Entrada al pueblo de Yauca
Originally uploaded by Ulises Gonzales.
Robert Carling me ha pedido una bio, es decir un resumen de mi vida, con el cual puede hacerme la carta para el programaa del master.
La he acabado el lunes, pero dado que la he empezado hoy, y que considero impotante que figure en mi diario, la voy a adjuntar. La foto es de Yauca, me hubiera gustado colocar una de Jaqui o de Anqui, pero lamentablemente no las tengo scaneadas y esto es lo mejor que pude encontrar en la web. Aqui va el texto completo de la carta:
Im not completely sure if this is really what you wanted when you told me about giving you more details of my life. I hope it is enough. Also I’m sending you a copy of my resume.
Thanks a lot,
I was born in 1972, in Lima, Peru. My parents, come from families from the south of the country, he, Jorge, is an engineer and she, Tula, is a psychologist. My dad’s father, Bernardino, was born in Cuzco, a very poor childhood, never finished high school but got a job as a teenager in a textile factory and became an expert, later installing whole textile factories in other peruvian cities, Santiago de Chile, and Montevideo, Uruguay.
My grandmother, Consuelo, was the seventh daughter of a small store’s owner in Paita, a town on the north coast. Next to Paita was Talara, center of the petroleum exploration at that time.
«A kiss for me», was the first English sentence she heard in his life, from a young American employee. She told me that laughing. One of her sisters married an American engineer, they left Paita and started a family in Fairbanks, Alaska.
My mom’s parents were born in a nice quiet nice town in the southern department of Arequipa, at the lap of an arid mountain, and less than one hour driving from the sea.
They paid for the education of their 4 daughters and 2 sons, with the management of a thin but fertile piece of land they inherited. Anqui was the name of the place, â€“next to a river that became dry during the winter but carried a lot of water every summer, coming from the top of the Andean mountains, â€“. There, my grandfather grew fruits â€“pomegranates, pears, figs, custard applesâ€“; cotton, grapes and, mainly: olive trees.
Most of the old families in town, owned olive trees, planted first by the first Spaniards many centuries ago. Town people nicknamed olives «the black gold», and sometimes these trees were the source of small fortunes.
My grandfather also got to own almost hundred cows, and liked to milk them at dawn when his grandsons were visiting the farm during school vacations.
I can close my eyes now and recall, still fresh on my mind, the images of those far away days and the tender smell of the earth and the trees during those mornings. And can see him, always serious, handing me a big white ceramic mug, full of hot, foamy milk…
Bernardino met Consuelo while she was visiting some relatives in Lima and he was in a business trip. They established there, married soon after and had two sons: Jorge, my father, and Ricardo, a teacher who in his mid 30’s decided to be a priest and was ordained by the Pope, John Paul II during his visit in 1982.
My father, who lived with his family for 10 years in Santiago de Chile,â€“were Bernardino was sent to build a textile factoryâ€“, studied Civil Engineering when he came back to Peru, and, soon after finishing college, married my mother, who he dated during 8 years.
They had 2 sons and one younger daughter. I was born in November 1972, my brother Nicholas, 11 months later; and my sister, Carolina, in 1977. The three of us attended the same school, a middle class private catholic school, at 10-minute-driving distance from our house.
At my 10th birthday, a very close friend of mine, gave me a gift that changed my life: The book was A 15-year-old Captain by Jules Verne. I was instantly obsessed by the idea of writing my own book. Those days I decided that I wanted to be a writer. The gift for my 11th birthday was an old Underwood typing machine. Using that, I wrote a lot of small stories, more or less in the style of Jules Verne, and I helped my father typing his works for the bank, a State-owned one, where he worked for almost 15 years.
(At the beginning of the 90’s, my father was fired from the bank where he worked without any right to an economical compensation or insurance. After a decade of disastrous populism in the country, started 10 years of savage liberalism were most of the State-owned enterprises were sold or shut down.)
Was in 1987, that I read during a night, with awe A Hundred Years of Solitude , and started to write some stories copying his style, by that time I also was fascinated by the reading of The Time of the Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa, and A World for Julius by Alfredo Bryce. I started to enjoy reading all the novels I could get from these writers. Also, I read a book that was one of my greatest inspiration as a teenager: The Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse.
