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Testimony of an Angel
 

 

INDEX


Introduction.................................................................................................................................... 2

Chapter One.................................................................................................................................... 4

September 11th of 1973................................................................................................................... 9

Victor Jaraís last written song........................................................................................................ 11

Let me tell you a short true story................................................................................................... 13

Chapter Two: My Four Friends..................................................................................................... 16

Chapter Three............................................................................................................................... 25

Chapter Four................................................................................................................................ 50

Chapter Five................................................................................................................................ 78

Chapter Six................................................................................................................................ 108
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Chapter Seven........................................................................................................................... 137

Chapter Eight............................................................................................................................ 157

Chapter Nine............................................................................................................................. 183

Chapter Ten.............................................................................................................................. 219

Chapter Eleven......................................................................................................................... 254

Chapter Twelve........................................................................................................................ 295

 

 


 

 

 

 

Testimony of an Angel
 

Introduction

 

I have only a handful of memories of my Daddy Oscar. He passed away when I was only seven years old and since then my life was forever changed. He died in a terrible mining truck accident, two weeks before Christmas in 1974. The truck accident that took the life of my Daddy Oscar was so bad, that the funeral had to have a sealed casket. I was so young that I was unable to really process emotionally what was going on. I remember everybody trying to be nice to me saying things like "He went to Heaven. Donít worry. He is okay nowÖ" As they were saying that, I could see the surprise in the look of their eyes. They were surprised by how calmed I was. I even overheard someone say, "He doesnít look too upset or sad. Maybe he didnít love him that much."

That day at the funeral, I found nothing better to do than playing with my plastic cars, just like any other day. That was a surprise for many of the people that came to the funeral that day. Maybe on the outside I didnít look sad, but inside of my heart it was a very different story. As a child I couldnít understand why I was feeling that way. The only thing clear to me about that whole entire situation was the fact that I was not going to see my Daddy Oscar ever again, and that was sad, very sad indeed. For some reason I didnít cry, and I had only one feeling inside of my heart and that was, "Something went wrong. This was not supposed to be happening." Instead of crying or expressing my feelings I remember escaping to a deep place inside of myself. I didnít like what was going on around me, and to be honest, I donít know if I ever fully recovered from that loss.

The day of the funeral I saw my mom Nieves crying out loud, sobbing and almost fainting. I didnít know what to do. She was devastated by the loss and I wanted to comfort her, but I didnít know how. I really didnít know what to do or how I was supposed to act.

My mom Nieves and my Daddy Oscar were such a happy couple. They loved each other so much that I could feel how that love and respect for each other, and the love for their family filled every single square inch of that home. That same home that now seemed so different, so big, so empty.

This man, who disappeared out of my life when I was just a kid, has been by far the most influential figure of my life. I loved him so much, and I was so happy around him. I looked up to him as if he was the greatest hero on Earth, and the most incredible thing about my Daddy Oscar was the fact that he was not my biological father. My daddy Oscar was a coworker of my biological father, and at a time when my biological mother got really sick, he offered to take care of me until my mom got better. Thatís how I got the chance to spend some time with my daddy Oscar and his lovely family, a family that I will always be thankful for caring so much about me at a time when my parents really couldnít.

Because of that unexpected event, in my heart and in my mind I have two mothers and two fathers. My biological parentsómy mom Mercedes and my dad Luisóand my adoptive parents who I call my mom Nieves and my daddy Oscar. This couple never legally adopted me, but I spent two years living with them, and after those two years I spent time with them on and off until my daddy Oscar passed away. After that I just visited my adoptive family occasionally, but not too often. My mom Nieves and my daddy Oscar share the same place in my heart as my biological parents, even to this day. 

The time I lived with my adoptive family was a short period of time, but those few memories I have with them were like the seeds that led to the most incredible experience of my life, which was when a living God talked to me here in the U.S.

This book is all about that experience and what lead to that moment. That incident happened to me when I was 28 years old and living in Hialeahóa city closes to Miami in the State of Florida. Now I am 48 years old and for the first time in my life, I am going to talk about that experience and how it happened.

The God I met on that experience is a God completely different from the one you are most likely to hear about in any conventional established religion of today. That living God I met in the city of Hialeah left with me a message for the American People. I was not supposed to talk about that message until I was forty five years old. I have never talked about that experience with anyone before, much less talked about the message, but now that I am forty eight years old I can say, "The time has come to talk about that message."

  

Chapter One

 

When I was a toddler I loved to receive my daddy Oscarís welcoming affection. Every time he got home from work was a celebration for me. When he saw me his whole face lighted up with love and happiness from the bottom of his heart. He picked me up in his arms, and he started talking to me making me feel like I was the most important thing in the whole world.

In my biological family I am the youngest of five brothers, and I was never very popular among them, but around my adoptive family I was the star of the show. Mr. Oscar Gonzalez and his wife Maria de las NievesóMary of the snowsóhad four daughters, and all of them were teenagers at the time, so you can imagine how lucky I was. My four adoptive sistersóErcira, Nelida, Cecilia y Anita Mariaótreat me like I was their own little brother. They taught me well with patience and very good manners, and even if I was pretty much a hyper active kid, they never spanked me or yell at me. Like someone said, "If manners maketh man." Those moments are something that I will never forget, and Iíll always be thankful for how well they took care of me. While I was with my adoptive family I was as happy as happy a kid can be.

This couple that took care of me when my mom Mercedes got sick was supposed to take care of me for just a couple of weeks, but I ended up spending more than two years with them. When I was three and a half years old my mom Mercedes left me with this family, and she was supposed to be back from her treatment in a couple of weeks, but due to complications in her treatment my mom Mercedes ended up taking more than four months to get back. At that point when my parents finally came to pick me up, my adoptive family didnít want to let me go, and I didnít want to leave either. Due to that complication the two families got together to find a solution to this problem that arose, and at the end of that meeting they agreed that was in my best interest to stay with my adoptive family for the moment, and then gradually I was supposed to get back to my parents again. Thatís how I ended up spending two years straight living with my adoptive family, and after those two years, I spent almost every weekend with them until I was seven-years old.

As a three-year-old child when my mom Mercedes left me with this couple, I believed that I was never going to see my mom Mercedes ever again. That was my initial feeling because as a toddler I didnít understand the situation any better. When my mom left me with this couple they were nothing but strangers for me, and I cried my heart out when I realized that my mom Mercedes had left. After a very traumatic first few days I started to come around, and I learned to respect this couple as if they were my real parents. At that moment I thought my mom Mercedes didnít want me anymore, and I thought that this family was going to be my new family forever. This experience woke up very strong feeling inside of me, and in just a few days I bonded deeply with them. Thatís how I ended up having to say I have two mothers and two fathers. Being cared by this wonderful family when I was so young was and has been a true blessing for me.

My mom Nieves was petit, thin and very smart. She had a very sweet look on her face and she was very well educated. She loved to play the piano and had a dog named Dixie. This dog was always by her side. One of the things I remember the most about my mom Nieves was one occasion about a year after I started staying with them, the two families got together, and she played the piano for all of us. I donít remember exactly what the occasion was, but that day in the living room of her house when she played the piano, she made such a big impression on me, that from that moment on I fell in love with music. She loved to read the newspaper and watch soap opera on her room. I still can see her browsing through the newspaper on her bed, and drinking her hot Ceylon tea. She always dressed very feminine in a very classical Chilean way. As far as I remember I never saw her wearing a pair of jeans. She was always cold thatís why she loved so much to drink hot tea. She used to have her hot tea right on her bed while reading or watching TV. Every time when I was around and she had a cup of hot tea she asked me, "Danny would you like a cup of tea?" I would say yes every time she asked me. Thatís how most of the time the two of us spent time together, while waiting for our hero to get back home from work.

Especially on the afternoons while she was watching her favorite soap opera I was right by her side, reading an educational magazine or playing with my plastic cars. Sometimes as a treat for being a good boy, she let me read one of my daddy Oscarís magazine collections. I had to read the magazines right there where she could see me, and she let me have only one magazine at a time. She was always so careful about books and magazines. They were like treasures for her.

My daddy Oscar never spanked me, but he was firm and strict. He was a tough love kind of guy. Out of all the time I spent around him, only one time I remember seeing him mad. He didnít yell or acted out of control like my dad Luis used act, but I remember that occasion very well, because is the only time I remember being scared of him. That day he disciplined a boy that came to visit us for a few weeks, and this boy named Ricardo was disrespectful to one of my sisters. I donít remember exactly what he did to one of my sister, but my sister told my mom Nieves, and my mom Nieves said to him, "Wait until Oscar gets here, because I am not going to tolerate this kind of behavior from you young man." That day when my daddy Oscar got home from work and he learned the news, he got very upset. I could tell he was very upset but he kept his cool. He talked to Ricardo in a very serious way and right after that short talk he took Ricardoís shoes off, and placed Ricardo inside of a big empty metal-barrel. I could see he was mad but instead of hitting him or spanking him, he just threw cold water at Ricardo with a garden hose, and that was it. I was so surprised to see that king of punishment because in comparison with the spankings I have seen over my house that was nothing. That was the only time I saw my daddy Oscar mad at someone.

Other than that Ricardo was a very good kid, and when Ricardo stayed over with us, we shared the same little bed. We used to sleep in opposite sides of the same bed, and for bed-time story my mom Nieves let him listen to a radio program called Dark Shadows. He loved to listen to that show, and every time the program came on, I tried to be brave and not get scared while listening to it, but every time I ended up shivering under the sheets. I was younger that him and actually since that time I got really scared of darkness.

My daddy Oscar had a Spanish style home with a big orchard on the back, and on that orchard I remember spending time with him watering the trees and feeding the animals. Besides a few chickens and a few geese my daddy Oscar had a big black Labrador named Bonso. That dog was the guardian of that orchard, and was mean to the point that I could not get in the orchard unless my Daddy Oscar was around. Bonso was a mean and ferocious dog, but when my daddy Oscar was around, he was the sweetest dog ever. Along with the dogs my daddy Oscar had a big birdcage full of canaries, a couple of turtles, and a wild rat hanging outside the kitchen. Like I said my daddy Oscar had a big sewer rat in a little metal-wire birdhouse hanging outside the kitchen. That rat was the ugliest pet I had ever seen, but it was fun to see it eating raw spaghetti. The rat would take the spaghetti out of your hand, and started eating it from top to bottom putting one hand under the other as the spaghetti disappeared on its mouth.

My daddy Oscar was known by his friends as a great liquor maker, and every year when it was harvest time, he prepared a new batch of flavored fire water. Cherry and peach flavors were his specialty. As a child I was really sneaky, and I was always doing what I was not supposed to be doing. One time while everybody was busy watching a TV program, I found nothing better to do other than trying to get some cherries out of the bottom of one of these big bottles of liquor. My dad had stored these bottles in a storage room by the kitchen, and in the bottom of these bottles, I could see these big red-cherries that looked so big, so delicious to the point that I had to have them. I stared at the bottles trying to figure out how I could get to those cherries, and I tried a few ideas, but none of them worked. Out of frustration I turned the bottle upside down and I saw the cherries getting jammed on the top of the neck of the bottle. Then very carefully as I put the bottle right side up again, I removed the cork and finally I was able to get to the cherries. After all that work I was disappointed because the cherries were not as big as they looked inside the bottle, and adding insult to injury, the taste of those cherries were definitely not what I was expecting. They definitely tasted wired, but they had a kick to it and I ate a few anyways. As I was getting out of the pantry, when I heard one of my sisters looking for me saying, "Where is that little brat of mine?" I tried to run but I couldnít. I didnít know what was going on. Everything around me started spinning and moving completely out of control. I couldnít walk straight, and because of that, soon they found out what I was doing while I was being so quiet. They didnít ground me or anything, but from that moment on the pantry got a lock on the door.

My daddy Oscar built that big Spanish style home almost single-handed, and he kept and maintained that big property all by himself. He used to have fun doing the shores around the house, and I used to follow him everywhere he went around the house. One of those days in the orchard my daddy Oscar showed me how to make a different kind of fruit tree. He tried to explain me how to do that through a process called grafting. I still can see him cutting an incision in the form of a capital letter tee in one of his fruit trees, and inserting a scion from another tree. Carefully he put this little branch from another tree, right between the wood and the tree bark. I donít remember exactly what he was saying to me at that moment, but I have that memory clearly stuck in my mind. I was paying attention to what he was doing, for me what he was doing looked so amazing, so intriguing that I couldnít get my eyes away from it. He finished the grafting wrapping the scion with a long strip of cheesecloth and mud, and when he was done doing that he said, "Letís pray to God so God bless this new little tree. And if everything goes well God will make it grow big and strong." He put his head down, held his hands together in front of him and said, "My dear God thanks for all your blessings, and with a humble heart I ask you to bless this new tree with life, health and many fruits. I do ask you as well to bless this little man right here by my side. Bless him with health and intelligence, and I leave these things in the name of your son Jesus Christ. Amen." As he was praying I remember feeling a little zephyr that caressed my face, and right after that, I remember feeling a beautiful feeling of peace and serenity filling my whole heart. The feeling was almost like being held in my daddy Oscarís arms, but even more intense.

That same day almost at dinner time somebody knock the door and the dogs started barking really loud. My mom Nieves was closer to the door so she asked, "Who is it?" The person knocking on the door said, "Do you have some something to eat that you might want to share with a hungry man? Iím really hungry!" My mom Nieves without opening the door said, "Sorry we donít have anything to give you right now." I rushed to her side because I was curious and my daddy Oscar asked my mom Nieves, "Who is it?" A man asking for food! She said. My daddy Oscar replied to her "Tell him to wait Iíll be right over." As he was saying that he started walking towards the door very fast. My mom Nieves started saying again, "Sorry but we donít have anything to give youÖ" She was in the middle of saying that when my daddy Oscar said, "Wait a moment Iíll talk to him. Do not worry Nieves Iíll take care of this." He carefully opened the door and started talking with the man. I was looking at the man right by his side and wrapped around his leg, hiding a bit. I saw a man with marked wrinkles on his face, shaggy hair, and his face was burnt by the sun. I looked at him from top to bottom and I realized that he had black shiny shoes but no socks. The man at a point asked for money and my dad replied "I donít have any money to give you." The man said "Iím hungry and thirsty." My dad said "If youíre really hungry and thirsty you could come inside and have dinner with us. Come on in." The man accepted the offer and my dad lead him to the kitchen. The man before stepping into the kitchen he looked at the cage right by the door, looked at the humongous sewer rat and said, "Lovely pet youíve got there." The man sat down at the kitchen table and my mom Nieves started serving dinner. After the plates of food were served on the table, and before we started eating my daddy Oscar said grace like always. As he was saying grace I felt something very special again that day. That is the main reason why I remember that day so well. I was just seated at the table listening to them talking while eating my food, and as they were talking the feeling present that day at the table it was amazing. I was so little but I remember that day very well. That day for some reason I behaved my best at the table, by then I knew very well that I shouldnít interrupt adults while they were talking. I donít remember what they were talking about, but for my surprise I remember the man having very good manners as he ate, and as I remember my daddy Oscar was having a very good time while talking with the man. I remember him being very engaged in the conversation with the man. We had dinner that night with a man that we didnít even knew, but that night at dinner time that man was like part of the family. Our town was a small town and everybody knew everybody, but they have never seen that man before. My mom Nieves asked "Why did you let him in?" my dad answered to her "It couldíve been God testing me. You never know when God is going to test your faith, and sometimes I listen to my heart." That was his answer. The feeling that surrounds us that night at dinner time was something very special. I will never forget that night.

My mom Nieves put me to bed that night right after sunset time, and she made me say my prayer before I went to sleep. Like always she tucked me in and at that time she was trying to teach me my first prayer. As they were very good catholic people she was teaching me My Guardian Angel. "Angel of God my guardian dear, to whom Godís love commits me here. Ever this day or night, be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen."

One of my favorite memories with my daddy Oscar is the time when he took me to a little liquor store that was just a couple doors away from our house. That day he said to me, "Letís go my Ganchito"ómy little hookóthat is how he used to call me. When we got there the clerk and my dad started talking like a good pair of neighbors. For a few minutes they had a very happy and warm conversation. The liquor store it was a very small place, dark, and narrow. The whole place smelled like old wood and wine, with a whiff of vinegar. The whole place was built entirely out of salvaged wood, and nothing matched nicely or was shinny, but it had a very cozy and warm feeling. Behind a wooden counter that resembled a bar top, the store had wood shelves up to the ceiling full of bottles of wine, and on the opposite side you could see the plaster coming out of an old adobe brick wall. We both sat on a couple of wooden stools at the center of the counter, and the guy asked my dad "what are you having today Oscar?" My dad said "I want a cold one." Then he leaned towards me and asked me, "And you? What are you having kiddo?" I said "I want a cold one too! Just like my daddy Oscar." They laughed at me and my daddy Oscar said to the clerk, "Bring him an Orange Crush." For me was the first time I was having an orange crush, and I was amazed by the shape of the bottle. I remember looking at it very carefully because I have never seen a bottle like that before. The taste was delicious! Since then Orange Crush became my favorite drink as a child.

In my biological family I was the youngest of five brothers and it was hard for me to make myself noticed. I have two older brothers and they are twins, and I have two older sisters too. Among them most of the time I was completely ignored, and often I was nothing but their "gofer." In my family I felt like I was nobody, I always was last for everything, and no matter what I did I was never good enough for them. There with my bio-family I used to entertain myself using my imagination making toys out of old stuff or whatever I could find. I have been always fascinated by everything that worked mechanically so I was really intrigued by things like old alarm clocks or winding toys. I was always trying to find out what these things had inside, and if they were not careful before they knew, I had those things taken apart really quick. As a child in my family I was known as "The terror of the alarm clocks." I was fascinated to see how things moved mechanically. For me to see an object moving like a living thing was fascinating! I was known for being very sneaky too. They always have to keep an eye on me. I loved to climb over things like trees, walls, roofs, you name it.

Between these two families Ėmy biological and my adoptive oneóI definitely felt more at home over my mom Nieves and daddy Oscarís place. These two families in my heart were the same, but for some reason everything was better with my adoptive family, especially when it came to the house atmosphere, and the way I was treated.  

Over my daddy Oscar for some reason everything was so different compared to my biological family. I was able to feel secure and relaxed at all times. Over my adopted family nobody ever laid a hand over me or smacked me, and being a very sensitive child those subtle differences made a big difference, especially in the way I felt around them.

As a child I loved to climb trees so when I was around seven years old, and people came to get fruits from the orchard, I used to be the one climbing over the trees to collect the fruits. My mom Nieves was always so afraid that something bad could happen to me while doing that. She always told me to be careful, and she stood right at the bottom of the trees observing in awe how easy it was for me to climb over the trees. I remember those moments because for me to see how much my mom Nieves worried about me was a way to see how much she cared about me.

After the first two years with my adoptive family, one of those days, my mom Mercedes finally came to pick me up for good, and I didnít want to go. My adoptive family didnít want to let me go either, but after all that time my adoptive family ran out of excuses for me to stay with them. Being so young I had no say on that decision, and I had no choice but to go back to my family. Going back to them was hard but not as hard as the first time I had to face a big change like that. Back with my biological family was hard, I was missing my adoptive family a lot, but after all, at the same time after I stayed with my mom Mercedes for a whole week, I did recognize in my heart, that I have been missing her too. That is how I started to go back to my biological family. I started spending the week days with them, and spending the weekends with my adoptive family. One of the things that helped me the most to make the transition back to my family was the company of my sister Belinda. She was the closest to me out of all my siblings, and she is only four years older than me. My sister Belinda really helped me to feel back at home again, she used to tell me things like, "Donít be sad brother of mine. You are lucky. You should be happy because now you have two families that loved me very much."

My mom Mercedes not being depressed she was something else. She was a very good cook, kept the house spotless, and she did all that while singing along to her favorite music. She was very frugal too, and with very little she made miracles. Let me give you one example: She always got lots of compliments at school for our excellent personal presentation, and we only had one pair of pants, one pair of shoes, and a couple white shirts for the whole year. Her dedication to her family was outstanding. I never went to school with dirty clothes, and my uniform was always spotless. Thatís how she was, sometimes a little too happy, sometimes a little too sad. Her personality was a roller coaster of emotions. She made me feel like I was in heaven, and then all of the sudden like I was in hell. I have to add that most of the times I was in heaven with her.

Thatís how I started to grow up caught in between these two worlds, these two families that for me were nothing but one big family. In my heart I have two mothers, two fathers, six older sisters and two older brothers. In my heart there is no difference between them whatsoever. As I was growing up going back and forth between these two families I remember feeling really lucky and happy, but these moments of peace and harmony like someone said, "They are not meant to last." As I was living this naÔve and happy life, something really big and dark was about to happen in my little country. Soon my whole world was going to get a lot bigger, and what was about to happen was something of historical proportions.

September 11th of 1973

The day after the military coup and the assassination of our president on September 11th of 1973 my dad Luis didnít know what to do. He didnít know if he should go to work or stay home that day. He had never missed a day of work on his whole life, and he was afraid to lose his job.  He didnít know what to do, but at the end he said, "Iím going to live it up to them. If the work bus comes to get me, Iíll go to work, and if not, then Iíll stay home." Next day early in the morning as always he grabbed his metal lunch-box and his thermo with hot tea, and he went to the bus stop. The bus showed up that morning and he went to work that day like any other day. Late at night that day the bus didnít showed up, and he didnít come back home. Not that night, not the next night, and the days went by with no signs of my dad Luis. The new government established a curfew and nobody could go out on the streets after 10 pm. The only thing I remember on that time was seeing soldiers with painted faces patrolling the streets in jeeps with a big machine gun on the back, and hearing shots being fired all through the night. I was very worried about my other family too, especially about my daddy Oscar, but nobody knew anything about what was going on. There was no news on TV about the military coup affecting our country at the time, and the little we knew was through news coming from abroad on the AM radio. The AM radio was the only way to know anything about what was going on at the time.

After a few days after the military coup, early in the morning we woke up to the loud knocking on our front door. They knocked the door with the back of the stock of a rifle, and it was so loud that we all jumped out of our beds in a heartbeat.

My mom rushed to the door and asked who it was, and a loud voice responded, "This is a search open the door!" So she did and as she opened the door a group of soldiers carrying guns and assault rifles stormed the house. At gunpoint they made us line up in the living room, and they make us stand in a line shoulder to shoulder facing the captain. The captain was a young man in his twenties full of himself, and for sure he had our lives in his hands at that very moment. After a short introduction he ordered his men to search the house. We could hear our few belongings being destroyed and torn apart by the soldiers. They were looking for evidence that can prove that we were communists. My mom Mercedes tried to stop them, but she was quickly stopped by tip of a barrel on her ribs, and the soldier said to her "This officer is not playing madam. Please listen to me. Donít do anything stupid madam." We did stand still for a while until the officer came back walking slowly, and smiling with a sick smile. He had a gun on his hand, and pointed the gun to my sisterís head. Looking at my momís eyes the officer moved the gun to my brotherís head, and asked her "Are you a communist madam?" my mom Mercedes said "No sir, of course not!" The captain replied "Nobody ever is! Isnít it?" The officer walked a couple more steps saying, "I see you have a nice family, and today seems to be your lucky day. I wish I do not have to come back to this house ever again." The officer turned around and left as quickly as he came. As he exited our home the rest of the soldiers fallowed him quickly, leaving behind a trail of chaos and disaster. He took with him every piece of jewelry that my mom had, and he even took my momís wedding ring. All the drawers of every single piece of furniture we had in our home were lying on the floor, and the content of them scattered all over the place. The beds were torn apart, and the mattresses were almost cut on halves. Our house after the soldiers left was completely torn apart.

My mother still in tears and shaking from the experience, put herself together and started to put everything together as best as she could. We escaped death but not without a scar. In the aftermath gold and silver were gone, and it was a very tense moment to say the least.

From these times comes the story of a university professor that played Folk music and he was a songwriter. Heís only sin was to believe that he had rights, and that he was living in a democracy. Some said he was too far to the left, but he committed no crime, and he didnít kill anybody. Some say he was a mix between Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie.

Morris M. said in September 11, 2014: "A long life rebel, Victor Jara responded to his incarceration by composing new songs and singing them to his fellow prisoners to keep their spirits up. Unsurprisingly, he soon came to the attention of the camp commander, who made it a similarly magnanimous gesture: Placing a guitar on a table in the middle of the stadium, he invited Jara to come down and play to the crowd. NaÔvely, Jara agreed. What happened next would be etched on the minds of those who saw it forever. The moment he sat at the table, Jara was pinned down in place by the nearby guards. The commander then cut off his fingers and mutilated his hands to mush. Some witnesses claimed he used and axe, others the butt of his rifle. The outcome was the same. With Jaraís hands a bloody pulp, the commanders screamed at him "Now sing mofo! Sing now!" In response, Jaraís pushed himself to his feet, and with infinite calm, he walked to the nearest set of bleachers and said "All right comrades, you already heard Mr. commander here, letís sing a song for him" He sang unsteadily, with a wavering voice, the anthem of the communist Chilean party the UP, whom many of them were already laying in piles one on top of each other at the bottom of the bleachers. An incredible thing happened and his voice began to steady raise across the stadium, prisoners who had no food or had any sleep many of them tortured and almost dead, all of them rose to their feet and began to sing.

For a fleeting moment, the guards could only watch as their charges join in with Victor Jara for his final song, the legend said that one of his songs escaped the prison camp, and made it to the outside world.

Victor Jaraís  last written song

What kind of heart fascism creates?

They carry out their plans, with knife like precision under the cover of night.

For them blood equals medals.

How hard it is to sing, when what I have to sing is the horror of my people.

How hard it is to sing a song where the screams of horror followed by silence, are the end of my song.

Today as I am writing this book I learned in the news about the latest terrorist attack in France and it is just terrible! War is in the horizon everywhere, and there it is no end on sight, lives forever changed and the reason was what? Iím sad for those who had to endure the worse of humanity, and occasions like this one make me feel ashamed to be a human. Why a human have to die like that, why? What are we doing wrong as Humans?

 

Continuing with my story.

Little by little we learned that my Daddy Oscar and his family were all okay. The only one missing out of our family was my dad Luis. We all were very worried; we didnít know what has happened to him. I knew my mom Mercedes was doing everything possible to find out what has happened to him, but as she putted it was like talking to a wall. Trying to ask authorities about the whereabouts of my dad Luis was nothing but a waste of time.

After more than a week and a half of him being missing my dad Luis was dropped in front of our home by a military truck. Finally he was home again and we were all very happy to see him. When I saw him for the first time I was going to run to his arms but my mom stopped me very quickly. I remember he had a weird look on his face; the color of his skin was a sort of gray bluish color, and he could barely walk. Slowly he said hello to all of us and keeping his distance he went straight to his room. He stayed in bed for more than a week straight. He didnít want to talk about it, and the few times I was allowed to go to his room, was just for a brief moment. The few times I went to his room he put his arm around me and leaned his head towards mine as he patted my back, and even if I asked him a few question he just looked at me with watery eyes, and did sign my mom to take me away.

Talking about me being sneaky, one of those days I heard my mom talking to one of her neighbors and she said whispering "He was tortured." Indeed he was tortured. The weirdness of his look came from torture. During the time that he was gone he endured countless sessions of torture. He was tortured with electricity, starvation and sleep deprivation. Before he got out prison along with a few other lucky ones, they were forced to lay down flat on the floor, then they cover them with wet salty burlap bags and they proceeded to brutally beat them up with rubber batons. Right before they released them they had to sign papers where they stated that they have been treated kindly and humanely.

The very face of fascism has a very distinctive signature. Every time atrocities are committed everything is always done completely legal, like they say "Everything was done by the book." It is hard to believe that just like in the Holocaust everything was done by the book, and that is the very face of fascism.

Around that time I remember my older brother Luis crying for the death of his best friend Carol. He was grieving and he said, "They grabbed him out of his house at night after curfew and put him in jail. There they beat him up and torture him for days. Then they put him in a truck with a few others and in a dark street they released them telling them to run for their life. That way they shot them dead and then they can say that they got shot because they didnít stop as they were told to do after curfew." I remember my brother being devastated by the loss of his best friend, a friend that as he putted, "he loved him as if he was his brother."

I was only six years old at the time, and at that age is very hard to understand what all those things really meant. They just get stuck in your mind in a department called "Donít even try to understand."

Little by little things went back to normal and my dad Luis went back to work as always. I started visiting my adoptive family and soon I was back to be a kid again. I was glad to know that all my family was okay, and none of them died as a result of this military coup.

In my school things changed a bit after that September 11th of 1973. When we went back to school we have to form a line and march as if we were soldiers before we enter our classrooms. We didnít know any better at the time but education was never the same after that. I remember that a few of my friends didnít show up to school for a while, they were morning their loved ones that disappeared and never were seen again.

One day after school a day of December of 1974 ten days before Christmas. I was playing on the side yard in front of our home by the driveway, when my mom Mercedes and my dad Luis with pull up in the driveway. I still remember them coming home in a very old 1940 Plymouth sedan we had at the time. I still can see my dad Luis rolling down the window and being as sensitive as always. My dad Luis said to me "Danny we have something to tell you. Pay attention is very important. Your daddy Oscar died in a mine accident last night." After he said that my chest got smaller, the sunlight dimmed down, and I stood steal for a few seconds. Thatís how I remember a happy kid being not so happy no more. I didnít cry at that moment, and I didnít cry at his funeral either. His truck rolled over and went down the open pit more than a thousand feet, completely destroying the truck and everything in it. His funeral had to have a sealed casket because his remains were only beats and pieces. As they put it, his body was not suitable for viewing.

At the funeral I saw my mom Nieves crying and sobbing almost fainting. Two of my sisters were right by her side crying along with her, and trying to hold her down so she didnít try to open the casket. It was quite a scene, and I stood seated as much as I could, but after a long few I went outside and I started playing with my old plastic-car toys. I even took a ride in one of my favorite toys ever a plastic tricycle with the shape of a tractor. I started playing the same games I used to play, but it wasnít as fun as it used to be. I looked around and I never realized before how big the house was.

Sometimes I wonder about the feeling that overwhelms my mind and my soul every time I go back to that moment. The first time I felt that king of feeling was that day when my dad Luis gave me the news about my daddy Oscar. The word that describes that feeling is the word wrong. Wrong is the word and it feels sort of like the death of the journalist James Foley, or any unarmed person that died in the hands of a police officer just because. There is something spiritually wrong with those situations, it goes beyond reason, and is like through those images their souls cling to ours begging for justice.

If you ask me if I would like to make a DNA analysis, and look through the bones of my daddy Oscar for any signs of torture, I would say, "You bet yah!" The death of my daddy Oscar never felt right, even to this day still feels wrong.

After his death nothing was the same again, and my visits to see my mom Nieves and my sisters grew farther, and farther apart. That spiritual connection I had with them was real then like is real today, but we grew apart. Thatís how I met this family in which I met the concept of a living God. There I met the concept of a living God for the first time.

On the orchard of that house I fell off out of a big Fig-tree more than 20 feet right down to the ground and lived to talk about it. On that Orchard even today for me feels like youíre walking on sacred ground.

Let me tell you a short true story.

 

The Fairy Tale of the thin strip of land that got caught in the crossfire between two giants kingdoms.

Far, far away in a long thin strip of land trapped between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, there was a little country. This little country had a very fertile land, and was rich and full of precious metals. This little country south of Peru and West of Argentina got caught in the crossfire among two giants. No matter which one of these two giants won this epic battle, the faith of this simple and humble people was already written. Their fate was already written even before the battle took place, because no matter who was the winner of this epic battle, this little country was going to have a new master anyhow.

The battle was quick and decisive, and in the aftermath of this epic battle, the elite of this little country negotiated their way out becoming the new slaveís masters. They kept their place at least among their own people, and whoever didnít like what was going on disappeared really quick out of the face of the earth. More than two millions of citizens fled the country looking for refuge wherever they could find it. The rest, the less fortunate got put in prison camps scattered all over the country. In these prison camps they were torture and killed like cows in the slaughter house. The elite of this little country called that nefarious event, "The price that had to be paid to restore democracy." The giant who won the battle was a giant that had no head and had two tongs, and even to this day the grip of its power keeps the people in misery. Even to this day the people of this little thin country canít escape the tyranny and the oppression of this Giant. This Giant has been forcing them to work from dawn to dusk paying them almost nothing for their work, and when they are too old to work anymore, they receive nothing but misery in return for a life of sacrifice. This Giant use the natives to extract everything of value, making this giant even bigger, but the natives no matter how much they produce or how many precious metals they give to the giant keeps them living under siege and misery. This heartless giant just like the Spaniards at a time still is robbing all the gold and precious metals, still raping the children, and selling many of these children to be nothing but sex slaves in whore houses all around the world. The heartless giant killed everyone who dear to say something about it, and the only thing you could hear in the news, was how great things were since the giant took over. They called themselves "The Saviors" but the crimes committed especially among children, they still keep happening. This Giant still is enabling the elite of this little country to be the masters and supreme rulers of this humble and honest people. The elite have become the slave masters and they are allowed to commit even the most horrible crimes against humanity, as long as they keep sending the produce and the precious metals to this Giant. The people of this little country are still praying for justice. This headless and heartless giant is still feeding out of the souls of those natives of the land. Those natives once were free, and now they are nothing but slaves on their own land. This giant is so big and powerful that the only thing the natives of this precious land can do is nothing but to pray to God and cry about it. Just like any other slave around the world the only thing that they can do is to cry about it, and pray to God for mercy every night, but thatís it.

The natives of this conquered land were given a plate of food and something to wear, and even to this day, they are still being exploited until their last breath of life, and when they cannot work anymore, they let them die like an animal left to die. They donít even get a pension after a whole life of sacrifice, and if they are lucky enough to be alive at the age of sixty five, they receive in compensation nothing but misery. They have become nothing but slaves on their own land. Now they live in a system called showcracy.

As the legend goes if it wasnít for this merciless headless giant with two tongues, the people of this little country couldíve been one of the most prosperous people in the whole world.

The End.

Showcracy: A democracy where there is no transparency and a few by controlling the media and the wealth, they make it look like there is in place a real democracy. They make the people believe that there is justice, but in all reality nothing ever changes, and the people kept being exploited and killed like dogs in the streets. The people are still barely surviving doomed in poverty, and they still donít even have a private and transparent voting system.

Showcracy: A place where the people have the illusion of being ruled by a constitution, and not just by the will of those who have taken everything of value.

Showcracy: A place where the people are told that have rights, and that they are citizens, but not really. In all reality they are just peasants, they have no say, they have no justice, and is a place where all this things have became nothing but a play of words. Just meaningless words is all what the people gets, and is all part of the show.

Everything that you are about to read in this book really happened to me, this is how I saw it, this is how it happened to me, and like this book it needs to be deeply rooted in reality, let me cite an article written by Marie Arana, December 6, 2013 The Washington Post commemorating the 40th anniversary of September 11, 1973.

"Lyndon Baines Johnson, commonly known as LBJ didnít live long enough to see what Latin Americans consider the most nefarious chapter of the US war against communism"

If you want to have a taste of what many have to endure as a result of these giants finding an excuse to take over, and slave whole countries using whatever means necessary just to take whatever of value they want, and calling those on their way communist or terrorist so they can assassinate them anyway they want to. Read this article in the Washington Post, it will give you an idea of what I mean.

"Oscar Guardiola-Riveraís fascinating, if haphazardly organized in his book "Story of the Death Foretold" the coup against Salvador Allende, September 11, 1973"

 

Chapter Two: My Four Friends

 

When I was nine years old I had to say good bye to my home town La Serena. Even if I didnít like the idea of leaving behind my adoptive family, I had no other option but to go with my family. At the time I wasnít staying over with my adoptive family not even on the weekends, but occasionally I visited them and every time I did, felt great in my heart to be around them.

My whole bio-family had to move to a different city due to my dad Luis health complications. The only one who stayed behind was my older brother Fernando. My older brother at the time was already married, and he was supposed to rent our house and sent the money to my parents. My dad Luis has been battling diabetes since he was in his twenties, and now he needed a warmer and not so humid kind of weather. As the doctor put it, "Ö he needs to move to a warmer weather or he could get a lot worse, and if he is not careful, he could even die."

We moved way north of La Serena to a place called Arica. A city just minutes away from the border with Peru, right by the Pacific Ocean, and on the outskirts of the driest desert in the world, The Atacama desert.

At first was very hard to get used to this new town, but little by little I became part of these melting pot of cultures. This city also known as The Eternal-Spring City is an oasis right in the middle of two River valleys. One is called The Azapa valley, and the other is called The Lluta valley. (Ironically Lluta sounds just like when you pronounce the name of the state of Utah)

In Arica never rains and is always sunny. No matter where you are located in this city, you are never more than a few minutes away from the ocean. In this town the temperature never gets below 55įF not even in winter time, and in summer time never gets hotter than 85įF. The weather is so good in this area that you can find fresh crunchy vegetables all year long. This town is home to The Passion fruit, Guayabas, and the best Mangoes youíll ever taste, just to mention a few. In the Azapa valley you can find a few small olivesí plantations that produce a wide variety of olives, and olive oils. They are the most delicious and finest olives you can find around the world. My favorite olives are the Chilean style Kalamata olives. The Lluta valley is known for having the biggest, and the most delicious corn in my whole country. This valley is famous for a version of the Sheppardís pie, which instead of putting mashed potatoes on top, uses mashed corn. This traditional plate is cooked in a clay oven, and served on a clay bowl. Yum! Is delicious!

In this town we settled in a neighborhood a little away from downtown, but it was only two blocks away from the ocean. What a place! Especially for a super active kid like me, I couldnít be in a better place. I could go out and play all year long without having to be worried about the rain or the cold weather.

Here in this town little by little I met new friends, and I met some of them in the most unusual ways. When I talk about how I met my friends in this new town, the first thing that comes to my mind, is the time when I met for the first time my friend Christian Farfan. On a sunny day of summer after swimming and playing soccer at the beach, I was walking back home among my new friends, and I saw guy coming towards me. He walked straight up to me, and with no warning what so ever, he punched me right on the nose. For the first time in my life I saw stars blinking all over and around. He punched me so hard that I started bleeding badly, and I started crying holding my nose asking to my friends, "What was that all about? Why he punched me?" I was in disbelieved but that was the first time I met him. That same day late in the afternoon he came over my house, and he apologized for what he did. I accepted his apology, and since then, we became very good friends. He was very strong, and I was a very scrawny kid at the time. He actually later on tried to help me out to become a little stronger, but didnít work out. I remember at the gym that even a girl could lift heavier weights than what I could. To see that was so embarrassing that since then I stayed away from gyms, period.

At the time, there was not such a thing as cable, and we only had two TV stations, and the most popular kidís show on TV was The Aunt Patriciaís show. The program was about the adventures of a first grade teacher, in a classroom full of kids and puppets. The show was a very good educational TV program, and we all used to watch it religiously. Aunt Patricia was great at teaching little kids social skills, and she did all that while having a great time along with the puppets. This TV show was so popular at the time, that all of the kids around my age in the neighborhood ended up being nicknamed after one of these puppets. My nickname was given to me after a puppet named Saturnian. He was an alien stranded on earth after his space ship broke down and he couldnít go back to his home planet Saturn. Every week Saturnian worked very hard trying to fix his space ship, and he would try to launch his space ship into space every Friday. Unfortunately he was still here on Earth, because every time he thought he has fixed the problem with his space ship, something will happen and the launch failed miserably every time. For one reason or another he could not get to launch his UFO successfully, and because of that, everyone would refer to him as some sort of a mad scientist. My friends use to call me a mad scientist too, and because of that, the nickname stock with me even to this day. I was always trying to fix broken stuff, and sometimes I was successful, and sometimes I wasnít. Anyhow I always had fun taking things apart, and putting them back together. Regardless of the outcome I always learned something new doing that, and I loved to figure out how they worked. Later on in my teen years, like everything had to be cool, they shorten my nickname to Satu.

Another of my best friends I met in that neighborhood, he didn't get named after one of the puppets, but because of his bad temper, and short temper we nicknamed him Bulldog. He was always grunting so we call him the bulldog at first, but later on our teen years, like everything had to be cool, we changed his nickname to "Perro" but we said it backwards "Ro-pe." He was never happy with his nickname, and everybody that dared to call him that will have to suffer the consequences. He was very short fused, and at the beginning when I just got to the neighborhood, we became archenemies number one. We couldn't see each other because every time we did, we started fist fighting right there in the spot. It was terrible! At a point got so bad that sometimes we even fought inside the city busses. I have never been the kind of person that attacked another just because, but with him I had no other choice but to defend myself. I had no choice. Our friends knew about this feud, and they loved to make us fight. They got together and divided themselves into two groups, one group will go to his house, and the other group went to my house. They said to me, "Hey Satu, Ro-pe called you Saturnian," the other group went to his house and said to him, "Hey Alvaro Satu called you doggy, dog." So will go out infuriated, met half ways, and started fist fighting until we were worn-out. At a point got so bad that we were fighting at least three to four times a week, at least. Most of the times he beat me up, but I didnít back down not even a bit. For sure I donít miss that time at all. That time was the most violent time of my life for sure, and the weirdest thing about that was the fact that I am a very peaceful kind of guy. He was the one with a very explosive personality, and with the short fuse. One of those days just like many other days we saw each other, we knew what was coming, but that day I told him very quick, "Donít you even try. I am sick of this." I asked him, "Why can't you see that the only thing we are doing, is giving them a good show for free. They always make us fight when they have nothing better to do. They are using us for their amusement, and you know that couldnít care less about us." He didn't stop and he just kept insulting me, and getting on my face calling me out. We started fighting like always, and we ended up in the ground. He got on top of me, and even landed a few punches on my face. I donít know what took over me at that moment, but I grabbed him in a way that I ended up being the one on top. I punched him a few times right in the face, and I donít even remember how, but I grabbed a big rock on my hand, and I was about to hit him right on the forehead. Fortunately I stopped the rock about an inch away from his head, and at that moment we both stand steal for a second. Instead of hitting him I said to him, "If you do not stop doing this to me I will kill you!" I stand up and I stretched my hand to him. He grabbed my hand and stand up. We looked at each other eyes, then turned around and went home. After that moment we became very good friends. After that we put those bad times behind us, and that was the beginning of our friendship with "Ro-pe." Of course he still calls me Satu, and I am one of the few that can call him "Ro-pe."

