There was an interesting event this week..
My boys nursery was doing a thing about the children’s background, so they asked us to fill in some information about our family and to send some pictures.. One of the questions was: what are my parents professional occupations? and so it started..
My occupation and my profession are not the same.. and the projects I am involved in thinking of my future haven’t got much to do with either. In the end I wrote: Mummy is an environmental engineer but currently works as an ATM engineer, which is the truth.. But not the WHOLE truth..
I have been in this exact spot -meaning the question, not my couch- last September, when I attended a meeting: Inspiring Women in Business, it was an inspiring gathering of women who have or aspire to have a business with a social, fair or ethical approach. They asked each attendee to introduce herself and tell a bit about her and her business or business idea: “My name is Mireya Quiton and my business is called Natural Charms, it is a jewellery making business that offers hand crafted jewellery made with natural precious and semi-precious stones. I haven’t had the opportunity to develop it much because I’m also a mum to my two little boys“. Also the truth, but not the whole truth.. Another thing that takes a great chunk of my time is that I work three full days a week (the ATM engineering gig). I felt if I said that, the obvious would come to the other attendees mind: you have no time to develop your own business! Which is what I feel a lot of the time, hence the waiting and gaining momentum I mentioned in making things better.. No wonder everyone is surprised I also started to write this Blog..
Realizing I don’t clearly know how to introduce myself, and given I started this Blog as a way of getting to know about the past to understand my present as a Latin-American woman that wears earrings, I’ve decided I’ll start decoding THIS Latin-American woman.. I’m excited because the posts should take less time as the subject needs less researching. I’ve decided to write about this just in one language, translating takes time I realised I just don’t have right now..
This Latin-American woman (me) can’t describe herself in just a couple of sentences, so I’ll try listing facts and things I have done, will that describe who I am?
I am a Bolivian and a Dutch citizen by birth and a British citizen by residence. I attended a German high school and speak some German because of that. Studied environmental engineering and graduated with honors with a study on Biodiversity use and conservation in a small community in the Bolivian amazon forest. This I consider to have been my first child.. It was an amazing experience and a very long labour. In the process of designing my study I realised my passion is for biodiversity conservation, which I believe should always include the local populations, and it is very important to understand their livelihoods. One dutch “expert” asked me, when I was pitching him my idea for the study, why I didn’t study Sociology instead, because engineers don’t deal with those things.. I have done some anthropology and am still trying to find one profession which deals with both the biodiversity and the social side of conservation.
During my university years, my grandma died after being diagnosed with brain cancer and having surgery to remove the tumor. She was left in a coma, and was taken care of by family, mainly my aunt Consuelo, and a nurse, I learned a lot. She died at home and was mourned a home for a couple of days before she was buried.. My dad, my aunt and their brothers where very affected by her death. I think sorrow for my nan’s passing and possibly regrets of things not done lead to my aunt to develop cancer, and soon after my dad followed.
They both had a long fight with the disease and they both finally lost it. First my aunt, who towards the end came to stay in her motherly home -in Bolivia- with her partner (She lived most o her adult life in The Netherlands, where she was exiled during the military cue in 1964 but always wanted to go back home eventually). Her partner, my self and other friends and family helped care for her until she passed away, at home; she was cleaned and prepared by us and mourned at home, learned a couple of new things there.. Then, short after, my baby was born (my research, that is, which was very successfully defended) and a month later my husband and I were in Europe. I should have mentioned my wedding, which was oh so beautiful! but you realise, when dealing with extreme things like cancer and death, your regular life becomes sort of side story.
My dad and mum had moved to Te Netherlands to try to find alternative cancer treatments as all the mainstream ones had been done and had eventually stopped working. He took part in several medicinal trials for his specific cancer and always managed to buy himself, and us, a bit more time.. His doctor seemed surprised every time he saw my father again, apparently he was always the last man standing when the trials finished, he was able to withstand the side effects better, and the tumors seemed to be controlled for longer. This was a very aggressive type of cancer, it developed in his kidney and came back later in his lungs, his small intestine, the bones in his arms and eventually in his brain; he always endured, until he didn’t.
He bought us 10 years, in which many, many times he was told there was nothing else to do, and we should prepare for the worse.. He deteriorated quickly after a whole brain radiation and we took care of him at home, my mum, my sister and me. I’m glad I had hat time.. the years of knowing our time together could end any moment was agony, but making every moment count was priceless, we traveled a lot and we shared so much more than we had done before his disease.. I am grateful for being with him the last couple of months preparing to say good by, to be able to consciously try to memorise the touch of his hand, the sound of his voice, the kindness in his eyes.. Eventually he passed away, at home, we cleaned and prepared and mourned him at home, we were together until the end..
So my hubby and I decided to give living in England a try, my dream was to live in London, and strange events led us close enough, I won’t say we live in London, we have to take train to get to the centre, but it’s close enough to feel one dream came true 🙂
My best job in the UK was an unpaid internship -don’t worry this is not the best bit- in Kew Gardens, working in the Herbarium in a project making assessments on the conservation status of plant species around the world.. Loved every minute walking around the old building, with the old collections of plant samples; walking in the gardens, getting in for free! The brilliant books they have there, some of them about the first people exploring the fauna and flora of the world.. I found a book on Bolivia printed over a 100 years ago, describing places I have been.
My best job before coming to the UK was traveling with a scientific expedition through the Chaco Region of Paraguay and Bolivia, it is one of the most delicate eco-regions in South America, it was another dream come true as I would never have been able to do this trip on my own. It is a very dangerous place to visit because vehicles get stuck all the time in the sand, and people can die of dehydration when this happens.. I hoped to get to see it, but never really believed I would -this was also an unpaid job-.
I believe in enduring, and in miracles, and in enjoying life and your loved ones NOW.
Dreams do come true but YOU make them happen.
The important things in life are easy to spot. A lot of unimportant things are necessary
I heard someone (a Mr. Blessed I think was his name, on an tv interview..) say this when asked about death: Death? what is death.. it’s nothing: you are never dead, you are ALWAYS alive.. When have you been dead? NEVER.. You are here, you are always alive!
I liked it. It’s true.. But is it the whole truth?