Other ideas than writing were taking my time. I love drawing as much as writing stories. I started to publish a fanzine that lasted my three last years in high school. I filled the pages with caricatures of teachers and stories I made up about them during incredible events.
(In one of those, the most celebrated by my mates, our school had been taken by the Tupac Amaru guerrilla, kind of popular at that time. In the story some of the teachers were taken hostages and forced to work doing humiliating tasks to support the revolution at the school. I almost was expelled from high school because of that, and other stories that some teachers considered offensive.)
Finishing high school I wanted to be a writer but my father didn’t like the idea, And I wasn’t sure either if I could make a living with it. He wanted me to become a lawyer, the closet career he imagined to Literature, and one with I could have made decent money. I tried to convince myself that I could became a lawyer, but after listening an introductory class to Law school I decided that didn’t like the idea of becoming a lawyer, at all.
So, I proposed my parents to study Mass Communications, thinking that I could combine my writing with my drawing skills and become a creative director for an advertising company , (becoming a journalist or writing scripts for movies was a better idea but I couldn’t tell that to my father at that time)
My other big passion, that wake up stronger as I finished to read The Steppenwolf, was: traveling.
My parents never had enough money to travel abroad (we were 5!) and that was, by that time, one of my personal biggest frustrations.
In 1992 my father, because of my good grades gave me some money to visit my best friend who was living in Washington. His idea was that visiting the United States during the summer I could improve my English. I convinced him that a trip through South America, by bus from Peru to Argentina was a much better idea. (I loved secretly the idea of going to Rio de Janeiro, but he didn’t.)
I was 19 year old, when I started my first big trip by bus, I went to Chile, Argentina and, counting with the secret approval from my mother, to Brazil. Traveling by myself during 2 months, I visited Buenos Aires, Santiago, Mendoza, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre, the island of Florianopolis and the Iguazu Falls. Coming back to Peru I applied for a small job within the college, and save enough money during the year to make my second big trip by bus to Brazil, this time, crossing the Titicaca lake, and through Bolivia.
I met one of my closest friends during that trip, and traveled with her, sat together on the stairs by the open door of our old train’s wagon, from Santa Cruz through the unforgettable oriental jungle of Bolivia and the National Reserve of Pantanal in Brazil, on the way to Sao Paulo. During that trip I stayed few days in Curitiba, one of the nicest cities of Brazil, and tried to cross through Paraguay, but there was a problem between my government and the Paraguayan government and I couldn’t go to Asuncion because of my Peruvian passport. I had to come back to Peru through Buenos Aires, Santiago and crossing for the third time the inhospitable Atacama desert.
In 1995, my third travel was to the south of Chile, with only $500 I traveled for one month, crossed Chile from the north, all the way to Chiloe Island, next to the Antartic border. I came back to Santiago just in time for the famous first South-American tour of the Rolling Stones, and after that, hitchhiked with my best friend Rossana, during 18 days, all the way to Buenos Aires, and way back to Lima. By that time, I started publishing with the help of some friends a comic fanzine: Resina.
In 1996, after watching a video clip of Mano Negra tour in South America, I decided to travel to a big rock concert in Bogota, Colombia. $120 allowed me to survive for 3 weeks, living with friends that I met at the concert. Just arriving to Lima, an old friend invited me to Cuzco, and I visited with her, for the third time in my life, the city of Cuzco the stony capital of the Inca’s empire.
Few weeks after that, I defended my thesis in front of a jury in my college, and got, approved by unanimity, my professional Title as a «Licenciado en Communicaciones.» In October I won the special National Prize of cartooning, during the celebration for the 100 years of comic’s birthday , among 600 participants in my category. The same month, I published the third number of my fanzine and got some publicity, was interviewed by some papers and magazines, and at the end of the year RESINA was considered by some critics as the 5th best alternative magazine of 1996.