My favorite friend of all times was a German guy about my age that I met when he moved to the house right behind mine. His name was Manuel Paraigat and he was double the mad scientist that I ever was, and more. We use to talk and play hanging around over the fence that divided our properties, and one of the things that a like the most about him, was the fact that fighting was never in his mind, we never fought not even once. We were just a pair of mad scientist running our imagination wild every time we played together. We were always building something, never destroying anything. At first he didnít knew a word of Spanish, but soon he was communicating with us pretty well. He was a very smart kid, and as the time went by we became very good friends. I admired on him how fast he started to learn the language. On him I saw all the stages of a person learning a new language. I saw him going from saying a few words, to start talking broken sentences, and then in about a couple of years he was speaking the language with no accent at all. I was amazed to see how smart he was. He is one of the smartest people I have ever met. He loved Iron Maiden and I remember both of us trying to learn how to play on the guitar the song "Number of the beast." Unfortunately after a few years he moved to a different neighborhood, and then he returned to Germany.

How can I forget or not mention my best friend for a while Alvaro Rivera. We use to play on his house for hours at the time with his many, many toys, and his little dog named "Pichichu." On his house we used to have sleepovers, and his dad used to take us out for dinner to expensive restaurants. He was always welcome at my home too, and my mom Mercedes really liked him. His dad was the Captain of a big commercial fishing boat in which we went out to sea a couple of times. He was the only child so he was a spoil rotten kid. He was spoiled but very respectful and a good kid too. I had great times playing with him.

In this new town for me I had a very rough start, but little by little this new town became my new playground. In this semi-tropical playground full of sunshine with my new friends, we started growing up in a very healthy and happy environment. Together we practiced many sports including soccer, bicycling, tennis, and my favorite of all Water-polo. Practicing Water-polo is how I went from being a scrawny kid, to be a normal skinny kid.    

Living only two blocks away from the ocean was a real blessing for me. Every summer I had the opportunity to wake up early in the morning, and run for the beach with my friends. That beach in the morning had crystal clear waters and the nicest waves you can imagine. like in the morning was always a little chilly, we used to play beach soccer until we started sweating, and right after the game was over, we run as fast as we could and dived into the incoming waves. On a hot summer day, that beach was all you needed to have the best times of your life. I have so many great times on that beach, that those moments will always be a happy place in my mind. I will always treasure those moments dearly, and as the time goes by the more precious they became.

On that house just like in the house in La Serena my dad Luis had a little shop in the backyard. He was quite the inventor and he was always tinkering with his ideas in that little rudimentary shop. The main pieces of his little shop were: A wooden lathe, a welding machine and more than a few mechanical tools. Here in this little shop is where I learned as young boy essential wood-working skills, basic plumbing, welding and more than a few things about car mechanics. All those lessons were giving to me mainly by my dad Luis and my two older brothers. I was always tinkering around in my spare time with these tools, doing some of my little carpentry projects, and some of my mad scientist experiments. I had a lot of imagination and this little shop was one of my favorite pass times as a teenager. In this little shop my skills as a carpenter started to take shape, and looking back I think is worth to mention that when I was only thirteen years old, I got stuck on the idea of building a full-size replica of a professional foosball table including the token mechanism. Of course I didnít have the money to buy all the materials at once and build it, but little by little salvaging wood and other materials, I gather all I needed and I built it. I did a pretty good job but I wasnít totally satisfied with the results, because I wanted to do better. It wasnít perfect but was more than good enough. Actually after I finished it and played in it with my friends for a few weeks I sold it to Mrs. Virginiaóthe owner of a minimarketóand she put it to work. As far as I remember it was a success. I remember little by little gathering all the materials, and building all the parts one by one all by myself. My older brother Luis laughed at me after he learned what I was trying to build a foosball table, and he told me over and over "You donít know what youíre getting into. Are you going to build the mechanisms for the balls to come out and the token system release for them too? You are way out of your league my friend." After about six months I had the satisfaction of proving him wrong.

About that time in my life one of the moments that I recall clearly, is a conversation among my friends. We were talking about everything and nothing at all, when we suddenly found ourselves talking about religion and God. Most of them agreed that believing in God was just like believing in Santa Claus. I have never been much of a talker but that time when it was my turn to talk I said "No! That is not true! God does exist." They laughed at me and said "If thatís true, prove it!" I said "I cannot prove that God exist. I have no proof of it, but I wish one day when I grow up I'm able to put this puzzle together and find out why if God exist we cannot see it. There must be a reason. Maybe we as humans are too dumb to understand God. Whatever it is I know one thing for sure, and that is the fact that you can feel God. I know that if he created the heavens and the earth following the rules of reverse engineering, there must be clues everywhere. God it is everything!" They kept laughing at me, and one of the smart ones said "if God is everything like you said: What about that piece of turd in the grass. Is that God too?" I didn't know what to say, but I told him "I hope one day Iíll figure it out, and I will prove to you that God exist." Sure, sure he said and along with the others they kept laughing to my face. As they were laughing at me, something very special happened in my heart that stock with me. I know for sure now, that in that precise conversation my true self was starting to take shape. From the moment that I said those words something happened inside of me, I felt something very special, it was just like being around my daddy Oscar when he prayed to God, and I was by his side. That is the moment I believe is where my life quest startedóthat life quest of trying to find out the reason why we cannot see God. Since that moment I started to pay attention to every word that was said on his name, and I used to wonder about them, sometimes for hours at the time. In my beliefs old people were already the future, and I used to love to talk about the meaning of life and God with older people. Most of them were so surprised that a young kid like me was so interested about what life was. In my mind I was just looking for clues, I was looking for the trail that will lead me to God. Like they say, "All the roads lead to Rome."

 

That same day I had that conversation with my friends about the existence of God, at supper time my dad Luis started talking to me about an article in the Readerís Digest. As he started talking to me, I said to myself "Great?! Here we go with another boring story." After a few minutes into his monologue, I realized that this time he was actually telling me a great story. The story was about how to win one million dollars, and that caught my attention really quick. My dad said "They have offered a million-dollar reward to anyone who can build a perpetual motion device. "What's that?" I asked him, he said "It is anything that you can build that can stay in motion by itself forever. You canít use any fuels, batteries or a winding mechanism, and has to work just by itself with no outside help of any kind. That is a perpetual motion device or mainly known as a PMD"

"How interesting" I said to him, and honestly I did mean it. He started talking about some ideas of his own, and I did get really interested on those ideas. One of the things that got stuck in my head was the definition of energy that he mentioned: You need energy to create energy, and he added "That is the actual definition of Energy, so if someone were to invent or discover a PMD it could change the very meaning of energy."

Next day thinking about that conversation I had with my dad Luis at sapper time, going to the beach that was right in front of my neighborhood like usual. I was walking and thinkingóone of my favorite things to do especially right by the oceanóand I was looking at the horizon while thinking about what my dad told me and I concluded that in order to understand God you needed to understand what Energy was. If everything is made out of energy, understanding energy was crucial to understand God. If you could understand energy you can get closer to know what God is. At that moment I came out with one hypothesis a very complex one "If God existed energy could not need energy to create energy, because in that case there would be no beginning." If God were to exist that definition of energy where you need energy to create energy must be wrong. So I thought and thatís why in my mind I knew that a good step forward to find God, would be creating a perpetual motion device. That type of device for certain would be like a formula of energy, a true step forward to understand God. What does make the difference between matter and spirit? What is the difference between matter and being alive? I came up with the idea that our consciousness was the only thing that separated us from being just matter, or just energy. How matter from just being matter could be awakened? How consciousness can declare freedom and independence from just being matter? Fascinating! I thought that thinking about these things was the way to rationalize all the things that we cannot. Every time I thought about these ideas, there was a feeling present, something special about it. Made me feel like I was not alone, made me feel like I was part of something greater than our self, and part of everything that was around me, including all what I was able to see at night, like the moon and the stars, the bugs and the ants, I was fascinated by them, they were alive too, just like me.

The Bible says "Spirit over matter" meaning that whatever you are in spirit is far more important that what you are in your physical body. Your spirit must be the seed of matter. The Bible says about God something that I took to heart "I am who I am. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end"

For some reason God was to me not a magician, God was to me the ultimate master carpenter of all. If God was to exist, God had to make perfect sense with science, because he created it.

It is known by history that God has talked to men before, and God has been guidance on times of uncertainty, and just like in the story of the Ark of Noah or Moses, those men who have found the way to talk to God, found the way to God and heaven here on earth. How did they reach the glory of God here on earth?

The Bible says that by faith and by faith only you reach the glory of God, and I did believe that. I knew right then that when it comes to God, is not about being the most educated or the richest. So like, I was poor and not precisely the number one in my class, I thought maybe here I have a shot, maybe Iím on to something, so I thought. Thatís how I found the Quest of My life. At a very early age in my youth, I found a quest that I have carried with me since then, and I can say even to this day that Iím still working on it.

A day walking by the ocean looking at the horizon, recalling the conversation with my dad I said "Thatís it! Thatís the answer Iíve been looking for! The first step on finding God is to create a perpetual motion device. If God exist this device must be possible. This is the only way to break this infinite loop of energy needing energy to create energy."

Since then I tried many, many ideas with not much success I must add, but every time that I thought about how to build a PMD, and that idea didnít work, I found something new, something I didnít expect, something that would help me to improve my next idea. Sometimes ideas work in your head very well. Inside your mind everything works just the way you want it, but reality is what it is, and you have to learn to work with it. At a very young age I learned a very good lesson about what matter is, and that is: Every piece of matter it has its own properties, and you have to learn how to work with them regardless of what you think. That is tricky very tricky, because is hard not to fool yourself. Understanding what worked and what didnít, and learning the properties of matter, for me was like getting closer to God.

Growing up in this new place made me understand what is like to be an outsider, what is like to have a little accent, and what is like to be the one that looks different. At the end I realized that growing up as a person doesnít have nothing to do with how you look, is all about what you are as a person and how you feel. What you truly believe in your heart is what does really shapes you as a person. You cannot tell what a person has taken for truth to his heart, but by their actions, you can have a very good idea whatís inside of their heart. I love that saying that was said by Mr. Kimball long ago, "A person speaks of what his heart is full of."

When I turned 15 years old my dad sat me down and said to me, "now that you have turned 15 years old, I know that no matter what I said to you, you will do whatever you want to do. I canít be there watching over you every day and every minute of your life, that is the truth. I do not want you to grow up lying to me. I donít want you to grow up being a hypocrite. Before I talked to you I talked to your mom, and she does not agree with me all that much, but so far the same thing Iím going to tell you, is the same thing I have already told your older brothers when they turned fifteen. From now on if you want to drink alcohol you can do it here at home. If you want to smoke you can do it, but outside the house of course. Nobody is going to punish you for doing that. I am not telling you that these things are good for you, because they are not. In my beliefs for you is better to taste them here at home, instead of getting them in the streets with your friends. In my own experience and for what Iíve seen nothing in moderation is bad. If you have a glass of wine with supper might be even good for you, and I wish you never become a drunk, moderation is my advice. As far as I have seen there is nothing good about smoking cigarettes, no other animal in nature does that. Those who smoke you can smell them, and you have seen them spitting their lungs out. Your mom and I we have never smoked in our lives, and weíre not drunks. We only have one body, and you have to care about your body, because you only have one. Eat healthy like your mom said, and understand that food is not just something that you put in your mouth to please your butt tastes. Every cell in your body needs vitamins, proteins, fibers and many of these vital nutrients you will find them in fruits and vegetables. Do not eat too much either, especially if you donít want to end up having diabetes like me, I did eat in excess and look at me now. Nothing in excess is good for you son. Be smart you only have one body and one life. That is my advice, and Iím telling you this because I know that from this moment on, no matter what we tell you, you will be doing what you believe is the right thing to do. Now that you know what I think have my blessings, and I wish you become whatever you want to be in life. Know that you can be whatever you want to be, and remember that if another human can do it, you can do it as well. In my opinion this world is upside down, but I donít want to bother you talking about that, anyways one day you will understand what I mean with that. About God and religion I only believe in what I can see, and most likely I will go to hell, but if it is true that you are a free person, you should be able to believe whatever you want to believe. Donít forget that life is not free, so learn to make your living in an honest way, be useful to society, and donít ever believe that drugs are going to make you rich, remember that. Remember all the stories that I have told you about strangers luring people to carry packages for them offering you a lot of money. Most likely they are going to use you as a bait, and while you are being detained they will pass a lot of drugs through another side while they are busy arresting you. I love my freedom even if sometimes life is hard, there is nothing like being free to go and do whatever you want. Be respectful of the law.  That is my advice to you son, you can take it or leave it. In my beliefs nobody can teach you how to become a man, because that is something that youíll have to find on your own."

Soon after that talk with my dad I organized a camping trip, and I invited my three best friends. Unfortunately only two of them were allowed to go. Sorry about the other one because we had a blast.

The story of forgotten music

Music is not just a song. You might love a song with all your heart, and that song that you hold so dearly inside your heart is not yours. That goes to show you that in your heart not everything inside belongs to you. Music is neither the guitar nor the strings. Music at the end is the result of you experiencing the beautiful miracle of being alive, and we realize at that moment that we are interacting with the universe. Just outside of our selves is where the universe begins, and from you to all eternity as far as you can see, you are the center of the universe. Music is not just a song, music is the beautiful analogy of what life is, and if the Universe were to be nothing but music, then God would be the rhythm.

On that trip Manuelóthe German, AlvaroóRopeóand I went to the Lluta Valley. My dad Luis gave us a ride and dropped us off for the weekend in a place along the river, but not too far from the road. This place is a true oasis right in the middle of the desert. Ancient geoglyphs of aliens looking like figures stand out over sandy hills of this valley, and they let you know that you are in an ancient sacred land.

The ones going have to bring their own food and "plus" enough for three days. Thatís was what we agreed upon, but at the end we had nothing but a loaf of bread, some fruits, and "plus" that was a five litter bottle of wine.

We set up camp by the river and we started setting up the tent, a very old tent which we had to apply a lot to of imagination to make it look like a tent. Then we started collecting firewood while exploring around the camp. It was fun to set everything up, and we were happy that we had no adult supervision. I guess that made us feel like adults and not just kids.

We entertained ourselves hiking and exploring around until sunset time. Soon after the sun went down the grey desert hills started turning black, letting the stars dominate the landscape. In the horizon the blue sky little by little got illuminated by stars revealing the shape of the top of the hills all around us. There were so many stars that was hard to believe how many of them they were. Especially when you live in the city and you are not used to the rural scene, to see so many stars in the sky is for sure a show like no other, and that was the perfect time to start the campfire.

We sat around the fire and started talking a little bit of everything. We opened the bottle of wine and before we started drinking we dropped a little bit of wine to the ground saying, "Paíla Pacha Mama"ófor you Mother Earthóand we started drinking and talking for a while.

 This saying is typical of the natives of the land. The natives of this land are the descendants of the Incas, and in their native languageóQuechuaóthat is what they say to mother Earth before they start drinking. Their connection with the Sunóthe fatheróand Earthóthe motheróis very strong, and is deeply rooted in their beliefs.

 Being around the campfire and drinking wine was the perfect time to start talking about UFOs. Right in the middle of nowhere with clear skies, and darkness all around us after drinking about half of the bottle of wine, we were begging for Paul the alien, to land in his flying saucer right in front of us. That was the king of conversation we were having after drinking all that wine. I donít remember how late it was, but in the middle of all that my friend Manuel had an idea and he said, "Letís go and trick the drivers of the passing cars by making them believe that we have a rope across the road. Letís see how many fall for it." Then I said, "I donít understand." Manuel said, "We pretend that we are holding a rope on our hands, and we place ourselves on both sides of the road, and as the car approaches we pretend that we are pulling the cord very hard. Letís see how many drivers will fall for the trick." I donít know how much to blame the wine, but we said, "Great idea!" Then I did ask "But we donít have any ropes, where are we going to get a rope?" Manuel said to me "A pretend rope you fool." I said "Oh, now I got it." And so we did. We went to the road and started to pretend that we were pulling a rope when a car was about to passed us by. For our surprise almost every single one of them stopped slamming on the brakes, and as soon as they saw us laughing our butts off they curse us and left. Some of them just shook their heads in disapproval, and continued ahead embarrassed because they fall for it.

Next day we woke up with a massive headache, and we spend most of the day just recovering from the hangover. At the end we had fun just hanging around the camp, and when it got really hot we jumped in the river, a river that was right in front of our tent. It was a very good time, we had a blast. Being in the country is the perfect time to realize how simple life could be.  

 

Chapter Three

 

Out of all my brothers and sisters my older sister Belinda has been always the closest to me. She is only three years ahead of me in this life, and we have always got along very well. The thing I remember the most about her concerning God, was the time when she was about fifteen years old, and she started to wonder about what religion she should join in. She wanted to be closer to God, and God has been always something very important in her life. She wanted to be part of a religion, but not any religion, she wanted to be part of a true religion. She felt deep in her heart that if she was in a true religion somehow she was going to know it, because her heart will let her know. Finding a true religion for her was a true spiritual calling.

She visited and investigated many religions, but in her heart she couldnít find what she was looking for. Years passed by and she was still looking for a true religion, until one day when she was about eighteen years old, while talking with my dad Luis about this same subject at dinner time, she mention to my dad Luis that she was curious about a church that looked really nice, but she had no idea what that religion was all about. My dad asked her if she remembered the name of that church, and she said, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Then my dad started talking about a coworker that was a very good guy, and he was an active member of the Mormon Church. At the end of that conversation he told her that he was going to ask that coworker for some more information about that church, and a few days after that conversation, my dad Luis gave her the address where she should go if she wanted to attend one of the Sunday services of that religion. She went to that church and she like it. There it was something special about this church. From the moment she enter the building she felt something special, and the thing she liked the most was not to see any statues outside or inside, in the whole building there was no Christ in a cross, and she really liked that.

When she got home after her first visit to the Mormon Church she was excited, she couldnít stop talking about it. After that first visit, just a couple of days after the missionaries where knocking on our door, and to make the story short, my sister ended up join in the Mormon Church, and like you may knowósarcastically speakingóthey are not pushy, right? A couple months after that first visit the three of us: Belinda, my Mom Mercedes and I, ended up getting baptized.

The missionaries who baptized us were two young men: One was an American named Brent Tremble, and the other was Elder Cornejoóa nice guy from the southern part of Chile. Since then my sister Belinda became a very good Mormon, and I was a good Mormon too, but just for a little while. For about a year, I did pretty well, but I couldnít quit smoking and drinking tea. That was not the deal breaker though; the thing that really pushed me away from the Mormon Church was what I heard on Sundaysí sermons. What the people was saying in the name of God every Sunday, that was what really pushed me away from this religion. At the beginning I tried to believed and understand everything what they were talking about, and I really paid attention to what they were saying. I started reading and studying the Book of Mormon because I wanted to know where they were coming from. I must say that I didnít read the whole bookóbecause I fell asleep every time I started reading itóbut at least I tried. After about a year of trying my best to be the best Mormon I could be, in one of those Sunday mornings listening to the bishopís sermon, I just couldnít believe how much rubbish was coming out of his mouth. Something clicked in my mind and from that moment on, I stopped trying to be a Mormon. In my opinion the bishop was saying exactly the opposite of what the Bible says. Letís say "I couldnít relate, or I just couldnít feel it." I realized that just like in the Catholic Church their focus was not about God, there main focus was money, what you drink, what to wear, and how to make the church bigger. All of these things are for sure not spiritual things, and I got fed up listening to them. Many Sundays I wondered, "When we get to the part where we talk about God? The living God, the one I am interested on, the one Iím looking for, because when two or more speak about God, God comes and listens, and you can tell when God is listening. You know it! Is just like being in love, for some reason you just know it.

Back then I didnít know much about God and still, but I knew at least that when you talk about God, you talk mainly about spiritual things and not just about material things.

At that time in my life I felt like I was one of those souls walking away from God, just because I was not a religious person. I felt so lost sometimes that I really didnít know what to do, and the only thing that helped me to deal with those feelings and that way of reasoning was practicing sports. Exercise was the way for me to deal with my uncertainties at that age. When I started thinking about religion, love, life or the futureóthat for certain didnít look too bright at the timeó, and I got frustrated and lost, I did exercise. I used to play soccer with my friends often or whatever was fun at the moment, but my thing was swimming. Around that time I was going to the city Olympic swimming pool, and I was part of the water-polo city team. Like always I was not part of the elite players, but I was in the team, and I was training along with them, at least I tried to keep up with them.

At that time I was already going to high school, and like always, since I moved to this new town, my grades were not all that good. I have never been a bad kid or an angel either, but I never expected that because of not having excellent grades in my first year of I was going to be expelled of that High school. In my first year of High School, right before the year was over they told me that I could not come back the next year. That was a bummer for me, because I really liked my first High School. Like it or not I was forced to move to another high school. On my second year of high school I barely made it, and because of that, I was band from that high school too. After all those changes I really had it with school. They said that they were doing that keeping in mind what was best for me, but in all reality I saw people looking for excuses to get rid of me, and I couldnít understand why. In my third year of high school I didnít even get the minimum grades to pass to the senior year, and again I was banned from that high school too. I guess at that time in my life, I had serious troubles fitting in. I was not a bad kid, but it was hard for the teachers to deal with a kid that didnít have not even one note book, and didnít write or take notes during class. They used to say that I was a bad example for the rest of the good kids. Even if I didnít take notes in class, most of the times I was able to pass the tests at least with the minimum required. That really threw the teachers off big time and many because of that, they didnít like me at all.

Since I got to Arica city I had serious problems adapting and fitting in, and where that fact was most palpable, was in school. Maybe it was the fact that I wouldíve preferred to stay in my home town La Serena or the fact that I found school a thing so primitive. I always thought that being seated while somebody tried to teach you something by talking and showing you pictures, was not the best way to teach a human being something new. For me every lesson shouldíve been a game that you play at school, that way you couldíve be learning not even knowing that you were being taught. So I thought, and being so active for me was pure torture having to be seated for hours at a time in a hard chair.

I have been always very active, but I have never been very strong, physically strong that is. I remember at the time rugby was the sport that everybody was talking about, and at the time I found nothing better than trying for the team. I tried for the rugby team and I made it. That was the time in my life when I realized that there are people capable of hate for no reason at all. That was the time of a true and tough awakening for me. That was the time when I had a big epiphany just like the time when one day I was going to play with my toys, and I realized that they were not fun anymore even if I tried.

Joining this rugby team was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. My dad Luis told me not to play rugby, but I didnít listen and I played anyways behind his back. He opposed because as he said I could get a broken bone very easy playing that sport, and he said that I was not strong enough to play that kind of game. He told me "Once you break a bone on your body youíll never be the same ever again. You are not the strongest, your brother Fernando he is really strong, but he is not a fool to put at risk the well being of the rest of his life just to play a game. I donít think your brother Fernando would be that stupid to play that kind of game. Can you compete whit him? Do you think you are that strong?" "I am telling you this for your own good" he said, and do you think I listened?

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon right behind the city soccer stadium, in one of the practice soccer fields, the final match for the rugby championship title was about to begin and I was there. I was not one of the main guys in the team; I was just a reserve, but I was in the team. The final match was between these two high schools teams that had a rivalry for years, and after the usual protocol the game started. There was a big crowd and everybody was shearing for their team. I was looking at the game feeling proud to be part of the team, and I couldnít wait for the chance to play in a real game. I remember dreaming while seated in the bench, about having the chance to tackle somebody in a real game and be the hero of the game. That is what I had in my mind, but what really happened to me was the complete opposite. Not even fifteen minutes into the game a guy got hit hard, and he started complaining about pain in his knee. The coach didnít know what to do, he was upset, he kept looking at us but he didnít know whom to pick to replace the guy. The truth was, on the bench we were all rookies, and none of us had experience playing in a real game of rugby. Among all of us I was the only one that at least had some experience playing soccer, so he looked at me and said, "Okay itís your turn." I just couldnít believe it, was like a dream come true, and right in the final match, my opportunity, my chance to take Glory home. I was so excited. I took my position in the field, and the game started. The opposite team after the initial crumble got the ball, and they gave it to his biggest guy. I was not a friend of him but I knew him, his nickname was Bam-Bam. He grabbed the ball and started running. As I used to play soccer I knew that at the distance that he was from me, I could catch him easy. I started running towards him with all I got, as I was running full speed getting ready to tackle him, I saw in the corner of my eyes one of my teammatesóEliseo Salazarócoming my way. I thought, "Great! We got this guy." He was running towards me, and I thought he was coming to help me, but right before I had the chance to tackle Bam-Bam I looked again and I saw my teammate Eliseo coming at me full speed bracing for impact. He was coming at me fast and head forward. Nothing I could do to avoid that collision, too late, I was not expecting that. The only thing I could do was try to shield my face with my shoulder and my arm, and he got me right on my jaw. With the very front of his forehead he hit me like a torpedo and lights off for me, blurry vision, and deemed voices getting louder little by little saying, "Get up man, get up." "Wait, wait" I said, "Donít move me, donít move me." and I kind of raise my left arm a bit trying to signal to them please do not move me, and as I was doing that Bam-Bam grabbed my left arm and pulled it hard making my collarbone snap in two. I knew right there, in the middle of that pain that I had never felt before, that he just broke something on me, and I said to him, "you mess me up mofo." After the typical guyís discussion, "Man donít you know not to move someone when they are unconscious. Who said that?" They took me out of the field, and sent me to the hospital in a public bus. They had no money to pay for a taxi, so I had to walk from the field to the bus stop, then from the bus stop to the emergency room. I never realized before how hard the suspension of an old bus was. They took x-rays, and then the doctor said to me, "Your collarbone has been fractured right in the middle, and by the way your bones are aligned right now, they are okay. Overall is not too bad. You might have one side of your back a bit shorter than the other, because your broken collarbone is overlapping about half an inch. To correct that you will need surgery, but like your school insurance doesnít cover that, I guess you should consider yourself lucky." So they put a cast all over my chest including my left arm, and sent me home with no painkillers, not even Tylenols for the pain. On top of all that when I got home, my dad called me to the side, and slapped me across the face saying, "I told you. You idiot!"

After that with plenty of time to think about it, in my mind I was looking for a reason, a reason why a team-mate will do that to me, or to anybody else for that matter. I thought and I thought about it, until I found one instance where I couldíve done something to Eliseo that he didnít liked. It was one night in the parking lot in front of the beach, that same beach right in front of my house. I was walking towards the parking lot, and I saw a car with the windows fogged a bit, and just out of curiosity I did walk by, and that was his car. I didnít know at the time, and he was right in the middle of something with a girl. I just walked away, but I still remember the look in his face. That must have been what triggered so much hate towards me. Anyways that was not a reason to try to kill someone, like they say "Just like comedians find a reason to laugh out of everything good or bad, haters find reasons to hate out of nothing at all."

Going back to school was hard. Everybody was asking me what happened at the game, and I was so embarrassed. Hard to believe but I was about to learn another lesson in that high school. A classmate that didnít like me very much, found nothing better to do than start picking on me. He started being rude with me to the point. In my eyes I just saw another coward taking advantage that I was in a cast, and he thought that because I was in a cast, I was going to chicken out, but I didnít. Even if I knew that I had not even a chance to beat him up, I didnít back down, not even a bit. He beat me up badly, but I didnít cry, and I didnít shut my mouth either. At the end everybody was telling him how wrong he was, and all the girls were around me trying to comfort me. It was a long recovery to get better from that broken bone, and out of that experience I learned to lay low, and even if all logic would point at the conclusion that the right answer was to hate back, I didnít. I refused to fill my heart with hate, and let my soul walk into darkness. In my mind I didnít gave in because God say so "If youíre not with me, youíre against me." Instead of hate them I pray to God to forgive them, because that is what I should do if I wanted God to forgive me, "With the same stick that you measure, you will be measured." Pathetic you might think, but that is what I did.

After my third year in high school, and after four high schools, because I did repeat the third year, I turned eighteen sooner than I ever thought possible, and in my country when you turn eighteen you must enlist in the Army, like it or not. Unless you are already married or you are the only financial support of your family or you had a serious illness or physical limitation that prevents you from serving in the Armed Forces, you have to go and serve for two years period.

I was drafted to serve in an Army base located up in the mountains over 14,000 feet above the sea level. A military base located a few minutes away from the Chungara Lake, one of the highest lakes in the world. Is a beautiful place to visit, but when you are up there, you are in the middle of nowhere, you are in Llama Land. Up there you can find wild Llamas, VicuŮas, mountain lions, and if you are really lucky, you might see the majesty of a Condor flying free patrolling his territory from up above.

The wingspan of a Condor is about 10 Ĺ feet, and they have a white-collar around their neck. To see a Condor in their natural environment is for many a spiritual experience.

The year was 1985 and our country was still under the dictatorship of Augusto Pint-of-shitóthatís how I call him, and if you want to open a can of worms, ask me why. My country at that time was still suffering from oppression, and no freedom of the speech. Still people who didnít agreed with the regime was disappearing, not as bad as in 1973, but the people was still afraid of this regime, and for good reasons I must add. Many young people was still dying in strange situations while serving in the Army, just like many people today in the US is dying in strange situations by Police. You hear many stories that you donít know what to really believe anymore.

In school they teach you how great the Army is and has been; the many battles they have won, and you hear that the Army is an institution led by high moral values and honor. For me was hard to believe that the same institution that was trusted by our nation to defend us from harm, was the same institution that committed genocide in one of the bloodiest episodes of my countryís historyóSeptember 11th of 1973. I didnít know what to believe really, but soon I was about to find out personally what the Army really was all about.

After the regular exams and prescreening they didnít find anything wrong with me, so they told me to wait for a letter in the mail that will tell me where I have to be, to start serving my two years in the military. For a little while seemed like they forgot about me, and I thought somehow I was going to get away with serving in the military but "Just!" Just like my dad Luis used to say every time something good was about to happen, but at the end it didnít. When a situation like that happened he would say "Just!" Just like Homer Simpson says, "donít!" my dad used to say "Justo!" and just when I thought I was going to get away from serving in the Military, I received the letter in the mail and I was called to serve, "Just!"

I said goodbye to everyone, grabbed my backpack, and on I went to the military base. When I got there I got greeted by the guards, they said welcome to me but not really, the look in their eyes was the same look that you get in Disneyland when you enter The House Horror. As I enter the restricted area, and got inside the base, I felt chills on my back. This base had a kind of scary looking, just like the look of an old junk yard, there was something creepy about it. The whole floor of the base was nothing hard compacted dirt, and on one side of the base there was a couple of barracks made out of corrugated metal, that kind of barracks that you donít know if the roof is on the walls or the walls are an extension of the roof. I didnít like the look of the base at all, but in the other hand it supposed to be just like going camping, right? I got there early in the afternoon right after lunch, and the only thing we did all day was to hang out in the old metal barracks and kicked the dirt. Little by little the place started getting packed and it was hard to believe how many of us were called to serve at that same place. It was nice to see how many eighteen-year old were in your exact same situation as you were, in a way was just like another day in high school, almost.

Soon though, we all realized that No! This was not like high school at all. After the sun was gone and the shadows had faded away, we all had to go to an old shed and picked up a foam mattress to put over the metal bunk beds to spend our first night at the base. They called it a mattress, but it was nothing but a three inches thick piece of foam. After we grabbed the "Mattress" the Sergeant in charged ordered us to pick a bed, and he told us that next morning we were all going to travel up to the mountains to the real base. Shortly after he ordered us to go to sleep, and turned the lights off. That was right after 10 pm, and I was used to go to bed after one or two in the morning every night, just like everybody else on that town. I couldnít go to sleep and I was turning from one side to the next when I heard a big loud fart. It was so loud and so long that every buddy who heard it started laughing out of control. Honestly it was hilarious. The sergeant in charge said "Silence Maggots! If I hear any other noise again, you all are going to regret it!" Not even a minute after we all got quiet, but somebody let another one loose, one even bigger and louder than the first one. Mustíve been a record for sure, and everybody cracked up again. The sergeant in charge turned on the lights, and made us regret to have broken the silence. He punished us all by making us crawl all over the dirt patio for almost half an hour. He made the responsible guys do some extra push-ups, and hard to believe it, but those guys were still farting. The sergeant was cursing us all along until he had enough.

The thing that still baffles me even to this day, is why the sergeant had to make us get naked before he punished us, why naked? Funny thing was that after the lights went out again, it happened again. This time nobody laughed though, well almost, there still was some giggles here and there.

At that time as far as we knew, due to new laws, they were not supposed to hit us because that was now against the law. Soon being in there we learned that so what? Nobody was there to implement the law. We learned very quickly that we were on our own; we were at the mercy and criteria of who ever happened to be in charge of us at the time.

That was my first night in the military. Even to this day I still wonder what we were supposed to do in the military; what was expected from you; what was the objective of this two years enterprise; what was the purpose of these massive tax payers dollars expense, because nobody ever told us, and even to this day I still donít know what is expected from you in the military.

Next day the trucks arrived first thing in the morning, and up the mountains we went. Four hours in the back of an off road military truck is not an easy ride but we made it. When we got there, they warn us, "Get off the trucks slowly or you will faint. The air over here is very thin so take it easy. You have half an hour to get to your barracks." The barracks were only two blocks away. They told us "Do not jump off the trucks either." It was hard to believe that we had half an hour to walk only two blocks, but as they told us, "Do not underestimate the altitude, here we are over 14,000 feet above sea level, so watch it!" I did take it seriously as the majority of us did, but like always some just jumped out of the trucks, and started walking normally. Those who did after a few steps they fell to the floor like a sack of potatoes. The medics rushed to them with bottles of oxygen to revive them, and after a few episodes like that, everybody knew that they were not kidding with us.

Later on that day they did take us to a depot, where they give us our utensils and blankets for our bets. On that depot I met for the first time Sgt. LaBarca. He was the one in charge of the depot, and the first time he saw me, he told me right in my face "I do not like you, maggot" I could not understand why he said that to me, but for some reason brought me back to the time when I was in eighth grade in my home town La Serena. In one split second a memory of my childhood crossed my mind. That moment when I was going back home all by myself, like always just inside my world walking and thinkingómy favorite thing to doówhen a group of about six kids of my class surround me, and they tried to beat me up for no reason at all. I said tried because I defend myself with my backpack and my legs, and I fought until they gave up. I still donít know why they did that and Sgt. LaBarca for some reason reminded me of that moment. Why somebody that doesnít even know you would say something like that to you, it really baffled me. Sgt. Labarca was the one in charge of giving us our first uniform, that one uniform that will take us all through the basic training. After I got out of that depot I knew he meant what he said, because when I got out of that depot, I was wearing the oldest and holiest uniform of all. Up in the mountains itís very cold especially in the morning. Itís so cold that you need winter boots, a full face hat, and for the blizzards you better have good winter gear. Sgt. LaBarca gave me the worse stuff he could find, and he was not shy to let me know what he was doing. At the same time everybody got a pair of winter boots except for me. Sgt. Labarca looked at me and asked, "What size of shoes are you?" I said "Ten and a half." He looked at me and said "I donít have that size. Next!" He didnít even look or nothing, he just told me straight out to get lost, and because of that I had no other option but to use my tennis shoes. My sneakers were the only thing I had, and like I was poor, they were not in a very good shape either; they were in the last stage of use; they were barely hanging in there.

Every morning before breakfast we had to do a headcount outside the barracks out in the cold, and that wasnít so bad or hard on my feet, but every Monday morning the Colonel Commander addressed the whole base, in a ceremony paying respects to the flag, and that was hard. That ceremony lasted usually about an hour or so, and that was tuff on my feet. The freezing temperatures little by little started biting my feet to the point where I couldnít feel my toes anymore. I was just wearing my old tennis shoes, and after a few weeks of basic training, they were holy as holy they could be. At that point standing motionless for an hour out in the cold, first thing in the morning, was pure torture for me. I had my winter jacket and a good hat, and even if the clothes I had were old and holy, they still did the job, but the pain in my feet it was excruciating. A few times I had to be carried away leaning on the shoulders of two of my comrades next to me, because I couldnít walk. Basic training they call it, I call it inhumanity unleashed. They call it being tuff, I call it being an idiot. It was such a frustrating situation. I donít know how I didnít get sick; I shouldíve, but good thing I didnít.

We had a few people in charge of us and they rotated to take care of us. I didnít have any problems with any of the privates in charge of us, but two to three days a week Sgt. LaBarca was the one in charge. He really didnít like me at all. Almost every time he saw me, he called me up and asked me to bring him a broom. After I did he asked me to bend over and he broke a broomstick on my ass, just for no reason, well his reason was, "Havenít I told you that I donít like you, maggot" and things like that. These kinds of situations were hard for me to understand, I usually expected a reason behind an action, but here in the army seems like reason was a disease that nobody wanted to get. Sometimes a young Lieut. showed up in the middle of the night asking for cigarettes, most of the time he was drunk, and if nobody had a cigarette for him, he got so mad that besides of throwing a fit, he liked to play horse racing with us. The racing arena was the space under the beds and the hallway; the horses were all of us, and the last one got an extra beating for being slow. I remember the young Lieutenant holding himself on the upper side of the bunk-beds so he could step on us a little bit faster. I guess doing that made him feel better. For me was really hard to understand that kind of behavior; for me what he was doing was straight out criminal. Every time I saw that kind of behavior my mind sent me back to that moment where I got to meet them for the first time, back in 1973 when I was just a child, and that young Lieutenant full of himself put a gun over my brothers head. I tried to understand what gives the right to another human to act in such way. Those were things for me really hard to understand. I tried to find a reason why they were doing that, but like always trying to understand that kind of behavior is nothing but a waste of time.

Many times I was stopped for no reason other than walking to or from my barrack to the bathrooms, and I did get punished for no reason at all. They liked to practice on usóthe ones on basic trainingótheir new punishments. They wasted their time thinking about new ways of punishment. I remember two of their favorite punishments, one of them was the Boiled-egg, and the other was the tripod. On the tripod you have to put your hands behind your back and spread your legs, then you have to lean forward and form a tripod using your forehead as the third leg. On that part of the country the dirt is mixed with tiny little rocks, and they are very sharp little pebbles, so when you apply pressure on the floor with your forehead, many of those little rocks get stuck on your skin and it is very painful. The boiled egg is not that bad, but still a very cruel punishment. They make you touch the tip of your fingers, all of them at the same time, just like you were holding a boiled egg upwards on your hand, and then they hit the top of your finger tips really fast with a whipping motion using their big combat knife. Especially in cold weather the tip of your fingers become very sensitive, so you can imagine how painful it was. Thatís how many of them used to amuse themselves with us. However you look at these kinds of practices they make no sense, and they should not exist anymore. Those moments of humiliation were very hard for me to deal with. Sometimes I wonder how a human being can be such a jackass.

I was having that kind of fun when one of those days, in the middle of breakfast, a high rank officer announced that, they were looking for people that knew how to swim. He needed to put together a swimming team for a competition among the six division of the Army.

The commander as soon as he said, "Who knows how to swim?" I raised my hand quicker than lightning, and a guy seated next to me tried to hold my hand down saying, "Donít do that! If you leave our group they are going to think that youíre trying to skip basic training, and they are going to retaliate against you." I thought about what they guy said for split second, but I as soon as I thought about Sgt. Labarca I knew right there that was impossible for my situation to get any worse than that. Anyhow before I could have the chance to put my hand down, the officer called me and asked me what kind of swimming experience I had. I told him that Iíve been swimming since I was thirteen years old, and that I used to play water polo as part of the city team. I was not one of the main players on the team, but I was part of the team. He asked me to swim right there in the floor. He wanted to see how well I could swing. I did get in the floor and I started pretending that I was swimmingóI could never understand their sense of humor. That day I got selected with a few other soldiers to represent our Army Base in the competition, and after a couple of days, they send us back down to the city to start our training.

Iíve been up in that base for a little bit over a month and it might sound hard to believe, but when we got down to the city, seemed to me like Iíve been gone for years. It was like Iíve never seen the city before. Everything looked as if I was looking at for the first time ever. I remember seeing girls everywhere, and all of them looking so fine.

Once down in the city army-base we started training every day, and for my surprise the lieutenant in charge of the team, didnít have a clue about rules or how to train a swimming team for a competition. He started asking me questions about what to do, and I shared with him what I knew at the time, I gave him my best advice. We started training hard and with a little of my advice and hard work soon all my team mates knew what to do, especially at the starting point. How you get in the water is very important. There is a technique to break the water, and if you do it right, you can keep the momentum going and get and advantage right from the start. I taught them how to that, and with Just with a few pointers I gave them, the overall times improved a lot. They were happy with the results, and as a bonus, I got to go home for the weekend. Even though youíre not supposed to go home before your basic training is over, they let me go and visit my family for the weekend. That was nice. Oh man! Iíve never been so happy to go home.

My mom Mercedes was not expecting me at all. When I got home she was surprised and happy to see me. The first thing she asked me was what I wanted to eat for dinner that night. She said, "Name anything and Iíll cook it for you. What do you want for dinner?" honestly I wouldíve loved to say steak and fries, but I knew that the budget for food was always a heavy burden on my Momís shoulders, so I said, "Lentils Mom!" She looked back at me surprised and asked me, "Is not lentils what you have in the army for lunch pretty much every other day?" I said "I know mom, but you know how much I like lentils, and the way they cook it up there is terrible. You even find pieces of burlap bags in the lentils, is disgusting! Iím missing to eat lentils the way you cook them Mom" Anyways I didnít care about what I was going to eat. That night I was happy to be home again.

