todavía ríe y es feliz.

Martina: During the day, Sonia’s parents venture out to explore Mexico City. They sit on benches in the plazas and watch people as they hurry past.

Sonia: Mi padre no recuerda el presente ni el pasado. Para él, cada día es nuevo y diferente.

Martina: But he can remember bits of history, agriculture, anthropology, and art. So when he sits with Sonia’s mother on those benches, he can look around and understand that they’re in an incredible place.

Sonia: Y mi papá le dice a mi mamá: ¡Qué bien, Alicia! Una nueva aventura.

Martina: Sonia González is a poet and puppeteer and she lives in Mexico City. This is the last story of our season — we really hope you enjoyed it and thank you so much for listening. We’d love it if you continue to share the podcast with your friends who are also learning Spanish. You can send them a link to podcast.duolingo.com, where you can find transcripts for all of the episodes. We’ll be back in a couple of months with a new season of stories for you. In the meantime you can keep up your español on Duolingo through discussion forums, as well as with Duolingo Stories and in-person events, which you can find at labs.duolingo.com. And subscribe to get the new season of stories delivered to you on Apple podcasts or your favorite listening app, absolutely for free. With over 300 million members, Duolingo is the world's largest online language learning platform and the most downloaded education app in the world. Duolingo believes that everyone should have access to education of the highest quality for free. Learn more at duolingo.com. I’m Martina Castro, gracias por escuchar.

Credits

This episode includes recordings from xserra, InspectorJ, arturobat and Benboncan under the CC Attribution License from freesound.org, and was produced by Adonde Media.

Author: Sonia González
Script Editor: Annie Avilés
Sound Designer: Claire Mullen
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Martín Cruz Farga
Executive Producer/Editor: Martina Castro
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

When Nicolás Barreto went up the mountains of Venezuela for the first time, he was chasing after a girl. There he worked alongside her for a month putting together a play that would inaugurate the highest theater in the country. He came down from that mountain transformed, filled with a love he wasn’t expecting.

How to Listen

Listen free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Transcript

Nicolás: Esta es una historia de amor que no terminó como yo esperaba.

Martina: That’s Nicolás Barreto. The setting of his story is the páramo, or high moorland, at the end of the Andean mountain range in Venezuela. It’s the highest and coldest region of this otherwise tropical country.

Nicolás: Subí a ese lugar remoto en el año 1997. Iba por una mujer.

Martina: Nicolás and the woman he was chasing went there to put on a play—specifically, a comedy full of love, magical places and unexpected situations. Little did Nicolás know then that the play’s themes would make their way into his real life.

Nicolás: Bajé de esa montaña transformado en una persona diferente, pero no de la forma que pensé.

Martina: Welcome to the Duolingo Spanish Podcast — I’m your host, Martina Castro, and each episode we bring you fascinating first-person stories from Spanish speakers across the world. The storyteller will be using intermediate Spanish and I will be chiming in for context, in English. But these are not language lessons, they're real life lessons through language.

Martina: Before Nicolás took his trip up to the páramo, he was an unmotivated university student in Caracas, Venezuela. He was 21 years old, and his only interest was music. Well, music, and Erika.

Nicolás: Érika era una artista con mucha confianza en sí misma. Le gustaba el teatro y la fotografía. Tenía ojos marrones grandes y una mirada profunda. Era alta, delgada y de piel marrón. En secreto, yo estaba enamorado de ella y preparado para hacer cualquier cosa por su amor.

Martina: Nicolás and Érika were your typical twenty-somethings in search of their future. They were classmates at the university in Caracas.

Nicolás: Érika siempre me gustó, pero mi amor por ella creció cuando comenzamos a ir a los mismos eventos y a estudiar juntos. Después de un tiempo, nos hicimos buenos amigos.

Martina: In their last year of school, they were both disappointed because they felt like their major —Educational Sciences— didn’t leave room for what they most loved: art and culture.

Nicolás: Pero un día, una profesora nos invitó, a Érika y a mí, a participar en un proyecto para educar a jóvenes usando el teatro.

Martina: As the professor was talking to them, Nicolás saw the way Érika practically jumped with joy. She loved theater, and she agreed to participate without a second thought.