The University were I studied Communications offered me to teach an elective course of comics, it was the first time in Peru that a curricula included a course on comics, and I was the youngest teacher of the faculty. Some of the biggest cartoonists of the country came to my class as guests.
I was working with a graphic designer friend as her assistant. I learned with her help how to use some basic computer graphic designing programs, as Photoshop, Illustrator and Quark Xpress.
Soon after I started to teach at the university, the general editor of the cable magazine were I quitted, offered me to come back as an editor. I accepted.
I fall in love with a girl from Lima who was living in Cuzco and travelled twice to Cuzco during that year. In March 1998, the owner of a pre-press company who knew me from the times I started to work for the cable magazine company, offered me a job as creative director of an editorial company he wanted to create. I accepted.
At the end of 1998, my heart was completely broken but I was working for the college and two companies. I was the director of a magazine, the company were I was the creative director was editing the biggest shopping center in Lima. A big deal that in my boss`s mind would allow us to make tons of money.
And then, at the end of 1998, the Asian crisis hit Peru.
As an invisible tsunami, every one of my employers started to get financial problems. A big cable company from Spain brought my cable magazine to bankruptcy; my university raised the student’s fees, lot of people quitted that semester, and I lost my teaching position. Then, the big shopping center we made the magazine for, decided that wasn’t making enough money to pay us.
Before deciding to leave the country I took a one month vacation, with the 4-wheel drive car I just had bought, driving all the way North to Quito, Ecuador, and Esmeralda beach, in the border with Colombia. Was a very nice trip, but just coming back to work, I thought that every piece of that company and the brilliant job I had been offered, was falling down to pieces too.
I had a good relationship with my boss, and I suggested the idea of going to Europe for few months, only to visit some friend and see my changes to start something new over there. I also mentioned, I remember, my idea of visiting New York, probably the only place within the United States, that my imagination was longing for.
He was pleased, and with sincerity, told me that if the economy continued going down, sooner or later he would have to ask me to resign. He was very supportive, as he was disappointed with the calamitous state of the nation’s economy. He had many projects he wished me to get me involved with, but he understood that the economical and political crisis of that time, didn’t give any hope of a better future during the next year. And he encouraged me to leave.
I went to Europe with all my savings, hitchhiked and travelled driving a truck from Portugal to Nuremberg in Germany, and when I arrived back to a friend’s house in Spain, I could get a job as a journalist for a local paper. But I couldn’t stay legally in Spain for more than one month, then with the money I made there, I travelled to London, another city that always fascinated me becaused of my readings.
After three weeks in London, I decided to came back to Peru. Didn’t have any money, but getting a job legally was as difficult there as in my country. And I never was far away from my family for that long time. During those days I wrote a lot of poetry, some of those poems, written with despair and loneliness, are going to be published soon.
In New York, some old and almost forgotten relatives waited for me at the airport’s gates. My mother had called to prevent them of my visit.
Back in Peru, the president had fled the country and resigned by fax from his comfortable apartment in Tokyo. Nobody knew were the Peruvian economy was going. My relatives, living for more than a decade around the town of Mamaroneck, in Westchester County, were the ones who convinced me to stay here.
They gave me a temporary home and helped me to get a job. Suddenly, a few months later, I started to like the idea of living here. I loved the city of New York. I was fascinated by its diversity and the cultural activity of this city. And I decided to study English.
I wanted to understand the news, to listen to other people talking in the subway, to go to concerts and understand the lyrics, to read books in English. To master this language.
I studied a year and a half in a not-too-expensive English school in Manhattan. After a year I felt confident and started to take some courses at NYU, related to journalism. And after meeting with the chair of the Journalism program in Lehman I decided to go for a second degree in Journalism, validating some of the courses I already had taken in Lima.
Last year I graduated with a 4.0 GPA, I was offered to teach something of what I learned back in Peru working as a graphic designer. And this semester, I proposed to teach the same course I taught back in Peru at the university: History of Comics.
Always wanted to study literature, since I started my studies in New York, always wanted to do it in English, but at the beginning didn’t fell very confident. Now, I think I can do it. I’m reading more than ever, writing more than ever and longing already to start my Master in the Fall. I still want to be a writer.