After the initial thrill of seeing my family again was gone, I never thought possible that I was going to feel like a stranger on my own place. That is how I felt the first few hours after I got home. I felt like a complete estranger, and I almost asked my mom for permission to go to the restroom. I guess if a place does not have your own bed, you canít call it home or something like that. It was weird but for sure after we set up my bed, and I spent a little bit of time talking to them, I started to feel home again. One of the things that really helped me to feel home again, was to see again my cat Monochito. He was not there when I got home, but after a little while he showed up. My beloved pet finally showed up, and who couldíve known then, that I was spending my last little bit of time with it. My cat was so happy to see me. He came over and got over my lap like always, but this time he put his paws around my neck like giving me a hug, and he kind of gave me a kiss touching my nose with his nose. Then he grabbed my head with his paws firmly, and he started licking my hair with his spiky tong as if I was another cat. He was really something else. He loved to take a nap over my lap, and just like the first time when I took him in my hands, he looked at me, rolled around, and went right back to sleep. I wish I knew at that moment that I was holding him in my arms for the last time.

At dinner time was nice to feel completely back at home again, and we had a great time. They all asked me how things were going up there, and I told them that it was hard to get used to at the beginning, but things were going well, so far so good. My mom told me to be careful, and how much she worried about me. She said to me that now every time she saw an army vehicle, she looked at thinking that I might be in it, and that she never saw so many army vehicles before. After dinner was over me and my older brother Luis started talking, and he asked me a bit more in details, how things were going up there. He asked me why I had cracked skin in my ears buds, and in the knuckles of my hands, and I told him, "Up there is so cold especially in the morning, that your skin over dries, and if you donít have a good lotion to put on, your skin dries and crack. He asked me if Iíve gotten in trouble up there and I said, "Not really but there is this Sergeant in my squadron that really hates me", and I started talking about that with my brother for a little while. After I was done talking about Sgt. Labarca he said to me seated right by my side, "You be careful with these "mofos" they are crazy! You know what they did to my best friend Carol in 1973? They took him out of his house in the middle of the night and took him prisoner, they tortured him, and after a few days, they put him on the back of a military truck, and in the middle of an empty street after curfew, they told him to run. After my friend Carol started running they gun him down like a rat on the street. That is how they used to assassinate people at the time. Saying that they violated the curfew, and they didnít stop. Then you found in the local newspapers nothing but a lie about their deaths."

More than twelve years has passed since Sept. 11th of 1973, and I could tell that my brother Luis still had no closure when it came to the death of his dear friend Carol.

Later on seated on the couch watching TV he asked me, "Why are you wearing those holy sneakers?" I said "These are the only shoes I have." He said "Donít they supposed to give you boots?" I said, "I should be wearing winter military boots, but my dear friend Sgt. LaBarcaósarcastically speakingóhe said that they donít have my number. BS my brother said, and I responded, "That is what I wanted to say as well, but like you know, I better keep my mouth shut. I guess I must be one of those in their blacklist. We all must be one of those communists that got away." We laugh and changed the subject to something happier and more trivial. It was a nice time, and it was nice to be home again.

Soon enough was Sunday night, and it was time to go back to slave training camp. That is how I used to call it. One way or another, at the end, better be clear to you what is your position in this world or else. "By reason or by force" Like the Chilean coat of arms says.

Back in the city army-base training continued, and soon enough competition time was upon us. In a sunny Sunday morning at the Cityís Olympic pool, all the different military bases that made the six division of the Chilean Army, gathered to celebrate this event. There were lots of officials from all the different bases, and a whole bunch of civilians that were mainly family and friends of the soldiers competing that day.  My whole family went to see the competition, and I could see them in the bleachers rooting for me. The competition was divided into two parts, the first one was the qualifiers, and the second one the finals. That time was the first time my family saw me in a swimming competition, and they were being loud. Even while I was in the water I could still hear their voices rooting for me. I have never seen them so excited.

I wanted to participate in freestyle, but I wasnít the best time in my team, and at the same time nobody knew very well how to swim backstroke style, so I have to compete on the 100 meters backstroke style. When it was my turn I gave everything Iíve got, and I took first place on the qualifiers. That was really nice, and our team over all had a very good performance too, so everybody was looking forward to the next step of the competition. There was only one little problem, one member of our team got injured, lucky me as always. Right after the qualifiers I felt a muscle ripped on my back, and it was a lumbar muscle. At first when I felt the pain I thought it was going to go away, but instead the pain started getting worse and worse. They took me to the doctor and the doctor said that I had a muscle ripped in my back, and I needed at least two weeks to recover. You might recover faster because you are so young and you are in good shape, but whatever it could be you better get some rest. Stay out of your feet and lay on your back, move as little as possible that was what the Dr. ordered for me. The lieutenant in charge of the team when we got to the base advice everybody to leave me alone and not to bother me until the competition was over. He said to me, "I want you to rest. Donít do anything. I want you to swim in the finals okay? Rest now and it is an order maggot!" The pain by then was unbearable, good thing they give me some pain killers, but donít think they were like the pain killers of today. They gave me something like 500mg Tylenol three times a day and that was it. I remember at the time real pain killers were rare, and the Tylenols they gave me made it better, but not really. I couldnít sleep that night, and with every beat of my heart the pain stroke me like knives on my back. Next morning I was feeling a bit better. Rest was good for my pain. I was glad the pain was not that bad "cuz" I had to go to the restroom badly. As soon as I tried to move though, the pain came back, and it was even worse, but I had to go, so little by little, step after step, slowly but surely I went to the latrines. The latrines were like half of a block away, so it took me awhile to get there.

I was about to go back to the barracks when I hear somebody calling for a head count, and I thought, "Good thing I donít have to run for a formation cuz the Dr excused me, ha hah." Right after they formed and counted how many soldiers were at the base, the private asked "Are these all of you?" they said, "No there is one more, but he is in the bathroom, he is hurt, the Dr. told him to rest." The private saw me coming out of the latrines, and he walked towards me fast, and looking really upset. He got close and yelled out loud to my face, "When I call for a headcount formation every buddy runs to the line f@# maggot. Do you think youíre special?" I tried to explained to him what was going on, but while I was holding my back, and barely walking, I wasnít even finished talking, and before I knew it, he swept me off my feet with a kick to my uncles, threw me on the ground, and started kicking me with all his strength. I blocked his deadly blows as best I could, and he kept kicking me until I got to the line. At that moment he was still yelling at me, but I couldnít hear a word of what he was saying. I never felt so helpless and insignificant in my whole life. After the formation my friends were asking me, how I was doing? But for some reason their voices sound distant. In my heart I felt only emptiness and frustration of seeing a coward and an ignorant acting with complete disregard towards another human being. This was another time when I got bitten while I was badly hurt, and I wish I could defend myself. I call him a coward cuz they know that you canít fight back, and if you do, you will be charged with insubordination. We all knew that if you get charged with insubordination, you will have to stay in the military until your case is over, and most of the time because of bureaucratic practices, it takes about four to six years for an incident like that to get resolved. I remember walking to the barracks after that incident, and all the way to the barracks I could barely hear anything. My vision was blurry, and everything was red. I lay down over my bed with a sharp ring bouncing off my ears, and while lying on my bed, I started thinking about what my dad once told me about what he saw when he got arrested in 1973. After they released him and he went back to work. He was at work and he saw a train with railcars after railcars full of corpses. He saw with his own eyes mutilated and bloody corpses being dumped over a cliff by the ocean. He was never a liar, but when he told me about that, I didnít really believe him. Now lying in that bed, with just a little bit of over a month of direct contact with this kind of people, I finally realized that what he told me was the truth. As I was laying there I did remember the last poem of Victor Jara, and how he died.

What kind of heart fascism creates?

They carry out their plans with knife like precision under the cover of night.

For them blood equals medals.

How hard is to sing when what I have to sing is the horror of my people.

How hard is to sing a song where the screams of horror followed by silence,

is the end of my song.

The night came and Iíve been lying in bed all day long, unable to make a word to come out of my mouth. It was like I was hiding deep inside of myself. Finally after the shadows faded away, and gray turned into dark, I decided to go to the restroom. At that moment I didnít know what I was feeling anymore, but on my way to the latrines I saw the moon, a big and beautiful full moon barely clearing up the top of the hills. That moon made me realize that there is something else besides the place that I was at. The deemed moonlight felt like life itself was touching my soul, and as I was slowly walking towards the latrines, I admired its beauty and majesty. I got to the latrines and I walked right into the showers with clothes and all, I opened the water and stay right under the cold water for I donít know how long. As the water run down cleaning my dusty clothes, I started feeling my body again. Little by little my spirit started taking possession of my body again, at least felt like it.  Slowly the pain started to come back, and the mixed of pain and rage was like a cloud in my mind. Slowly the pain washed my rage away, turning my fury into frustration like I never felt before.

The days that succeeded that event, and preceded the finals were quiet days for me, nobody bothered me after that. On those days I had plenty of time to think about what happened, and I learned that our lieutenant, the one in charge of the swimming team, had a talk with the private that beat me up, and I thought, "so what?" I didnít have to be a psychic to know that at the end nothing was going to change, one tiny slap on the hand is not justice, and what a slave like me can do about it? Nothing! Nothing but cry, that is the only thing a slave can do, nothing but cry about it.

The day of the competition came and I still was not well enough, but I did participate anyways. Right before my turn they put some ice on my back, and I got first place on the hundred meters backstroke. Overall our team ended up in second place, and everybody was happy. My family up in the bleachers was cheering up, and I knew they were proud of me. That was one of the few moments that I have seen my mom Mercedes being proud of me.

The closing ceremony was short but very nice, as they were giving the results for the different categories they were giving up the medals, and as I received mine, to see the expression on my momís face, at that moment when they put that medal over my shoulder was priceless, never seen her so proud. After the ceremony was over we got to talk to our families for a few minutes, and right after, we went straight back to our base.

Competition was over and everything went back to normal really quick. Next morning after that happy Sunday we went back to the top of the world. That is how we used to call our base. After a four hours trip, there was our base, right in the middle of nowhere, and high up in the Andes Mountains. I was back in Paradise again. After all that my moral was still high, and even if it was hard to erase that horrible moment out of my mind when I got beat up, I was okay. Here and there sometimes the memory of being kicked in the floor mercilessly did flash back in my mind, but as a teenager, for some reason there was so much life inside of me, that no matter what happened, I was able to turn the page, let go, and moved on really quick. Thatís all I wanted at the time, to live that bad moment behind, and just remember the good times winning a gold medal for the first time in my life.

Back in the barracks some of my comrades congratulated us, and even some of the officers came over and gave us some kudos for the good job. Everything was going just fine until Sgt. Labarca saw me. He came over and told me, "Tonight you do truck post! And you know why? Cuz I donít like you. I donít like you flipín maggot!" As he was turning around I said very quick "Sergeant Labarca what about my boots? Is too cold up here, and I only have these holy sneakers." He said "Did I just give you permission to talk? Did you ask me for permission to speak to me maggot?" No sir, no sir, sorry sir. "Sir is the Lord up in Heavens, I am Sgt. Labarca maggot, give me 20" after that he said "Find me a broom, maggot!" so I did "Bend overÖ right there" he said, and broke another broom stick on my ass. Ouch! I really donít know if he was trying to break a record trying to see how many broom sticks he could break on my ass, but let me tell you, if you ever want to learn how to walk on the tip of your toes, try someone breaking a broomstick on your butt, and youíll see what I mean.

That night at midnight they woke me up to take my turn at the truck post, and that was my first night up in the mountains after the competition. For me it was more than cold, besides of being freezing cold, I was coming from a semi-tropical weather, and after a swimming competition like the one we had, you donít have many calories on your system. I grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around my body like a poncho, and on I went to my post. I was shivering from the moment I got outside the barrack, and as soon as I stepped on the cold ground with my holy sneakers, my feet got really cold right away. After the initial shock of getting outside in the cold, I looked up and I saw a beautiful sky, it was one of those nights where you can see clearly the majesty of the Milky Way. To see that many stars that night, reminded me that there was something else besides that crappy life I was living, and reminded me that there is more to life, a lot more. I thought, "One more day here, is one day less as well. One day I will leave this place, and they will have to stay." That was my only consolation at the time.

Walking to my post in the middle of the night, made me realize why they said that they have seen ghosts on that place. We have heard many stories about that place, stories about spirits pulling your hair or spirits grabbing your feet, but I couldnít care less, I always kept in mind what my dad Luis used to say, "The only scary thing, and the biggest evil you will ever find in this world, is another human being."  Looking at the place the first thing you notice is a light post. Only one light post with a dimmed soft white-light twinkling every now and then. The light is right over of what is left of a rusty old truck, and that view combined with darkness all around it, makes the perfect scenario for creepy thoughts. While walking to my post I realized at the same time that I was not afraid of darkness anymore. The truck post was a patio on the outskirts of the base, and looked just like a junk yard, a junk yard of old military trucks kept in case they needed some parts to repair another truck. I was not supposed to get inside of those trucks, but after a half an hour I was starting to feel knives stabbing my feet, and I couldnít bare the pain so I looked around and got inside of one of those old trucks. Inside the truck at least I was shielded from the freezing breeze, but I was still super cold. I was shivering badly when I did remember that I had a lighter on my pocket, and as I grabbed the lighter out of my pants my inner MacGyver kicked in. I grabbed the lighter and I took apart the mechanism, that way I was able to adjust the flame about four inches long. I took my shoes and socks off, and applied that burning big flame to the bottom of my foot back and forth. My feet were so cold that the flame didnít burn my feet, I just felt relief from the pain. After warming up my feet for a few minutes, I wrapped them with an old newspaper and I put my socks over, that really helped a bit. I was doing that when I heard some noise, and as soon as I heard that noise I got out of the truck, I was afraid that it could be Sgt Labarca. The noise was like somebody dragging something over the floor, I got off the truck really quick and I stand steal very quiet pretending like I was just looking at the sky. I thought Sgt. Labarca came to check on me but no, after about five minutes a whole squad of maggots, led by a first class private surrounded me trying to scare me. They were practicing a field class about stealth. For me that was laughable, I heard them coming about a block away before they got to me, I did act surprised so they didnít feel bad. It remind me of another first class private trying to give us a sense of orientation throughout the position of the stars on the sky. I didnít know much about stars, but I knew what he was telling us was full of it, just like this private. I did appreciate the fact that they made my half an hour at the post go really fast though. They stopped and talked to me for a bit. After my hour was over I went back at the barrack, and I woke up the next person on the post guard list. I did that and I went right back to sleep. It felt like I just closed my eyes when we all woke up to yelling and cursing of a drunken young Lieutenant. He was yelling on top of his lungs saying, "Wake up you maggots. You better have some cigarettes and bring them to me right now or else." Nobody had any cigarettes, not even one. Up in the mountains in a remote location like that base was, sometimes cigarettes were more valuable than money. The Lieutenant got really upset, and because nobody had a cigarette, we all got another horse race on the barrack. Crawling under the beds and through the hallway as we were receiving some kicks randomly, praying that youíre not one of the last ones, so you donít get some extra kicks, and that is how I had another night in Paradise.

Next day right before breakfast we had an announcement from Sgt. Labarca he said, "Today at lunch time the commander-in-chief of the base will personally conduct a general review. Everybody must look their best, and do not forget to have all your utensils with you at the time of the review." Right after his announcement we went and had breakfast as usual. We formed two lines and marched to the food court. After breakfast was over we came back to the barracks, and I went straight to my locker to save my breakfast mug, as I got closer to my locker I saw the bottom corner of my locker bent outwards. I looked around and I saw a very strange look in the eyes of those who were around. I knew right away that something was wrong. At that moment I thought of my dad Luis saying like always when something unfortunate happened right at the worse moment "Just!" just like Homer Simpson saying "Donít!" I did open the door of my locker and my lunch plate, a knife and fork were gone. Just before the general review my stuff was missing, what a coincidence. I asked a couple of times if somebody so anything, but I already knew the answer. I immediately went to talk Sgt. Labarca and this time before I said a word I asked permission to talk with him first. I told him that some of my lunch stuff has been stolen, and I said to him, "Somebody broke into my locker and steal some of my utensils." He said, "A good soldier kills, and cover his tracks with branches if necessary, but failure is not an answer. You are responsible for your stuff, and you better get to the general review with all of your stuff, maggot! I donít care how you do that, but you better, and bring me a broom."

There are some situations in life when you are confronted with your own self. There is a tipping point where you know that whatever action you take at that a specific moment might change the outcome of the rest of your life. I thought to myself what to do? Should I go and steal from somebody else? They robbed me, so why I could not go and steal from someone else, right?

 I did have at that moment a little bit of money in my pocket, and I tried to buy another set, but I had no luck, nobody had an extra set of lunch utensils. Actually the only one who was able to do anything about that situation was the one in charge of the depot, and that was Sgt. Labarca. I was in a real pickle, nobody had an extra set. At that moment I had a bad feeling and the more I thought about it, the more didnít make sense. Was that my fault? I didnít know what to do. Anyways I started getting ready for the review. I started shining my belt buckle, making sure that my clothes had no stains, and while doing that I thought, "What my daddy Oscar wouldíve done? My daddy Oscar lived in a place where somehow, someway, God knew everything we do, a place where anybody could be God, Jesus or an Angel testing our true faith." So I though "Moment of truth for me." I just needed to decide what side of the street I wanted to walk on. Right after that thought, I had a moment of clarity and I realized exactly who my true self was. At that moment I knew exactly what to do, and I knew that I was not going to kill, I was not going to lie, and regardless I was not going to steal. I did ask myself, "What side are you on? Are you with God, or you are against God?" After that thought, I knew exactly what I was going to do.

I kept getting ready and whatever was going to be I said, "So be it." I guess I just discovered by accident whom I was. In the eyes of these men in uniform I was nothing but a cow in W Bush Ranch. I was in a place where the one in charge of the ranch can say to the cows: You Rodeo, you hamburger, you milk and you cheese. Now imagine that these cows started saying things like, "We want death in a humanitarian way! We have rights! We want to use birth control! Etc. etcÖ" You know for certain that if those cows were ever to evolve to a basic intellectual level, for them to eventually become free, it would be almost impossible, and any cow who dares to say something about it, most likely will be shot in the spot.

It is hard to explain how it feels to know that your life hangs in the hands of an idiot, but regardless of the consequences I thought, "I believe in a living God and if I canít understand why God allows all this to happen, I choose to follow God and I will not kill, and I will not steal. I will not fill my heart with hate." That was the decision I took at that moment, and even knowing that there might be bad consequences, I felt in my heart that was the right thing to do.

While I was getting ready for the review I was having this little conversation with myself, "Do I believe in God?" I answered myself, "Yes I do." I even played the devilís advocate with myself, and I asked myself, "Have you ever seen God, have you? No I have not! But I do have faith that God exist, and the Bible says that faith is the way. Faith is the path that leads to God. Be a humble soul and let faith lead you forward and never give up. Do you have faith? Yes I do have faith. It might cost you your life, because this "mofos" are crazy. I donít care to let this "mofos" down, but I will not let God down, and I will not give up my faith." As I was cleaning my stuff and getting ready, I felt a deep feeling of peace and equilibrium all over my body.

Lunch time was upon me, and everything was so quiet and harmonious, just like the calm before the storm. We have been getting ready for the review in front of the commander all morning long, and that was the only thing we had to do that morning. I did luster my belt buckle, and I wish I could say I did shine my boots too, cuz by then, I was still using those old holy sneakers. We formed a line in front of the barrack and marched to the food court. We stopped right in front of front entrance and waited motionless for the Commander to do the review. He arrived right on time and in a very meticulous way the Commander started the general review. He was observing and looking in detail every single one of us, from head to toe. I was in the second row and he stopped and looked at me and asked, "Why are you wearing tennis shoes instead of boots?" I said "They donít have my number, Sir!" He said "You have been all this time with no winter boots?" Yes Sir! He said, "Are you the one that sometimes they have to carry you away because you canít walk? I said, "Yes Sir thatís me." He kept walking and looking at the other soldiers. At that moment Sgt. Labarca came over where I was very quick, and with his infamous smile, and a brand new uniform he asked me, "What did he ask you?" I answered "Why I was wearing sneakers Sgt." He asked "Did he said anything about your missing plate?" No Sgt. He didnít. "Where is your plate?" I donít have it Sgt. I wasnít not even finished with my sentence when he said "I told you f@# maggot to get your missing stuff, that was an order maggot." and he cling on the shoulders of the soldiers in the row in front of me, and he kicked me in the chest with the hill of his combat boots, right in the center of my chest, right above my stomach. It was a brutal and unexpected blow, but he wasnít done yet, he was getting ready to hit me again when the commander asked him, "Why are you hitting that soldier?" The Sgt. Replied, "He is missing his plate." Then the commander said, "Thanks for letting me know that he was missing some stuff, now you fail the review, and itís going negative on your records. Get that soldier some boots, stop hitting him, and that is an order Sarg!" Yes Sir! Labarca said, and looked at me with the most evil eyes I have ever seen.

Since then I have a lump in the middle of my costal arch, he broke my xiphoid boneóthat middle little bone right in the middle of your ribs, right where your stomach begins. That was another painful and humiliating experience, and at that moment I truly didnít know what to think anymore. It was hard to believe that there are some people capable of so much hate in this world.

When we got back to the barrack the Sgt said, "Let that be a lesson to all of you. I donít want to see anybody losing their gear, and now because of youólooking at meóI didnít passed my inspection, so now all of you are going to pay for it. Go and put your training clothes because is time for you Maggots to get to know the Valley of Tears. Iíll be back in half an hour and everybody better be ready to get your butts kicked. Dismiss Maggots!"

We have only heard stories about The Valley of Tears, but we have never been there before. For what we had heard The Valley of Tears was a place where the sun never shines, and it was a place full of human bones scattered all over the place. That was the name of the place where they punish whole squadrons when they did something really bad, and sometimes the punishment was so bad that some soldiers never made it out of that place. We were about to find out the truth about that place very soon, and everybody was telling me, "It is your fault man."

For our surprise "Sarg" Labarca didnít come back after half an hour, but he sent two privatesóone first class, and the other what they call "A Morral" a rookie. The Valley of Tears was a place behind the kitchen where they unload the supplies. This place was always in the shadows, the direct sunlight was blocked by this massive warehouse. There was a few bones scattered all over the place, but not human bones, they were cowís bones, the place for sure was creepy though. Soon after we got there the privates started the punishment making us do pushups, and crawl all over this place. Many got bloody elbows and hands, all of us got poked through our skin with this spiky grass that grows naturally in that zone. After a half an hour that seems like an eternity, we were all covered with a sort of mud on our faces, the mix between sweat and dirt, and you cannot tell if there were tears on the mix, because you are sweating, but that punishment was harsh to say the least. We formed a line after they got tire of kicking our butts, and like always lucky me I cleaned my face and spitted on the ground trying to get rid of the disgusting dirt that got in my mouth. Many did the same but guess whom they noticed. The "Morral" said to me, "You donít spit on your land maggot that is like spitting on the flag. Pick that up or I will punish everybody up some more, maggot!"  So I did, awkward and gross but at least we didnít get beaten some more by this idiot, he was smaller than me and I wouldíve loved to kick his rear end, but if you do anything stupid like that, then they put you in "Summary" that is the term that they use to call an internal investigation, and even if it is a simple thing to resolve, many times it takes between four to six years to close a case of insubordination. So if you are smart you better swallow your pride and eat it, and that was exactly what I did, I ate my own spit. 

While growing up I have heard countless stories about "the blacklist" that book that keeps the record and the names of all those considered dissidents of the regime. Those on that list will never really succeed, they became second class citizens. In my point of view those with no equal rights in front of the law, for me they are modern slaves, and in my mind started to "click in" the fact that this kind of acts against me, they were not just random incidents, I was starting to believe that I was one of those in the blacklist. I knew one thing for sure, before September 11, 1973 we were middle class, and since then we started to go down in the social ladder, to the point where we ended up being bottom of the barrel.

Anyhow with the basic training almost over, they told us that it was time for us to get better uniforms. It was known for all of us that after the basic training is over everybody takes turns in a guard post, a real guard post located in the perimeter of the base. We have heard stories about people committing suicide in those posts, because there you are in a place by yourself, and with a loaded rifle. Some say that there are spirits, evil spirits that pulled the trigger for you, and make you do that. I didnít believe any of that, but I couldnít deny that is a creepy place to be at. We all knew that at first they send you to the post with a real rifle but no bullets, they say to you, "You have to prove yourself worthy first." There were so many things I didnít understand in that place, and the only consolation was to know that one day I will leave that place, and I will never have to come back ever again.

One of those days close to the end of the third month right before the basic training was over they told us, that it was our turn to get real uniforms. They supposed to be the clothes that you get to keep for the rest of the time you serve in the Army. We marched to the Depot and there he was Sgt. Labarca, seated behind the counter being in charge of passing out the new uniforms. While waiting in line I looked around and in this place there were boxes full of ammunition all over the place. In the middle of a slowly moving line advancing forward one step at a time, I saw a wooden box full of rifle bullets that was open, and I donít know what took over me, but I reached for the bullets, grabbed a handful and like everybody was looking I pretended that I let them fall back, but I kept one bullet hiding in my hand, I did it in a very sneaky way like magicians do. I thought nobody saw me, and I kept moving down the line. After a few minutes I thought, "Why I did that for?" Anyways it was too late to put it back. Finally was time for me to get my new uniform, and Sgt. Labarca looked at me like always, he had that sick smile on his face and he told me, "Here is your new uniform." Some of the stuff was okay, but for sure not new, and the winter jacket was as holy as the last one, no surprise there though, I wasnít expecting anything better from him anyways. Actually I was surprised that he didnít break a broomstick on my ass when he saw me that time. Once we got back to our barrack I started trying on me my new uniform, and I was just having a good time when I heard Sgt. Labarca yelling out loud, "Whereís that f#@ing maggot." He saw me, and came straight up to me. He came within reach and with no warning he slapped me across the face hard and with all his strength asking me, "Did you take any bullets maggot?" I hesitated for a second, but if he was asking me, it was obvious that somebody saw me keeping up one of the bullets and snitch up on me, I answered, "Yes I did." He asked, "How many?" Just one Sgt. I said. He searched my clothes, my locker, spread my stuff all over the place, and called for a formation right after that. Inside the barrack he addressed the whole squadron, and he put me as an example of what not to do. He lectured us about never taking anything that doesnít belong to us, especially anything related to weapons, unless we were instructed to do so. Bring me a broom he said, and like always he told me to bend over, and as I did he broke that broomstick on my ass again. He started talking in a sarcastic way, even more than usual, and started looking around, he pointed at an empty garden space in front of the barrack and he said, "This garden is kind of empty so I guess weíre gonna plant a tree right here in this exact spot." he made me stand steel with my arms open, and ordered the squadron to bring their gear-bags full of stuff, and hang them on me carefully and in a very organized way. They hang on me as many bags as possible, and I had to stand steel with all that weight over me for hours.

Standing steel as a tree in front of the barrack I started to think about a movie that I saw when I was just a kid. I was appalled to see an Egyptian guard on the movie slashing a slave because the slave was not moving fast enough, he was not working hard enough and I thought, "Iím glad that those times are over. I am living in modern times now, a time where there are human rights." I believed those times were over millenniums ago, but there I was, being treated in the same manner, and not a thing I could do. I realized that "Nope" those times were not over yet." I thought "God made me free and free I will always be." So I thought. In that place I was a slave because I didnít have any rights, and rights are the stick with which you measure democracy. In a true democracy you are born with rights, they stay with you throughout your life, and you take them to your grave. After that moment my thoughts were not all that good anymore, everything changed from one moment to the next. Now I was feeling reality setting in on my mind and my reality as I saw it was a very simple one I thought, "You say: I am a slave with no rights at all, and I have to do as you say, but I say: God is my Lord, and he made me free and I will die free."

After hours of being a tree in front of the barrack they finally let me go, and for some reason I was a different man. I had no pain, no hate, no rage and no regrets, no nothing. My mind was clear and my heart was beating steady like a drum. I went inside organized my stuff, made my bed and I even joked with my comrades. One of them asked me "Hey, why did you steal that bullet?" I said "I love bullets, I come from a family of hunters and gun owners, I wanted to make me a necklace as a souvenir maybe, what can I say? I wanted a souvenir." He said "What youíve got was a shellacking" We laughed and I said, "I know one thing for sure my friend, I am a record holder, nobody has gotten more broomsticks broken in his butt than me, I am "Numero uno, amigo!" I am the record holder!"

Soon the sunset was upon us and I had a bit of free time for myself, so I went for a walk to the edge of the base. The west edge of the base is by the old-trucksí yard and is located on top of a valley that extends all the way to the Pacific Ocean, you cannot see the ocean, but you can see the valley getting lost in the horizon. You are so high up in the mountains that you can see the clouds at your eyes level, and that day, it looks like Monnet and Bangkok were in charge of the colors, because it was an extraordinary beautiful sunset. I have never seen colors so vivid and intense as I saw them that day. There were in the mix dark reds and bright yellows, with a touch of light blue here and there. At the end of that sunset you could see the sun light shining through the clouds, until all the colors slowly faded away. 

Back in the barrack everybody was getting ready to go eat and we heard, "Formation Maggots!" we all run outside, "Formation!" we all rush to our place, "Head count Maggots!" and very fast we yelled our number out to the one next to you, that way very fast you get a head count, and we were getting good at it. That was my comment to the soldier next to me, "We are getting better hah?" I was not the only one talking either, but guess who the one was called to the front for talking while in formation. I was the one called to the front of the squadron for talking, and the private looked pissed and he asked me, "Were you talking in line maggot?" I said "Yes Sir! It wonít happen again Sir!" He asked me to give him twentyótwenty pushups that isóbut I didnít. I just stud still staring at him, I donít know what happened to me, but I had lost all respect for this people, and I just had it with them. Not knowing what was going to happen to me I just brace for impact, I knew it was coming, he slapped me across the face with all his strength, I didnít even flinch. Iíve seen before others get knocked out from those hits, but like I said I didnít even flinch, and I stared back at him like saying, "Is that all youíve got?" His hand was slightly shaking and right over his handgun, I could tell he was hurting. Why he didnít grabbed his gun and shoot me? I donít know, I donít know what stopped him, I knew he could if he wanted too. At that time in history Pint-of-shit was in the paramount of his ruling days, but I didnít care. Like I said after being a tree in front of the barrack I was a different man. After a second that seemed like an eternity, with his hand still by his gun, he glassed at me and said, "Go to the infirmary maggot!" and so I did.

There in the infirmary they asked me, "Why are you here?" I responded "I donít know, I guess I disobeyed a direct order, and right after he hit me, and like I didnít move anyways, he said to come over here, and here I am." They said, "You need to calm down maggot." The male nurse grabbed a syringe and a little bottle with some clear liquid in it, filled the syringe up and asked me along with another two male nurses that showed up out of nowhere, to turn around, pull my pants down, and bend over. I had enough for one day already, so even if I was terrified of needles I did. Ouch! I said and lights out for me till next morning.

I woke up next morning in one of the infirmary rooms, and as soon as I woke up they told me that I have been assigned to the infirmary now. They said that I will stay there for the rest of the time I had left, and that one of my responsibilities now was to feed the sick, and help to keep the infirmary clean "Can you do that maggot?" they asked me, I said sure, and thatís how I ended up serving the rest of my time I had left in the Army on the infirmary.

In the infirmary everything was a bit different, I didnít have to do formations or reviews, and everybody was nice and well educated. Other than keeping the hallways always spotless, especially for the occasions when the Colonel stopped by to visit the sick or wounded, everything was pretty calm and civilized. I had to go to the kitchen to get lunch for the sick, and get especial diet food for some of the patients, other than that, everything was just fine. The best thing of all was that I got to sleep in a very good and clean bed. A few weeks after this tremendous change, that by the way it blew my mind "cuz" I thought I was choosing certain death when I decided to stop obeying orders, but no, I was now serving the sick in a nice place, and nobody messed with me. I started thinking, "This is too good to be truth."

One of those days I was mopping the floors when a lieutenant came over and told me that the Colonel Commander of the base wanted to talk to me. That really surprised me, and the Colonel wanted me to read an article of a magazine before I talk to him. The lieutenant handed me a magazine and said, "Tomorrow morning be ready." And he left. I didnít know what to expect, and next morning while I was making my beds the Col. showed up, and I salute him he said "At ease" and he asked me what I thought about that article in the magazine. I started talking about what I did remember about the article, and I gave him my point of view about the article. I wasnít even done when he just looked at me, turned around, and left the room saying, "You are too smart, thatís your problem! Youíre too smart maggot!" Right after that, I thought somebody was going to come and say something to me, but no, things just kept going the way they were.

After a couple weeks after I talked to the Col. they send me to the base down in the city to be seen by a doctor. That threw me off, and I was surprised, but there I was, still alive. By all means I was praying just one thing, I was wishing that they didnít start a summary on me "coz" having to be in that place for four to six years, was something that I could not endure for sure.

Down in the base they told me to find a place where to sleep, and like always, nobody told me what was going on. I found a nice spot where to put all my stuff, and I was resting in one of those old bunk beds when a private came over, and told me that tomorrow morning right after breakfast I had an appointment with the doctor, and he told me as well that while I was down in that base, my duty was helping in the kitchen with whatever they needed. Next morning after breakfast, I went to see the doctor and he asked me, "Why did you disobey a direct order?" I didnít know what to say, my mind was full of uncertainty. They conduct themselves like saying you can trust me, I am not here to kill nobody, but after all I have seen, I couldnít trust nobody. I wish at that moment I could speak freely, and tell them things like, "I think you are a beast, for sure the worse animal I have ever known, you take pleasure making others suffer for no reason, you donít produce nothing with your hands, you are nothing but a parasite of society, you are a good for nothing, a whole bunch of useless sadists, and I had it with you people." Instead of saying something like that, the only thing that came to my mind was, "I donít know maybe Iím crazy, my older brother suffers from schizophrenia, and maybe I do have the same disease." The doctor did make me elaborate on that, and I told him the story of my brother Luis in a few words. I told him that my brother Luis when he was about eighteen, right after the military coup of Sept. 11th, after they killed his best friend he started acting weird and he got schizophrenia. The Dr. asked me, "Do you hear voices in your mind?" No I donít "Do you have problem sleeping?" I said, "No I donít. Actually I do have problems waking up, I always sleep very good and deep." Then he looked at me and said, "You can go now. Go back to whatever you were doing." So I left the Dr.ís office and I went to the kitchen. There in the kitchen they asked me to help them out cutting vegetables. That day I was told how to cut vegetables, and that was my new assignment until new orders, so the cook said. That same day at night before they turned the lights off to go to sleep, I was asked to take some medicines, but I refused, and that was another bad idea. I thought, "There is no way that I was going to take that medicine, I donít know what those medicines were, and like always nobody explained me why I did have to take those medicines for, so I refused. Soon they gave up on me, and tried to inject me with something, and I refused again. Three big nurses tried to hold me down to inject me but they still couldnít. As I was in the floor they asked the soldiers around to give them a hand, and more than ten guys that were around came and helped them. After a short struggle they inject me with something, and lights out for me again. I woke up later on that night, feeling inside my heart something very hard to express, but not new for me, I had experienced that way before. I remember being at school in Arica city right after we moved from my home town La Serena, and I was in my classroom listening to the teacher when I felt really strong the feeling of not wanting to be there. I was in the place where I had to be, but I didnít want to be there. At the time I was just kid, not even ten years old and when I had the chance I left the school without telling anyone that I was leaving. I just walked out the school, and walked all the way home. Nobody knew what happened to me, and my mom and I got in serious trouble for it. At the end I apologized and never happened again.

 This time I was feeling exactly the same and ten times worse, but the situation it was completely different. Walking out the base will be the desertion, and the feeling of wanting to leave was so strong, it was almost bigger than my reason. Good thing I didnít left, and I felt the need for a cold shower. I was still under the effects of whatever that drug was, and like a zombie I walked to the latrines. When I got there I got under the shower with clothes and all, I let the cold water run over me for a while. With the cold water running through my body a memory crossed my mind, the memory of my daddy Oscar punishing Ricardo, I remembered my daddy Oscar putting him in an empty metal barrel with clothes and all, and with a garden hose he threw water at him. I remembered my daddy Oscar saying to Ricardo not to be a bad boy no more, not to be disrespectful to his older sisters, and not to do something like that ever again. I felt in a way like I was being a bad boy, but I couldnít help myself to act or to think any different, even if I tried. Under that shower I realized how much I was still missing my daddy Oscar and with tears running down along with the water I stood there for a while until I was able to handle that feeling of wanting to leave a bit better.

Next day I was surprised that they didnít ask me to take any medicines again, so I did continue my day as usual. After breakfast I went to the kitchen and spend the day helping them with whatever they needed help with. Most likely they put me to cut infinite piles of vegetables, and I was getting pretty good at it. That was my routine for a while and I was okay, but the feeling of wanting to leave still was there, and the more I thought about it, the stronger the feeling it got. The way I felt being in the army I am really sure is a very particular way of seeing things, but I felt as if I was trapped in the hands of organized crime, I felt in a way that I was helping them, I was enable them to commit more crimes, and I didnít want to have any part of it. I was thinking while cutting vegetables what was going to be of my life after the army. All this troubles I was having for sure they were going to be in my records, and with a bad record in the army how I was going to find a job. A dishonorable discharge from the Army is like having committed a felony or worse, then I thought, I am in the blacklist of this government anyways, so what is the difference. I was feeling really hopeless and even sometimes I wondered if I was ever going to make it alive out of that place. In my mind whichever way I looked at the prospects of my future, I found nothing but negativity. Things inside of my head were not looking good at all, for some reason I have lost all hope in a better way of life, and I have lost all hopes in humanity. Weeks went by and the feeling of wanting to leave was still very strong, for me to be in that place was unbearable, and every time I had to go to the latrines I saw myself being kicked on the floor by that animal dressed in a uniform of honor. I thought things will get better, but no, they didnít, and it got to the point where the only thing that make sense in my mind at the time, was taking my own life. I wanted to end the suffering, and the torture of having to be in that place anymore. At that moment in my life, suicide was the only way out, the only way to end the pain, and the more I thought about it, the more reasons I found to act on it.

At a point while cutting endless pile of vegetables, I reached the conclusion that suicide was what I was going to do. I thought that suicide was the only way out, and the only way to end the pain. I thought about it seriously for days, and then weeks, until I got to the point where I started planning how to do it. I thought that before I did anything I could regret in the future, before I did anything I wanted to be sure, so I decided to think about it seriously one more time over. I decided to think about it for four days straight, and if at the end of those four days I still felt the same, then I will act on it. Four days went by quickly and for my surprise, I was still thinking exactly the same. At the end of those four days my answer was, "Goodbye world. Goodbye army. Good by pile of criminals." As a kid growing up you heard stories about the end of the world, and when I did hear those stories I always thought, "I wish before I die, I get to know what sex is." By then I already knew what sex was, so I was ready to go. I said, "Goodbye world. I have seen enough! Sorry my Lord but where in the fuck are you? How can you allow all these atrocities to happen? How come that the thief, the hypocrite, and the assassin have a better life than those who follow the rules, and work hard to earn their ends meet? How come that those who produce the most are at the very bottom of society, and those who have never work on their lives, are living like a king. I donít know the answers, and I donít care anymore "cuz" Iím out of here." That kind of thoughts I had in my mind they didnít have to make sense, because all of them were guided by the same deep feeling I had in my heart first.

After those four days I started to plan how to end my own life. I realized that was not that easy, especially in a place full of people, a place where there is always a pair of eyes on you, but I came up with a plan, and it was a very simple one. About an hour after lunch time, there is a very quiet period of time where everybody is resting, and most of the uniform personal is out for lunch or taking a nap, so that was the perfect time to do something. Now that I had found the right time I just needed to decide how I was going to end my life. One of the first ideas that crossed my mind was to hang myself, but it was too difficult. I needed something strong enough to support my weight, and a place where to tie a rope. The only place where I could do that was in the showers, and even if I was able to find a piece of metal strong enough to hold my weight, the bathrooms and showers had an opening all the way around between the top of the wall and the flat roof, so they could easily see if somebody was hanging something on the ceiling of the latrines. My second idea was cutting my wrists, and to bleed myself to death. For that I needed something sharp, and I thought about a kitchen knife, but what about if somebody could see me taking the knife out of the kitchen, like they saw me taking that rifle bullet at the depot, and anyways any kitchen knife was not sharp enough for what I needed it for. On top of all that kitchen knives are too big and hard to hide, so I gave up on that idea really quick.

I have been always been very creative and a MacGyver kind of guy, so thinking about how to get a sharp knife I thought, "If I take apart a cheap disposable razor blade, I can have a pair of very sharp blades, almost or as sharp as a surgery knife, and if I wrap around any piece of cord like my shoelaces, I could have a very sharp knife, small, easy to concealed, and with a good handle." So I tested my idea and soon I had everything I needed, and I was ready to go.

One afternoon in a windy sunny day of winter, I went to the showers about an hour after lunch, and I was pretending that I was going to take a shower and shave myself. It was the perfect time, no one around, and no one in the showers, so I got inside of one of the latrines, and sat down like I was busy. I grabbed my razor blade, and I broke it apart really quick. I took the blades out, picked one of them, and I rolled up a piece of my shoelaces on one end. Very quick I had a blade as sharp as a surgery knife, and with a handle strong enough to grab it with a good grip. With the blade in my hands, and ready to go I started saying my last prayer for whatever good that was, regardless I said, "Forgive me my Lord for not being strong enough, but making use of my free agency I say goodbye to this world. I say goodbye to this place where I cannot fit in even if I try. Sorry if I have failed you, but I cannot understand this world." As I was saying my last prayer, I started cutting my veins straight down, from the center of my wrist, and right between the tendons. I made a cut about 2 inches long, and about half an inch dip, at least. I could see the blood gushing out of my wrist getting in my face and all over. I was almost fainting when I started cutting my second wrist in the same way, and I did it quick thinking that soon finally my pain will be over. My heart was in my throat, and I could see lights twinkling all over my sight, and soon everything turned black, and I couldnít feel my body anymore. The last thing I remember was the sound of my heartbeat slowly fading away, away into total darkness.

After that moment I remember somebody screaming for help from far away, I could barely hear it, but I fell unconscious again, and I thought that was the end. Later on I woke up in the infirmary with bandages in my wrists, and I donít know how long has been since that happened, and I started cursing the one who found me, and saved me or whatever. I was awake and I wasnít supposed to be alive, but there I was, and I didnít have a plan for that. As soon as I woke up they called the doctor and they put me back to sleep again, injecting me something with a syringe on my left arm.

I did totally lost track of time, I woke up in the middle of the night, and after I realized that everyone was sleeping, and they lights were off, I went right back to sleep, I could not really wake up. Next thing I remember I opened my eyes and this time I saw day light, and I even saw some people moving around. I still dint know what time it was, and I was still very dizzy. The first thing I did was to take a look at my bandages, and they looked kind of a small. I got curious and I picked under the bandages, and I didnít see my cuts. The ones that I remember making with my own home made knife, they were not there, and what I saw it was a wimpy thin cut across my wrist and not along my arms. I was in disbelieve I looked under the other bandage, and I saw exactly the same. I was still dizzy and disoriented barely waking up, and I went to look again when an avalanche of people hold me down, and inject me something that knocked me out quick, again. They were saying almost in panic mode, "He is trying to take his bandages off."

I had never before second-guessed myself about anything I have seen, my eye sight has been always very good but this time, I was shaking in disbelieve, the cuts I had in my wrists were not the ones I remembered, I was baffled.

After things calmed down, I was so disappointed and embarrassed of myself, once again I have made a fool of myself, and I was in disbelieve. I had never experienced before recalling a vivid memory of something that didnít happen. I was confused and shaking inside out, nothing that I have experienced before compared to the memory of seeing one thing happening, when in reality something completely different really happened. All the facts pointed to something completely different of what I saw. Having to accept that it wasnít easy, I was so ashamed of myself, I felt so insignificant. For the first time in my life I have doubts of my own convictions. The days that followed that failed attempt of suicide, they pretty much left me alone, and the only thing they said to me was to rest, and youíll be okay.

One of those days, a few days after my failed attempt of suicide, one of the guys that was with me in the infirmary handed me a Bible and said to me, "Read it, it might help you." I really didnít like to read, and I always had problems at school because I didnít like to read or write, but that day I did open the Bible in a random way, and the first thing I read was something that pulled tears out of my eyes "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, because to them belongs the kingdom of God" I closed the bible saying "bullshit" but that night was the first night I had the courage to pray again, and I did it with all my heart, even if it was really hard to have the humility to accept that things sometimes are not the way you want them to be or we wish they were, I did pray that night.

My Heavenly Father

I give you thanks for all your blessings

And with a humble heart I ask you to bless my soul with solace

so I can keep moving forward.

Give me the strength to forgive those who have hurt me, so I can stand by your side

And not to became one of them.

My Heavenly Father

I donít know what happened that day when I attempted against my life

But whatever it was donít let me lose my mind and

Like I always say "Let it be your will and not mine"

And I leave these things in the name of your son Jesus Christ, Amen.

Right after I said my prayer that night, I heard a voice almost like a whisper in the wind "Read the Bible just like any other book, from beginning to end, and remember never waste your time reading and trying to understand the Apocalypses. The Apocalypse is going to be your forbidden fruit."

That was the first time in my life that I sort of hear a voice in my mind, and it was so fast, but at the same time so profound. I thought at first, whatever they are giving me must be very strong, because is making me hear voices. I must be hallucinating, that is what I said to myself, shook my head, and went right back to sleep.

The experience of seeing one thing happening but not really, had a big impact in my self-confidence and self-esteem, from that moment on I was never the same man again.

I remember being a teenager about 15 years old playing soccer, swimming, catching big waves in the beach in front of my house, and sometimes being slammed against the sand on the bottom of the ocean by this massive waves, and being pin down by the waves crashing on top of you, just repeating yourself donít pass out, donít pass out, because if you do you were history. I remember being fearless, I felt invincible, and now I could barely figure it out. After that experience was hard for me to hold my head up high.

While cutting endless piles of vegetables was the perfect time to let my mind free. I just put my body on auto-pilot cutting vegetables, and inside my mind I was flying high in freedom. I was thinking sometimes how beautiful it would be to live in a true democracy, to live in a place where youíre never alone, a place where everybody is part of a team, where everybody is part of something greater than themselves. A true democracy is based in a very simple principle, the principle of multiplication. A man is able to produce certain amount of goods on its own, but if a man can get together with another man the amount of goods that they can produce together is at least double the amount of what they can produce on their own. That rule is known from ancient times and is called multiplying. Like the strength of a thin wooden stick, on itself is not that strong, you can break it easily, but if you put together a few of them, they become something very strong. The idea of a nation is based in that same simple principle "The Ancient Principle of Multiplication." I donít know why I always liked to think about things but I did, I did think about democracy, about God, that was always fun for me, just like putting a puzzle together.

After I was done with my duties in the kitchen, I had a little bit of time of my own, and at that time I found nothing better to do than followed the advice of that whisper in the wind, "Read the Bible"

"Blessed are the peacemakers of the world, they shall be called the childrenís of God"

"Blessed are those which are persecuted trying to follow truth, justice and honesty, because to them it belong the Kingdom of The Heavens"

After a little while on that base being at the infirmary I heard the news that I was going to be sent back to the base up in the mountains. I was doing okay, and I had no objections, and I had no desire to start any problems. I finish reading the Bible as I was told by the whisper in the wind, from beginning to end just like any other book, and soon I was sent back to base up in the mountains.

Back in "paradise" I thought I was going to go back to my squadron, but no, for my surprise I was assigned to the infirmary. I was not expecting that, I thought I was going back to Sarge Labarcaís world but no, I wasnít, thanks God for that. Many times I wondered what wouldíve happened if I wouldíve been send back to my old squadron with Sgt. Labarca, what wouldíve happened? I donít know, but I was glad I didnít have to find out.

In the infirmary I did what I was told to do until a year in half went by, slowly but it did, I was counting every single day of the month, week after week, month after month, and sometimes I cannot deny that I was counting hour after hour. After a year and a half, one of those days they send us down to the base by the city and they gave us the best news I could ever wish for, they told us, "Because of too many kids turning eighteen at the same time, all of you are going to be released right now, so get ready to be released of your duties. Grab your personal stuff and get ready to receive your discharge papers." At first I was happy as happy as I could be, but after a few I got worried, I was wondering what my discharge papers were going to say. For my surprise again, I was called to an office by the side of the base, and a Sergeant told me, "What you did was wrong, nobody refuses to follow orders in the Army and get to pay no consequences, but because you helped the swimming team, and brought honor to our division, we have been instructed to give you a regular honorable discharge from the Army." He hand me a paper and said to me, "Youíre free to go. Go now!"

For the very first time in a very long time I felt alive again. It has been only a year and a half, but on teenagerís time, a year seems like a decade. I felt like I was waking up from a very bad, and long nightmare, of which I never thought I was going to come out alive, but I was. I had a paper on my hand that said I could leave, and never have to come back ever again. I started thinking, "Is this true or this is the part where they tell me to run just like they did after September 11, 1973 to Carolóthe best friend of my brother Luis. Whatever it was I was ready to find out, I grabbed the paper, grabbed my stuff, and I got out of there as fast as I could. The first couple blocks I was euphoric and paranoid, all at the same time. I was walking fast, and looking behind my back here and there, trying to see if somebody was coming to pick me up or something, but no, nobody came. Finally after a few blocks I calmed down, and I started to walk normally, just being happy to be free and alive again.

 

Chapter Four

 

Who wouldíve thought that after being away only a year in half, everything couldíve change so much. I guess in teenage time a year and a half, is something like a decade and a half in regular adult time.

Back in my neighborhood I had to tell countless times the story about how I did in the army, but only my closest friends, got to know what really happened up in the mountains. Actually took me quite some time to tell the real story, and they didnít get the whole story either, because I never talked to them about the whisper in the wind. I have been always very private about my personal life, and even if I was a very good listener, I was not much of a talker. I have to admit, that I have never talked about the whisper in the wind with my friends or family before, I guess I didnít want them to think that I was going crazy or something like that. At the same time I have always carried with me, the conviction that talking about God was something totally sacred.

Everybody told me how much I have grown up, that I was more mature, more of a man, but I didnít believe them. I thought that they were just trying to be nice with me. In all reality I felt like I was as clueless as I was before I went to the Army, and even more. Actually with all that stuff that happened to me while I was in the army, it was very hard for me to make sense of society as a whole.

In a short period of time since I left, everything had change so much, to the point that was really hard to understand even my own friendís slang. They made me feel sometimes like I was not part of the hood anymore. Sometimes my friends started talking, and I couldnít understand half of what they were saying. The music, the names of the people they were talking about, what was in, what was not, what was popular and what was not. It was like I have been living under a rock my whole life. That is how I felt around them after I got out of the army, but just like when I got there after I moved from my hometown La Serena, little by little, slowly I started to fit in once again. Definitely it was like starting all over again, with the only difference that this time, it was easier for me to blend in. I was away a short period of time but they were different, I was different, everything was different.

Coping with my reality after I left the Army was not easy thing to do. I still needed to finish the last year of my high school, and I didnít know where to start. I didnít even know if I wanted to go back to school either. I was literally lost.

At that time in my life I was so clueless. I didnít even know what I needed to do to finish my high school, and if I did finish my high school I used to think, "So what? What good that wouldíve been for me? I was in a third world country, with no money, and not a clue about what to do with my life. There I was with no future in sight, and I was facing the same feelings of frustration as always, no matter how hard you try to satisfy your basic needs or how hard you try to get ahead, there is no way and no hope for a better tomorrow. At that point in my life, I couldnít find that first step that would lead me to the next. Then again, "How I wish my daddy Oscar was still alive so I could ask him, and say to him with all my love and respect, "Hey old man. What do you think I should do with my life?"

Good thing that in the backyard of my house, my dad Luis had a little shop. He had a welding machine, a wood Lathe, and I used to entertain myself here and there when I didnít have anything else to do. That was another way I had to deal with my frustrations. Many times I went to that little shop and got lost for hours tinkering around with wood or metal. That way I got away from my frustrations at the time.

Through the years my dad Luis and my older brothers had taught me how to weld; some basic car and motorcycle mechanics; basic carpentry skills, and I learned a bit of plumbing too. I had all this skills but even if I try, I couldnít make a penny out of all this knowledge. The most important thing of all was, that I was eager to do anything that would bring a buck my way, and everybody had something that needed to be fixed, but nobody had the money to hire me.

In a third world country where unemployment is high, to have a little place that you can call it your own is something close to impossible. I got out of the army and I wanted to have my own life, but no matter how hard I tried to achieve my independence, I was still living in my parentís house. Regardless of wishing with all my heart that I could have my own place, there was no work for me.

My brother Luis was about forty-five years old at the time, and we shared a room on my momís house, and not because we wanted to or because we were lazy, there was nothing we could do about it.

At that time in my life I used to dream about having my own little place, and go out and have fun, have a little bit of money for a date, have a pair of Leviís. I didnít want anything fancy. I didnít want luxury. I just wanted a way to claim my own independence. That was all I wanted at the time.

Talking about not wanting luxury, I grew up with only two pairs of pants: I had one pair of pants to go to school, and another pair to go out. Is hard to believe how much sacrifice goes into just getting your kids to go to school, if you are poor in a third world country.

There I was, young and healthy, I had a pair of hands with an exceptional good craftsmanship, but I couldnít find nothing to do, nothing to do that would bring a little bit of money my way that is, now if I wanted to work for free, of course, there it was plenty of work for me to do, but that was not the idea.

A few weeks after I came back to my civilian life, I started noticing that my old friends, the ones closer to me, sometimes in the middle of a group conversation they started talking about things that happened the night before, and I was there with them all night, all night until they went home, but I had no recollection of what they were talking about. Actually I started noticing that they didnít want me to hear what they were talking about, and if for some reason I did, they will change the subject right away. I catch them doing that more than a few times, and every time I did ask what was that? Like I said they just change the subject and kept pretending like they didnít say anything. I started to get annoyed and suspicious about all this, and I have noticed that what they were talking about, mainly it happened on Friday nights. Friday was the day that we used to put together the little bit of money that we had, and bought a few beers, sat on the side of the little liquor store, and hang around till around midnight. On the side of that liquor store we hang around, we told jokes, and sometimes we will sing along with my friend Aldo. He played the guitar very well and on Fridays we did put up a show for us. I loved to hear live music, loved it. Friday night was our big day especially if you didnít have a girlfriend, or money to go out. Friday night you knew where to find us. Actually this little liquor store was a very well known place among the young people of our town. This little liquor store was known to be a great place to have an after party celebration, and was the only liquor store on that side of town open after midnight. This little liquor store was our neighborhood liquor store, and we were proud of it. It was only about two blocks away from the beach, and on summer time especially on Friday nights, that little liquor store was a great place to be, because everybody that was camping on the beach, will come over to this little sort of minimarket, where you had a little grocery store and the liquor store. Two little businesses owned by different people. Everybody in town knew about this little place, actually everybody knew this place by a nickname, and the nickname was The Rock Cafť of the Poor. We had plenty of good times on the side of that liquor store. This place was the place to be after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

One of those Friday nights I went to buy a couple of loose cigarettes to the liquor store, a common thing to do when you are poor, because when you are poor you cannot afford to buy a whole packet of cigarettes, on that sense is very good, because even if you want to, you cannot smoke too much. I walked in quietly into the liquor store and Sergio and Ro-pe were talking about having the house ready for the after-party, they didnít notice me so I said out loud, "What house is ready for the after-party?" They change the subject quicker than Billy the kid drawing out his gun and I said, "Good-one! Thatís how you treat your friends hah? Keeping secrets from a good friend like me, you sissy boys!" They just started pretending like they were talking about a movie and stuff. I acted like I didnít care in front of them, and I just got my two cigarettes and I left, but I felt really left out.

That night was a Friday night and later on, I stayed with them till the Rock Cafť of the poor closed, and everybody went home. I said good bye to everybody, and I walked home like always, but right before I open the door of my house I kept going, and I went around the block taking the back street that leads to the beach. Making sure that nobody saw me from the bushes by the side of the road, I kept an eye on the liquor store. After around 15 minutes I saw my friends one by one coming back to the side of the Rock Cafť. They started to gather in the same place where we always hang out. I count them one by one, and when the last one showed up, I snuck up on them saying, "Ah hah! Thatís why I donít remember what happened last night, "cuz" you guys brush me off, and then you come back, and get together after I leave. Very cleaver! Hey if you donít want me around, you just have to say it, friends?! Whatís going on? I thought we were friends. Arenít we?" They started looking at each other, and they didnít know what to say. Sergio the one with thicker skin finally said, "Look Satu is not that we donít want you over here, but youíve been always a good boy, and not a very good at keeping secrets either, thatís why we have not invited you before, and on top of all today we are going to get together over Edwinís house, and like you know, he doesnít like you very much. Anyways the only thing we are going to do is drink some wine, and listen Aldo play the guitar for a bit" I asked, is Edwin still holding a grudge against me? Is he still upset at me because of that time that he was mean to me, and I call my mom on him? Sergio said, "Probably, but anyways youíve never been close friends anyways. Let me talk to him and Iíll see whatís going on, I donít like to leave you aside, but you might not like it anyways." He went and started talking with Edwin and a couple of the older guysóthe owners of the liquor store. I could not understand why so much of secrecy, didnít make sense to me, especially what Sergio said, "You might not like it anyways." Sergio came back and said to me, "You can come over with us but if you open your mouth about what goes on in the party, we will never invite you ever again. Deal?" Deal I said and I went with them to the after, after party. I was excited to find out why so much secrecy. For me something was up, but I could not figure it out.

Edwinís house was just around the block, and we all walked quietly, trying not to wake up the neighbors. This neighborhood next to mine, had bigger and nicer houses, actually I remember complementing Edwinís house because everything was very nice. I have never been to his house before. We all sat around in a big dining table, and started talking, and joking while opening the bottles of liquor, wine and beer. After a couple toasts, Aldo started playing the guitar, and sang a couple songs. We all were having a very good time. Right in the middle of all this, a couple guys started taking some papers out of their pockets, those "especial" kinds of papers. I thought at first they were cocaine papers and I asked them, "Itís that cocaine?" they said "It wouldíve been nice, but no, cocaine is too expensive. This is Base-Paste." Never heard of it so I did ask "Base-Paste?" The guy next to me said, "Base-paste is what you get after you extract the cocaine out of the coca leaves. Still there is some cocaine in it but very little, so you get kind of the same effects, but is not as expensive as cocaine, it cost just two dollars a gram, and a gram of cocaine costs $10. Wet the tip of your finger and touch the powder, put that in your mouth, and your whole mouth itís gonna go numb. Thatís how you know when you have good Base-paste." The guy added, "Have you ever tried paste before?" Never! I said. Right after I did what the guy told me, and with the tip of my finger I grabbed a tiny bit of the powder, and I put it in my mouth. My whole mouth got numbed. Now he said take a big puff out of your cigarette, and tell me how it feels. I did take a puff out of my cigarette, and I have never felt the smoke of a cigarette go down so smooth into my lungs, I was impressed. They surprised me again when they started rolling the cigarette in between the palm of their hands, and started taking almost all the tobacco out of the cigarette. They started to put a little bit of paste, and a little bit of tobacco back into the cigarette, until the cigarette was full again. They shook it and roll it again, making sure that everything inside of the cigarette was evenly mixed. After that they lighted it up, and passed it around taking a couple puffs each. I did skip my turn the first time, but I got really curious, the smell that was coming out of those cigarettes was sweet and inviting. The second time that the cigarette came around, I did take a puff and I filled my lungs with smoke, sweet smoke that made the tobacco taste smooth and full of flavor. The cigarettes they used were the cheapest kind that you could find, and I have to say, that Iíve never taste a cigarette that tasted that good before. Right after I was done taking a puff Edwin said to me, "If for any reason you feel like losing your cookies, go out to the garden and do it by the tree" I said, "Itís okay Iím fine donít worry" but right after I said, that I felt like I was nailed to the chair, sort of like falling down hard on myself. I had a very strange sensation, and right after I felt a weightless sensation, no pain, no aches, no hunger, no worries, my mind was clear and focused. For a minute I was completely aware of what was going on right there at the moment, and that was kind of the opposite of what I normally feel like, because Iím always thinking of something in my mind. Right after that, I heard my friends saying, "Oh! Heís turning into Mr. Roboto, he is "Duro" and pale like paper" That was the first time I heard the term "Duro" for some reason you start moving like a robot, and you feel like the police is coming to get you, with their guns drawn, right at that very moment. I started feeling paranoid and I had to go outside and use the tree to hold myself up, because I could barely hold myself straight. I felt like I was going to lose my cookies, and I hold the tree for a few minutes until I emptied my whole stomach, and then some more. When finally I went back inside, I was pale like a zombie. My friends started joking saying, "You did a good job holding that tree. Good job!" I sat down at the table again after I wash my hands and my face. I had this feeling inside of me, like I was looking everything from inside of a shopping window, and I wanted more. The only thing I was thinking about after that disgusting scene was: I do want more! They asked me: How are you feeling my friend? And I said, "Iím okay. Is there some more of that stuff? Nope they said, "The flower just died." No more paste buddy, and anyways is too late, and we have to go home. We said good night, and I said, "Thanks for inviting me over and Iíll see around." And we all went home.

Walking back home I was checking my 6 oíclock every few steps, because I was still feeling paranoid. I realized that Paste was a very addictive stuff. It has been more than a half an hour since I took that puff, and I still had the urge for more. Moonlight over my head, no cars on the street, only the sound of the waves crashing at the beach. That night I felt really alone, empty inside and disappointed at myself once again. As I finally got home, I looked at that corner of the roof right above the front door, and I realized that Monochito was not there no more. Monochito was my beloved cat, and he used to wait for me every night at that same spot. He waited for me in that same spot every single night, and as I opened the front door, he will run across the roof and sat by the kitchen window, waiting for me to share my dinner with him. I have never before loved a pet as much as I did love that cat. I was about 15 years old when I got that cat, and he was just a little kitty. Since he was two weeks old he grew up right by my side. He used to sleep on my bed, and we spent countless times playing and having a good time. After I went to the army and visit home for the first time, the cat didnít come back home ever again. Nobody knew what happened to him. My mom told me that the cat used to wait for me every night like always, in the same spot as usual, lying down like an Egyptian Sphinx, with his front paws folded inwards right under his chest. She told me that the cat was never the same after I left, and she could tell the cat was sad. Every time she played a tape that I recorded playing the guitar, if the cat was around, the cat did get inside her room, and started looking for me. That night when I got home, I remembered that my cat was not there anymore, and I felt even sadder. I got to the kitchen and I looked at the same spot where my cat used to wait for me, wishing that I could see him one more time. While fixing my dinner I suddenly realized that I was not hungry and I asked myself, "Me not hungry?" I was surprised of myself. They used to tease me about being the terror of the fridge. They used to say that the fridge started shaking every time I got close to it. I use to swim a lot so as a teenager, I was always hungry, but not that night. I realized that I was experiencing what is called being "Duro" that is typical side effect of people under the influence of cocaine. Even if you donít want to, you are sort of stiff, and you feel it especially in your stomach. I went to bed that night with an empty stomach and I was not hungry. I thought I was going to fall asleep right away as usual, but not that night. I couldnít sleep and I stared at the walls for hours. I could hear my heartbeat, beat after beat, and I knew I was really tired but I couldnít fall asleep. It was such an ugly and dirty feeling I had. That night I saw the night turned into day before I could close my eyes. I really didnít like the side effects of smoking thatís crap.

When I woke up late that afternoon I felt so guilty and dirty inside; I was feeling so uncomfortable that I decided to sweat it off. I went to the beach and run for a while along the ocean. Feeling the fresh breeze on my hair and the sand on my toes, made me feel better a lot better. After I got home I took a shower and finally I was able to eat something. I didnít like the after feeling at all. For the first time in my life I felt darkness in my soul. I was in a state called "Duro."

After that experience I said, "I will never do it again, never!" Next Friday we met again, and we were having a good time when one of those funny cigarettes started buzzing around. I didnít want any at all, and I even passed the first round, but the sweet smell that was going around contracted the muscles of my stomach, and my heart started beating fast. One more time I wanted a puff of that cigarette. The funny thing was I had never before wanted to smoke a cigarette that bad. Inside my head I thought, "Can I have one puff? Just one puff, only one and thatís it." I took one puff and I knew right there and then, I was hooked. The smoke went down my throat like honey. I felt the smoke little by little going all the way to the bottom of my lungs; my stomach relaxed all at once, I was nailed to the chair, and as soon as that smoke hit my brain, my pulse start to slow down, way down. I felt every single symptom one by one all over again, but this time was in slow-motion, I was in ecstasy. That sensation just lasted for a few seconds, and right after those few seconds of nirvana were gone, I wanted more. The more I smoked the more I wanted, it got to the point where my thinking and judgment were gone, they completely disappeared. I was once again "Duro" just like a zombie looking for brains to eat. I was in this trance where my will was brought into submission, and Iíd had only one thing in my mind, and that was, I want more.

That was the way I learned the meaning of the word struggle. I knew what I was doing was wrong but I couldnít help. Once I smelled the smoke or I took a puff, I knew exactly what was going to happen to me. Most likely I was going to be the rest of the night looking for brains to eat just like a zombie. I was going to be looking for more paste, until I spend the last penny on my pocket, even if that was the last thing I wanted to do.

There was paste all over town and I knew how to find it, and if one placed didnít have it, Iíll go to the next even if I have to walk sometimes for more than an hour to get there, I didnít care, I just had to have it. One side of my brain was saying, "You are pathetic" and the other side was saying, "I want more." It got to the point that I was doing paste almost every weekend. Like every drug out there, I had my honey moon with it, and I went from smoking here and there once in a while, to every other week. Soon I was doing it every weekend, and every time I did, I regretted it immensely.

The only thing that made me feel a bit better the day after I smoked was exercise. Running along the ocean was the best thing to calm my feelings of betrayal to myself, at least enough to hold me during the week.

One of those nights I remember waking up to my mom in the middle of the night, and I started begging her for two dollars. I remember saying to her, "Just two dollars mom. Iíll give them back to you tomorrow. I promise!" Two dollars was the cost of one gram of paste, might not sound like much, but that was our next day budget for food. I remember my mom saying no to me about three times, but I begged and begged. I could see her just wanting to go back to sleep, and being so disappointed at me. At the end she gave me the money saying, "Look kid, this is all the money I have for tomorrow, and if you donít give me back this money tomorrow, I donít know what I will do to put a plate of food on the table. You need to give it back to me tomorrow, no excuses." "Yes mom donít worry I promise. Iíll get back the money to you tomorrow." Right after my mom gave me the money I walked in the middle of the night about 4 AM for a good 40 minutes just to get one more gram of paste, and guess what happened after that one gram was gone, you guessed it right, I wanted more. I got to bed that night around 7 AM in the morning, the sun was barely coming out, and took me hours to go to sleep. I was tired and exhausted but I couldnít go to sleep. I could hear everybody getting ready, and I was lying on my bed pretending I was asleep. My heart didnít want to stop pounding on my chest, what I disgusting feeling. I went to sleep for a few hours, and when I woke up I went straight to my friend Martinís house. I donít remember what lie I said to him, but he borrowed me the money. I went back home and give the money back to my mom saying, "Here mom, hereís the money" She looked at me and said "Look the things that you make me do. I had to go and ask for credit at the minimarket so we could have food today. Donít do this again to me. Donít you ever wake me up in the middle of the night again." I felt so terrible that day. I told her I was sorry, and I really meant it. I was not a little kid anymore, I was 20 years old and I begged my mom like a kid begs for candy at the grocery store.

I was down, I knew I was doing something wrong but I couldnít stop. My whole life before that moment was a very healthy one. I was almost a vegetarian, and I have to admit that we didnít eat more meat, not because we wanted to be vegetarians it was because meat was too expensive for us. Before I went to the Army I couldnít wait for summer time so we can go everyday to the beach and now I was throwing my health away for nothing. That was the feeling I had in my life at that moment. Now all my friends and I the only thing we were doing was to smoke that crap. I was 20 years old and I couldnít find a job, I was still living with my parents, and even if that was not uncommon on our culture I felt bad. I wanted to have my own life, and I was willing to do anything that would allow me to have a life. I wanted so bad to have my own life, my independence, and have some hope in the future.

I think that was the biggest problem of all, more than the drugs I have lost all hope, at that time in my life I even lost the hope on myself. I didnít have a job, I had no education, not even a high school diploma, by all definitions I was nothing but a loser. I didnít like anything that was happening around me at all, and I knew that becoming a drug addict was even worse than anything that has happened to me already. At the same time at that moment in my life I couldnít find any way out either, I tried the best that I could to stay away from paste, but wherever I went it was there. Sometimes I was a strong enough to say no, other times I just couldnít resist. That was the biggest struggle in my life up to that moment.

A year passed by since I got out of the Army, and nothing good was happening in my life. I was definitely trapped in the poor Peopleís vicious cycle. Some say that there is no such a thing, but only those that have been poor, know what Iím talking about. Sometimes your biggest weakness can be your biggest strength, but it is very difficult to see how big or small the storm is, when you are right in the middle of it. Being poor means that you donít have enough to satisfy your basic needs, so every day that pass you by you fall farther behind. For many is very hard to deal with that reality when you are in this situation, and the chances of getting out of there are stockpiled against you. The chances for you to get out of this circle or dead loop on your own are very slim. I do remember a friend saying, "Everybody says that education is expensive. Have you tried ignorance?" Truth is, when life is more than what you can afford, there is not much you can do about it. I tried to find a job, and I was willing to do anything, but I couldnít find anything at all. Actually thanks to my neighbors that knew about my handyman skills, I was able to get a little bit of money here and there. At least with that money I was able to buy me some loose cigarettes, and have some change to pitch in on Friday nights, so we could share some beers, and have a little fun. That was my life for a while after I got of the Army, one of the lowest moments of my life for sure.

Since I was about thirteen years old I have been praying to God in a very simple way, and at that moment of my life the only thing that could stop me from being a bad drug addict was a miracle.

At church they told me that the right way to pray to God, was calling his name with respect first, then give thanks for all your blessings especially if you had good health, and then asked God whatever you wanted to ask for, and you should finish your prayer with the phrase, "Öin the name of your son Jesus Christ. Amen." Of course every religion has the right way to pray to God, and every other religion was wrong. For me that was already completely wrong, God was for me what should unite us, not what tears us apart. I knew that in front of God I was just a child, and I use to pray in a very particular way regardless of what they said. This is the way I used to pray to God at that age, "My heavenly father. I do thank you for all your blessings, and let it be your will and not mine. Love you." And that was it. I never asked to God in my prayers for anything, especially for something material. I never question other peopleís faith, because that was my understanding of the gospel at that age. I remember at that age wanting to serve God, and I wished I could make a living talking about God. That was my dream, a very far fetch dream at the time all considered. God always was my favorite subject growing up, for me getting close to God was getting closer to the very essence of life, and the main reason why I wanted to speak on Godís name was the fact that regardless of religion, every time I hear somebody talking about God, for me sounded most of the time, like a complete insult to God. With the little bit of knowledge that I had about his teachings, every time I heard somebody talking in front of a congregation about God, sounded to me like out of ignorance they put some words together to make them sound pretty, but the meaning of them was completely wrong. I never talked about that with anybody, because in my understanding it was a sin to weaken somebodyís faith in the first place, and second God has not instructed me to speak in his name, so I kept my, "pie shut." That way of thinking came from my understanding of the words in the Bible that said, "Any faith is better than no faith at all." For me those who speak in Godís name must be chosen by God itself. Example of that could be the story of Moses or my favorite story of all times the Ark of Noah. For me to argue with somebody about the meaning of the words of God, could easily be classified as taking the name of God in vain, and that for me was a very serious sin. That was what I used to believe back then, since I was thirteen years old and until I was about twenty eight years old.

One night out of frustration with all what was going on in my life at the time, I prayed to God in a very unusual way for me. Instead of praying like always, giving thanks for all Godís blessings, and saying, "Let it be your will and not mine." This time I put my head down, and with a true humble heart I said to God, "My heavenly father, thanks for all your blessings and I ask you with a humble heart, to give me the strength that I need to say no to paste. I do not want to be a drug addict. I want to be once again the person I used to be, a man full of faith completely convinced that you were right there by my side in every moment of my life. My dear God I want to be that man again, a man with a heart full of hope and faith in you. I do believe in you, believe in me my heavenly Father. Help me to steer away from darkness because I have forgiven those who have hurt me here on Earth, thatís why Iím asking you, to forgive me my Lord and I pray this to you, in the name of your son Jesus Christ amen."

A few days went by after that night, maybe four days and four nights, Iím not sure really, but one of those mornings I woke up to a loud and firm voice saying, "Wake up and live this town." For a second I thought I was in the Army again but no, I was home in my room and by the side of the bed already. For me to wake up that fast was very, very unusual. Everybody who knows me knows that you need a backhoe to get me out of bed in the mornings, but there I was, looking everywhere around, and not a soul in sight. I got scared at first, but then I got this feeling of peace and harmony inside myself, almost weightlessness, sort of, kind of. It was nice sensation, a very nice feeling. I asked myself "wtf?!" I just shuck my head and I went to take a shower. I took a long and nice shower that morning, with cold water though, in my country even warm water is for the rich only. I remember making it a long shower because the feeling it was so nice inside my heart, that I just wanted to enjoy that feeling as long as I could. I was in awe thinking about the voice I heard in my dream, I guess, I donít know, it sounded so real, and the tone was so strong and deep, that felt like I was still vibrating from the frequency of the tone. That shower was for sure one of the nicest showers ever in my life. For the first time in a very long time the feeling that the voice brought to me, made me remember the time when in the Army I heard that same voice like a whisper in the wind, but this time it was so much louder. At that moment while taking the shower that I did listen to the whisper in the wind, because I did read the whole Bible from beginning to end, but I didnít read the end of it, the Apocalypse. That voice told me that the Apocalypse was going to be my forbidden fruit, so I did listen to it, and even to this day I havenít read the Apocalypse. I thought that was a trace of madness in my mind for sure, was I turning schizophrenic. That thought brought me back to Earth that morning, and the beautiful feeling slowly faded away.

After I dressed myself, I went to the kitchen where my mom was cooking, and like always she was multitasking doing a whole bunch of things all at once. I recall seeing her making miracles at the kitchen. I call it miracles because she was such a good cook, that she could do a great tasty meal almost out of nothing at all. I went to the kitchen and I said to her after she acknowledged me, "Mom Iím leaving this town today." What? She said, and I repeated, "Mom Iím leaving this town today." "When are you living son?" She asked, and I said, "Today mom. I am living today." My mom replied, "Oh! Youíre just crazy sonÖ leaving town?! With what money son of mine? To do anything in this life, you need money." I said, "I know mom and it might sound crazy, but Iím leaving this town!" She shook her head and rolled her eyes saying, "This kid. He doesnít even know where he stands, and now he is living townÖOh my Lord." and she kept cooking. I went to my room and I started packing the few things I had, I was in the middle of doing that when my mom showed up in my room and asked me, "What are you doing? Are you serious kid? Why do you want to live this town in such hurry? Do you have a girlfriend pregnant?" "No mom is not that or something like that. As a matter of fact I just want to leave this town. I have no real explanation for it, but I feel that I need to go." I didnít know exactly what to say, I didnít want to lie, but I didnít want to tell her about the voice in my head or whatever that was. One more time I was walking through life with my heart and not with my mind, and I said to her, "Mom do you remember when they call you from my middle school saying that I just disappeared from school, remember?" "Yes! How could I forget." she said, then I replied, "For some reason mom that day I felt at school the feeling that I didnít want to be there no more. I couldnít bear to stay there not even for a second more, and in my mind I thought that I was a free person, and as a free person if I didnít want to be there no more, I did have the right to leave. Right now mom Iím feeling exactly the same, and I want to leave this town." She said "Where are you going son?" I said, "I donít know mom. My first guess would be going to my mom Nieves house." She said, "Do you think that they will let you stay with them, and take care of you? You donít even write a letter to them. You have been so ungrateful to them. You havenít send not even a letter in years, not even a call, and you think that they are going to receive you with open arms after all this time? Like you were part of that family?" I said "That I donít write a letter or call them, it doesnít mean that I donít love them." My mom said, "That is what you think son, but to keep relationships alive, you need to be in contact. Youíll see, youíll see." My mom Mercedes said, and added as she was getting out of my room, "Running away from your problems is not going to make them go away. Whatever problems you might have, running away is not the solution." I said, "I am not running away from my problems mom. You just donít understand."

That is how usually my conversations with my mom Mercedes use to end up, "You donít understand me." Later on she said to me, "Look son, why donít you come over and have lunch with me. We will talk some more. Maybe you are just hungry. You know what they say full tummy, happy heart."

During lunch we talked about it some more, and she tried to change my mind, but I was determined to follow the voice advice. Even if I didnít mention that to my mom, I knew at that moment that I was not going to back down, not even a bit. I felt that deep inside of my heart.

After lunch I went to my room and I kept packing my stuff, it was not much I should add, actually all my clothes fitted in an old medium-size sport-bag that I had. I was in the middle of doing that when my mom came over again, and grabbed my shoulder saying, "I cannot tell you what to do anymore, but listen, I donít have any money to give you right now for a bus ticket, but if you wait for me a few days, I could give you the money for a ticket, so you donít have to leave in a hurry, without not even knowing where you are going to spent the night or what youíre going to eat tonight." I did look back at her, and gave her a hug saying, "Thanks mom." I guess by then she knew that trying to change my mind after I had an idea like that it was a waste of time, and like she used to say to me, "Once you get an idea on that hardheaded noggin of you, trying to change it, is just a waste of time." her saying was "Fools are hard to raised them up, but they kill themselves." She convinced me to calm down, and take it easy. At that moment before she offered me her help I was thinking where I was going to be that night, and what I was going to eat. At that moment I really appreciate what my mom offered to do for me, because the only thing I knew up to that moment is that I was going to take my faith and run with it. The rest was not up to me.

After that argument as days went by, my mom asked me every time she had the chance, "Are you still living?" My answer was the same every time, "Yes mom I am living." Then she will ask me, "Have you change your mind yet?" And my answer was the same "Nope!" After a few days she asked me very serious, "Do you have any plans about what are you going to do once you get there to your home town La Serena?" I said "Well the first thing Iím going to do once I get there, is going to talk to my mom Nieves, and then if for any reason she cannot have me there with her, thing that I doubt, I will go to my brother Ferdinandís house, and if for any reason he tells me Iím sorry I cannot have you here with me, honestly I donít know what I will do. I know one thing for sure though, and that is Iím not going to stay here in this town." If my mom Nieves said that is okay for me to stay with her, then Iíll finish my high school, maybe I can find a job over there, I donít know for sure mom. All my friends here are not the same no more, they have a girlfriend or they are in college, some of them, the ones with money, they have moved away to go to a University, and I am not the same either mom. What can I say mom, I donít know. The only thing I know is that this town is doesnít have nothing good for me at this moment, and I asked her, "Mom how much money are you going to be able to give me?" She said, "Well Iíll give you the money for the ticket, plus another $50 that is what I have in mind, and I hope I can do that. Donít forget that you have your older brother Ferdinand over there, and he owes me some money. Remember that in order for him to go to college I had to help him. She went to tell me the same story she always told me about the time when my brother Ferdinand told her that he wanted to be a professional, and she did help him behind my dad Luis back letting him keep some of the rent money of the house he left behind in La Serena, and on and on she went with the story. I donít know how many times I have heard that same old story, and she added "He is still mad at me, but I hope that he can give you a hand if you need it, as I did with him, and remember that I will be praying for you. That is the only thing I can do, and you know that if I had more money, more I will give you, but you know my reality. Oh and remember not to mention this to your father. You know what he thinks about education. For him once you are eighteen years old, you should be on your own, so please donít mention anything to him."

The day that she set to give me the money finally came and I asked her, "Mom do you have the money?" She said "Yes son I do have the money." And she passed me a roll of bills, I count them very quick, and she supposed to give me around hundred and fifty dollars, but there was only a hundred. Before I could say anything she said, "Itís all I have son. We have to eat a whole month before I get more money. You know son. Thatís the best I can do." I said, "Yes mom I know. I thank you for helping me out and believing in me. Bye mom. I love yah," and down the road I went. I grabbed my sport bag; walked to the bus terminal, and there I was, on the side of the road hitchhiking to the buses that were going to La Serena. I had to hitchhike because the money I had was not even enough to buy the cheapest ticket to La Serena. My only hope was that one of the buses going to La Serena could give me a ride for less money. I have heard that sometimes the driver of the bus could give you a ride for less money, if they have some space available. I stood for hours on the side of the road a few blocks away from the bus terminal until I saw the right bus coming, I put my thumb up, and the bus stopped. The attendant opened the door and asked me where I was going, I told him to La Serena, and after a little bit of wheeling and dealing he did ask me, "Where are you from?" I said, "Iím from La Serena." Lucky me, he was from La Serena too and I was able to get in the bus for half the price of a regular ticket. I was happy to know that I was going to have a little bit of money left once I got to my destination.

The trip to La Serena from Arica city is about 22 hours long in a bus. When you travel like this you donít get any food, and sometimes you have to be a standing up. I got lucky that they give me a seat. They give me the last seat, on the last row, and it was right by the rest room. That is not a good thing especially in a long trip like that one, but at least I had a seat.

That night thinking about what was going to happen when I got to La Serena I could barely slept. I was thinking about what I was going to do if my mom Nieves was unable to give me a place where to stay. I wasnít counting much on my brother Ferdinand because he has been mad at my mom and dad for the longest time. They had a misunderstanding about some rent money that he was supposed to send and he didnít, and because of that for more than 15 years they have been holding a grudge. I was not counting on him as a backup plan really, but in the bus I the only thing I could do was to think about possibilities of what could happen, and I couldnít stop thinking about it. While I was thinking about all this scenarios, I was looking through the window at the stars and the uniqueness of the Atacama Desert landscape. Being so young I was excited that at least something was happening in my life. I didnít know if this act of faith was going to be something good or bad in my life, but at least I was doing something. Looking at the stars and the uniqueness of the landscape, I got lost in the magic of the scene until finally I fell asleep.

Next morning I woke up to the sweet smell of tea and the growling of my stomach. As soon as I opened my eyes I saw a line of people waiting for the restroom, and I really felt uncomfortable about the appearance of my hair and my face, but nothing I could do about it. A few minutes after the line diminished the attendant started serving breakfast, and for my surprise the attendant gave me a cup of tea and a sandwich, I was not expecting that. I guess somebody didnít want it or something but let me tell you that everything tastes so much better when youíre hungry. At lunch time though, I was not that lucky, and I didnít get anything to eat until tea time that day. Anyhow sooner that I thought 22 hours later, once again I was in my hometown La Serena.

The bus terminal was right by the road I use to take to go to school as a child, and the scenery really brought me back to those days. I looked around and I realized that not much has changed. The old elementary school that was located right across the bus terminal looked exactly the same. Every place I looked brought back a memory. What a nice feeling was to walk again on the same path I did when I was a child.

The road I walked that day was the same way I use to take every time I walked to my Mom Nievesí house as well. More than 10 years has passed since I left my hometown, and as I was walking to my mom Nievesí house I remember that after all those years, no more than three times, have been all the occasions that I had written a letter to my mom Nieves. How ungrateful of me. Anyways there I was and there it was nothing I could do to change what had come to pass. I had no excuses.

That day was another cloudy day in La Serena. Partially cloudy is a very common weather forecast for that city. From the moment I put a food down on my hometown I felt something very special. I felt a very strong feeling of belonging to that place, and that was nice, very nice indeed. The fresh breeze from the ocean seemed to caress my face as I started walking, and it was so nice to smell the smells of my hometown. I never realized before that every city had its own distinctive smells. Besides the smell of the ocean, I could smell the aroma of fresh French bread being made, and in the air there it was a very characteristic smell of the wood being burnt by the "Panaderias."óBakeries.