Nicolás: A mí también me gustaba el teatro, como espectador, no como actor. A diferencia de Érika, yo era muy tímido. Pero acepté la invitación: sabía que era la única forma de pasar más tiempo con ella.

Martina: To participate in the theater project they would go to San Rafael del Páramo, one of the highest and most remote villages in the country. They would debut a work that would inaugurate a theater there.

Nicolás: Era un teatro simple y rústico, hecho de madera y piedras. El más alto del país.

Nicolás: Finalmente llegó el día. Érika y yo estábamos sentados en el autobús en ruta a una de las montañas más altas de Venezuela. El viaje iba a ser de 14 horas.

Martina: Fourteen hours sitting on a bus isn’t ideal for most people, but Nicolás was happy for every minute he got to spend by Érika’s side.

Nicolás: Érika y yo hablamos durante todo el viaje. En la noche, ella se durmió con su cabeza junto a mí. Yo no lo podía creer, estaba muy feliz de estar junto a ella.

Martina: As the sun rose, Nicolás started to see small villages in the mountains.

Nicolás: Por la ventana vi caminos de tierra y pequeñas casas tradicionales hechas de piedra, madera y con paredes blancas. También vi granjas y cultivos de zanahorias, papas, lechuga, coliflor y brócoli. Las personas locales trabajaban muy duro en el campo. El páramo era un espectáculo hermoso y fantástico.

Martina: As soon as they arrived in the village, they met the rest of the theater group from the university. After welcoming them excitedly, the group leader revealed what their mission would be over the next month:

Nicolás: Preparar la obra de teatro “Sueño de una noche de verano”, de William Shakespeare, con cien niños y jóvenes de la región.

Martina: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. It’s a comedy about mix-ups that revolve around the wedding of two young lovers who are put under a spell by fairies in the forest. That’s where most of the play takes place.

Nicolás: Es una historia de amor entre personas jóvenes que se rebelan a las restricciones de los adultos.

Martina: Nicolás immediately thought to himself, “Shakespeare in this rural area of Venezuela? With kids and teenagers who don’t even know what theater is?”

Nicolás: Los jóvenes de la comunidad no tenían experiencia en el teatro y eran muy tímidos, como yo.

Martina: Rather quickly they turned to Nicolás and asked, “So what can you do to help with the play?” Shyly, he replied that he was a musician and that he knew how to play the guitar.

Nicolás: Me dijeron que mi tarea iba a ser enseñarle a los niños sobre música a través de actividades divertidas. Yo no tenía idea de qué iba a hacer. Érika se reía de mí: ella sabía que yo no estaba preparado.

Martina: San Rafael del Páramo is a town of about 600 people. Unlike urban Venezuelans, who are known for being gregarious, the people in the mountain areas are perceived as being more quiet and introspective.

Nicolás: Iba a ser un proyecto difícil y grande y solo teníamos un mes para completarlo. Esa noche no pude dormir. Estaba muy preocupado. Me preguntaba: “¿En qué problema me metí por mi amor por Érika? ¿Qué va a pensar si mi trabajo es un desastre?”.

Martina: The next day Nicolás found himself in front of a group of teenagers all staring at him blankly. Their wary faces seemed to be saying, “Who are you? And what are you doing here?” None of them had ever performed in public before.

Nicolás: Yo estaba muy nervioso, pero pensé en una idea. Con mi guitarra toqué “La Bamba”, una canción que todos conocían. Organicé a los niños y jóvenes en grupos. Un grupo cantaba la canción. Otro grupo seguía el ritmo. El último grupo bailaba. ¡Todos sonreían y disfrutaban!

Martina: At the end of that day Nicolás had a better idea of what he would do for the rest of the month.

Nicolás: Me sentía seguro y emocionado por el trabajo. Iba a ser el encargado de la música de la obra. Pero tuvimos un problema muy grande: muchos de los niños y jóvenes no sabían leer. Y la historia de Shakespeare era difícil hasta para un actor con experiencia.

Martina: So they came up with a plan: each day they read the play out loud to the actors. They explained the most important passages, so that the kids could write new lines in their own words.

Nicolás: El resultado de esa idea fue increíble. Los estudiantes inventaron su propia versión de la historia: hermosa, simple y fácil de entender.

