I made two amazing friends in one day, meeting Pablo at Huanchaco’s tickets office, and then Esther in a little eatery in Chiclayo upon arrival. The three of us talked for hours over Cusqueñas and explored ruins and beaches around north Peru the following week. Esther is a passionate soda pop of a woman and manages to work in an area I would rather eat my own shoe than attempt: teaching the “trouble” teenagers other teachers palm off. While that is her current vocation, it seems that change might soon rear its pretty little head. Esther’s wanderings through Peru will be followed by a repeat two month jaunt in Mexico before Catalunya, her hilly home in the north of Spain (though if she and others like her are listened to, it will soon be an independent country) calls her back to decide on the next step.
How has being Catalan left its mark on you?
I feel very, very Catalan. I feel it in that we are in an environment where people think that we are something that we are not. I feel Catalan because of the language we speak, our culture, folklore and society (which doesn’t have anything to do with Spain). I like all these things. Les Preses, where I’m from, is beautiful: it’s in a valley and is dotted with volcanoes. You open a window and you feel free. This doesn’t happen in Spain, or even in the rest of Catalunya.
What would your 13-year-old self think about you if they met you?
I’ve always been very adventurous, I’ve loved exploring and learning new things…I’m very restless. Though at 13, I wouldn’t have seen myself game enough to travel such a long time alone. I need a lot of contact with other people, with my friends and family – although despite not liking being alone, I’ve realised that we never really are. If my 13-year-old self could see me today, she’d say “Olé, qué huevos!” (“Wow, you’re ballsy!”).
At 13, I wanted to see the world – but more the world around me at the time. Now, I have everything that I imagined I would have at 13…I don’t think she’d have thought that in the end that I’d want more.
But she’d be happy. I think she’d loved to have come along with me on this trip.
If you could meet your 13-year-old self, what would you say to her?
Breathe before speaking.
Think well about what you say.
Keep on being a warrior – but be a tactful one.
Listen to others more often. As a child, I thought “Well, I don’t think that way and that’s that,” but now, I know that while I may be right, I can still listen to others (and maybe even change my mind!)
I’d tell her to always love her friends and family…
…and not to lose her innocence. There’s a song I like which goes:
Corre, salta, brinca y vuela
Ve la calle cantando
Yo también fui pequeñita algún día
Y me estaba olvidando.
Run, jump, skip and fly
See the street singing
I was once young too
Though I was beginning to forget.
Which I think is applicable.
How do you make decisions?
A lot of the time: without thinking! I make decisions and think later. I always have ideas…I clarify what I’d like to do and how to do it. When I’m confused, it’s usually when I haven’t clarified my ideas – it means that I have to think about what decision to make which is something I don’t like doing. Luckily, it barely ever happens that I don’t know more or less what I’d like.
Do you think you’re on the right path?
I’m still looking for my path, though without really meaning to. Actually, I do mean to, or else I wouldn’t have left Catalunya in the first place. I have some goals which won’t change: to work in education, with people in society.
I’m thinking about where I’ll end up. It’ll most likely be in my country as when I have kids I think I’ll miss it a lot. However, as I’ve felt at home in a lot of places, I don’t discount the idea of ending up somewhere else.
With regards to exactly what work in education I’ll do, I really have no idea. The truth is that I’m really not sure how all that will end up.
How do you feel when you think about your future?
For me, “the future” begins when I return to Catalunya. How do I feel? Curious. It’s not a bad sensation in the end…however I don’t see a stable future as what’s coming up soon (though I know that that’ll give my mum a heart attack!).
Curiosity and a willingness to do new things is what I feel most.
What fascinates you about Catalunya?
Our ability to concentrate and come together when we need to say something. This year’s demonstration on the 11th of September (for independence from Spain) attracted more than 1,000,000 people in Barcelona. I was surprised, I have to say.
That everyone has the ability to communicate, regardless of religion or language. Of course, something to consider is whether your religion or political situation lets you.
As fellow humans, we understand each other. If we were left with only this ability I’m sure there wouldn’t be wars.
That I never get tired of learning – I like that, I love it! I don’t mean learning at a purely knowledge-based level, rather also in terms of understanding and dealing with people. I think that’s a good personal quality…yep, it fascinates me.
What scares you about Catalunya?
That the enormous constructions which might happen could destroy the beauty of the land. In a word: ambition.
That we aren’t capable of establishing limits and demonstrating these to the people who govern us. Lies too – though more than scare me, they make me angry.
That sometimes I talk and don’t realise that what I’m saying bothers the person I’m talking with.
Also, that I don’t know how to conform and be happy with what I have. When I have what I want, I say “I want more!”
What change do you hope for in the world to allow us to live better together?
I think my head is filled with politics these days, but I do think that it is the key is probably in religion and politics. However, if these things didn’t exist, I don’t think we’d be happier.
I really don’t know how we can solve the mess we’re in, but I think that at some level, religion and politics is the mistake we’ve ended up making.