After walking through the Avenue of the Statues, and the city market La Recova, I finally got to Brasil Street. Thatís the name of the street where my mom Nievesí home was located. While walking that same path that I walked many times as a child, in my mind, everywhere I looked brought a memory back. I was having so much fun that I almost didnít noticed when all of the sudden reality hit me back, and I realized that I was right in front of my momís Nieves house. I was there standing up right in front of that same old Spanish-style house. Not even the colors had changed. The house had beige walls, dark brown wood French windows, and the front of the house was right against the sidewalk in a narrow street typical of that city. I was one more time standing right in front of that same door that I have knocked before countless times. Standing in front of that door I saw myself riding a tricycle with the shape of a tractor, and I saw the vivid memory of me kicking the legs of Erciraís boyfriend at the time, because he got too close to my sister. In a fraction of time standing in front of that door, many feelings and many memories crossed my mind. I was overwhelmed with emotions.

Just a few doors down from that house used to be a liquor store, and in there my daddy Oscar had a beer once here and there. The clerk always use to ask me what I wanted to drink, because every time he asked me, I use to say exactly like my daddy Oscar said, "I want a cold one" and they will laugh out loud, and handed me my favorite drink as a child, an Orange Crush.

I knocked the door and a big dog started barking at me until one my sister came over, and she opened the door asking first, "Whoís there?" I said "Itís me Danny." She opened the door in a heartbeat happy to see me, and gave me a big hug saying, "What a surprise! They were all happy to see me, just like always. They didnít make me to the living room as it is the custom in my country they took me straight to my mom Nieves room. Her room looked exactly as I remembered, had a double French door facing to the garden, and right by the kitchen on the back of the house. There she was reading the newspaper on top of the bed and watching TV just like always. She came out of her room when she heard me, and when she saw me, she embraced me just like always. I could tell she was happy to see me as much as I was happy to see her. The feeling was exactly the same, looking at her was just like looking at my mom Mercedes, with the only difference that I havenít seen her in a long while.

After the commotion was over I sat by her side, and we started talking. In the mid-time my sister Ercira offered me a cup of tea, and I accepted it gladly. I was hungry, and I guess somehow she could tell. A few minutes later she brought me a cup of Ceylon tea, a piece of French bread with Goat cheese typical of the region, and there we wore, just like in the old times. We talked for hours and we catch up on all that time we hadnít see each other. It felt just like I had never left. At the end of that warm conversation I explained to her the reasons of my trip; that I wanted to stay in La Serena if I could, and finish my senior year of High School. I explained her that I didnít have a place where to stay, and at that moment I asked her if she could help me out. She looked back at me in a sad way saying, "Danny Iím so sorry, but I cannot have you here with me right now. At this moment I have a full houseÖ" and she went to explained to me the reasons why she couldnít have me to stay at her home at that very moment. I was sad to hear the bad news and I said, "Donít worry mom I do understand. I shouldíve planned this trip in advance, and I do apologize that I didnít let you know beforehand, that I was coming over."

At that time technology was far behind and pretty much the only way to communicate long distance was through letters in the mail, and only a few people had a phone, and that was a landline with a rotary dial up. I didnít mention why my trip was so unexpected; I kept that to myself.

After a little while after that I thought, "Well plan A was out the window, but I still had one more door to knock." And that was my Brother Ferdinandís door. We call him "Nano" heís one of the twinsóNano and Luchoómy older brothers. They are the oldest of my siblings and they are twins. Nano actually has nothing nano on him, he is 6 feet tall, and very strong. He loves to go fishing, hunting and he is very athletic. I always looked up to him, but we were not close at all. He was too old for me to play with, and when I was a kid I was always messing up his stuff. I remember one time he specifically asked me, "Please do not touch this little statue that I am sculpting. Please." He showed it to me and anyways as soon as he turned his back on me, I started playing with the statue, and I completely mess it up. Later on when I was about eight years old, he got married and moved out of the house. Me like always, I had serious trouble writing, so as I was walking to his house, I realized that after all this time, I had never sent him a card for his birthday or even a letter to say hello. I was very hesitant to ask him for help, but I had no choice. Walking to his house I realized that his house was far away from downtown, so after walking a bit I decided to take the bus. After half an hour I got to his house and it was almost sunset time. I was very tired, and it has been a day full of emotions, and all the talking with my mom Nieves and my sisters, was a lot to absorb for just one day. I didnít know what to expect, and I was getting really anxious, but whatever was going to happen soon I was going to find out. I did knock his door, and his wife Carmen opened the door. She barely recognized me. She said to me, "He is not home right now, but he should be here soon." After a half an hour or so he showed up, and I could tell he was suspiciously surprised to see me at his door. I gave him a hug and we started talking. I explained to him why I was there in a few words, and I told him that my idea was not to nock his door and bother him, but my mom Nieves couldnít help me at this moment, because she had a bit more than a full house. I did apologize to him for not planning this trip like I shouldíve, and I ask him what he thought. He said to me that before he could give me an answer, about the possibility of helping me out, he needed to consulted with his wife first. He said to me, "My house is a very small house. We donít have a room for you." He said to me, "Here we have full house too, but for the moment you could crash in the living room in the couch." I was so thankful that at least that night I had where to sleep, I was so glad that I didnít have to sleep in the streets, because I was totally not prepared for that. Honestly, deep in my mind, I guess, I never expected that my mom Nieves having a big house couldnít help me out. I was such a clueless person at the time.

Next day when my brother Ferdinand came back home from work, we sat down in the living room and he said to me, "I have been thinking all day about this, and if you have good intentions, like finishing your high school, I might be able to give you a hand. At the same time, I hope youíre telling me the truth, and I wish you understand that Iím not a wealthy person, so if you stay here you need to give me a hand with the shores of the house, and I need to give me a hand with my side jobs. If you are willing to do that, I might be able to keep you here, but like I said, I have to talk with Carmen first. If you help me out with my side jobs that would be a good way for you to cooperate with rent money. You could finish your high school at night, and give me a hand during the day with my side jobs. For you to help me with my side jobs, of course, you need to know how to weld. You need to know how to read blueprints too, so that way, even if Iím not here, you will know what to do by taking a look at the blueprints. If you are willing to do that, maybe you could stay. Maybe this could be a good thing that we both could benefit from. The other thing is donít expect any money from me, because with your work you will be paying for your rent and your food, are we clear?" I said, "Very clear." We went to the patio and he showed me what I needed to do next day. He tested my welding skills on his little, but very nice and well organized welding shop. After a short test welding he found my welding skills very sloppy, not good enough. He told me he could teach me how to weld like a pro in no time, at least I knew the basics, and he could work with me. In the mid-time he asked me to move a pile of rocks from one side of the patio to another side of the patio because he needed to make space. He had a big pile of rocks that were in the way of one of his patio improvement projects. After a few days he confirmed with me that it was okay for me to stay, clarified all the rules, and he took me to get registered to night school. Thatís how I started a new chapter in my life, back in my hometown La Serena.

After I got settle on my brotherís house, and I found a moment of privacy I did thank God, and I said one more time like I use to say at the time, "My Heavenly Father, let it be your will and not mine."

I started working in my brotherís little iron shop during the day, and going to school at night. I had to walk to school every day because I didnít have any money for transportation, and my school was kind of far away. I had to walk for about an hour each way. That was hard to do especially at the beginning, but soon I got used to walk back and forth with no problem. In the other hand that was my favorite time of the day, while walking I was able to set my mind free, free to wonder about anything that crossed my mind. The scenery was very inspiring, and I really liked the old Spanish style architecture typical of La Serena. Between my brotherís house and my high school, there is a wide road with sidewalks on both sides, and a bridge that cross the Elquiís riverbank. It is typical of La Serena to see Gypsies around downtown, and they have their main tents in this riverbank. The city gave them permission to stay there. Is always an experience every time you have any interaction with a Gypsy. Most of the time they will approach you offering to read the destiny written on your hands or they will offer you a handmade copper skillet. They are they are very persuasive and insistent, as much as a button holder. As a kid I used to be afraid of them, mainly because you hear stories about Gypsies stealing babies, and selling them for money to the highest bidder. Those of course are nothing but fairytales, but I cannot deny that as a child they were the closest thing to meet in person the boogie man. Now as a young adult I looked at them as if I was looking to a living museum of culture. They live a very simple life, so simple that makes you wonder how simple life used to be, and I cannot deny that walking through that road, I thought about being a gypsy myself, especially when you see a mighty good-looking Gypsy girl walking by.

In my mind and in my heart at that age I use to believe that faith was the road that leads to heaven, at the same time, I use to wondered where heavens was? I used to wonder if Heaven was a physical or a spiritual place. Along with those thoughts, at that age, I used to wonder when I could call myself a man, because one thing is to do things that an adult does, but another thing is to know for sure the reason why you are doing them. Back then I knew one thing for sure, and that was the clear conviction that I was a young adult but I was still clueless. I didnít understand the world around me, I didnít understand society, I didnít understand the law, and definitely I didnít understand religion, but walking back and forth from school every night, these were the subjects made my way a lot shorter.

In my high school I met a lot of nice people, and it was easier for me to fit in. I guess what made the difference for me, was the fact that everybody around me was more mature, and I truly felt that I had more things in common with them. After all I was in my hometown, and I could tell the difference. That high school was great for me, because really helped me to feel like I was just one more in the group, and it really helped me to build up my self-esteem. The other thing that helped me a lot to get my self-esteem was the fact that I had people around me that really cared about me. I was living with my brother, and he was giving me the opportunity to finish my high school. The other thing that helped me immensely with my self-confidence was the fact that I was able to visit my mom Nieves and my sisters every now and then when I had a chance. To be around them little by little made me feel like a normal human being again.

Being in my high school was really good for me as well, at the same time our homeroom teacher was great. After a few months into my high school, we learned the news that our homeroom teacher got really sick, and he will have to be absent for a few weeks. In the meantime or while he was recovering, we were going to get a substitute teacher.

The first day that this substitute teacher showed up we were all inside the classroom talking to each other like always, and we didnít notice when the new teacher arrived. The new teacher was a University of La Serena student that needed to do the practice to get credits for her graduation. We didnít think she was the teacher because she was even younger than many of our classmates. I do remember that day very well, because she was a good-looking girl in her mid-20s. She had prescription glasses, and because she looked so young, took us a few minutes for all of us to be quiet, and start listening to her. She looked just like another student. In my mind I said, "Finally we get a good-looking teacher." All of the other teachers were quite more mature. She introduced herself and explained to us the reason why she was there, and reassured to all of us that soon we will have our homeroom teacher back. Right after she introduced herself, she told us that we could talk to each other, as long as it was not too loud, and she told us that she will take a little bit of time, to go around and got to know us a little bit better in a more personal way. Her name was Ximena with an x instead of a J, and she was tall, skinny and on top of all she was a teacher, so that fact did make her very hot for me. I guess from the moment I saw her I had a crash for her. She didnít look like a teacher at all, but of course, she was now my homeroom teacher, and I had nothing but respect for her. She was Mrs. Ximena for all of us regardless of her age. She started approaching student after student, talking to them, and asking them a few trivial questions until she got to my table. Standing up right in front of my table she asked my name, and why I was going to school at night. I introduced myself, and as soon as I started telling her in a few words why I was going to night school, she got a little bit closer to me, and she putted her hands on top of the table, and as I kept telling her my story, she kept getting closer and closer to me, she was looking straight to my eyes, and it got to the point where I kind of started leaning back, because she got so close to me. At that moment when I started leaning backward, she realized that she got a little too close to me, still it was about a foot away from me, but that was very unusual. Most of the time teachers keep around 3 feet of distance around them. As soon as she realized that she was probably a little too close, she straightened herself up and regained her distance. As I kept telling her my story, I was trying to make a long story as short as I possibly, because like always I was trying to tell the truth, and not just a story that sounded good. I remember she fixed her glasses and said to me, "I like your answer. Nice to meet you," and she moved on to the next table. That night at recess time after she left, everybody was asking me, "What was I telling her that she got so close to me?" I said nothing I was just telling her my reasons why I was going to night school. Everybody that night was joking with me, and talking about that moment when she got too close to me. People from La Serena are known for loving gossips. Gossip at least used to be the most popular sport in that city.

After that, of course, things were back to where they suppose to be, and I cannot recall, not even one instance, where something was out of place, after that first time personal introduction. About that time I remember making out with a girl after school, but that was it. One night I walked a girl to her home after school, and we had a hit and run. I call it a hit and run because I didnít follow up. She was a good girl and like a good girl, she gave me a change, one shot and that was it. I did like her, but even if my self-esteem was okay, there was one problem for me, and a very rational I must add. My thinking was, "What do I have to offer right now to a woman?" I made myself that question many times, and truth was, I didnít have not even a room for myself. I was sleeping in the living room behind the couch in my brotherís hose. Donít get me wrong I was thankful, and grateful, and I considered myself lucky to have a place where to live at that moment, and Iíll always be grateful to my brother, and my brotherís family for giving me a place where to live when I needed it the most, but as a man, how could I even think of having a relationship at that moment in my life. Most of the time I didnít have not even money to buy me a pair of loose cigarettes on the street. I did make out with a couple girls on that night school, but I never followed up. That was it a hit and run and thatís it. I was too poor to have a normal life according to my age. Was I too rational? Was I too serious? I have been told that same thing my whole life many times, and my answer always was, "I have been poor my whole life, and when you are faced with that reality things change." Your perspective of life is completely different to those who have nothing to worry about. Good thing I learned from my friend Manuelís mom one thing. I remember hearing her saying something that Iíll never forget, "If you have to work, you are not rich, and you have to learn to live with that reality." She was a German lady, and as a ten boy I had a crush on her. I did find her so beautiful and sexy, that every time I saw her, I paid a lot of attention to whatever she was saying. That was very unusual on me, because most of the time I was lost inside my mind. I remember sometimes people saying to me, "Planet Earth calling Daniel" and they have to say it a few times before I responded. For many I was nothing but a "special kid" some people would say I was very smart, but I always thought they were just being nice to me. It was very hard to make me get out of my shell "Autistic" is the word that fits me the best.  I loved to think and being inside my mind. I was mostly afraid of the world around me, especially from adult males, those serious ones that get aggressive very quick. I guess that was a trauma from my Dad Luis. To come to terms on accepting him as my dad, I had to think of him as a sick person, a very sick person that had diabetes, bipolar disorder, and unusual tendency for cruelty. I remember that thinking of him as exactly the way I didnít want to be. Thatís why for me to have a child was the last thing I wanted to do. I didnít want to pass that kind of genes to my child, especially knowing that my brother Luis had schizophrenia, and my Mom Mercedes suffered from severe depression. Thatís why any girl that showed interest in me, I would reject her, because that way I was saving her from making a huge mistake in her life. That is what I thought of myself at that age.

One of those days Mrs. Ximena gave me back a test after she reviewed it, and it had a very low score. She said to me when I went to her desk to pick up my results, "You need to improve your vocabulary, you need to read more. I have a book that I think will be a great book for you, because is about your level of vocabulary, but a little bit richer in the way that ideas are expressed in writing. If you are interested in reading this book, I could borrow it to you, and if you are interested come and talk to me after the class is over." I didnít say anything, I moved my head slightly up and down and that was it. That was my thing back then, that was a my sign of approval, I guess I was a man of a few words back then. Looking at my test results I started moving my head sideways in disapproval saying no. Many times I didnít talk I just used body language. I went to my seat, and I started thinking about starting to read a bit, I really needed to do something about it. Since I moved to Arica, I guess in a sign of rebellion, because I didnít liked the town or the school for that matter, I stopped writing, and taking notes in class, and whatever I did catch with my mind, that was what I kept. Many times that was enough to at least have passing grades. Talking about that I remember one time, when they had a teacher conference at my middle school, because they thought I was cheating on my tests. Every teacher had complained to the principal and my mom, about me not writing or taking notes on class. They called my mom and told her that if it was true, that I was not cheating, I should be able to pass a verbal test. They had all the teachers present that day at the principalís office along with my mom, and before they started the test they explained to my mom very clearly, that if I didnít pass the test, I was going to be expelled from the school. Mr. Sotomayor the principal started the round of questions, and I have to admit that was quite intimidating, but at the end, I didnít have a perfect score, but I did pass the test. I wasnít a bad kid, or disrespectful with my teachers, so I guess that helped. Like I said for me reading was the most boring thing to do. For some reason I thought that books contaminated my mind, because I was getting inside of another personís mind, and what good was to learn about others experiences, when in all reality experience is something that you cannot absorbed reading. True experience comes from living them, not for reading about it. What about Moses and Noah, they didnít have any books. I was such a weird kid, and I remember wanting to at least have my own particular point of view about life, so thatís why I didnít want to read books. I wanted to experience life without others ideas inside my mind, and that was something very important for me, other persons ideas inside my mind, could cloud the purity of any of my own new experiences. For me to read a book was something to do after I had my own point of view, so I could experience, the experience of growing up on my own, without any outside interference.

In a way I was in no hurry to find out about life, and my question at that time about life was, "What about, if what Iím reading is completely wrong? How that will affect my life?" After all I have only one life, and if I made a mistake, I wanted to be my mistake. I never talked about this with no one, but this kind of thinking was part of my penetralia, was part of my rebellion. This kind of thinking was in the most inner and private part of my own temple of thoughts. If I was wrong or right, as long as I do not break the law, God will be the judge of that, and no one else.

And what about writing? Why I didnít like to write? Why write with a pencil if we already had computers? Hand writing was such a primitive thing for me to do. Why donít you teach your children how to write in stoneÖ? Thinking about all that, at that moment I realized that Mrs. Ximena was right, if I didnít like to read and write was okay, but anyways it was evident to me, that in order to speak properly I needed more vocabulary, way more vocabulary, so at the end of the class, I did approach her and asked her to lend me the book. She borrowed me the book saying, "When you are done reading it give it back to me, and take good care of it please" Sure Mrs. Ximena I said, and I took that book with me that night. Back then a book was a lot more valuable than what a book is these days.

As soon I started reading that book I realized that I really needed a dictionary, and at that very moment I had an epiphany. It became obvious to me how much of an ignorant I was, and that was a good thing to be aware of, I knew right then, that if I can realized that I was an ignorant, I could then do something about it, and I was already doing something about it, I was reading that book. I thought, "Thanks Mrs. Ximena." And I thought, "The more I know, the more I realize how little I know," "I would change everything I know for just the half of what I donít." Now those words made sense to me for the first time in my life.

I was going to school and my brother Nano was working and working, we barely saw each other no more. The working hours in Chile are still forty-eight hours a week and honestly, after being here in the US since I was 26 years old, I cannot even imagine what it would be like, having to work six days a week, every single week of the year, for at least forty eight hours a day. Even though his work didnít leave almost any free time, he found the strength to go out and have fun doing what he loved to do the most, and that was hunting and fishing on the weekends. I really admire his strength, and even more when sometimes he took me along with him. One of those times we went fishing, and I do remember that occasion very well, because it was the time where I ate the best fish-sandwich ever. Chile being a long and thin country, every city pretty much is along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, so fresh fish is a common thing to find, but this time when I went fishing with my brother Ferdinand it was something else. Before dawn we were on board of this little wooden boatóa 22 feet long fishing boat, and just as simple as a boat can be. Five passengers on each side of the boat, plus the cook on the front, and the captain on the back in charge of the rudder. While in the middle of darkness, we set course to the captainís secret fishing-spot, and the cook started preparing the fire right in between the Mast thwart and the Steam postóletís say in the front of the boatóand we started getting our lines and baits ready. As soon as we arrived at the fishing spot the Captain turned off the little off board engine, and he said that it was okay to throw our lines in the water. He emphasized very clearly, "No talking." There we were in the middle of the ocean, so we thought, because as the Sun started to come out, we realized that we were in the middle of a bay. It was a beautiful place. You could see the lights of the city being reflected in the water, and you realized that you are far away from land, and that made me feel uneasy, and completely out of your comfort zone, but I guess that is what youíre looking for when you want to experience an adventure, right? I was glad that the ocean was very calmed that morning. I have been before out into sea in a fishing-ship, and I remember being a common thing, to be riding waves over 10 feet tall at least. Is quite the experience to enter open seas in a small boat, especially the first time, it seems like the ocean is going to swallow you whole. Once you leave the bay the waves hit you, and you find yourself in the top of a wave, and then going dawn as if it was a frightening roller coaster. Like I said, I was glad that the ocean was so calmed that morning. After about fifteen minutes of complete silence where the only thing you could hear was the cracking of the wood burning, and the water making a soft splashing noise around the boat, I started to get skeptical about fishing anything at all. Many times in many of my personal experiences, I went fishing and come back home empty handed. I started to get skeptical because for a while the only thing we were doing was looking at each other. We had all the lines in the water with the right kind of bait as the Captain suggested, but nothing was happening. I was getting bored but as soon as you could say for sure it was dawn, the fish started to bite the bait. We started pulling one fish after another out of the water no stop, it was unbelievable! We did stay busy for a good half an hour, doing nothing but catching one fish after another until the captain said, "Lines up" and the game was over. The cook got busy really quick, and by then he had everything ready to start cooking the fish. The oil was almost boiling in a deep copper skillet. He had a mix of flour, salt, pepper and cumin on a plate, and as soon as we caught the fish he skinned and fillet the fresh caught fish. He got the flour mix on both side of the fish fillets and started deep frying it. As soon as the fish was cooked he put it inside of a French bread, and started passing it around with a glass of red wine. That was all we did on our way back, nothing but laughing and talking about the experience while enjoying the most delicious fish sandwich ever! Just imagine the picture of being in the middle of the ocean, looking at the bay, and watching the sunrise over the Andes Mountains. What a great time that was.

With my brother Ferdinand for sure I had more good times to remember in that short period of time, than in my whole life with my Dad Luis, hard to believe but truth. We went fishing, hunting, and I learned a lot with him. He is the kind of tough love kind of man, but for sure my time with him was a good time in my life. It is fair to say that I do have many memories with my Father Luis as well, and he taught me a lot of things, but I guess because of his battle with diabetes, and bipolar disorder leading many times to rage, it tends to cloud those good times we spent together. He was like that great dog that you have to put to sleep because he snapped at you when you list expected. Sometimes it doesnít matter how good somebody can be, if that person becomes violent. Even if it is one time, one time sometimes is all it takes to change you perception forever. Actually it doesnít matter if you have been a hero many times, if you kill somebody you are an assassin that needs to be put to sleep, period. This argument, trust me, is ancient as humans are on Earth. On true democracies is clearly stated in writing what is the course of action in these situations, sad but true. My dad Luis never killed anyone, but many times we thought for sure we were dead meat when he got mad.

Many times little things do make a big one, and that was the case when one day, my brother Ferdinand told me, that he couldnít have me anymore at his house. I have always taken a long time in the bathroom, and seems like every time I went to use the bathroom at his house, someone else needed to use the bathroom as well. The house had only one bathroom, and on top of all that I was sleeping in the living room. Sometimes somebody will come to visit my brotherís wife in the morning, and most likely I was still sleeping. That was kind of messy for them, and very uncomfortable for me. My brother got fed up with the complaints, especially those coming from his two daughtersómy nieces Sofia and Silvana. They were at the time nine and six years old. Almost every time I got to the restroom, they wanted to go to use the bathroom too. I know my brother put up with the complaints for months, but it got to the point where one day he sat me down and said, "I personally like to have you here, you have been helping me out a lot with my side jobs; youíre a good hand for me but, Iím having problems with my wife Carmen because of the girls, they complain to her almost every other day, about you staying too long in the bathroom. I know they are just being kids, but at the same time that this house is too small for all of us. This house has only one bathroom, and in all reality the living room is not a bedroom to sleep. You donít have any privacy, they have lost their privacy, and the complaints keep coming at me. Do you understand me brother? You donít have to leave right now; I know your situation, and I would love to have the means to help you more, but you know my situation as well. Talk to your mom, and ask her what we can do about it. All what my brother was saying to me was true, and I did understand exactly where he was coming from. I didnít know what to do in a case like this one, and I was suspecting to finish my high school first, and then tried to find a job, and move out. I didnít want to go back to Arica, and I wanted to leave in my hometown La Serena. Now I was back to square one, and I truly didnít know what to do. The first thing I did was to call my mom Mercedes. I was very skeptical about she being willing to help me, on top of all that my mom Mercedes didnít have a phone, so communication with her was a very slow. I had to write letters to her, and it took about two weeks to receive an answer back from her, if she answered right away that is. I explained to her my situation in a few words, like always I was terrible at writing, so I tried my best to make my Mom Mercedes understand my situation. Finally when I received her answer back in a letter, I was surprised to learn that she was willing to help me out to finish my high school. She said to me in the letter that she was proud of me finishing my high school, and because of that reason, she will try to send me some money every month, so I could finish what I had started. She wrote as well to ask my mom Nieves if she could give me a hand. I explained the situation to my mom Nieves too, and she said to me that she will try to do her best. My mom Nieves said, "My situation has not changed much since last time you asked me though."

 My mom Mercedes promised to send me about a hundred dollars every month, and that was not much. To rent a room did cost about two hundred and fifty dollars a month at that time, and I remember looking around for a room, and the cheapest room I could find, was a hundred and fifty a month. My Mom Nieves aware of my situation she said to me, "You are not going to find any place to live with that amount of money that your mom is going to send you. I talked to one of my neighbors, and she could rent you a room as a favor to me, for eighty dollars a month. That way you will be living very close to me. You could come over on the afternoon, and you can have tea with me. That is the best I can do for you. If you rent that room from my friend, you need to behave accordingly okay? Donít let me down son, "Avilosito pue."(Meaning be always wise. That was a phrase she always said to me.)" I said thanks Mom, and we had tea that day in her room. That day was extra special for me. I was seated in a chair by the side of her bed, while she was reading the newspaper on her bed, with the TV on, just like always when I was little.

After that as soon as I saw my brother, I let him know what was going on, and he was happy for me. I was happy as well to know that for the first time in my life, I was going to have a room of my own, a room all for myself. Weeks went by and no signs of the money. I started to get worried and I wrote another letter to my mom Mercedes, asking her what was going on. Finally after a few weeks, I received an answer from my mom Mercedes I received an answer but no money. In the letter among excuses why she couldnít sent the money, she went to tell me a story that I had have heard many times before, and by the way my mom Mercedes and my brother Ferdinand, were still not talking to each other after all those years. They were still holding a grudge and all because of a money misunderstanding, they had long ago, when my brother was in charge of renting the house that my parents left in La Serena, when we moved to Arica. The story goes, "When your brother finished his high school. He came to me and told me that he wanted to be a professional, and like you know, your father Luis, he thought that as soon you were eighteen-years old, he was done and through with you guys. It has been always a fight with your father to try to help you especially when it comes to education. At that time I let your brother Ferdinand to keep part of the rent, so he can use that money to pay for his education, and that is how your brother became a professional. I think he should return the favor and help you to at least finish your high school. At the same time, he has that old car that it belongs to your father and is not his. Tell your brother that I say that now that car belongs to you. You can sell it and use that money to keep going to school, while I try to put things together over here, so I can send you some money as soon as I can, because I am having a hard time coming up with the money. Tell him that I say to give you the car. Sell the car and rent the room with that money. That should be enough money to get you started, while I organize myself here, and start sending you the money I promised you."

My mom Mercedes does not know the word sorry and she have been always so proud. After I read the letter, I felt terrible about having to tell my brother Ferdinand about what my mom Mercedes asked me to say to him. They have been mad at each other for so long, and now I was right in the middle of this argument, an argument that I wanted no part on it. My brother Ferdinand kept taking part of the rent money for a little bit longer that what he shouldíve, and my mom Mercedes got so upset that said to him, "From now on you are dead to me." Thatís what she used to say sometimes when she got really upset with someone. When my mom Mercedes said that to my brother Fernando he took it to heart, and since then they havenít said a word to each other. Even after a few years after that misunderstanding, my mom Mercedes wrote a letter to him, not with an apology, but a letter saying hello to him, and my brother Ferdinand responded to her with a post card made by himself, "Dead people does not talk."

I cannot deny that I was afraid to talk about the letter with my brother, but I found the courage and the right time to talk to him. We sat down and talked about it for a little while. I thought he was going to get very upset but he didnít, he was not happy either, but at the end he said, "Take it. You can have it. You know all the work I have done to that car, and the only reason why that car is still running, is because I have put a lot of work into it." Nobody else knew better than me, that what my mom Mercedes was asking was not fair, not even for a minute, and my brother added, "Iím glad that after that car is gone, that is the last thing I have between me and my parents." When I heard that from my brother I felt terrible, but not much I could do about it. After a little while I sold the car in three hundred dollars, and I can say that I did get lucky getting that much out of it. That car was already old when my dad bought it long ago, and now it was almost nothing but a piece of junk still running.

I used that money to pay for the rent, and I bought me a couple of things that I really needed at the time, like a pair of shoes, a jacket and a pair of jeans. Oh! And I bought me a whole pack of cigarettes too.

When I moved out of my brotherís house I said to him how much I really appreciated all the help that he has given me, especially during a very difficult time of my life, and that I was sorry for all the inconveniences I might have caused him, and I really meant it. I said good bye to him and his family, grabbed my small sport-bag, and I moved out. That small sport-bag it was all I had.

The room that my mom Nieves had reserved for me with her neighbor, really helped me out, and I was so glad to know that I was going to be able to finish my high school. This little room at the end of a long narrow hallway, came with a bed and a dresser, and that was pretty much everything I needed at the time. I was very happy with my little room, a room all for myself. Funny thing was, that this room was the first time ever I had a room all for myself. It didnít take me long to put away all my stuff, and organized the few things I had. While I was doing that, in one of the pockets of my sport bag, I found the book that Mrs. Ximena had lent me awhile ago. I almost completely forgot about it. I didnít finish reading it all the way through, but I read most of it, and that book really helped me to improve my vocabulary. That day I put the book inside my backpack and I took it with me to school, thinking that I was going to be able to give it back to Mrs. Ximena.

For my surprise that night when I got to my class, I found out that we had no homeroom teacher that night. Mrs. Ximena had stayed with us way longer than originally we thought she was going to stay, and now we have learn through one of the school principal assistants, that on our next period of class we were going to get a new substitute teacher. Our original homeroom teacher was completely recovered from his illness, but he was taking some personal time off. We were going to have a new substitute teacher because Mrs. Ximena had completed all the time she needed as an interim, and she was now ready to graduate. Thatís why we were going to get somebody else. The principalís assistant apologized on her behalf, for not being able to let us know in person whatís was going on, and before we could ask any questions, the principalís assistant left the room in a hurry saying, "Be quiet while you are on your own. You are grow ups now." And she left. At the beginning of the next period, the new substitute teacher arrived, and just like Mrs. Ximena she was a very young University of La Serena student doing some time as an interim. I saw a stunning full figured girl, walking in a very feminine and sexy way. It looked like she was walking almost in a slow motion. She was our new substitute teacher and she wasnít wearing a dress as you might expect from a teacher. She was wearing nice black boots and a pair of tight jeans. She even went to say, "Excuse my informal attire, but just like Mrs. Ximena, I am a student of the University of La Serena, and I got called in a hurry to replace the missing homeroom teacher. Like you may know Iíll be the person replacing Mrs. Ximena, until your original homeroom teacher comes back to work." She introduced herself to the class, her name was Veronica, and she went straight to business asking where we were at, and where Mrs. Ximena left of subject wise. At the end of the class, she did take a few minutes to let us know, that Mrs. Ximena was sorry that she didnít have the time to say good bye to all of us personally, and that has been nice to meet all of us. Mrs. Veronica went to say that Mrs. Ximena wish us all the best, and so on and so forth. To hear her saying all that gave me the impression that she knew Mrs. Ximena very well, so as she was living the classroom I approached her and ask her if she knew how to get a hold of Mrs. Ximena. She asked me why, and I went to say, "Well she lend me a book and I need to give it back to her." She said, "I could give it back to her if you want me to." Then I replayed, "I would love to give it back personally, so I can say thanks to her in person." Mrs. Veronica said, "You must be Daniel right?" I said, "Yes I am." She took a piece of paper and gave me the address saying, "She was right" Before I could asked her what she meant with that, she was already on her way saying, "Sorry. I have to go to my next class. Nice to meet you." and she left in a hurry. Talking about living someone in a total state of, "Hello?!"

After a few days I finally decided to personally return Mrs. Ximenaís book. The address was pretty much in the same path I used to take to go back and forth from my mom Nieves to my mom Mercedes, and for my surprise the address of Mrs. Ximenaís house was right behind the city soccer stadium. Walking on my way to her house, I realized that the city has not changed much at all. Pretty much it was the same old town, with the exception of a few new businesses here and there. Everything was almost exactly the same, and before I knew it I reached my destination. The address was a two story townhouse with a very flat front, and clay tiles on top of the front faÁade. I stud right in front of the house for a few seconds before I knocked, because I got stomach jitters, and I could not explain myself why I was feeling that way. I looked to this house that started right off of the sidewalk, because they have used every single centimeter out of that property. I couldnít explained why I got so nerves all of the sudden, but there I was, debating in my mind, "To knock or not to knock." Finally I did knock and a lady opened the door asking me what I wanted I said, "I am looking for Mrs. Ximena" The lady said, "She is not here at this moment." I asked her, "Do you mind if I wait for her?" She said "No, not at all come in, you can seat here in the living room, and wait for her." She let me in and I sat in the living room. I didnít want to have to walk all that much just for nothing. The distance was not that far away, but it was at least a good thirty minutes walk from my place to hers. For what the lady told me, I thought she was going to be back soon, but man was I wrong. I ended up waiting for hours, literally I waited for hours. I waited and waited, and good thing the living room a comfortable one, but it didnít have a TV set. The only thing to my disposal was Mrs. Ximenaís book. I was kind of frustrated with that book, because every few words I read, I found a word I didnít know, and I knew that the book was just sort of freshman year level, so as I kept reading it, I imagined in my head a whole stadium chanting to me, "You are dumb. You are dumbÖ" Frustrating it was, but as I was reading through this book, and painfully slow I must add, finally the front door opened, and Mrs. Ximena and Mrs. Veronica were together. That was a big surprise to me. We said hello and I did find out that they were roommates. What a surprise. We started talking for a little while about trivial things, and I found out that Mrs. Veronica was from Arica. That was a big coincidence and we talked about Arica Vice for a few and such. Soon after I gave the book back to Mrs. Ximena, I said thanks and we said good bye. That day I learned that Mrs. Ximena was from ViŮa del Maróanother beautiful touristic town just south of the capitalóand that soon she was going to go back to her home town to finish her thesis. Then she was going to come back later on to receive her degree on Universal History and Geography. It was clear to me that these two girls were very smart, and on top of all that very good looking girls. As I said good bye to them, they encourage me to keep reading, and wished me the best of lucks. I wished them the same and before I left Mrs. Ximena asked me for my address to send me a post card from her hometown, and I gave my address to her and I left.

Walking back home in this very familiar path I started walking and thinking. Walking and thinking has been always one of my favorite things to do, especially in this quiet and serene town, where the yellows and browns mixed with the greens of nature, are predominant in the array of color tones found in this town.

As I was walking and thinking, for some reason I always ended up thinking about two things mainly, God and my perpetual motion device. For some reason there was a connection in between this two. No matter how or where I started thinking about these two subjects, they always ended up together. In my mind at that time in my life, I thought that Genesis was some sort of a formula, a formula of matter leading to the beginning of energy. God said, "I am the beginning and the end." So if God was the true beginning, everything we could see with our eyes, it comes from one common beginning, and God mentions, "I am the end as well." So how eternity could exist if there is an "End" What a pickle, one thing was for sure though, everything I could hold in my hands, it was in a way a little bit of God. For me every material had different properties, even though throughout science we know that they are in essence made out of the same common thing "Atoms".

 What I liked the most thinking about these two subjects, was the fact that the time went by really quick. Thinking while walking was a way for me to get where ever I did go way faster, so in no time I was back in my little room again. There inside my little room, I did practice for hours my other favorite thing to do, playing the guitar. At the time to play the guitar, I really needed some privacy, because if there it was something that I didnít have any skills for it, it was music. I was tone deaf; I had no rhythm; plus I had a couple of trigger fingers, and no money for music lessons either. Anyhow it was a healthy pass time where the only way for me to attempt to play any music, it was blindly copying what I heard, but because my tone deafness, I was never totally sure if what I was doing was right or wrong. While struggling with music, I always kept in mind the words of one of my best friendís momóshe was a music teacher and she gave me a few free lessons Mrs. Lugardaó she always told me, "If you donít have a musical ear, keep practicing because eventually you will develop it. Just make sure that your instrument is tuned right, and listen to classical music." At that time in the late 80ís there was no electronic tuners, so my guitar was always way off tune. Once in awhile one of my sisterí husband tuned the guitar for me, and like always every time I asked him, he did it shaking his head in disapproval like saying, "What for? This is a waste of time?" but he did it anyways. That was Anita Mariaís husband. I should thank those with patience for the less gifted.

That day back in my room I thought about the conversation that I had with them, and how well they were able to speak the language. Their vocabulary was amazing and many times while listening to them, they made me feel like they were speaking a complete different language. Inspired by this moment I grabbed the guitar that dayóan old guitar that the landlord lend meóand I started writing a song. You can imagine what kind of music that was, but I was inspired that day.

That time in my life financially speaking was very tough. La Serena is known for being one of the most expensive cities to live, but regardless I was glad to be away from Paste. After all with my brother Fernando I learned how to weld, how to read blueprints in different scales, and to be more responsible. He was a good role model for me and I really appreciate the fact that he was there for me, when I needed him the most. My mom Nieves besides of giving me emotional support, she allowed me to go over and have tea with her. I went over her house almost every day, and many days that tea time was the meal of the day. I was very skinny back then. What I appreciate the most to my mom Nieves was the fact that no matter how many times I went to her house, I always felt loved and welcome. In my heart she was my mother, and to be around her was a priceless time for me. Many times we didnít even talk, but it felt great to be by her side. She was reading or watching her soap opera, and I was by her side reading, studying or having my tea, just like when I was a little one.

After a couple of weeks since I dropped that book to Mrs. Ximena, I was in my room when the landlord came over and said to me, "Somebody is looking for you." I went to the door and I could not believe my eyes, the person looking for me was Mrs. Ximena. She come over to say good bye before she went back to ViŮa del Mar, and she had in her hands the book she lend me awhile ago. We said hello and she said, "I would love you to have this book" I said "Thanks Mrs. Ximena" She interrupted me and said, "Just call me Ximena or Xime like my friends do. You always so formal and so serious, may I come in?" Sure I said, and she came in to my room. There we were in my room, like good old friends, talking about everything and nothing at all. After a little while she saw my guitar and asked me to play something for her I said "I have to warn you that Iím learning how to play" I donít care she said, and insisted, so I play something for her trying my best. At the time I was learning how to play a very difficult song from Silvio Rodriguez called Ojala (I wish). So I played that song for her, and It wasnít that bad, but after I finished she said "You started okay, but you changed tones in the middle of the song." Honestly I didnít have a clue about what she was talking about, I didnít hear it. I was tone deaf at the time remember? And she said, "The guitar part was not bad I liked it." At that moment we looked at each other straight in the eye and we kiss, and we kiss again, and we kissed that afternoon away.

I was in complete disbelieve! To make out with my night school teacher was my secret fantasy, it was my secret wish. For sure that moment was like a dream come true, just like Jimmy Fallon put it, "The male student that had sex with his teacher, has been taken to the psychologist countless times, to be treated for spontaneous bursts of happiness and euphoria." That was my fantasy and what a nice fantasy that was. We started dating after that, and I knew she was going to leave soon, but I couldnít care less. I havenít had that much fun in awhile, and I really didnít care. I just wanted to live the moment.

Dating her without a phone and without money was a real challenge for me. Good thing she could leave a phone message with my mom Nieves, and I could do the same at her place. The messages had to be very short, and all of them have to be less than one minute long. Phone was too expensive those days. A phone was a true luxury back then.

After that afternoon I started to walk a lot more often, well not that often as you may think, but we started to see each other a couple times a week. Never on the weekends or Friday nights though. That was a bit suspicious for me, but I didnít care, and I never complaint either. One of those days I went to her place and she was not there, but Veronica was, and like we had a lot in common, we started talking and kicking the time away. After a little while into our conversation she asked me if I wanted dinner, sure I said. Back then food for me was a precious thing, and I was always hungry. Before she started cooking she said to me, "I have something to tell you. Is nothing bad, so donít worry, but like you are from my hometown and I like you as a person, Iím going to share something with you about Ximena. Is nothing bad, so donít worry, but Iíll tell you later, let me cook dinner first. While Iím cooking you could help me making my cooking more entertaining. Why donít you tell me a little bit more about yourself? Who are your friends over there in Arica? Maybe I know them."

 Arica is so small that if you donít know somebody personally, at least you have seen them before. While she started cooking I started talking about people I knew back in Arica, and indeed there were more than a few people that we both knew very well. Like they say, "What a small world," she knew "Bam Bam"óthe guy that pulled my arm and broke my clavicle, and others.

I have never been the kind of guy that talks a lot, but with her, conversation was something that flowed naturally. As she was almost done with her delicious homemade spaghettis dinner she said to me, "Ximena is not the kind of girl you want to fall in love with. I donít want to elaborate on that, because she is my friend, but to put it in a few words, "You only need to use a few words with those who are good at understanding." I moved my head up and down while eating my spaghettis, and I kind of smile, and that was it. We never touched the subject ever again. We ate that spaghetti in the kitchen, seated in a very small table, and as we were done and Ximena still didnít show up, she invited me upstairs. She needed to finish reading a book. The book was about 600 hundred pages long, and she needed to finish reading it, because that book was going to be the main subject in one of her finals. We went upstairs to their room, and she sat on her bed and started reading the book. I grabbed a magazine, and I started to look through the pages while seated in Ximenaís bed. All of the sudden she said, would you like to have a joint? No thanks I said, I donít smoke pot, just cigarettes thanks. Do you mind if I do? Not at all! Go ahead I said. While she started rolling the joint I started telling her about the one time when I tried marijuana for the first time. "I was in an arcade playing my favorite game of all times Pinball machines, and a guy that I just knew from playing on that place, got close to me and asked me almost whispering, "Hey do you want a puff?" I hesitated but I didnít want to disappoint the group of guys I just met, so I went outside and I took a puff. Literally one short puff and I went back to playing my game. I was just about to beat the high score on that pinball machine, and I couldnít wait to get back to my game. After a couple of minutes after I smoke that puff, I really got into the game. Everything slowed down, and I could see the ball hitting the targets and going down turning the lights in a way I never have seen before. I could see the bright colors one by one, and I could hear every single sound and vibration coming out of that pinball machine with amazing details, but I couldnít play well at all. I started losing badly, and I started laughing at my stupidity. I couldnít stop laughing. That was my first time smoking pot. I was laughing so much that was contagious, and I had not laughed like that since puberty. I went to confess to her that I was afraid of messing with my brain, thatís why I was reluctant to smoke, and at the same time because of my older brother Luis. I told her that my brother Luis had schizophrenia, and he had his first episode of schizophrenia, after the assassination of his best friend Carol, by the Pint-of-shit regime in 1973. As Veronica started paying attention to what I was saying, I started telling her about the first time I meet my brotherís Luis friend Carol. The only memory I have from his friend Carol was a time when I was five years old, and they put me on a small Honda scooter 50ccs, and Carol and my brothers gave me instructions on how to drive the little motorcycle, but they forgot to tell me how to stop. I went for a ride around the block crossing a busy double lane avenue back and forth, and when I came back they were shouting at me, "Stop, stop" I told them, "I canít stop" They said to me, "Just slow down." Fortunately I did slow down enough where they were able to grab me, and take control of the little motorcycle. They never thought that I was going to be able to drive the scooter or maybe they thought that I was going to chicken out, but for their surprise, I prove them wrong. Later on I remember my older brothers getting in trouble because of that. A few neighbors told my mom Mercedes that they saw me crossing one of the busiest streets, very fast, on a small motorcycle, and all by myself. The neighbors told my mom Mercedes that I didnít stop at the stop sign, and they had to slam on the brakes otherwise they couldíve run me over. For me that ride was one of the best rides of my life, and for sure couldíve been the last one. I was just only five years old.

I could tell that Veronica was having fun listening to my stories while she was smoking that joint. For some reason it was easy for me to open up to her, and from being a really quiet person, with her, I started talking just like that. She smiled, chat with me for a bit, and she went back to read her book. I could tell she was a very fast reader by how fast she was turning the pages on the book. I could not believe my eyes. She was flying through that book. I guess practice makes perfect.

Ximena finally got home and she started talking with me for a few, but she needed to study as well for one of her finals, and she was tired, so I left soon after that.

Sometimes Ximena made me feel awkward, I could not tell in what kind of relationship I was with her, but whatever it was, it was okay with me.

In one of those few occasions that I visited Ximenaís place, I remember meeting Veronicaís boyfriend. His name was Sebastian Adrian, but they call him by his last name. The few times we saw each other, was surprising for me to realize how well we got along together, it seems at times like we have been friends for the longest time. The few times we hang around I remember having a nice conversation with him, and what I remember the most is how nice he was. 

Not even a month after I started dating Ximena she was gone and everything went back to normal. After that little romance with her, I didnít know our relationship status or what kind of relationship that was, but one thing was for sure though, that short but exiting time with her, was a dream come true.

The only thing I have left of that time in my life, besides the thrill of having a dream come true, are a few poems that I wrote while missing her in my room. Out of that time the only thing I have left is one of the poems I wrote about what I was going through at the time, and that poem for some reason got stock in my mind.

Fountain pen that betrayed my heart

Throughout an inaccurate translation,

a translation done by a brain that struggles to make sense

of something that he cannot understand.

How can you pretend brain of mine, to put in words the mood of my essence?

The mood of my essence has taken decades to achieve such beautiful state.

The mood of my essence is a state only comparable

to a wild flower blooming under the blue sky on a beautiful day of Spring.

The mood of my essence is like a flower thriving in the wild,

Full of life and completely unaware of its own beauty.

Fountain pen that has betrayed my heart

Stop your madness

Trying to put in words the essence of my soul.

Because there isnít enough ink in this world,

To accurately describe the miracle of life blossoming in my heart.

 

Soon Ximena was gone, and I went back to my old routine. The time went by fast, and I struggled. It wasnít easy, but I did graduate from hi school. Thanks to my brother Ferdinand, my mom Nieves, and my mom Mercedes I did it. I was proud of myself, and I wish I couldíve stayed there in my hometown, but without a job and no money in my pockets, even if I really wanted to stay I couldnít. Like it or not one more time I had to leave my hometown. I had to go back to my momís Mercedes house, and all considered I should consider myself lucky to have a place where to go. So after I received my high school diploma, back to Arica Vice I went.

Arica Vice was the name that a group of my friends and me come up to refer to the dark side of our town. That town that had so much drugs on the streets, and where in many places you could stop your car and had people showing you cocaine or paste cocaine by the grams in every window of the car. I knew every single one of those places, and I canít deny that I was in a way afraid to go back to Arica Vice, that other Arica that hides in plain view, but once again I had no choice.

The nickname Arica Vice was born among us the day that we were smoking paste, and we came up with money for more paste, but we had no transportation. The anguish for more paste was so big, that on the wee hours of the night we found nothing better to do than steal my fatherís car. It was my idea and as we were going to our rendezvous destination, we started playing a tape that had the theme song of Miami Viceóa very popular TV show at the timeówe played that song over and over that night. Since then in memory of that unforgettable moment, we named the dark side of our city: Arica Vice. I have to mention that we pushed the car back to its parking place from half a block away; we left it exactly how it was before, and without a scratch. Good thing nobody ever found out what happened that night. No one knew what happened that night except for the ones involved, otherwise I wouldíve have my rear end kicked hard, and for a good reason I must add.

 

Chapter Five

 

Back in Arica-Vice I felt a little uneasy at first, but soon I realized that I was okay. I was able to say no to Paste, and I was proud of myself because of that. Being able to say no to a drug that once I was addicted to, it was a big one for me.

Very soon I felt right at home with my family and friends again. I felt very well around everyone with the only exception of one person, and that was my dad Luis. We were very distant and I always tried to avoid him. He was very bipolar. He was the kind of person that could blowout for no reason at all. Sometimes he got so upset that he had to take his rage out on things, smacking the table hard or kicking the chairs. Those kinds of situations were very hard for me to handle, especially in those moments when he got upset and started cursing to the top of his lungs. Thatís why the best thing to do when he was around, was to stay away from him, say amen to whatever point of view he had, donít rock the boat, said hi and bye, and leave as quickly as possible trying not to be disrespectful at the same time. He has suffered from diabetes since he was twenty-three years old, so all considered, I always treat him with respect, but I kept my distance.

My mom Mercedes was sweet and loving, but you better donít make her mad. Like always she was very happy or very sad, but she never took her anger out on us.

Back in Arica seeing the days go by I started thinking about getting more education, and one of those days, seated at the table with my mom Mercedes, after a humble but delicious lunch, I found the courage to ask her if she still had some money left, from the house she sold in La Serena, to pay for my education. I didnít know her financial status, and to ask that kind of questions to her was one of those opportunities where she could smack you up the head, and with no warning whatsoever, and then, after the fact, say something on the lines, "Donít you be disrespectful with your Mother." And if you didnít want to get smacked again, you better donít say a word after she got upset. Many times that kind of attitude on her didnít make sense at all to me, but that was my Mother Mercedes. Let me explain:

While I was gone she had sold the house that she and my dad Luis owned in La Serena. To say a house in La Serena is like saying having a house by the Ocean in California. She and my dad sold the house, split the money, got divorced and kept living in the same house. I donít know why they did that. I thought that was weird, but none of my businessótalking about a dysfunctional family. Well the thing was she had received quite some money, but she decided to make an addition to the house in Arica, and she went over budget, so I was afraid that she had no money left. I didnít know how she was going to react to my question, but I asked her anyways. For an answer she gave me a lot of words, a wordís salad really, but no definitive answer to my question. At the end of this salad of words, she asked me, "What do you want to study?" I said "I would love to be an engineer" she said, "What do you have to do to become an engineer?" I did answer, "Well the first thing I have to do is to get accepted in one of these Universities." She said, "Let me know when that happens and then weíll talk about it." I knew right there that she was not taking me serious. Knowing her as well as I did, in a way she was betting all her money that I would never get accepted to any University, and that was the end of our conversation. I didnít have much hope on her paying for my education, but the only other alternative I had, was asking to my dad Luis, and the chances of him helping me to pay for my education, was pretty much minus zero, and that was being optimistic. I didnít give up my dream of getting a higher education, and I kept going ahead with my dream.

First able I needed to find out if I could get accepted at any University that had an engineering program, and for that, I needed to take the national skill test and score very high. I didnít have money to pay for a class or a tutor, so I did concentrate all my efforts preparing for the test, the best I could. When I took the test a few months later, I found out that I didnít know a lot of stuff that I needed to know, so I wasnít too optimistic about the results. Then when I got the results I was surprised that the score I got were a lot higher than what I thought, but still not good enough to get accepted in any mayor University. That test was a good reality check for me, from that moment on, I started thinking about some career that didnít require so much pre-knowledge, in other words I wouldíve been okay if I wasnít such a rebel brat on high school, anyhow at the time I needed to find a career that wasnít too long and so expensive, because by then money like always money was a big issue in my reality.

Talking with my mom has been always very difficult for me, on one side I had the generational gap and on the other because I spent part of my life with a different family, that fact, made our differences even worse. Our opinions were most of the time the complete opposite, very far apart from each other, and we had different perspectives and totally different points of views all the time. Over all I have to say that talking with my mom was very intimidating, not for everyday trivial subjects, but when it came to asking her about given you something or asking her for anything that was sort of a big deal you better be careful. Sometimes she will go ballistic on you, and with no warning what so ever. I donít know if I was sometimes awkward or my questions were way off, but if for any reason I started arguing with her, I always kept an eye on her ears. If for any reason her ears started to get red all of the sudden, it was time to run for your life, literally!

It took quite some time to find the courage and the right time to talk to my mom about higher education again. One day after lunch very carefully, I got to make my point and that was, "Mom at least can you pay for a short career? Iím thinking about something like Business Administration at a local college, can that be possible? Pretty, please, can you?" And she said yes she said, "If you promise me to finish your career, and do not quit until you receive your diploma, then I would say yes, at least I have the money to get you started. You did okay in the national skill test, and that shows that you have improved a lot, and I am proud of you son." I was so happy that day. I was totally surprised that she finally was starting to take me in a more serious way. I did ask her with not much faith in a positive answer I must add, but she was willing to help me to get a higher education. Wasnít an engineering degree, but at least having a technical degree will be a lot better than having nothing at all. At that moment on time I wanted to be able to speak better my own language, and to be able to communicate better. More education was something totally necessary for me now, and I had reached the conclusion that was time for me to stop being a rebel. By then I was mature enough to appreciate the value of a higher education, and I was very motivated to make the best out of this opportunity I have been given. For what is worth at that time in my life, I was more mature than what I was before, but far from considering myself a man yet, like somebody said, "How many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man?"

For me to go to college was for sure another dream come true. For me that day was a day where my mom Mercedes showed me that she loved me and a lot. I was happy that having finished my High School Diploma has allowed me to take this other step. I was glad because without my high school diploma how I couldíve even thought about going to college? I was grateful of all those who helped me along the way, and I had the feeling that I was in the place I have to be, at the time I needed to be, at the time I wanted it to be. I have finally reached a sense of balance as a person in my life, well, sort of.

This moment on time for sure had all the ingredients to be a great time in my life, and after my mom Mercedes gave me the okay to go to college, I got everything ready to start my technical degree on Business Administration.

My first day of college it was a long awaited moment, that moment it was just like Christmas day when I was a child.

My first day of college I woke up early and nobody had to wake me up that morning, anyways as a precaution I did tell my mom to wake me up just in case, and I used an alarm clock that uses no electricity, I was so excited that I took every precaution that I could think of, because I didnít want to be late that day.

Looking back at that moment in my life now I can realize that I was a very young boy especially in my mind, and talking about me spending a long time in the bathroom hah! That morning everything had to be perfect and it was, even the bus arrived just on time that day. For me that moment it was a very important moment in my life, I even had the jitters, actually, I was almost hyperventilating but as I got out the bus and I started walking towards the building I started to feel fine just happy to be there and happy to know that I could count on myself to be on time, I was starting to be more responsible nobody had to push me to go to school this time. The first thing I noticed when I got inside the building was all the good looking girls all over, there were good looking girls everywhere, it looked for me like one of those big great parties, but with the only difference that this time I have been invited to it. I went inside the building and I started looking for my classroom, after a little of asking for some directions I found my classroom. This time instead of looking for a seat by the window so I can dream myself away, this time I got me a seat right in front of the classroom, this time I was eager to learn.

Nobody new anybody but very soon that morning it all changed, everybody was introducing to each other, and by the end of the day, everyone knew everybody. It was a great first day for show! The race was on! I was in this race where my ignorance needed to be conquered and defeated.

When the classes started the teachers remind us that this was not high school, if you wanted to leave you could do it at any time nobody was going to call your parents or something like that but if you stayed it was because you wanted to learn. They said, just be courteous with the rest that want to learn something, if you feel like leaving please do so, but with respect to those who want to learn. I really did like to hear that, just to know that I could leave at any time if I wanted it was nice, it gave me a sense of freedom and maturity and for the first time I felt freedom in a place where I go to learn. At that moment I realized that before when I went to school I did always felt like I was in a Jail cell, and I really didnít like that feeling at all, that kind of feeling appeared after I moved to Arica, I donít know why but every school I was in they felt like child prisons to me.

When I did get to college those feeling were gone, I never felt so happy to be in a place where I had to be, and that made a big difference for me, I was really motivated and I was studying harder than ever before in my life. For the very first time I took my studies very serious, actually, probably a little too serious, especially the first few months, but I did really like to see that I started to have very good grades, not as good as I wanted them to be, especially in math, but above average none the less, I was happy with myself. I was so into being in college that I did not go to parties, I didnít stay late with my friends nothing of that, to be honest with you I didnít have any money to waist either, so I was being a total homeboy at the time.

One of those mornings where you are not expecting anything special to happen I was in my favorite place in the world, that beach just two blocks away from my house, there I spend great part of my teen years swimming and playing on those waters and on that sand, love that place, that beach was the only beach we could go without spending any money whatsoever. There it was no fee to get in, and we could stay as long as we want to, or as long as our mothers let us stay. On that beach I do have beautiful memories of childhood when I was eleven and twelve and then many teen unforgettable moments.

Well, in this beach I was bathing and playing in the water when all of the sudden I saw two good looking girls waiving at me, at first I was in disbelieve two good looking girls and they were waiving at me? I even double check, but it was just me, and my friend on the beach at that moment. I did get out of the water and walk towards them they still were looking at me. I was being very skeptical because sometimes people play jokes on you. Actually that was one of the games we used to play, we would go to the edge of the road were the sand of the beach started, and we will waive to people that was in the water, and waived until they come out, we still make them come over, and when they were just about fifty yards away, we will run to a car that was waiting for us ready to go, and we just left laughing our butts off, calling the people idiots! Now I know who they real idiots were, now I know better, but it was so funny, funny for us that is.

Well as I was walking towards the edge of the road and recognized some facial features, and I was almost out of my body when I saw Mrs. Ximena, and Mrs. Veronica, I meant Vero and my Ex Xime. What a surprise I thought I would never see them again, but there they were. I hug them and kiss them in the chick, like it is custom on our country or at least it was then, and honestly a lot had happened since then but we started talking as if it was yesterday the las time we saw each other. I looked at Veronica and she was clearly pregnant, so after a few minutes into the conversation with them I did ask whatís happening? She said "There are two reasons why we are here looking for you the first reason is: I want to invite you to my wedding, I am getting married with Adrian, my boyfriend from La Serena, you met him, remember? Yes I said and she continued, I didnít know your address, so thatís why I couldnít send you an invitation, we did come over here to the "Rock Cafť of the Poor" and asked for "El Satu", and just like you said, they knew right away who we were talking about, and they even showed us where your house was. We knocked the door and the person who opened the door, mustíve been your mother, in parenthesis you can tell she is your mother, you can see the resemblance, she told us that you went to the beach to your favorite place, the beach right at the end of the road located right in front of your house, just like you told us, so here we are and the second reason is: Adrian would love you to be his best man, you are the only person he knows here in Arica, and you guys get along very well, so he thought of you. What do you say Daniel? Now donít worry about money, we know your situation, and we are not expecting for you to contribute to the wedding, like it is tradition for the Best Man, he just wants a friend by his side, would you do it? I said, "Sure"

My now old flame and friend Ximena was very friendly with me that was nice, there it was not hard feelings there, and I always looked at her just like the first time I saw her, I saw her as my teacher, and to be with her, it always felt like a fantasy in my life that came through. It was a very nice time in my life it was a time where great adventures were always happening; I was going to college; hanging around nice people; I felt at that moment in my life, like I couldnít ask for more and on top of all now I was being asked to be part of a wedding, fun!

In the mid time before the wedding we went out a couple of times and one of my friends let me use his Van for the weekend so I was able to take Xime and Veronica for a ride on the weekends preceding the wedding. The one who lend me the Van was my friend Martin, an older friend that gave me o lot of work, and I used to trade labor for bread with him, he worked at a bakery and because of him, I was able to take Xime and Veronica out for a ride in a car and have some money to take them out, having a car on those times was not a common thing. We went out late at night after the heat of the day is gone as it is custom on that town. The temperature at night in Arica City it is so nice it is never too cold and never too hot, love that! There are many places in that town where you can see the lights reflecting over the ocean at night, many beaches many enchanting places, one of my favorite places in that town was the Scorpion Island, actually it is called an Ex-Island because they build a road to it and there you find the ruins of an old light house where you could go up and get a magnificent view of the horizon over the ocean, that place it is the perfect place to watch a sunset. Having fun with these girls and studying hard as I was the wedding date came over very quickly.

The wedding it was a very nice wedding, all together I had a great time. That was the occasion that Veronica and I became Compadres, real Compadres and from that moment on we call each other Compadres.

One of the things I loved the most about that wedding, was to get to know another family group that in a way it resembled and reminded me the kind of family that my mom Nieves and my Daddy Oscar had I really liked to be around them. I remember that the wedding it was simple but a very nice one, it made me want to get married too.

There I met Veronicaís whole family, Her mom Mrs. Abi short for ______ she was a middle school principal and her two older sisters, Margarita and Anita one was a nurse with a university degree, Anita an Architech, very nice people for sure. I had a great time that night, with only one exception, like I had the fame to be a very handy-person, they had a problem with a picture camera that they couldnít opened to replace the roll, a very old camera, and it had inside pretty much all the wedding pictures. They handed it to me and asked me, "can you fix it?" I said "Iíll give it try" and I donít know how, but I guess I pushed the wrong button, and the camera became opened, and the roll with all the wedding pictures just fell down in that typical spiral way all the way to the floor, I did try to catch it in the air, but it was too late, all the pictures on that camera were lost because of me. I did apologize sincerely, but I felt terrible and I felt even worse when somebody said out loud "That is a bad omen." That was the wedding night, and I did went down in history like the guy who ruined all the wedding pictures, I was so embarrassed it was one of those moments of "Earth please swallowed me whole at this very moment, please!" Sometimes there is nothing you can do to change your destiny. Well I did apologize and Veronica said to me "Donít worry Compadre, now, by the way, officially my Compadre" Thanks Comadre I said, and she continued, "Letís have a drink and forget about it, no worries, no apologies please, Cheers" It was a great time for sure that night.

After the wedding was over Ximena returned to her home town, and Veronica left to La Serena, to live there with Adrian, Adrian still needed one more year to finish her career. So after that quick, great and intense moment was over, my life came back to normal, and normal for me was, kept going to my college and studying hard.

The time flew swiftly and before I knew it the end of the school year was near. Right in the middle of the last quarter it was the time when everybody started talking about the College Anniversary and everywhere you go, everybody was talking about it. This event it became a great subject to start a conversation and this time of the year it became a great time to get to know people that you want to meet but you havenít been introduced or you havenít had the opportunity to take your chances at introducing yourself. Every recess became a social event, especially every time you went to the cafeteria, what a great time that was.

Soon the Anniversary was upon us and you might think that I was a party animal but no, actually it was quite the opposite, at that time in my life I was a very dedicated student. I have to say that in college I didnít cheat on my tests like many did, and even if a few did that was none of my business, for me God was always looking, but I never share that with nobody. I loved to meet people say hi to them, have a nice little talk and that was it, actually at that time I had a very introverted personality but I was good at that first introductory part of the conversation, that part right before you get into details, I have never been good at superficial conversations, and I did like to shear with people, go deeper in my own sort of religion, and that was great on one on one kind of conversations but not on that spontaneous group conversations.

So most likely after the initial part of a get together in a group, after saying hi and how you been that sort of stuff, I would be listening to what they were saying. In a one on one conversation it was a different thing though, like I said I liked to share instead of just talking about vague comments that sound entertaining or funny but that was it. I was a good listener for sure, and I had no girlfriend that first year. Most of the time on that first year I was studying hard, and I didnít go to parties either; there it was no money for dating, money like always ws very tight. My favorite time was when people of my class came to study at my house, which was fun and constructive thing to do. At that time many of the people at my college had a car, and that was my biggest dream at the time, had some wheels, actually a motorcycle was my dream at the time, if I had the chance and somebody asked me to choose between a car or a motorcycle I wouldíve picked the motorcycle without having to think not even once.

That first college anniversary it was unbelievable, for one whole week, day after day, it was nothing but fun activities it was another great experience on college. At the end of the week on a Saturday night we had a big party, the biggest party I have ever been, it was at a casino, pretty much everybody was there. After dinner and the Crown Ceremony for the new Queen of our college, we all have fun dancing till the wee hours it was a nice, a very nice time.

By the end of the first year things got a little tougher though, throughout the remodeling of my momís house, she started to run out of money, and I had to pay the consequences of champagne taste and beer bottle budget. Not a big surprise really but I had to start walking to my college, in a way it was great because I had time to do one of my favorite things to do in my life, thinking while walking. I guess the time with my brother in La Serena it was a good training for this kind of situations, and as a bonus on my path to my college there it was a spot where I got to see the ocean from the beach to the horizon, I always loved that view.

For my surprise I was not alone, many other kids had to walk just like me. While walking back and forth home, many times I had great company and great conversations while walking.

Sometimes you think that you are the only one going through hard times in life but in all reality, at any giving time there is many in your same situation and worse.

I remember being right in the middle of my class and being called to the main office because Iíve had fall behind in my payments. They were very polite but everybody knew that if you were called to the office, and you have been a good boy, it was because you didnít pay your monthly tuition, and I had to go and give excuses why I was behind in my monthly payments, what a bummer. At that moment I didnít know if I was going to be able to keep going to school or not, it got to the point where I told the counselor that, that might be the case, I might have to call the quits because of financial problems that my family was going through and at that moment he said to me "If financial hardship is your problem you might qualify for a scholarship. If you end the year with good grades, you may qualify for the President of the Republic scholarship, so far you are doing very well, keep it up, and letís fill an application. Anyhow the scholarship will start the next year, so in the best case you will still owe this couple of months youíre behind and we could even make a payment plan for that. Keep up your good grades and will work things out for you" I didnít believe them at first but I filled out the application anyways, I had no other choice anyways.

By then the morale was a bit low, actually very low, I was starting to think that my brother Luis it was right, right about the fact that when you are poor is not by chance, you are put on that situation so the only way for you to survive is serving those above you, and that my destiny at the very best it will be being a taxi driver at my best, maybe. My brother Luis had lost all hope in humanity, and I knew his reasons were well funded, and at the same time, I knew exactly where he was coming from, but I had a bit of faith especially on the words, "Help yourself, then I will help you" "A man is the master of his own destiny" My brother Luis replayed "Once you have became poor, you are a slave and every slave has a Master. The master will rule the slaveís destiny" "Donít be an ignorant, thatís why education this days is so expensive, "knowledge in the hands of peasants is a dangerous weapon. The slave master said" I used to find my brother Luis so radical, but I knew he was no fool, and he got a lot more education than me. In the times he went to school, they used to teach what Democracy was in the school, and their motto was "To give education is to build a Nation. Education it is the key stone of Democracy."

That year by a miracle I was able to finish the college year with only a couple payments behind but for the next year it was clear that I had to call the quits, and all just because my momís remodeling went way over budget. Overall it was great year and I was starting to think that at least I didnít waste that year, and I did what I could, at least I did my part, not like many that went to college just to have fun.

In Chile summer starts on December 21, and that is right after the end of the school year. That summer even if I did have good grades, I kept studying all through the summer especially my weakest subject and that was math. For some reason hard to explain I was missing to be in school, for the first time in a long time longer that I can remember, I couldnít wait to go back to school. Sooner than what I thought though summer was over, and finally it was time to go back to school but only one problem, no money that was such a bummer at the time, like you wouldnít believe it.

I decided to go over there even if I had the money, I figure that I would stay in class until they told me to live, I didnít have money to pay my tuition my mom had run out of money. The first day of my second year of college it was a memorable day. My sister Sylvia was working for a lenses company and she has giving me some eye contacts lenses of different colors, and I did save them especially for that day. That first day of my second year I went late intentionally, I got there about 10 minutes late. Everybody was listening to our homeroom teacher when I quietly opened the door and I sat on my chair. My chair was the second chair on the first row by the side of the door. For my surprise they had reserved my chair that day I thought I had to sit all the way on the back but no, that was a nice surprise for me that day.

 I chose to come a little bit late that day because around that time in the morning the sunlight hits the door, so when I opened the door the sunlight it would be right on my face and it will show the color of my contact lenses, so I thought. Sometimes when the sunlight hit my eyes it makes them look sort of light blue, I have hazel eyes and that day I used pure blue color contacts. As soon as I opened the door the teacher looked at me but I could tell he looked at me for a bit longer than normal, and as I sat on my chair I noticed my classmate seated on the chair next to me, staring at me like he was stone, and he said to me out loud "Dude! Your eyes are blue today, real blue. Donít you have green eyes? Let me see he said" then he asked the teacher am I wrong teach his eyes are blue today, then the teacher got closer to me to look into my eyes, and then really fast I was surrounded by my classmates looking at my eyes. At that time colored eye contacts were barely coming out in the markets, they wore a rare thing to see.

For a second I had them fooled but soon they realized that they were contact lenses. They were so surprised that a couple of them asked me to let them use my contacts, and I did agree so before I knew it everybody was trying this contact glasses and looking themselves on the mirror, and asking to each other how they did look with blue eyes. The teacher after 15 or 20 minutes he decided that it was time to go back to the subject that he was talking about before he got interrupted by me, and we continued the class as usual. Next day though more than half of the class had an eye infection including me, it was a nice way to kick start the new year.

 Everything on my part was going well and doing just fine, soon after the years started, I was called to the principalís office again, because I was behind in my payments, again. My mom had run out money, and my dad Luis, I better donít even ask. On my way to the principalís office I was thinking "What Iím going to do now? The truth was, at least I did what I could, I did my part and thatís all I can do. When I got to his office we sat down and we started talking about how I was doing in my grades so far, and I was a bit surprise that he didnít mention nothing about the missing payments, and he went to say, "Ö the ceremony it will be on the 20th at 8pm, congratulations! You have been granted the President of the Republic Scholarship, and that will cover all your payments till the end of this year, as long as you keep your good grades, you are covered, keep it up, Iíll see you soon." I said thank you very much, shook his hand and I went back to my class, happy as hell.

Thatís how I was able to continue ahead with my education, with a hint of luck and a lot of hard work from my part. My only objection was that the diploma, a very nice one I must add, had the name of an assassin on it Mr. Augusto pint-of-shit as I call him. He was the one who took us from middle-class to poverty, and now taking credit for spared a few crumbs of the table with the poor, how ironic. How many times does a poor person have to swallow his pride in the course of his life? Poverty and ignorance make good slaves. Thatís why you will find very rich people involved in education even if there is no profit on it, even if they are losing money, what they are really doing is nothing but slavery training, and indoctrination.

Never before in my country education have been so expensive and so hard to get. These are symptoms of a nation losing its democracy, in these conditions is where fascism and elitism thrive. Once a king said, "Declare your loyalty. In which side are you on? Are you with the elite? Or are you with the peasants? The King said "I do not care if you even call them citizens, lie to them with impunity because Iíll be by your side no matter what, even if you kill them like dogs on the streets, I will be by your side, and I will spare you, that is how I will show my power to you. Peasants are dangerous, thatís why you have to keep them in ignorance; you have to keep them intoxicated so they are weak, and once in a while even if they are doing well working from dusk to dawn, you have to remind them what is their place, and remind them whom is their master. Are you with me or not, the king asked."

The king asked this question to those inside the palace. He said, "I do ask you this question because the Bible teach us a very important lesson "Or are you with me, or are you against me" there is nothing in between the king said, thatís why Iím asking you to declare your loyalty today, because there is nothing in between, the king said.

In a police state is pretty much where I grew up, to put it in nice words. I know some donít see it that way, I know that, and I respect that, but those who speak in the name Of the Living God they donít care about semantics we care about facts "The last ones will always be the first ones" The Children; the woman; the man; the sick and the old, and then the animals. There is consensus throughout the millenniums that the order in which the hand of democracy trickles down is: First the children, second the woman, third the man, the sick and the old, then the animals just like in the story of Noah.

At that time it has been about fifteen years since the US left Augusto Pint-of-Shit in Power, and the people already had it with the lies of the regime. The punishment for treason was dead, and many were assassinated. Now those in power had oppressed the people who has survived September 11 of 1973 way to hard, so hard that the people were getting brave enough to protest significantly on the streets, especially in Santiago the capital of Chile, and they were asking, when the recovery and measurements of emergency will return back into democracy, when all that was going to end? When it will start trickling down to the people, the people were about to had it.

Many political parties of the left formed a coalition that started a movement, a political movement that has called for National Elections to decide if Pint-of-Shit continues as "President of the Republic of Chile" I put this fact in between quotes marks because many in Chile have all the reasons to believe that the elections were not considered valid democratic elections, when Pint-of-Shit call for elections. On my books Augusto Pint-of-Shit pretty much named himself president.

In the middle of my second year in college I was faced with a very important chapter in the history of Chilean Politics. The coalition against Pint-of-Shit has found the way to put in the ballots the question "Do you want Augusto Pint-of-Shit to be the president of Chile for another eight years or not?"

Nobody believed that we could have real democratic elections at that time, mainly because the Political Hard Right had control of much of the media, if not all the media, and if any reporter would try to expose the truth, the reporters most likely ended up in jail like always though in a real democracy there is heroes that risk their lives in the name of democracy, and those heroes in a peaceful but bold and determined way, started to expose the truth, and the corruption of the Pint-of-Shit regime. They started to unveil the many illegal executions that took place in the past, and started calling Augusto Pint-of-Shit on the thousands of thousands unaccounted for. The elections became a movement against the usual corrupted establishment, and now the possibility of getting rid of Pint-of-Shit it was as real as it gets, the only thing we had to do was vote NO on the elections. Many believed that was not possible to have real democratic elections in Chile, and the debate is still on, but elections nonetheless, my first elections ever, that was the first time I did ever cast my vote.

The political situation got very polarized and it was common to have conversations about it. The common question was "What are you voting for Yes or NO?" Many times I just responded with the bare truth about what happened to my family on September 11th of 1973, and that was enough to convince many people to believe that September 11 really happened. Do to the control of the media they started running propaganda saying that September 11 never happened just like the Holocaust. Is hard to believe that even today can find people that are completely convinced that the Holocaust is just a big lie, it never really happened.

Right before the elections about four months before the situation got very heated and very polarized. For the first time the subject of torture was mention in one of the National TV Political Debates, from there things got really entertaining very quick. Soon after for the first time the words "Mass Graves" were mentioned on Live TV I was scared, even just to think about the possibility of another civil war, more people disappearing, more torture, and more oppression just to think about it was very intimidating, honestly that is the true definition of living in terror. I was scared of somebody taking prisoner one of my love ones, and never see them again, never even know what really happened to them. It is hard to explain the feeling of experiencing the fact that when you face Fascism you know that there is nothing you can do about it. If you donít believe how evil a man can be, it is already too late for your salvation. Like God told me "If you donít know me by now, you will never, never know me" (Part of the message. Four)

Afraid I was but I did speak openly, loud and clear, I was convinced that what I was saying was the truth, my truth, you vote for whatever you want, but know why I am definitely voting for NO. No more Pint-of-Shit, bring back democracy, we are humans! We have Rights!

I was called to the Principalís office, and the counselor said to me the same one that helped me to get my scholarship "It is hard for me to believe that a person that has received the President of the Republic Scholarship is the person talking bad about our Dear President Pinochet. It is like biting the hand of who is feeding you, Preposterous!"

I didnít care what he thought about me personally, in my mind we were in a country, a democratic country, and nobody was above the Rule of Law, Nobody! Assassins need to be called by their name, and they have to pay for their transgressions, they have broken the Law, and there is a price to pay, nobody is above the constitution. 

I care about those being oppressed by the upper class, especially when crimes against humanity have been committed against them, and nobody goes to Jail, and especially when they get acquitted by those in charge of making sure that Justice is served. That is fascism if you didnít know the symptoms of fascism it is only because they have already washed your brain, fascism does kill. Once you can call a system a non democratic system, from that moment on, you are no longer a citizen, a citizen only exist where the people have rights. I a democracy you donít need a lawyer to have your rights respected as well. Rights in a true democracy are born with you, and they die with you.

I thought at that time in my life that if Pint-of-Shit was no longer in power, we were going to be free. That is what I believed back then, and even if I died, it wouldíve been for a cause worth my life, like my father said a true democracy is worth to die for. Democracy is the best legacy you can leave to your children. If your children are born in democracy they will be part of a Nation, and a Nation will never turn its back on them, if you are part of a Nation you will never have to be worried about having a roof over your head or a plate of food over your table. Thatís why you pay your taxes, a Nation will always take care of your children regardless of social status, regardless of their believes, regardless of their sexual preferences, or the color of their skin, they will be free. Freedom and Security comes along with being part of a Nation, and those two things are truly priceless.

Sixteen years ago from the formation of "La Junta" (One representative from each mayor part of the Armed Forces of our country. La Junta was formed by the head of the Army, the Navy, the Air force, and Police. They formed the well known around the glove "La Junta of 1973") Pint-of-Shit was the head of La Junta, and he promised to return the countryís democratic system in no more than three years. At the latest in three years the country it will be back in the hands of the civilians, with a restored democracy stronger than ever as he so eloquently put it. That is what he said, but it has been more than fourteen years at the time and he was still in power, and things were worse than ever, for the common people that is, because for the rich was better than ever. La Junta had eliminated every single Workers Union rights that there it was before 9/11, and abolish every benefit granted by collective bargaining. The salaries never been so low for the common people in the history of our country, and the rich though, the rich were richer than ever.

It doesnít happen often in history that the union of the working class ends with a dictator stepping down, but that was the case in Chile, so we thought. People in Chile still is working forty eight hours a week, and every year that pass, more Chileans retire with pensions that the only thing that they can afford is misery. Like the case of a teacher that worked her whole life educating children, and when she retired as a principal after all those years, she received what it is today less than a hundred dollars a Month. They call it "El pago de Chile" (Chilean way of paying back.)

My mom was terrified of me wearing the shirt of No to college, a cheap shirt that had the word NO, in front and back. That was what you had to vote to get rid of Pint-of-Shit. Many said though that it was a good way to put a target on your chest and on your back. I was one of the first ones to wear that shirt in my college, and my mom told me countless times "Donít wear that shirt, donít you know this people? They are going to kill you!" I was afraid but I thought at that time that, that was the time for me to make a statement, even to the cost of my life if necessary, I was young and I did still believed.

I was happy that finally a criminal was out of power, but he didnít go to Jail, not him or his followers, not for a long time at least, and even when they did it was ridiculous to learn what their punishment was, nothing compared to what they did deserved. Those who took the control of Chile they have become good at making out of a true Democracy a "Showcracy" and still to this day there is no transparency. Even though Chilean people peacefully got rid of a dictator they still canít escape oppression, fascism, elitism, and exploitation. The People Iím talking about are those that the elite refer as the wicked, the peasants, the second class citizens. Who is a second class citizen you may ask? Second class citizens are those who need to hire a lawyer to defend their rights. And everybody knows that they cannot even afford rent for Godís sake! If you didnít know those whom are trusted with the administration of justice in anyway, they are subject to higher standards, not lower standards, just like a truck driver, any driver that commits a traffic violation is fined accordingly to common rules, but truck drivers are subject to a more strict set of rules. We all know that they should know better, just like police officers, they are professionals, they must be uphold to higher standards.

Especially those involved with the administration and implementation of justice, they have to be upheld to a more strict set of rules, because they know better. True justice has never been about who have more money, or their social status, or what organization you belong to. A true democracy has to have justice first to be called a democracy, just like the pledge of allegiance it says, donít forget that in a true democracy your King is your constitution, and you swore to defend that constitution even with your life if necessary. The constitution is your King anyways you still have a king or Queen as a matter of fact it doesnít matter the gender, any Democracy that is a true democracy it does have a constitution, a constitution that is not only a piece of paper in a museum, and you should never settle for nothing less than a true democracy.

A plate of food for you and your family. One.

A roof over your head. Two.

Education as a way for progress. Tree

Peace and Security to race a family, the Armyís paramount mission. Four.

After the elections were over our college anniversary was upon us, what a time! Pint-of-Shit was out, after we had our first democratic elections since the invasion, by then I was so optimistic of a brighter future that I decided to be part of the studentís body in my college. For me it was a way to give back, I donít know why I felt compelled to do so, but I did, and for my surprise I was elected vice-president. I didnít care about the title, what I really wanted was a way to be part of the organization of our college anniversary. I had such I good time on my first college anniversary that I wanted to make sure that this one, my second college anniversary it was even better than the last, and it was a blast!

The first day of our anniversary we had a competition about who can inflate more balloons with water. The fun part was what to do with all those water inflated balloons after the final count was done. I was not expecting it but like always it took only one balloon to get airborne to start a water balloon fight, it was just one balloon that got airborne, I still can remember the balloon flying across the patio, almost like in a slow motion, and as soon as that water balloon landed on the floor, making a few get some water on their clothes, hundreds of balloons in every single direction covered the sky, and the funniest water balloon war I have ever seen and participated on started, it was so much fun and that was just the beginning of one whole week of incredible fun.

I never thought that organize an event like this it will take so much work, during that week I slept about three to four hours a day at the most. Honestly I was clueless about so many aspects of the organization of such an event, including the fact that the person responsible for the payment to the casino for that closing night, it was the one who sign the contract with the casino, and that person the one who signed the contract it was me, not because I wanted, it was because most of the time the president of the students body was nowhere to be found.

Thankfully everything worked out just fine, and I was able to pay for everything I signed on it. It was another successful anniversary, and I received countless congratulations from many people around the college, I was surprised that many notice how much effort I had invested on making sure that everything worked just right. The whole college was very involved, they told me after words that most of the time the white collar careers didnít even mixed with the many technical careers like welding, and car repairs, and that many studentís body had failed before on trying to connect this two sides. Honestly I wasnít even trying, but for the first time I did ask myself "Am I a blue collar, or white collar kind of person?" That was for me a shocker; it was hard for me to believe and learn that many people were that snobby. For me it was natural to appreciate the value of manual labor, and to see the value of the person that was doing it, regardless. I grew up with a little shop on the patio of my house, and my mom always told me that we are all equals, even though she was very racist but that it is a subject for another conversation.

For me, I just saw people learning how to make a living doing different things, but I never saw, one person above another, maybe I was being naÔve but that is who I was.

As soon as the anniversary it was over, I went right back to study really hard. I could not afford more slacking in my studies, the two weeks I dedicated solely to the anniversary organization has taken a toll on my grades, so I went right back to study.  I was doing just that, studying and thatís it, I didnít have money to spend, so home and college was all I was doing.

 One of those days my friend Alvaro "Ro-pe" came over to visit me and asked me "What happened to "El Satu" my friend?" (Satu short for Saturnine) I said "Satu is dead!" Then I said in a more serious note "Just studying, Iím just trying to learn all I shouldíve have learn long time ago when I was still in high school. I shouldíve go to school instead of going to play pool or pinball."

I said to my friend Alvaro Quilpaty "See? Thatís my stupid rebellion, a rebellion that doesnít take me nowhere and I am trying to fix that now, studying everything I shouldíve learn long ago." He said "I completely understand where you are coming from my friend, but I have to tell you, your life canít be just studying. As a friend of you, I came today to invite you to a party, and before you say anything, I want you to listen, and do not interrupt me until Iím done." He said "I know what youíre going to say, you are going to say that parties are to happening, or somebody is going to offer you some Paste, or this or that, but let me tell you this "Know that nobody is going to put a gun to your head to make you smoke that crap. Now you are a big man now, big enough to say no on your own. Now listen, remember that party where Manuel the German friend of us, the other mad scientist just like you, remember that party and the time he left his glasses at home because "the glasses were cramping his style" and he ask us about the looks of a girl that he was about to make out with. We all told him "Oh my! Thatís a hot girl, go for it tiger" and he did make out with the girl, and the next day he wanted us to kill us cuz he saw the girl in day light, and with his glasses on, and the girl was ugly as hell, remember?" Yes I do remember Alvaro how can I forget?" "Well let me finish, that night you kissed a girl that was taller than you while dancing, and then you went outside and started talking to her, you find out she was not even sixteen years old, remember? You said to her you are too young for me, and you never talked to her ever again, remember?" Yes I do remember Ivanisa why? Well now that girl is an eighteen years old and a very good looking girl. What about her? I asked, Alvaro replied to me, "Well she is having her 18th birthday party and we are all invited, including you my friend" No way I said really? Okay Iím going to listen to you this time I said, and I am going to the party. Alright! Thatís my friend Alvaro said. Everybody is going to be there this Saturday, so Iím going to pick you up that day.