Martina: Érika’s extensive theater experience and her uninhibited personality made her and Nicolás the perfect team. But their schedule was so demanding that they didn’t have much free time. Each night, they returned to their hostel, exhausted.

Nicolás: Una noche mientras caminábamos al hostal, Érika me dijo: “Nico, estos días eres una persona diferente. Antes de venir al páramo eras muy tímido, pero ahora haces cosas que nunca imaginé. ¿Cómo lo hiciste?”.

Martina: It was true, Nicolás was not the same as when he’d first arrived in the village. He had never before felt so natural speaking in front of so many people. What had made him change?

Nicolás: Usé todas mis energías y le respondí: “Fue el amor”. Ella me miró sin entender y preguntó: “¿Amor a qué?”.

Martina: “Love of what?” Érika replied, confused. Nicolás quickly made up a line – love of doing things well, teaching people to improve themselves, you know… love of the play they were working on.

Nicolás: No era falso, pero en realidad quería decir algo diferente: que mi amor por ella me daba fuerzas.

Martina: Once again, Nicolás spent the entire night awake, this time berating himself for his lack of courage to tell Érika how he really felt about her. But even though it was painful to think about that moment, Érika’s question and the answer he improvised led him to realize something really important:

Nicolás: Con cada actividad nueva mi interés en el proyecto aumentaba. También comenzaba a sentirme más seguro de mí mismo, a tener más confianza. Y esto me hizo tomar una decisión: el día de la presentación iba a clarificar las cosas con Érika… le iba a confesar mi amor.

Martina: But then, a week before finishing the project, Érika got some unexpected news from home.

Nicolás: Su hermana pequeña estaba enferma y su familia le pidió regresar a Caracas para pasar tiempo con ella.

Martina: Before leaving, she made Nicolás promise that he would stay and finish what they had started together. He hesitated for a moment. After all, he had only gone there to follow her.

Nicolás: Finalmente decidí quedarme y completar la obra como Erika me pidió. Le dije adiós y le di un gran abrazo. Ahora la responsabilidad por la obra y educar a los jóvenes era solo mía.

Martina: One week after Érika left, it was opening night. A hundred young people were about to perform Shakespeare with a Venezuelan flavor in that magical place. The air was heavy with anxiety and inspiration.

Nicolás: Todos estábamos nerviosos. Había silencio total en la audiencia. Pero, poco a poco, la gente empezó a reír y a divertirse.

Martina: There was one scene Nicolás was especially nervous about. A group of kids would have to do a dance that Érika had choreographed, and in rehearsals they had never managed to get it right. When the scene began, Nicolás, who was playing guitar off stage, was on pins and needles.

Nicolás: Finalmente llegó el momento. El grupo completó la coreografía a la perfección. ¡No lo podía creer! Todos sonreían, felices, disfrutando los aplausos de la audiencia.

Martina: As the play ended, for the first time ever that little theater in the middle of the Venezuelan Andes echoed with thunderous applause.

Nicolás: En el páramo yo no encontré el amor de Érika.

Martina: But he did find a new passion for theater.

Nicolás: Entendí que el teatro es una forma especial de educar fuera de un salón de clases. Esa se convirtió en mi principal motivación.

Martina: Nicolás Barreto is director of the UCAB Theater, a teacher, and an artist in Caracas, Venezuela. He and Érika remain good friends to this day. If you liked this story, we’d love it if you shared it with your friends who are also learning Spanish. Send them a link to podcast.duolingo.com. There, you can find a transcript of this story and the rest of the episodes. Subscribe at Apple podcasts or your favorite listening app so you never miss one. With over 200 million members, Duolingo is the world's largest online language learning platform and the most downloaded education app in the world. Duolingo believes that everyone should have access to education of the highest quality for free. Learn more at duolingo.com. I´m Martina Castro, gracias por escuchar.

Credits

This episode includes recordings from J.Zazvurek, Stevious42, dobroide, Halleck, unfa, SoundDog60 and Omar Alvarado under the CC Attribution License from freesound.org, and was produced by Adonde Media.

Author: Nicolás Barreto
Script Editor: Catalina May
Sound Designer: Isabel Vázquez
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Martín Cruz Farga
Executive Producer/Editor: Martina Castro
Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview