Here I am. An attempt to be a writer, an attempt to share my stories, and all the contrasting sides one’s life can possibly have. My deepest thoughts, secrets and fears, will be here for those with the slightest interest to read.
Who am I?
My name, Andrea, is of Greek origins. It means manly, strong or courageous. Depending on which site I choose to trust, maybe it means all three, I feel it suits me just fine. However, this is not why my Dutch father gave me this name. When he was young, he had the greatest impulse of all. In 1973, he moved to Cochabamba, Bolivia without speaking a word of Spanish. An intense year in Latin America: dictatorships, political instability, kidnappings, economies collapsing, protests. My dad fell in love, not with a woman, but with a nation, with an ideal. He loved the passion people showed when talking politics, equality. He loved the food, and the friendliness he encountered everywhere he went.
Despite the fact that there were risks, and any other foreign man would have escaped, he stayed to join the struggle for justice. It all sounds very idealistic, and this is in a way, the way I was raised: to believe that we can change the world and work hard for causes that matter. My upbringing was filled with stories of the time when he and my mother were trying to change my country, even if that meant risking their lives for a greater good. While he became more and more involved with the opposition, he met a Spanish woman who used a different name than her own. This name was Andrea, and it stuck and the friendship with this woman stuck too.
While my dad was learning Spanish, and finding the familiar in an unknown territory in 73, my mother had moved to Chile a year earlier, fleeting the dictatorship and the fact that all universities had shut down. My mum, Carmen, had settled in Santiago continuing her education in economics. When in September of 73, the president Salvador Allende said his good-byes to his people and killed himself at the same time the military took over Casa de la Moneda, and Pinochet took over. Carmen, along with others, stayed as long as possible, loyal to her belief system and hoping she could rescue those who were captured. I do not know how many people who were close to her, were killed or tortured, or how many disappeared nor how many had to go in exile. Living in Chile had become a danger to her life, and she once more could not continue studying. Carrying much sadness inside of her, she returned to Bolivia, and moved to Cochabamba. She started to work at this office, known as C.E.P.I. Where my dad ended up working too, a bit later. Not married until 1984, they both cultivated a friendship that has kept them together through the bad, the really bad, the ugly and the worst you can imagine.
We might not realize the impact our parents lives have on us. How much they might inspire us or even upset us. When I was little, I loved joining my parents’ parties and dinners and just sit there and listen to their stories, their jokes. I had friends my age, but it was always more interesting to hang out around adults. They had lived so much, seen so much. I guess that my desire to become a journalist, a storyteller, a writer, a feminist, and a dreamer started in those days, sitting quietly, listening their lives unfold.
The older I got the more I began to understand, and not understand certain things about life. I began to question everything from religion and politics, to the differences that as humans we have created. I learn to hate and to love, to resent and to forgive, to remember and to try to forget. My childhood was, at the same time, filled with privileges I didn’t even realize I had. Education, summer holidays, good food on the table, toys. Maybe when we are young, we don’t see, how lucky we are, or we don’t have the capacity to comprehend that there’s much more outside of our sheltered homes, and how much we should hold on to those sweet moments.
While my childhood was so full, it was a childhood with it’s own obstacles. After I turned 7, we moved every three years. Our first move was to a different city in Bolivia, and then it was to another country, Peru. While dealing with the nightmare that is puberty, and all the stupidity that comes with it, we moved to Nicaragua, where I finished high school. Right after that, before heading to Florida in the U.S. to start college, I worked for a national newspaper, becoming the youngest person on the photographers’ team. Those few months working at LA PRENSA, prepared me, to face the new challenge that would be living on my own for the very first time.
There’s so much more that has happened in between, so much that can’t be possibly written, and so much of it might not even interest anyone. I’ll continue adding stories about myself, hoping to feel less alone in this world filled with communication devices, but where some have forgotten how to listen, how to care, how to embrace strangers and friends.