My friend Manuel "The German" as we all call him, he was especially upset with me the next day of that anecdote, he said to me "Out of all of you I considered you my friend, the rest I donít care much, but you, you told me she was hot, and I trusted you, you supposed to look out after me like good friends do" I said to him "I didnít lie to you, in my books she was totally rape-able (like we used to say when we were teens) she looked totally fine to me. You know me Manuel, I donít see people like everybody else does, you know that right?" Manuel said "She does not look ugly to you" Honestly no, she is not the prettiest but not ugly by all means" He replayed to me "You are the one who need a pair of glasses buddy!"

I will always miss him, by that time on our lives Manuel had returned to Germany and we have not heard anything about him for years. Later in my life, when I was about twenty three years old I learned that he went back to Germany and join the Army, then he died of an overdose, one overdose of what? I still donít know. I wish I could have the opportunity to see him again. Some people come in and out of our lives and some of them you wish you had the opportunity to spend more time with them. Manuel used to love heavy metal and one of his favorite songs it was a song from Iron Maiden, the number of the beast. I remember both of us trying to learn how to play that song on the guitar, and listen to it many times over. Good bye my German friend Manuel, I wish one day we see each other again, and play the song for sure 666 The Number of the Beast.

After a hard week of study was over, nothing better than having a party, I was excited that day. I was wondering how tall she was now, the last time I saw her she was taller than me, but she was wearing high hills, anyhow I was excited for sure to meet her again.

While walking to her house with a group of friends I realized that her house was just diagonally across my college, I have walked that route I donít know how many times, and I never spot her, not even once, and she is hard to miss. All this time we have been pretty much across the street from each other, and we didnít know, how ironic. We went inside her house and there she was, how could I miss her, she was by a foot at least taller than any other girl around her. She had her hair up in a tomato style ponytail that did make her look even taller than what she really was, and she was wearing high hills, high hills and a mini skirt, and a long black leather jacket, what a beautiful girl. What a beautiful girl I said to myself while sighing, that took me by surprise, it was hard to believe that after all this time she could be even better looking than what I remembered, that sigh was completely involuntarily, and as we got closer together Iím really sure that sparks were flying all over the place, but I didnít know back then, I wish I knew though. Back then the only thing pretty much in my head was "Why am I so poor?" Pathetic you may think but that was something I couldnít escape, not even if I tried.

We did get formally re-introduced by Juan Carlos a friend in common. Juan Carlos was her cousin, I didnít know, that was a surprise. Right after that second formal introduction, it did make sense to me, I do remember that it was at Juan Carlosís house party when I first met her, and that was the time when Manuel got mad at me. I said hello and I kiss her in the chick like it is custom in my country, or at least it was back then. However we started dancing and right after the song ended, she took me by the hand and introduced me to her mom Mrs. Siria. She was in the kitchen, and we started talking for a bit, she offered me a drink, we talk a bit more and right after I drunk my drink Ivanisa and I went back to dancing. We all had a very nice time that night, the party was great, everybody was dancing, talking and laughing, by the end of the party a bit after midnight while dancing I hug her and gave her a big fat French kiss, it was very spontaneous, and right after I donít know why, but I left quicker than quick, right after I kissed her I pretty much run away. Well I just left with the friends that I came with that night, they were living, and I didnít want to stay after that, it got awkward for me, I didnít know what to do or what to say after I kiss her anyhow and she was the youngest of four brother, she had three older brothers and they were big. Some of my friends saw me kiss her and they starting to say that I got scared because one of them was an anti-drugs police officer. That came to my mind right after I got the balls to kiss her in front of everybody, at her party, just kidding, that night at her birthday I just left cuz it was awkward.

Next morning when I woke up, I did start thinking about the party, and I had a good feeling about it, it all seemed just like a dream, a good dream, but no, it was real, I was happy that night  at the party, for sure I had a great time. I had a good feeling about it until I started over thinking it, I was happy in one side for being lucky to get to kiss such a beautiful girl, and sad to realize that a poor man can only dream about those things, things like falling in love and offer marriage to a girl, I didnít like to dream out of my limits, because let face it "What could I offer her for a life?" I was so logical and serious at that time in my life that I couldnít see pass that "I was poor, and poor people canít have a life" "you poor, you go to work 24/7" I was so negative sometimes, in the other hand I was grounded enough to see my own reality. I was grounded enough to see myself as I was and truth was I was still living with my mamma. I used to ask myself what do I have to offer to a woman right now and for me the answer was plain to see, I had nothing! So I said to myself take it easy man, take it easy be humble, be humble, leave it just like it is, one day maybe youíll be able to afford to have a family, live it just like it was, nothing but a good time and thatís it, donít over think it, donít try to rationalize it, just keep going on with your life, is all okay. I didnít like to start thinking about it because, the only thing it did, it was to bring nothing but frustrations to my mind, and I have think about it for a long, long time, and many times over, and the answer was always the same, the truth is I didnít have nothing, so realistically nothing is what I should think about.

Maybe one day things will be different, maybe one day, but that day was still to come, and if I ever wanted for things to be different, I needed education; my education was all I should thinking about right now and thatís it.

Who wouldíve thought that after all that time the spark was still there. I didnít want a relationship at that moment in my life. I knew if I started a relationship with her, it was going to be too much of a distraction for me. In the other hand I was pushing it a little too hard; I was trying to keep my good grades, good enough so I can keep my scholarship. At that moment in my life I couldnít even cover my own expenses, so dating was out of the question. I used to say, if I work hard enough, one day I will be able to afford to have a family. That day Iíll find a girl as beautiful as her, and we will leave happily ever after. I was young lost and clueless but I knew that I did like her enough to marry her in the spot, I knew from the bottom of my heart that she was what I wanted, but that was in my mind, and my heart, but not on my pockets. My pockets told a completely different story, my pockets told the cruel story that in all reality I could not even afford to fall in love.

That weekend I remember coming back from being with the usual gang of mine, at the Rock Cafť of the Poor, and it was king of late, a bit past midnight. I got home, wishing that night that my cat Monochito was still there. Every time I entered that narrow street where my house was, every single time was hard for me not to remember the countless nights my cat Monochito was waiting for me up in the roof right above the front door, my cat was something special for me, he was like an icon in my life, he marked the end of my childhood into my teenage years. I was about fifteen when I first got it, we grow up together, I was fifteen years old but still a kid at heart. After three years together by the time I went to the army, we both were teenagers, a pair of silly happy teenagers, then I join the Army and my life was forever changed, and my cat Monochito was never to be seen again. I was just thinking about that when I enter my street, and even if it was pointless, I looked to his spot, this same spot where he used to wait for me every night. I loved the pose he used to take every time he waited for me over the corner of the roof right above the front door, he used to take the same pose of the Egyptian Sphinx, and as soon as I opened the door he used to ran across the roof to the kitchen window, and waited there for his part of my dinner, whatever my mom saved for me, he knew that Iíll share it with him.

I got in the house and my mom was sleeping, but I felt so lonely that night that I gently wake her up and ask her if she could come over to the table and give me, and give me some company while I eat my dinner, she did complain as she woke up, but she did come to the table and sat with me anyways. My mom has been always a very sensitive person, and that night she really surprised me, I was talking about how good of a time I had at the party with Ivanisa, she interrupted me and asked me "So why are you so sad today?" Instead of saying the truth that I was deeply frustrated about the fact that I was so poor, and I answered to her saying "I miss my Monochito" also true, but at that time in my life, it was very hard for me to express my emotions, and my mom said "Oh he was so sad when you left to the Army. When you went to the Army he used to wait for you every night, right about the door like always. Poor kitty he loved you so much. Remember that tape you recorded playing the guitar and sing? Sometimes when I was missing you or I was worried about you, I used to play that tape, listening to you made me feel better. I never worried about you so much ever in my life I guess I am lucky to get to see you again knowing all what you went through over there. Anyhow every time I played the tape and the cat was around, he will come running to the room looking for you, he will call you meowing and rubbing himself against the radio like cats do when they like someone, he really missed you" so I did mom, I never got attached to any pet like I did with my Monochito, I did raise him pretty much since he was borne. Remember my first cat Muchingo? The father of Monochito, remember? When we got here to Arica from La Serena you let me have my own pet for the first time, and you picked it up for me, to be honest with you I didnít like it at all, I wanted a dog, and Muchingo when you barely got it had a bad eye infection, he looked so ugly when he was a kitty. Well one time while you were cooking I took the cat to the house right in front of ours, to the house that had that little front yard with a picket fence, that neighbor had a big Saint Bernard dog and guess what I did mom? I donít know what I was thinking that day, but like I didnít like the cat I said "letís God decide" I took the cat and I put it inside the fence, the cat had no place where to go, he couldnít escape, and the dog came over running, and barking ferociously, I thought that was the end of the cat, but the cat stud up on his back two paws, got his claws out and strike the dog right in the tip of its nose. The dog backed up and I was in awe, as soon as I came back to my senses I thought Cool! My little cat just beat a big dog! I was thinking this is my cat, the coolest cat ever! Did you see that? My little cat just bit this big ass dog, how cool is that! I was so proud of my cat. I took the cat in my arms and ran back to the house before the neighbor could come out to see what happened to his dog. Since then Muchingo was my favorite pet ever, until he grew old, and didnít like to play no more, and Monochito was born. I still remember when he brought home a queen cat, and that molly had a kindle of about eight kitties, and you give me the okay to keep one, just one. I didnít know which one to pick and I had plenty to chose from, I went over the kindle many times over, and I looked many times at them thinking I have to pick the most beautiful one, I grab them in my hands and all of them the only thing they did was meowing out loud in despair, but one, the ugliest one of them all. All of the kittens had a sort of tiger strikes, and a beautiful color, a tabby coat you could say but one, this one I thought it was a solid black color, but had a pint of white on the left side of his mouth, and as I looked more carefully he had a fur commonly known as a bicolor tuxedo, black and white, he had mittens, and boots, plus white around his neck ending in a sort of white underwear. I realized about those little details after words cuz he was the last one that I looked at pretty much. What really caught my attention about this kitty it was the fact that he was the only one who didnít meow out loud, he just looked at me with the sweetest look, turn around on its self over the palm of my hand, and went right back to sleep, and even if I had the palm of my hand almost sideways, he would still do the same. That little detail allowed me to take him with me and hold him for a while. I guess that is when we bond for the first time. Even when he was all grown up he still did the same thing, not over the palm of my hand, but over my lap, and sometimes he grabbed my skull carefully with his paws and started licking my hair as if I was another cat, then licked his face with its paws, looked at me, turn around in a circle over my lap, and fell asleep, just like he did when he was a little kitty. I miss my kitty mom. My mom said, "That cat loved you very much, you guys slept together, he grew up with you." Well mom I said, is getting super late, we better go to sleep. Thanks for your company, and sorry I wake you up. Good night mom. She said good night to me, and like always as she was going back to her room she sigh saying "Oh my Lord, give me your patience."

Despite quite liking the girl I didnít pursue a relationship with her. I didnít want anything that could distract me from finishing my career. I guess at that time in my life I was a pessimist, but in my books I was just being realistic. I didnít want to make the mistake of counting on what I didnít have, and spending what I havenít earned yet. I knew many friends of mine that they were already rich and successful inside their minds, they havenít even finished their high school, but they were already living that life style. Many had slogans like "The more you tell the more tail you get." or stuff like that. I guess you can resume that philosophy as the Con artist law. For them everybody else was stupid, the world is already nothing but a lie not worth to live for, so the only thing that counts is how you get what you want today, without thinking about any consequences of what their actions might bring about tomorrow. All of them considered themselves very smart people, the winners, not the losers. They cheated on everything, their tests, their boyfriend or girlfriend they were always trying to get whatever they wanted without never thinking on what was right or what was wrong, that was a weakness for them, and they were the strong. Even at that early age, I saw them as people that at the end, they ended up lying to themselves, finding vague arguments just to justify their mistakes, they were never wrong, they were the strong, and only the strong will survive as they often said. What I saw were individuals with no God and no law to go by, empty souls, already lost. For me even if I try I couldnít denied the existence of a superior been. For me it was evident that in life there it was two roads, the right one, and the wrong one. The right one will bring at the end good things back to you, the wrong one will lead you to nowhere. I donít know why but it comes to my mind Ozzy Osbourne Road to Nowhere. The truth was I didnít have any money on my pockets at that moment on time, so why make plans with it. I used to say to myself "One day I will, one day, maybe."

For my surprise one of those days while studying she knocked the door of my house I never expected her showing up on my door, but she did. I introduced her to my mom and we had tea that afternoon, it was quite a nice time, and very refreshing to see her again. After she left that day I remember my mom saying what a beautiful girl, what a beautiful hair, what a smile and such, but I knew my mom well enough to know if for any reason I started dating her, suddenly she will turn into a bitch immediately, happened to me many times before. It was hard for me to explain that attitude in my mom Mercedes, but that was one of the reasons why I used to argue so much with her. Well the thing was she started visiting me more often and I learned that they have moved to the neighborhood next to mine. That was a surprise for me, a great surprise I should say, still just friends though, and no kissing no nothing. She did invite me to her house a couple of times, and that was a very nice break for me, I got to meet her whole family, and it was a big one I should add. Everybody was very nice to me, including her father Mr. Alejandro for some reason we started talking and it was always a very nice and fluent conversation, and it was so natural, I really like to talk to him and I guess it was mutual. Everybody was very surprise because as I learned with time, he was a very quiet kind of person, or a man of few words like some like to put it. There I got to meet her three older brothers, and they were very nice with me as well. Ivanisa and I were still friends though, but one day Ivanisa come over to my house and she invited me to go camping with her parents, it really caught me off guard, but I did accept the invitation anyways, I couldnít resist her charms and one of those days when I went to her house Mr. Alejandro said to me "I need somebody to help me with the driving." The shield that I had in my heart to protect me against love, was falling apart little by little. At that moment even if we didnít have any contact at all, for me it was nice just to be around her, I really enjoyed her company, she was a breeze of fresh air in my monotonous existence.

After two hours drive from Arica through the middle of this arid landscape, you do arrive to this oasis right in the middle of the Atacama Desert. Here you find this hot springs sanctuary, two caves carved by the slow flow of hot water, this two caves are like two eyes sockets carved out of a solid rock wall in the middle of a valley. You can tell that this process has taken thousands of years to reach the form you see now in the present time, it is an unbelievable sight to be there.

This hot springs called "La Cocha" are located in a very small city called The City of Pica, is a place where you can easily imagine a trip through time to the past, but to a not so distant past though, there is hotels, restaurants, small markets and plenty of places for hiking, and exploring, is the perfect place to get lost in a place where time seems to be standing still, it is very contagious, once you get there the peace of the Atacama Desert surrounds you in a way that traps you, thatís how I felt the time I was there. In this beautiful place I got to see for the first time Ivanisa in a swim suit, it was astonishing! I tried not to stare or look stupid especially in front of her parents but she blend herself with the beauty of the place to form pure magic, I was in awe. Her skin had an even cinnamon tone all over her body, she was about five feet eleven inches tall, with a figure of a famous magazine model, black hair, so black that shined blue with the sunlight, her smile was a perfect smile, with her teeth so white and perfectly aligned, her big dark eyes and her long natural eye lashes made her look like I said astonishing. Right there in that fraction of a second that I had to look at her, she looked at me throwing her hair back and taking a model pose, asking me "how do I look?" I just smiled back, and said "You look fantastic, and kept walking, but in my mind I took a picture, and that picture I still carry with me even to this day. We walk to the water and play there for a while. To make things a bit more unreal we both went inside of one of these caves and when we reach the end of it, we make out in the middle of darkness. So we thought, as we got inside the cave it got pitch black, you couldnít even see your own hands in front of you, you have to walk by touch, and asking the people to excuse you as you go deeper and deeper in this caves, they are about two yards wide and forty yards deep, and there is always people in the way, after like twenty minutes you realize, that the moment of privacy and cover that darkness provide you, itís just an illusion cuz after twenty minutes or so, you can see everything, I was embarrassed but we were not the only ones making out inside these caves either, and you can tell when people barely get in there they think just like you did, you think that nobody can see what youíre doing, but it is just an illusion, part of the magic of the Atacama Desert I guess, a lovely moment of my life that I will take to my grave, or until Alzheimerís disease take my life away.

Her dad Mr. Alejandro was one of those people that you can easily call them the light of the party, easy going, funny, smart and sharp, quick with the joke, always smiling, and with a heart of gold, he had white hair and he used to be Santa Claus on Christmas time, and Iím really sure that for his family he really was Santa Claus. He reminded me of my Daddy Oscar in a way, not in a physical way, but for sure in a spiritual way. We can say for sure that we "clicked" in a good way, I really like him, and I know he liked me too, there are some things hard to lie, not impossible to be a hypocrite about it, but very difficult to hide when you are a genuine person like him.

Mr. Alejandro rented two rooms, one room for the girls and the other for the boys, these rooms were humble, in this town there is not such a thing like luxury, for some reason luxury feels out of place. This hotel was entirely made out of adobes walls, and expose rafters on the ceiling, everything was so in tone with the peaceful atmosphere of the Atacama Desert, I loved it.  That night after a delicious dinner, we tried a famous dessert, a pastry made out of guajava, a delicious fruit typical of the area, we had a nice after dinner conversation and we went to bed. Very awkward I should say to sleep in the same room with the father of the girl you are not even boyfriends yet, but that was what happened. Awkward but cool, it felt just like sleeping with one of my older brothers. One thing I didnít expect was that I am a very deep king of sleeper, and nothing can wake me up at night, but that night Mr. Alejandro woke me up with his snoring. I woke up in the middle of the night a couple times that night, but good thing I am a deep sleeper, because I went right back to sleep, and I had a very good night sleep all considered I must add. Next morning though having a great breakfast with everything made from scratch, and as custom in my country we all did drink tea with our breakfast Mrs. Siria asked me "So who won the competition?" I was completely lost and I didnít know what to say when she continued "Yah, that competition that you had going on last night, who snore the loudest ha?" Mr. Alejandro and I point at each other saying at the same time he did! He won! Mr. Alejandro went to say "Man! I know I snore laud but this guy woke me up with his snoring like three times last night, he snore louder than me that must be a record." No, no, no I said, "Wait a second, you wake me up last night with your snoring, and I have a very deep, deep sleep. For you to wake me up at night that must be a record!" and we laugh out loud and had another great time together that day, and the rest of the weekend.

There is magic floating in the air in the Atacama Desert, being in the middle of this overwhelming and extreme environment is almost like visiting The Death. If you take the cars and the roads out of the picture, you know that if you were there in that place by yourself, you would be dead in no time. You look around and there is nothing but sand, rocks and hills, the only thing that you might see is the dust dancing in the middle of small twisters that appear and disappear spontaneously in the middle of this majestic great desert, this desert it earns your respect and admiration very quick. It is nice to see these dust devils dancing in the Atacama Desert.

After that trip we started officially dating as girlfriend and boyfriend, It was so embarrassing to accept the fact that she will ask me "Where are we going this Friday night?" and I have to say "Girl I would love to take some place nice, a club, a restaurant or someplace nice, but I donít have no money not even to buy me a couple loose cigarettes. She would be happy with just hanging around with me, which it lasted for a couple weeks. She wanted to go out and have fun, I knew that but nothing I could do. Soon she came out with the solution, she asked if I had a driver license, and I did, so she said "What about if you provide the driving and I provide the car? What do you say?" Sure I said, but I donít have money for the gas or nothing, she said donít worry Iíll take care of that. Our first date on her parents car it was great, I still remember the way she looked, it was the first time she put her "girl on" for me, she did wear a short black dress, that had a red band from her neck to her waist, and just about as we were going out through the front door, she turned her head around really quick like girls do when they want to see where your eyes were looking at, good thing my eyes were on peripheral mode, cuz Mrs. Siria and Mr. Alejandro were looking at us from different angles, Mr. Siria was looking from the kitchen, and Mr. Alejandro from his favorite recliner placed in the living room right in front of the TV, lucky me.

That was my life for a little bitty while, just studying during the week and going out with her on Friday of Saturday night, everything was okay for a bit, but things got complicated really quick, and my worst fear came true. Definitely it was nice to go out with her and we were starting to spend more and more time together, so I started to get distracted but I was still hanging in there. In my college I was about to enter the most difficult part of the career our specialty, the core of our career, and that could be finances or marketing. We had to make that decision before the last quarter of our two years career. The day I signed the papers choosing my specialty I was proud of myself, havenít been a bed of roses, and I wasnít the Valid Victorian by far, but I was there, the finish line it was in sight, finally, and I did select finances. At that time in my life one of my dreams I had was to work trading stocks, like you see on TV, when they are trading stocks in Wall Street that was my dream back then.

Everything in my life was going just fine until one Friday afternoon I was waiting for Ivanisa to show up at my house; I wanted to let her know that I have decided to take finances to be the specialty on my career; I was so excited that day that I couldnít imagine anything going wrong, but talking about the world turning on a dime. Finally that day Ivanisa showed up and from the moment I opened the door, I could tell she has been crying what now? I asked myself, and she told me "I have something to tell you, I am pregnant" What? I was not expecting that at all, who does anyhow.

I was faced with a situation far beyond my ability to handle at that moment in my life. I didnít know what to do at all.

I gave her a hug and I said right away "Letís go for a walk girl" so we did. We started walking towards the ocean, she was crying and I was trying to digest what just happened. We talked for a while that day and from five in the afternoon until about half an hour after sunset we were still talking about it. That day it was a grey sunset, a grey sunset for a sad day, what really make me sad was the fact that instead of asking me how I felt about it, the only thing she was worried and sad about it was making her dad upset.

That night thinking about what she has told me, it came to my mind one question, I asked myself "Why was she so sad?" I recall the fact that all what she said, it was related to how mad her dad was going to be when he finds out about her being pregnant. She never said I am happy to have your child, she couldíve asked: Are you happy about this? The only thing she was talking or thinking about was all related to how her dad it was going to take all this. In the next couple of days we talked about it again, maybe I should say that was all we talked about since then. However she didnít change her point of view in our conversations, I thought at first is the shock, or she will react better, but no, it was clear to me that she never said I am happy to be having a child of you, I do love you, or something of that sort, before she always said how much she loved me, I could not understand why she was so sad about being pregnant. In my part I was running my options, and there it was nothing I could do nothing at all other than giving her all my support and that is what I did. I wouldíve love to say, donít worry my love, we could move to my place, and I have everything cover, the rent, the utility bills, the food, the milk, the diapers, the hospital bills, everything it has been taken care of, at that moment in my life I didnít have not even money to pay for a bus ticket, I had to walk to my college, and I didnít have not even money to buy me a pair of loose cigarettes. I was overwhelmed with feelings of responsibility, how am I going to take care of this baby, honestly it should be illegal to be that poor. I said to her "I might not even have a penny to my name, but some way, somehow we will get through all this, is going to be okay, you are not alone girl, I will talk to your dad, I will talk to him and we will go from there okay?" We embraced, cried for a bit, both of us, I guess for different reasons but we agreed that Iíll be the one talking with her dad and soon, this coming weekend we agreed. On my way home after I did drop her off at her house, I did remember a promise to myself, and that was: not to commit abortion ever again. I have been in this situation once before. When I was seventeen, before I went to the Army I have been with the same girlfriend for a couple of years, we started when I was barely sixteen, and she was nineteen years old, I really liked older girls, and like she was petit she didnít look older than me at all.  About six months into our relationship I acted very mature way I guess and her and I we sat down at a park called The Brazil Park, and we had a talk about what was going to happened if she got pregnant, she said donít worry I use protection we are too young to have any kids, relax. I did insist that we better have things clear before it happens, and before we continue any further, and we agreed that we were going to do it but only if we had protection, and if for any reason an accident happened, she was going to get an abortion, we were too young to have kids, that was our agreement and we stuck to it. We try our best I remember, so when it happened was not much thinking involved, we just take every precaution possible, but she came over one day and told me that she was behind on her period, and even if I did panic for a bit, she did have an abortion, and everything came back to normal. After that happened things were not the same ever again between us, and after about six months, a bit after our second anniversary we broke up for good. After that happened I had a deep sense of having made a big mistake, I felt guilty and not worthy of being called a human been. That experience did cause me a big sense of regret on my consciousness, since then I promised to myself never again. If for any reason I did get another girl pregnant, whatever the circumstances could be I promised to myself not to have an abortion ever again, I promised to myself to have that baby regardless, no excuses. Knowing that in my heart when this all happened with Ivanisa it was like Dťjŗ vu all over again. The first time it happened to me we were both in love, we both for some reason lost the same, but now something it was different. After a few days still she has not tell me about she wanting to have this baby, or that she loved me, all what she could talk about was about her father being upset at her, her failure in front of her family, the name of her family, but nothing about we, and that really started to get in my nerves, good thing the day when I had to talk to Mr. Alejandro came over quick enough. I thought Ivanisa was just panicking, Mr. Alejandro liked me, I liked him, he was going to be a grandpa again, so what? He had a couple grandsons already, so what it is the big deal? In a way I was not even considering the real possibility of Ivanisa having an abortion, actually I was thinking how this little-one it was going to look like. When I saw my mom Mercedes I even call her, in my mind of course "Grand ma! Ha hah!" I knew too, that she might be upset at the beginning but hey, in the other hand I was already almost twenty two, and she was almost nineteen, still kids but not really.

The day I had to talk to Mr. Alejandro came over really quick "May I speak with Mr. Alejandro please?" "One moment please" everybody was so serious that day. He came out of his room, and sat very relaxed on his recliner, we were in the living room, he even recline the sofa all the way back and I sat in a couch to his left, we were both facing the TV, I turned around looked at him and we exchanged the usual greetings till weíve got to the point of why I wanted to talk to him. At the beginning I did mumble a bit, but I found the courage deep inside of my heart to say "Mr. Alejandro what I want to talk to you is about Ivanisa and I, like you know weíve been dating for a little while now, and our relationship is getting better and stronger as the time goes by. We donít want to rush things up, as you know I am still a student, and what I wanted to tell you is that Ivanisa just told me this last Tuesday that she is pregnant, and as soon as I learned the news I wanted to talk to you. Sorry if we did disappoint you, but we wanted to let you know whatís going on. As I paused for a second, cuz seeing his face transformed made me lose my words, and he stopped me right there interrupting me saying "I am very upset about this, but I appreciate that at least you had the courage to let me know this in person and face to face, like it should be, at least Iím going to give you that, cuz if it was somebody else I donít know what I wouldíve have done to him, and I trusted you, this is a shame for our family, and I am not going to allowed this to happen, not on our family. He smacked the arm rest of the recliner as he stand up, and headed towards Ivanisaís room where she has been all this time, as he entered the room he yelled at her "If you have that child, you are not my daughter anymore" Ivanisa cried out loud as Mr. Alejandro left the room finishing his sentence "This is a shame to the family." And he went back to his room.

I was still seated at the sofa but I was petrified, out of all the possible scenarios the way he acted was completely un-expected for me, I never expected that the first thing he was going to say was "Kill the baby, save the familyís name" It is hard to express how hard it was for me to realize, how little I really meant to him. How little he had to think of me, that having a child out of wedlock of me and his daughter could be such a disgrace, Ivanisa was the only girl out of four brothers I could not understand, it is not like we were part of the Royal Crown or something. That is what I thought, but my position it was pointless, because there is nothing I could do even if I didnít like it, what I was supposed to do?

For me being poor was facing the truth that you have no will, cuz any will it does cost money. I wish I could say at that moment "Donít worry Mr. Alejandro, but the decision about if she has my child or not belongs to us, and if you donít like it, I am sorry, but I am taking Ivanisa with me until you calm down and can think things straight. I wish but even if I thought about it, I could not bring any girls to my room it was my momís house not mine there it was no way, nothing I could do, nothing at all, and I just sat there in disbelieve.

After a few long minutes, and after Ivanisa calmed down, she came out of her room, and we went for a walk. It was a beautiful day, but what good is to be in a beautiful place if you are blue and completely miserable.

"Why was I so sad? I thought once that I was free. I believed that if I am an honest hard working individual, I should get back from society a way to survive for me and what it is natural for any human to have a family, not luxury, but I thought no citizen of a free nation should worry about where is he going to sleep, or having to ask themselves "Will I be able to feed my children today" Why are we so far behind in progress, why? Why we have to go through the pain of looking to a human been being executed by another human been, just because? Why there is nothing I can do?"  When you are blue many times is just being sane. Do humans feel when another human fall to injustice? Are humans connected in same way? Do humans, females especially, feel anything remotely about the distress that a child experiences in places at war? Can Humans do better? I was thinking in my mind in a very nonsensical way, to the point that I had to stop myself thinking that kind of thoughts.

We went for a walk, in the middle of a beautiful day but for our eyes there it was nothing but grey all around us. With the weight of the world over our shoulders, feeling like sinners, just like criminals. We went for a walk along a road by the ocean, and we talk some more, and the only thing I could hear was, my dad, my dad, my dad. I even question if she really did love me as she said she did, for me if she really loved me she would have the baby anyways, but at the same time I did understand that her position was not easy either. I did have nothing to offer her, if she was to defy her dad she was pretty much on the street homeless. Those were our choices they were tuff choices to say the least.

A couple of weeks went by and she told me that her older brothers wanted to meet with us to decide what was going to happen with the unborn baby of us.

That for me was the last nail on the coffin, in my mind I was thinking "I guess you donít want a kid from me at all" she didnít have much to say anyways we were a pair of very young kids.

Before that day where we had to meet to decide what was going to happened with the child, I did talk to her and tried to explained to her that I was as serious as serious I could be and I did beg her to please listen, I said to her "Ivanisa you know my financial situation very well, and you know that there is not much that I can do about all this, but I want to tell you one more time that I am by your side, whatever you decide, that it will be my decision too. If you decide to have the baby I am okay with it, if you decide not to have it, it will be okay for me too. You decide girl, sorry but it is all on you. Whatever you decide it will be my decision too. Know that I am not going to take any part of this, you know one thing from me and that is: I am by your side."

Once weíve got to the house of her older brother, we sat down and started talking about the situation that we were going through and they asked me straight out "You guys are so young, and have a whole life ahead of you, why have so much responsibility when you donít need to. What do you think that it should be done Daniel?" They asked me, and I responded "I have talked to Ivanisa long and hard about all this, and the truth is I do not want to have any part on the decision of having the baby or not. I am going to tell you exactly what I said to her, I do not have much to offer her but whatever her decision is, I will be by her side, regardless and Iíll do my best, is all I can say." They asked me "So is that your decision?" I said "Yes that is my decision, whatever she says that is my decision." Then they asked Ivanisa what she was going to do, and she didnít know what to say really, I was disappointed about that, I wish at that moment she had at least something to say, instead of I donít know, and I donít know. They asked me to live them alone for a moment so they can talk to her with no pressure. I didnít know what they really meant with that, but I did leave the room and I went outside and waited for another long few minutes. I do not know even to this day what really took place on those few minutes that I left the room, but when I did come back, they let me know that Ivanisa has taken a good decision and that they will make an appointment for her to see the doctor as soon as possible, and I donít have to be worried about nothing, they will take care of all that. Like they put it, that is the best thing you can do, you guys are way too young to have all that responsibility. I remember being calmed on the outside, but inside I was devastated, I was totally frustrated, in all reality I didnít like the fact that I had no say at all. There it was nothing I could do, I didnít have nothing to offer, and that fact it haunts me even to this day. A child it is suppose to be a blessing a gift from life to you, and I did leave it like that, because at the same time I didnít want to have a child of somebody that didnít love me enough to have a child of mine. Did she love me? Or was she too young to really know. Did I love her? Or was I too young to really know. From that moment on in my life, I realized that at a point when I was growing up, I used to be so certain about how things should be in life, but from that moment on, I could barely figure it out.

Our relationship continued anyways, it was like a bump on the road, but we kept going. For some reason instead of rejection, or blaming each other, a bond was born between us. After that moment on our lives I was thinking, one day I will make it up to you girl. I felt like it was my fault more than anything, and I blame my financial situation for all what it was happening.

I kept studying and I was doing well in my college that was all I could do, I just kept going. Soon after that abortion happened, a job was offered to me, a temporary job at a kitchen supply store, it was a job as a sales assistant for the Christmas season at a newly constructed mall right the bus terminal, and it was one of the coolest places on town at the time.

Many told me that work and study donít mix well, but I was so desperate for some cash, that I had to find out on my own. I didnít even think twice about it, and I took the job.

In the middle of all this I found out that my mom Mercedes, I donít know how, but she found out about Ivanisa having an abortion, and she went and asked to talk to Mr. Alejandro in person, and she did. It was quite surprising for me, I thought that she didnít care about me at all, but what she told Mr. Alejandro really did prove me wrong about that. She said to him "My son is a good man, may not be a rich man, but he is a great person, ant that is what it is really important in life, you should consider yourself lucky to have my son as your son in law. The only thing he need in life is little push, and he will succeed in life. Shame on you what you did was wrong and God will punish you for that." That is the short story of course, and the PG13 version of it.

My mom was so pissed, and I was proud that she said her peace, loud and clear, like it or not. After things calmed down my Mom Mercedes and I talked about it, and she asked me: Why donít you finish this relationship with Ivanisa right now, why donít you? Nothing good can come out of this bad relationship. I said mom "In a way I feel like I did break it, I have to buy it now" My mom could not understand me, but I felt like at least I should be by Ivanisaís side. That conversation with my mom it was good, she showed me that she cared about me, and that make me feel good, but she didnít change my heart. Actually for some reason I did feel like a bond has been born between Ivanisa and I, I never felt so attached to somebody, ever before. Even my relationship with her parents it did improve, it was surprising but true. I did start going to her house quite often, and we even started having lunch together. Her dad and I started to be friends again, like nothing ever happened. I saw myself as part of a new family, my new family, and that was the way it was going to be from now on. I started to think that we should get married, that I should find a good time and propose her. The only thing holding me back was the fact that I didnít even have a penny to my name. At that age in my life, it was trying really hard to match what I had in my mind and in my heart, with what I had in my pockets, I was trying very hard.

Mr. Alejandro was giving signs as if he was considering me part of the family. He started talking about retirement, and buying a house with a mother in law apartment for Ivanisa and me. I really thought that nothing wrong could happen in my life at that moment in time, everything, was going just fine, as soon as we got married we were going to move, to that mother in law apartment, that was the plan.

In the mid time I was falling behind in my career, working and studying, plus my relationship it was too much to handle for me. I thought I was stronger than that but no. I just kept working, and I said "I will finish my career later"

One of those days I proposed to Ivanisa, and in less than a couple months from the moment she did get an abortion, we did get married. Thatís how fast all these events were happening.

The day of our wedding, early in the morning we went to the city building, and got married by law, we signed the papers, and then we had lunch. In the afternoon we had a party at her house, I didnít want to get religiously married though, we did get a blessing from a Catholic priest, and I didnít like it at all. Why I didnít want to get married in a religious ceremony? The answer is: I didnít believed that I was mature enough to take a woman as my eternal companion at that age, I didnít think that I could ask to God to bless that relationship, If I was not a man yet in front of God. That is how I felt, and that was what I did believe then in my heart.

Where those thoughts came from? I do not know, but that is what I did believe when I was almost twenty two years old.

On top of all, the night of our wedding, we suppose to spend it at my momís house that was a bummer in itself for me. I did have no money at all, so I wasnít paying for anything, and I didnít have a say on anything. In many ways I felt like a party crusher on my own wedding and on top of all Ivanisa said to me that night "I just started my period, sorry."

That night my friend, the one who started it all, the one who came and invited me to her birthday party, my friend Alvaro, "Ro-pe" he was with me that night at my house, and we went for a little walk, we were even still on suits, it has been a busy day. I needed to blow out some steam, and something happened, my soul got dark, really dark, I fall in darkness. One thing was for sure, for some reason I didnít want to be by her side, I wanted to walk away from her as far away possible. I guess what I shouldíve done on that moment was walk away from that friend. I am not going to blame my friend, but that it is how it happened. We went for a walk, and out of nowhere I said to him "Alvaro I need a puff, of you know what" No! he said, really? I donít know how explain this act in my life, but those who have been addicted to anything, they know what I mean, at that moment I had to have it, I knew that if I did start smoking, even just one puff, I knew exactly where it was going to end, but I lied to myself, saying letís buy one gram, and thatís it I said to him "What do you say, best man of mine? One gram only" Okay he said to me and added "Do not blame me if you ended up smoking more, you should know what youíre doing, right? Are you sure?" I am sure I said. Even my friend knew, but there it was nothing we could do, it was already on our minds and he put his hand in his pocket and took one paper out. He did have already one gram on his pocket.

That was a moment that I knew, in advance that I was going to regret, I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyways. I spend the night of my wedding out with my friend, smoking Paste.

We smoke that shit, all night long, even after the sun came up, we were still at it, saying to each other "The last one, this is the last one, right? Yes the last one, and thatís it!"

We ended up parked on the side of the road our street that leads to the ocean, still close to home but in a very good hiding spot. We spend the whole night, no sleep, we were "Duros" completely intoxicated with Paste, we were stiff than Robocop like. Being stiff, and with a high sense of paranoia on top of all, is one of the side effects of Cocain-Paste. We were high, the sun it was up and we were debating how we could get some more or we shouldíve call the quits, and go home with the "Angustia" (The sense of experiencing the need for more of that drug. Paste is very addictive. You know you need to quit, but you canít, you need one more, just one more, that it is called "Angustia")

We were in the middle of this, when I saw out of the corner of our eyes, two cops coming towards us very quick I said "The Cops bro" I jump over my friend, and I started to pretend that we were making out, then my friend got it. We were not smoking anything, we were just well you know. Two gay guys hiding their forbidden love out of the sight of the public eye, parked on an isolated parking spot, the parking spot had bushes all around it, it was hard to spot, and this two cops were on us that quick.

That was what we told, and acted to the cops, and they did swallowed it. We were out of our bodies when those two cops walked away from us and left us alone. We almost faint of relief when those two cops got on their Van and left. Have you ever drink yourself to sobriety?

After the cops left and we were able to put a thought together, we went home. I just experienced panic, terror, uncertainty, and a big dose of humility. We said "Thanks God, for spare us this time, thank you." We couldíve been going to jail for having dozens of empty one grams papers. That alone was enough evidence to put us in jail. After that we went home, we went to our homes, in a complete state of Duro. What a dark moment in my life!

I went back home, and I crawled in bed with the woman I just married yesterday.

Now I am Forty eight years old, and if I had Ivanisa close to me, I would say to her "I am so sorry, sorry for being such a Jerk to you, I am so sorry."

I did asker please not to asked me questions, I didnít do anything wrong, I was back home, and I needed to rest, I have been up all night. I said that to her, and I turned around pretending that I went right to sleep.

I had to pretend for hours that I was deep sleeping. I went through the anguish of wanting something so bad, addiction sucks bro, it is like... Your heart beats, and beats, and it doesnít understand that you are not running. After awhile, you start feeling that your heart wants to stop, and want to go to sleep, you cannot stop wanting it, and you are tired but your heart and the feeling of anguish it is stronger than you, it takes a lot just to stop yourself.

Thanks God I did go to sleep, after about four hours I went to sleep that afternoon, four long hours but finally I did fall asleep. I did sleep from about 4pm that day until lunch time next day. On top of all, they had prepared a homemade chicken noodle soup together for me. I felt so bad. I can say though, that that night I had a big epiphany, I did realize that I was still an addict, and a bad one, and the question was "What I was going to do about it." I did promised myself that no matter what, I was not going to be a drug addict. For that to be true I needed to not do it again in a very long time, a very long time, at least a year, I did promise to myself. I needed to learn to say no to Paste, I needed to remember before I put one of those cigarettes in my mouth to think about the after math, and I needed to remember that in life there is going to be low moments and there I needed to be strong, and not let down myself like that no more.

My career was out of the question; there it was no way that I could catch up, and finish my career. Now I was married and the only thing I had in mind was, not to mess it up. I had a very rough start, and I did want to leave it as that, a fall, a hard fall at the beginning, and thatís it.

Her family didnít know what happened that night, so we were fine. We even started living at her house. Right after we did get married, they gave us a room, at her house, and we started living with her parents, that was nice! I even found a better job, I did apply for a sales job position, but they call it Credit Executive Agent. The job was at a credit union, where your job was to find people that wanted to borrow money. That was my first job in the financial system, I was so proud of myself. I thought my life had turned around for the better, and there it was nothing bad that could happen. Mr. Alejandro, he even did take us with them to look for some houses. He wanted to ask us our opinion on a couple houses, he was about to buy one of them, and both of them had a mother in law apartment on the side.

Everything was doing just fine; it really did feel like the beginning of a new good chapter in my life.

A couple of months went by after the wedding having this very nice routine going on. We were living with her parents, I was going all around the city looking for people that wanted to borrow money during the day, we even met for lunch every day, I had a four hours long lunch every day, everything was just fine, until one day Mr. Alejandro told us at lunch time, that he was invited to a ceremony to receive a diploma, a diploma for his great contribution on the construction of a new electrical grid up in the Andes. What it did caught my attention, was the fact that he was going to the same Military Base I served my military service, he was going to Pacollo. He was going to spend the whole weekend up there. From Friday till Monday morning he told us "I have Friday to get there, and get used to the altitude, Saturday it is the Ceremony with dinner after, Sunday to recover from the hangover, and Monday morning we get back at lunch time." That is what he said to all of us that day at the table, I did even mention to him, and we talked about me serving my military service up there, and Mrs. Siria was telling him in every moment she could "Alejandro donít drink too much." And he went to say "Oh donít worry, I am just going to have a couple drinks, anyways up there it is not fun to drink, because you canít get drunk because of the lack of oxygen. Donít worry."

Monday at lunch time, I did get home like always, having in mind that it was Minestrone Monday. I knocked the door and Mrs. Siria opened the door for me and I could tell she has been crying for a while. I didnít ask anything but she said to me "Alejandro is not coming back he had a little too much to drink, and died while he was asleep. Sorry if I donít serve you lunch, but Iím not feeling well, help yourself" I gave her my sincere condolences, and a hug, right after I went to the kitchen and grab a sit. I felt great sorrow in my heart when I learned the news, and I didnít think, not even crossed my mind that something like that it could happened "Just!" just when everything was coming along, I was completely blown away by the news, it really shuck me to the core, and I thought "What a wicked and maledict place Pacollo is."

Everybody in the family was there that day. I did eat that day, and I even had seconds, I have the bad habit of swallowing when I am upset. Of course not everybody saw it like that, many said "How it is possible that he is eating in a moment like this" I did get highly criticized for eating the day when Mr. Alejandro died. I couldnít help it.

That day something very remarkable happened in my spiritual life. For some reason Mr. Alejandro it reminded me of my Daddy Oscar not the same but he gave me the sense that he cared about and he liked me as a person and it was mutual, I really liked his sense of family. That day after I did eat my lunch I went to the restroom and I could not shake my Daddy Oscar out of my mind it was like reliving his funeral all over with one big difference this time I couldnít stop crying, the pain, the frustration and the feeling of injustice were very strong in my heart, in that bathroom while I couldnít hold my tears, I cried for my Daddy Oscar for the first time, I realized that I have never understand before, how much I really loved my Daddy Oscar and how much I have been missing him my whole life. While I was grieving the lost for Mr. Alejandro memories of my Daddy Oscar came to my mind and I really lost it. I didnít know I was carrying so much sorrow in my heart, and for so long, that experience it was a real an eye opener.

 I tried to hold things together the best I could, I even rent a house for the both of us trying to save whatever was left of our relationship but she did spent more time with her mom than with me. I work as hard as I could, I did try to save whatever we had left, but it was impossible. After about ten months into our marriage we separated and that was the end of our marriage, soon after we separated she came over to talk to me and she asked me to sign the divorce papers and I did; it was a no question asked kind of moment; we just looked at each other and by doing that whatever was there before we realized that whatever it was nothing was left.

Good thing I had an okay job at the time, my job was what gave me something to hang on to, thanks God for that. It was a very hard time for me, even if nobody probably will ever know, because to be on sales, you have to be always in an upbeat state of personality, and I was good at it. Just like a clown that put up the show, nobody knew what I was really going through.

The routine of my work gave me the strength to keep going, my coworkerís jokes, and the committed will to accomplish a goal every month at my work, was what kept me alive then.

Many times I did walk for hours while going to different factories and companies trying to find new customers, and like always thinking and walking it was my favorite thing to do. Spiritually I still did not consider myself a man yet, and maybe because of that I thought God will one day have mercy on my soul. I used to ask myself "When can I call myself a man? I thought that the answer for that it was just like the answer that people most of the time give you when you ask the question "When do I know that I am in love?" The answer is "You know when you know." 

I started to struggle with paste again, not every day but one day a week I had a date with Mr. Duro. What a nightmare! Good thing I kept it under control, at least I never did steal, or robbed to smoke that crap. Good thing I was working, and I was able to keep my job and somehow I did came up with some cash to blow on that stupid crap. I was for sure burning my hard earned money, I was literally burning it. I was not too proud of that, but I could not get away of it either. That was the struggle I had to face every day at that time in my life.

Good thing work it was my restrain, good thing I choose work, I went to work, and I kept repeating myself, you can do better, you are better than that, you can do it, you can do it, and I did it. Even I managed to find me a better job and this new job was located right in downtown Arica. I was so happy about that! Loved downtown! Loved it! It was the coolest place on town.

 

Chapter Six

 

After my divorce being in downtown Arica was what helped me to feel a lot better about myself, and the work I was doing. At least I was not a Taxi-driver, like my older brother Luis had forecast for me as my future. Little by little I started to enjoy life again, and even if it was a lonely time, work wise I should say, was pretty cool.

I really liked to be working in downtown because that was the place where things were happening. I really liked the relaxed atmosphere around that area, the coffee shops, and the restaurants. In my case, I loved the Arcade games that were just a block away from work. I was twenty-three years old and still the word Pinball-machine was a synonym of fun for me. I remember loving so much the Arcade games that when I was twelve-years old instead of going to school I went to the arcades to play pinball. I skipped the whole second half of my sixth year of school, mainly because I was fascinated, with the mechanics involved in the pinball machines, and because school for me was pure torture at the time.

For me the more cosmopolitan atmosphere of downtown was a nice contrast against the small town feeling present in the rest of the city.

In a small town like Arica when you go to downtown is a special occasion, and everybody dress up. All the business offices are concentrated in this small area that is no bigger than a few blocks in every direction. For me the feeling of downtown was like a party going on, and I was young, I was there wearing suit and tie, I had a lot of hair to show, and I was in a place where lots of nice looking girls passed me by constantly. I couldnít ask for more at the time.

One of those days, looking at the people going up and down 21st Boulevard, on one of my breaks, I was looking outside admiring all the good looking girls passing me by, and I was in the middle of that when I saw a brunet that really caught my attention. I started starring at her and I couldnít help myself to stop looking at her. She looked familiar, like I have seen her before. I looked at her with my typical quick up and down look, and she was wearing medium high hills, a white skirt with pink flowers and a touch of yellow and light purple. She looked fantastic! She had on nice shades, and there was something in the way she moved. She had that "I donít know what," kind of thing going on. She looked astonishing! She looked like a very feminine Dole, cute and smart, taking sure steps, and she was walking with confidence. She looked so serious, and she is myÖ"Scratch!" At that moment I realized, as she walked closer to me, that she was my Comadre Veronica. What a surprise! She kept walking towards me, but she didnít notice me. She was trying to hold on to a little kid that was pulling her by the hand and hard. I could tell the little kid was in a hurry to somewhere. She didnít pay attention to me at all. She was talking to the little guy, and my face was full of surprise. As she walked by I stopped her and I said, "Do you remember me Comadre?" She was surprised to see me as much as I was surprised to see her. We hugged, kissed in the chick, and we started talking for a little bit, but she was in a hurry so she said to me, "I really have to leave right now Compadre. Like you can see this guy is in a hurry. This is my son Sebastian, he is three and a half, and the last time you saw him, he was still in my tummy remember?" I said, "How can I forget?" I thought to myself, "How could I ever forget those times I spend with Mrs. Ximena." That crossed my mind as I was saying hello to this little guy. He looked very sharp, he had all the top brands on him, and he knew it. He was a cool looking little boy. As she was living, she left me her address and invited me to visit her house. She was back in Arica living with her mother and sisters. I asked her about Adrian, but she said, "Long story. Iíll tell you later."

A Song that comes to my mind every time I remember Mrs. Ximena is that song that goes, "Oh what night. Late December back in 63. What a very special time for me. As I remember, what a night. Oh what a night. You know I didnít even know her name, but I was going never be the same. What a lady, what a night.

That was the first time in a long time, that I had experienced a major crush. Not long ago these experiences used to be a common thing in my life, and now, I was remembering how it used to be. In my mind my excuse was, "I was just living a more responsible kind of life." That day I had an epiphany, "I realized that I was starting to grow old." Not much was happening in my life at all.

That day I had a forbidden major crush. I said forbidden cuz the way I looked at her was with a very different set of eyes. First able she was the wife of a friend, and second she was the best friend of Ximena. I had a lot of respect for this girl, and she was a very smart woman. At the same time she had a lot of character and presence. She was the kind of girl that if you were in the Army, most likely you would have to salute her.

Talking about things starting to change in my life. A few days after that encounter with Veronica, we had a meeting at work, where we learned that our company was experiencing some serious business problems, and most likely they were going to be out of business very soon. That was precisely not the kind of news I needed to hear at that time. I was just starting to get used to my new kind of life. I even had rented a place that I picked it up mainly because it was close to my job, and now I was facing another big change in my life. After they gave us the bad news I got so worried, that in the days that followed that meeting, I decided to start looking for a new job. Is not easy to find a job in a place where the unemployment rate is about 20 percent high, so I started filling job applications everywhere I could.

It was hard to make a living in that city at the time, and talking about Economic Bubbles. Besides being hard to find a job, on top of all that, everybody has been given a lot of credit. The business strategy and policy was, "Take it home now, and pay later." The ones on top have changed the law radically, and now collecting debt had become a predatory and merciless practice. Now the consumers the base of any economy, had no protection against this massive companies. These companies started to make billions on just interests, and all because the upper class opened the doors of hell against the people, like someone said, "We are going to let the Bull loose." They all knew the people had no money to pay those loans back, but they just lend them the money anyways. They had injected massive amounts of cash in the economy creating a false sense of progress. Well I donít want to bore you with numbers, but the point is: Economy and the ability to make a living, they go hand in hand.

Since I divorced from Ivanisa I have been living on my own, and that was a great thing for me to accomplish. I finally have reached my own independence, and with a lot of effort I rented a little room on the back of a house. Being poor I was very exposed to whatever happened to the economy. Thatís why I was so worried, if the economy was okay I could make it, but if not I was toasted and over roasted. I should mention that my little room had a private bathroom and a separated door. I was really happy with my nice little place. It was all a young man on its own, trying to have a life, could ask for.

My job was all I had and I loved it, but truth was, I had a job that barely paid for my basic needs. In my country was common then to be thirty-years old, well educated, and still be living with your parents. It was really hard just to earn enough money to pay for a room and a bus pass. In my case I had a good job, and I could not afford to buy me a pair of shoes cash. I had to apply for a loan to have a pair of new shoes, and because of high interest rates, most likely I ended up paying for two pairs of shoes instead of one.

Since early in my life I tried to make a living doing whatever work I could find, and I really tried to make it on my own. I really tried to achieve that goal regardless of what kind of work came my way. I have never been picky about that. For me, any work was better than no work at all. In my neighborhood I was quite the handyman, and through the years I have worked for many of my neighbors around the block. They all knew about my skills and some trusted my handy skills, others didnít. Like I was young, sometimes I have to admit that I did bite more that I could chew. Around my neighborhood I used to fix leaky faucets, carpentry work, welding, changed the battery of a car, like I said, I was quite the handyman, and I always had pride on making my living in an honest way. For me there was not such a thing like a bad job, but like I said, no matter what I did, I could not find the way to make a living out of my skills. Thatís why the job I had at the time was so precious for me, and thatís why when this company started having financial problems, my whole world started to tremble. I knew that if I lose my job most likely will be a long time before I could find another one. I was living pay check to pay check; I was living in a very delicate financial situation.

One of those days at work, taking a break on my favorite spotóthat place by the front door of my workóI was looking at the people passing by, when my boss parked his car right in front of the store. He came over and asked me to give him a hand. It was early in the afternoon, and there was lots of people window-shopping, and he said to me, "Can you put these VCRs in the trunk of my car?" I said "Sure," and I just did it, no questions asked. Then when I was done he said, "Donít mention it to anyone okay. I trust you!" He said that to me and winked at me as he walked away. By then I knew something was wrong, but whatever was, it was already done. Later that day he told me, "Call home and tell them you are going to be late for dinner. Later on tonight we have a meeting." And he winked at me again saying, "Just you and I, and not a word to no one else okay? I trust you" I said "Sure boss no worries." That day after work he took me to a dance bar and we had a few drinks looking at the girls dancing. He asked me after a few to go and get the two VCRs out of his car, and gave them to the bar tender adding, "He will know what to do with them." I did give the VCRs to the bartender and before we went home my boss paid the bill, and gave me some cash saying, "This never happened," wink.

It was obvious to me that those VCRs were not going to the repair shop, actually they were brand-new ones. I got home that night with one question in my mind, "Did I just rob the store? Am I a thief now?" I thought "What Iím going to do now?" I did know exactly what just happened, and I didnít like it. I knew he was stealing those VCRs. I didnít know what I could do really, because he was my boss, but I knew one thing though, "Fooled me once shame on you, fooled me twice shame on me."

Having to chose between being employed or being jobless is not an easy decision to make, thatís why is hard to explain how happy I was, when I heard the news that one of my jobs applications was accepted by a financial institution. This company was downtown too, and just around the block from where I was working. Not in 21st Boulevard where the hot potatoes were, but darn close.

Many times I have walked by this place, and I looked at this people working in this nice place wishing myself to be working in their place. This company was one of the first places where I have filled a job application, and now they were offering me a job as a Consumer Credit Executive. I just couldnít believe it, I was so happy, but nobody was there to celebrate with me that day.

At the time I have been busy, so busy that I almost forgot about my Comadre Veronica. One of those days I decided to go and pay her a visit. I call her from a rotary phone at work and for my surprise she was home that day, and she invited me over for tea time. I walked to her house in another nice sunny day, and when I got to her house I realized that her address was just a few blocks away from my place. What a surprise! I knocked her door, she asked me to come in, and we talked for a while. Later on we had tea, and the thing I like the most besides seeing her house spotless was the way she served the tea, and the way she set up the table, everything was just very neat. There I met he mom Mrs. Margarita, and we had a very good time. Having tea with her mom Mrs. Margarita "Abby"óSebastian couldnít pronounce the word abuelita so he called her "Abby" and since then everybody call her that way. We enjoy the French bread, ham and cheese, and a very good conversation. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed having to ask so many times, about the meaning of the words that they were using on our conversation. Veronicaís mom Mrs. Abby was a retired principal of an elementary school, so they did speak a very good Spanish. They even asked me if it was okay to correct some of my terrible grammar assassinations. They asked me in a very polite way, but it was quite embarrassing for me.

That day having a wonderful tea-time with them, I realized that the life of that house was Veronicaís son Sebastian. They call him Chevy, and he was really the light of the house. He reminded me when I was little, and I was in my daddy Oscarís house. Besides the fact of being a very happy kid, he was the only guy among five girls. On that house at the time there was Mrs. Abby, Veronica, Margarita, Anita and his Great Grandmother. At the same time he was the first grandson of Mrs. Margarita and Veronica was the youngest of them all, so like you can see, just as I was on my daddy Oscar house, he was a very lucky and spoiled little kid, but very well behaved. He was always on the move, and his laugh was so contagious, he laughed from the bottom of his heart.

Since then I started to visit them, every now and then, having tea or sometimes even dinner with them, my life took a turn for the better. I even join in a soccer team, and I started to exercise more often. I have been always a very quiet kind of person, and with them I was no exception, but I did love to listen to them, and I think they noticed. It has been always quite the trouble for me to keep a fluid conversation about nothing, just talking of this or that like girls often do, and they are so good at it, but I really enjoyed being there with them. I didnít feel awkward around them, and even if sometimes there it was a long pause of nothing but silence, it was okay. As they were talking sometimes I did interrupt asking, "What was that word that you just said?" And they had no problems explaining to me the meaning of it, and at the same time, they did let me know when I was saying something grammatically incorrect. They corrected me in a way that they didnít make me feel uncomfortable at all.

It is hard to make a transition into this one but like Veronica was out of my reach for many reasons, I found nothing better than starting to go out with her older sister Margarita. I did start dating Veronicaís sister after a few months of me going over there. That was interesting to say the least. We dated for a few months, and we had a great time while it lasted. Some things just happen others donít. I donít think dating her sister was the best idea I should say, but I really liked her. We were just not very compatible at the end. I remember at the time that I was so into finances, that I even made a mathematical graphic, where you could see the curved of love. When I showed that to Margarita we were on that part where the curve exponentially start taking off almost straight up. I remember showing her that graphic and I remember that soon after that, one of the things that didnít add up in the graphic, was the sudden down fall of the line. Accordingly to the graphic that shouldnít have had happen, but it did, and just like when a market completely collapse, one day I fell out of love with no warning what so ever. I really didnít see it coming. We broke up in very good terms, and when that happened I was afraid that our broken relationship was going to affect my relationship with Veronica, and the rest of her family. Until that happened I really didnít think of the consequences, and I didnít think beforehand that an event like that could damage our friendship with Veronica or the friendship with rest of her family. Good thing we were all adults, and Margarita and me talked to Veronica, and it was all cool between us. No hard feelings and was able to keep visiting Veronica and her family like always.

Every time I showed up at that home, I had a friend that was always very happy to see me, and that friend was Sebastian. I really liked to be his friend and I imagined what it would be like, to be a father, and come home to a beloved family. At that age in my life I really wanted a child of my own, and I was looking for a mother. I used to wonder who was going to be that woman, and at what age of my life that was going to happen. I always had that dream, but knowing my financial status, that thought looked as a very far-fetch dream. Anyhow it was nice to spend some time with Sebastian. He looked just like the son I wanted to have. I did always paid attention to what he was saying, and I always seemed to connect with him. I did catch what he was talking about, even if sometimes I had to ask Veronica what he was saying, because he was just starting to talk. Over all we really enjoyed spending some time together.

One of those days, I was asked a favor from Mrs. Margarita and Veronica. I was seated at the table having tea, and listening to Sebastian, when I heard Mrs. Margarita telling me, "Daniel, we need to ask you a favor. Like you know this lucky guy over hereórolling her eyes towards Sebastianóis surrounded by girls, and he is starting to go potty by himself. We are very proud of him starting to go by himself, but he is going number one seated in the toilet like girls do, and there is where you come in the picture. We need somebody who shows him how guys go number one. Could you show him please?" I smile and lain back on the chair with my arms crossed over my chest. Mrs. Abby said to me, "I guess by the position of your arms you donít like our proposal." I was embarrassed at first because she was right, as they teach you in Sales, when it comes to body language, crossing your legs or your arms is a sign of disagreement. It really got me by surprise at first, but hey, I had two older brothers, and I have been part of more than a few sports team, so I thought what the problem was? We waited until he wanted to go, and we went to the bathroom together, and I showed him how to boys go number one. He reminded me of myself when I was a kid, and I was surrounded by girls at my mom Nieves house. I was so spoiled, and so he was. I liked that coincidence. I looked at Veronicaís family as the family that one day I wanted to have, and every time I went over and spend time with them, I felt coming closer and closer with all of them.

In the mean time a new opportunity came around work wise. One of the biggest and most prestigious financial institutions in the country was about to open a new branch in Arica. That was a chance I could not let to pass me by, and as soon as I could I send them my resume. They were offering all the positions, including people to work in the main office full-time. I applied for this job because was like a dream come true. They were offering more money, a whole bunch of benefits, and if I was accepted, I would have my own desk in the main office.

I was working in a job that was considered a career starter, and I was making barely above minimum wage, and like I said, all considered I was lucky to have that job, but still I could barely afford to cover my basic needs. One third of my salary was just to pay for transportation; almost half was rent; the rest food, and what about clothing? I remember having to ask for credit just to be able to afford working clothes, and I really struggle to make the payments on time.

I used to lose my sleep thinking about how to improve my financial situation, and I used to think, "What about if I had a kid or a wife, or both? How could I pay for all those expenses? Don't I deserve to have a family? What good is to have a nation if you are on your own? I use to beat myself up thinking about all that. No matter how hard I worked I couldnít get ahead, and when I started to think about this reality of mine, I had to abandon logic, and put math aside, because thinking about it, didnít help at all. When I started thinking about all that I had to stopped myself saying, "Everything will be okay. Just keep going. Keep hanging in there. You can do it!" I had no choice, and it felt like knowing about finances was a disadvantage instead of an asset.

At work everyone couldnít stop talking about the new branch that the biggest Financial Institution in the country was about to open. That was FUSA Financial Inc. Fusa was the name of the financial institution that was getting ready to open its door right there in the city where I lived. That was opportunity and even if I didnít tell anyone about it, I secretly applied for it. People at work and friends asked me if I was going to apply for this new financial institution, but I just played stupid. I didnít answer to their questions about applying for Fusa I just told them, "No! Of course, I havenít applied for it. I love my current job. What was the name?" Like I said, I loved my job, and I didnít want retaliation or people saying, "If you loved your job, why go looking for another, right?" Over all, I didnít want to let people know at my workplace, that I was not hundred percent happy with my existing job. That job that is giving you a way to pay your bills, and I didnít want to be part of those who are in the "black-list" I didnít want to be among of those who donít like the job that they have. Especially in my country you do not want to be on that list, especially in that kind of economy so typical of a third world country. The economy in a third world country is very volatile, and with unemployment in the double digits, trust me, you donít want to risk the one job you have. Was that lying? You canít blame a person when that person is being faced with survival, because is like a police with a gun in hand asking you can I come in? Can I search your car? You really donít have a choice.

At that moment I wished I had finished my career so bad, I was only three months away from finishing my career, but no money, and no time, the story of my life. I was too busy just trying to survive. I wished at the time when I filled that application for Fusa financial, that I could say, I had a degree in Business Administration specialized on finances. That definitely wouldíve helped. I felt sometimes like I was an individual marked by society as not worthy enough to have a life. That was how I felt at times and many times I have to abandon that kind of negative thinking, even if it was rational and logic after all, because that was my reality at the time, but that kind of thinking was a negative one, and like they say, "Spiritually, things do multiply." Good and bad they multiply, and I didnít want to end up filling my heart and mind with negativity. I was young and I was not ready to give up on hope, at least not yet. When I was falling into that kind of thinking, the best thing for me to do was to take a humble attitude and with faith I said a prayer to the one. I asked for help to keep hope alive in my heart.

At the time I was going to visit them about once a week, and that was my life for a little while, just working hard and going to visit them about once or twice a week sometimes.

One of those days after a soccer practice I went to visit Veronica, and we encounter each other at the bus stop. They were coming back from the grocery store, and I just got out of the bus. We started walking from the bus stop to Veronicaís house, and Sebastian was walking by my side. Like always he was happy to see me, and he took my hand that day. he was happy to see me as I was happy to see him. I was walking home with one of my favorite people in the world at the time, and that was my little friend Sebastian. He made me forget all about that bitterness that I use to carry around with me some times. He made me feel like a dad, and for some reason it was always fun to be around him.

That day as we turned the corner entering the block where Veronicaís house was, and as we were a couple houses away from her house, we did here a loud engine and screaming tires, we looked back, and we saw this car swerving out of control, passing us by really quick, and the car rolled over right in front of us. Everything happened so fast and right in the middle of a very narrow street. I was surprised that the car swerved and rolled over, and it didnít go out of the road, heating fences or a house or us as a matter of fact. The car missed us just for a couple of yards. I give Sebastian to Veronica and run towards the car that ended up upside down in the middle of the streets, and with two passengers inside. I was afraid that the worst could happen, because I could see gasoline leaking from the back of the car, and the persons inside were not moving. Iíve got to the car in a second, and I pulled the two people that were inside out of the car one by one. I did take them to safety, and thanks God they were okay. The car didnít caught fire or anything, but for sure the car was a total. It couldíve been way worse. They were lucky, and we were lucky that the car didnít run over us. All this happened so fast that we couldnít stop talking about it all day long that day.

By that time Veronica and I were doing a lot of stuff together, I shouldíve have call it dating, but that word didnít even cross my mind at the time. Why was I such a dork? I donít know, but to give you an idea how much of a dork I was, let me tell this short, but true story:

I was 15 years old and I was a freshman in a brand new high school in which, after a couple months I met a Girl. The most beautiful girl I have ever seen in my life.

A couple of months after the beginning of the school year, a girl got transferred to our classroom from another school, and from the moment I saw her, I was blown away. She looked like the girl of my dreams instantly. From the moment I saw her, I realized that I had a major crash on her. I was such a kid at the time. I remember asking myself, "If I liked her that much, am I ready to give up my stamp collection for her?" Thatís how much of a kid I was, when I was fifteen-years old.

She became my first Platonic Love, my very first crush. I started writing poems for her, and started thinking about her all the time. Every time I was alone I missed her, I wished she was with me at every moment of my life. I used to dream that the ultimate love was the one you grow up with, going from teenagers to adults together, ending on having a couple of babies product of that pure love, and then you become grandparents, and then end of the story. I was only fifteen years old, and I was looking for true love. I thought that I have found the love of my life, and true love was her, and that was all I could think about.

At recess time I found the guts to start talking to her, and I was so thrilled that she talked back to me. Since that moment we became very good friends. Every time I had the change I talked to her and I wanted to know everything about her. I was so into her. After a month or so, from the moment I met her, I invited her to the beach, just me and her, and for my surprise she accepted my invitation. I remember being so out of myself. I literally felt like I was walking in the clouds, and it was hard for me to believe that she said yes, yes! I thought she liked me back, yes!  She gave me her address, and that weekend we went to the beach, just the two of us. I walked to her house with a beach towel over my shoulder, and while walking I started to think about God and life, and that way I got there in no time. When I got to her homeóa brick apartment on the last floor of a fifth-story apartment complexóher mom opened the door. I could tell she was her mom. She looked at me saying hello, and she looked behind the door, I guess was Norma telling her with signs to get lost or something like that, because she looked at me one more time and said, "Nice to meet you. Let me get Norma for you." Norma came to the door, I could tell she was right there, just a few steps away. She was ready to go, and she had her beach bag already hanging on her shoulder. That was the first time I saw her wearing other than the school uniform, and she had a nice pair of sun shades that gave her such a nice look. I was literally in awe.

We went to the beach right in front of her apartments, and all the way to the beach we were talking a little bit of everything. We didnít have to force the conversation, we were relaxed, and the words flew out naturally. We were getting to know each other a bit better, as we were enjoying the walk in a nice sunny day. When we got to the beach was just the two of us. We were away from the more crowded and most popular part of the beach. We lay our towels on the sand and talked for awhile enjoying the beautiful scene of the open ocean. Then we walk along the beach, wetting our feet in the ocean, and came back to bathe under the sun again. We spent hours talking about nothing and everything. Being by her side I had so much balance in my mind, instead of being dreaming about a perpetual motion device or God, by her side, I was present and completely aware. I have never seen a girl looking so good in a swimming suit, and that day by the ocean, I knew for the first time in my life that I was completely and undoubtedly in love. While talking to her at a point, we did get closer to each other, like almost kissing, but we didnít. I was trying my best not to do anything that could remotely upset her or come across as disrespectful. We had a great time together that day, and it was so nice to be by her side. I really felt like I was on top of the world that day.

Since that day we started being really good friends, every day we started to spend recess time close to each other, and she started to visit my home after school. I remember having an Atary 2600óone of the first game consoles ever, and I was one of the few kids that had one. I bug my mom so much about buying me one that finally she agreed to buy me one. She had to ask for credit, and go to great extents to please me on that one. She knew as well how much I loved computers as a teen. Norma and I spent hours, playing over and over the same simple, but at the time very amazing games. Our favorite was Tanks and Pong. We had so much fun together, and all of the sudden we didnít talk to each other no more. Everything was just fine, but after a little while everything changed for the worse. I couldnít understand what happened, but she started to avoid me at recess times.

I couldnít understand why she started avoiding me, and as days went by, she distanced from me everyday more and more. I didnít know how to get closer to her again, and I started to think, "What have I done wrong?" That uncertainty and to see her rejection really hurt me. I couldnít get over her, and even if in my heart I was totally in love, I didnít have the courage to ask her what happened. It was obvious for me that she didnít like me no more. Thatís what I thought, but I never asked. I blamed myself for her rejection towards me, and instead of talking to her about what was going on, I let my foolish pride get in the way, and from that moment we grew further apart more and more.

Even if we almost didnít talk to each other, the only thing I could do was to think about her all the time. I started writing poems for her, and it was obvious for my whole family that I was in love. For them I was having a serious case of puppy love.

Out of all the poems I wrote for her one of them got stuck on my head, because I read it to my brother Luis, and he made a joke out of it. He has heard comments from some of my friends that she liked to drink, and he didnít like her because of that. For me those bad comments were nothing but gossips out of jealousy, and at the time he made a joke out of my poem I got very insulted, but as the time went by I got a good laugh of it.

If you were a flower, I would like to be the soil and the water that gives you everything you need to be the beautiful thing you are.

If you were a bird, I would like to be tree where you sleep at night, and the air that supports your wings every time you flyÖ

My brother then said, "If you were a dog, I would like to be the tree where you pee on, and if you were a bottle of wine, I would like to be your liquor store."

About a couple of months after the date at the beach, one of those days a friend in common set us up in a date. I just could not believe it, just out of the blues this guy I barely new said to me, "I know you guys donít talk no more, but this weekend her parents are going to be out of town, and Norma wants me to take you to her house. She asked me not to tell you that, but I trust that you are not going to tell her I told you, right? Iím going to take with me to her house and after a few minutes I am going to leave, and you guys are going to be all alone, just the two of you. I wish you guys can fix this mess you got into. Do you want to go?" I said, "But of course! I thought she didnít want to have nothing to do with me no more." The guy said, "That is exactly what she thinks too. She thinks that you donít want anything to do with her."

The weekend came over quick and the guy picked me up exactly at the time he said was going to pick me up. We walked to her apartment, and as he said, he stayed with us for a bit and soon after he left. We sat outside on the stairs of her apartment, and we started talking like nothing ever happened between us. On those steps we started talking about music, and she mention a song I couldnít recall if I had listen to it or not, so she sang the song for me. That moment was for me like pure magic. I was listening to her voice with an English accent, and that for me was adorable! She sang Careless whisper by George Michael. How I couldíve known back then, that the lyrics of this song were a premonition of what came to pass to between us. How I couldíve known that I was going to waste the only chance that I have been given?

When I was with her I donít know why, but the last thing I had in mind was to kiss her. I loved to be around her, and get to know her was more important that anything. I loved listening to the sound of her voice, and she always had a lot to say. At the same time when I was away from her, the only thing I could do was to think about the moment when we finally kiss. I thought about the day of our wedding, that moment in the altar, after I put a ring on her hand, and I promised to love her forever and ever, and we finally said I do and kissed. That was how I used to dream of us.

There on the stairs we started talking and having fun for a while, and then we went to the liquor store close by, and bought a bottle of Piscoóa liquor typical of my country and very strong, strong as vodka, but with way better taste than vodka, because is made out of grapes, and not out of potatoes. Anyhow her parents werenít home that night, and she said to me, "Iím going to drink that Pisco with you, but you better donít take advantage of me." I said to her right away, "Crossed my Heart." We kept talking and drinking, having fun, and soon were drunk. We even had a balance competition after a little while. We were just having a great time together, like nothing ever happened. We were both alone on her apartment, and it was getting late. She and I were very tipsy, laughing our butts off out of nothing and everything. Was about that time when she dropped a glass to the floor and broke, as she tried to pick it up, she cut one of her fingers, and right away I took her by the hand to the sink of the bathroom, and I washed her hand, cleaned the wound that was just a little cut on her index finger, I put a bandage on it, and as I finish putting the bandage on her finger, we looked at each other right in the eye, and I did saw love in her eyes, she got closer to me, then I did stop her saying gently back to her, "I would love to kiss you right now, but we are drunk, and you said not to take advantage of you while you were drunk, and because I like you so much, I respect you even more, I am not going to kiss you right now while youíre drunk." She put her head down, jerked her hand out of mine, turned around, and got inside of her bedroom, shutting the door hard after her. After a minute or two, not knowing what to do, I did call her door, but she didnít answer, and again my stupid pride let me down, I just left upset at her for her attitude.

Never again I had the chance to correct that mistake with Norma Plaza. Even to this day I still call myself a moron, dimwit, dork, jerk, and itís hard for me to stop calling me names. Every time I think about it, I see a big football stadium full of people, and all of them chanting over and over, "Dumb Ass, dumb assÖ" Because I really regret the fact that I wasted the chance I had to kiss her, and couldíve been such a nice story to tell to our grandchildren. I really saw love in her eyes, as much love Iím sure, there was in my eyes.

"Wasted the chance that Iíve been given. I will never going to dance again the way I danced with you." with this experience I learned that she was the, "Now or never kind of girl." Actually I learned for the first time in my life, that there was such a thing. Never again I had the chance to correct that mistake. End of the short story.

With Veronica in a way I was doing the same, that day I was not in a date with Veronica, I was having teatime with her. I wish I couldíve known better, wouldíve saved me lots of headaches in my life for sure.

Every time we were together was at least a good time, a good time if not a great time. She used to tell me about her dreams, and we did talk for a long time every time. That shouldíve been a big clue for me, but no, I just kept looking at her like someone that was completely out of my reach. By then both of us have been divorced quite some time now, but in my mind I could not connect the dots. One day she even did almost the same thing Norma did to me. She played a song to me that she really liked, and we even tried to sing along. Actually she did understand some English at the time, and I didnít have a clue. The song was "More than words" by Extreme, and who couldíve known then that the song was like another premonition of the future of our relationship.

She told me in one of those occasions that she had applied for a job at a big insurance company. I congratulated her and wish her the best of lucks getting the job. That day we started talking about it for a while and she said, "If for any reason I ended up getting hired, we both will be working very close to each other in Downtown Arica, so to celebrate, we have to have lunch together one of those days for sure." Amen to that I said. I could tell she was very excited about getting that job, she was already talking about what she was going to do with the money and she added, "If I do get hired that job could be a great thing for me. Iíll be making a living using one of my biggest assets, my rhetoric. Iíll be talking all day long with people that want to buy life insurances, and most of them are people with lots of education, so I can use my big words and such. I canít wait Compadre." Veronica loved to talk and for some reason I loved to listen, especially to her.

Soon after that day, about two weeks later, she told me that she has been hired, and on top of all that, she was very excited because, her job started with a trip. She will have to go out of town for a couple weeks to be trained for her new job. She was very happy, and excited about it. She said to me, "As soon as I start working at the office in downtown, we need to meet for lunch." Sure! I said itís a promise!

She went out of town for training, and when she came back, as promised, we met for lunch downtown 21st Boulevard. We went to one of my favorite restaurants in downtown, "Mr. FloweróDon Floro." They had many delicious dishes, but they were well known in town, for their Italian food made from scratch.

I waited for her that day in the heart of downtown, in a corner by a little kiosk in the middle of 21st Blvd. When she arrived she looked great, like double Cherry pie, yeah! There she was, with a short skirt, and a long jacket, it was red, and had a hoodie. I keep saying to myself what a good looking brunette, and like always I felt lucky to be the one by her side. She made me feel in a very special way, when she was around everything was a lot nicer. I guess she had that personal quality called class, she was a very classy girl.

Rendezvous with her right on time, entered the place and we sat down in a nice table, at this vintage, but very charming restaurant. We ordered a couple of soft drinks to start, and her favorite drink at the time was: a long glass full of ice, then, she will pour some diet Coke in it. My favorite drink at the time and even to this day, was just regular Pepsi, easy ice.

She looked so fine that day. I was used to see her at home taking care of the house, and Sebastian, that I forgot in a way how good looking of a girl she was. As the restaurant name was Mr. Flower, in every table they had a little base with a fresh flower in it. That was a nice touch that mixed with the magic of that moment. The waitress who took care of us that day was Mr. Alamiro. He has been working in that restaurant for decades, and he really took good care of us.

By the end of lunch I guess she caught me looking down her blouse to her nice cleavage, and it was by accident, I didnít mean to do it, but her blouse button kept coming undone, and she said, "This blouse is driving me crazy, I cannot get it to stay how I wanted." I said to her "That blouse is driving me crazy too." We laugh out loud, said cheers and kept talking for a while. What a great moment we had that day, so far the greatest lunch ever, but we were just friends. It didnít even cross my mind at the time to think of her in any other way. We were friends and that was it. We were Compadres spending some time together in between chapters of our lives.

One of those days instead of having our weakly tea time, Veronica invited me over for a little barbecue. She had received some extra money as a bonus for her excellent work, and she wanted me to prepare for them my specialty, the 21 days aged Char Broiled Flank Steak. That was my personal favorite of all meats, and she had never tried that cut before, so she wanted to try it, and I said to her, "Count me in." All I had to do was to cook the meat and Veronica was going prepare all the side dishes. It was a real promising good time waiting to happen. We were going to have a nice family dinner like many times before, and I wouldíve never thought how good of a time that dinner was going to be.

I went to that barbecue having absolutely nothing in my mind, other than having a good time around nice people. Spend some time with my little friend Sebastian, eat my favorite cut of meat, and have some of those delicious salads that she was going to prepare from scratch. Veronica really knew how to cook. That day I got there to her house, and I started preparing the fire and cleaning the grill. I was getting everything ready while listening to some good music, and drinking my easy ice Pepsi, like always. That day I felt right at home, and after a few the fire was ready, and I threw the aged Flank Steak on the grill. As I was cooking the meat I remembered that has been more than a month since I have not visited my mom Mercedes. I was in the middle of all of that, when Veronica came and asked me if the meat was ready, I said, "Just four more minutes Veronica. Most of the meat is done, but there is one piece that needs a few more minutes." She came over to let me know that she was ready to start serving dinner as soon as I have the meat ready. At that very spontaneous moment without not even thinking, I did something that I shouldnít. I did cut a piece of meat, take it with my fingers, and put it in her mouth. I fed her instead of giving it to her in a fork. When she opened her mouth to eat the piece of meat, I realized what Iíve done. I realize that I have crossed the line. She was not a little kid neither my girlfriend to do something like that. Putting food in somebody elseís mouth is the kind of stuff lovey-dovey couples do. As I was saying, "What do you thing about the meat comadre?" I was in the middle of saying that, when the time seems to slow down and for split second our eyes made contact like never before. I was putting the food in her mouth, and I felt like our souls touched each other. The moment came and left in a blink of an eye, but what I felt at that moment, it was something very special.

After another great time at her home with her whole family, I did get home that night, and I had a feeling deep in my heart that I could not shake it off. The dinner was over, but I was still lost hanging in that moment when I put a piece of meat in her mouth. For the first time it was imminent to me, that I liked her and a lot. The only thing I could do that night was to replay in my mind that split second when we looked at each otherís eyes. What a moment!

I was in a dilemma the question was do I like her? Or am I already in love with her? Whatever the question was I was in trouble, and serious trouble. She was my teacher at a point in my life, the best friend of my ex-girlfriend-teacher Ximena, I was the best man on her wedding, the ex-boyfriend of her older sister, and now what?! What a complicated situation that was, and was already too late? If it was true, that I was in love with her, then I already messed up dating her sister. What a dilemma! What to do, what to do?! It didnít make sense at all, and I kept contradicting myself saying, "It was nothing, is all on your head, she wouldnít, would she?"

I sat at the edge of my bed that night, and I thought about it long and hard. There it was no answer to it, no logic, and I didnít find any answer to what was going on with me. I was so confused. The only thing left to do for me was praying to the one with all my heart. I prayed to God in a different manner that night. I always prayed to God giving thanks for everything I had first, then I used to say let it be your will and not mine, finishing my prayer with the usual, "Öin the name of your son Jesus the Christ. Amen." That was it. Thatís how I used to pray then, and I have to tell you that I donít pray like that anymore, but I still do pray. That night when I prayed I asked God for something, and it was a very simple thing, but a very important thing for me. I asked God to bless the relationship between me and Veronica. I did that because I thought and believed in my heart that she was the one. What baffled my mind was the thought about if Veronica liked me back. That was hard for me to believe, and that was what happened to me when my brain got in the way of your heart. Before I put my head down to pay that night I remember looking at the clock right before I close my eyesóit was about 11pmóand as I was finished praying I saw Veronicaís face looking a bit older, and she had an expression of sadness on her eyes, a cold look on her eyes. That image faded out of my mind slowly, and when I opened my eyes, I did look back at the alarm clock, and for my surprise it was 1 AM plus. To this day I cannot explain how that happened, but like always no answer from heavens above either, just like always there it was silence over silence, and nothing else.

A few days later after that iconic moment in my life, Veronica and I went for a walk to the edge of the by the oceanóa road called La Costanera. It was a day we met after lunch time to have a break together. It was a little escape from our busy and stressful jobs. This side walk along the ocean is like a real life size museum. There is a park right in front of the ocean, and right in front of a cliff about thousand feet high. This park leads to the steps of a church design and build by Eiffel himself, back in 1875óthe church of St. Marcus. By the way the story about this church made out of metal is a very interesting story.

Arica weather wise is never too hot or too cold, so anytime is always the perfect time to have a walk. One of those days, one of many in this privileged place weather wise, we were walking along the coast by the side of the ocean, with a fresh breeze caressing our faces, and in the middle of that, right out of the blues, we ended up talking about me dating her sister Margarita. She asked me why we broke up, and I answered her with a question, I asked, "Have you talked about this with your sister Margarita?" She said, "Yes but I want to know your version of the story." That was a tough question but I had nowhere to hide, so I said, "The truth as I see it. You know there is always more than one way to look at things. The way I saw it was we got to be the point where I realized, that I liked her very much, but I didnít love her, and I was wondering if I will ever be able to love her. That was the question. In our relationship I didnít see a future together. I asked myself, "Do I love her enough to share my life with her? Do I love her enough to say I want a family with her? Honestly I had no answer, and that in itself was an answer. The rest you already know it. As soon as I realized that I let her know, and we broke up. I wanted out. I didnít want her to feel like I was just using her. I was afraid to be unfaithful to her, and I thought she deserves better. I do have respect for all of you, I did make a mistake and I am sorry." Veronica said, "Nothing to be sorry about Compadre. Life happens. I know." I said, "I really like to have you, and your family as friend of mine." At that moment I donít know what took over me, but I looked on Veronicaís eyes, and I said to her, "I know that you and I cannot be a couple for so many reasons, but let me grab your hand, and let me dream away. I donít want to think about anything right now, I just want to enjoy this very moment. Let me pretend that we have been a couple happily in love for a while, walking along the ocean enjoying a beautiful sunny day. May I?" I was having a very bad day at work and I needed a break for my brain at that moment. I needed to disconnect for a moment." We started walking along the sidewalk of the Costanera, right in front of this majestic cliff called "El Morro" listening to the waves crashing on the rocks. I donít remember what she was saying or what she was talking about, because I really spaced out inside my mind. I know she was talking about something, but by her hand in my hand I was lost in the moment.

Sometimes I think that if you start thinking about what youíre feeling, youíre already not feeling it anymore. I just wanted to remember that moment forever. Everything was good at that moment in my life, and I knew it was not going to last for long. I was right in front of a beautiful ocean front view, nicely dressed, with an okay job, and a beautiful girl by my side.

I still treasure that moment and I know that moment was the inspiration to write a song many years later. That moment is still patent in my mind. "Take me to the Moon, at the edge of the ocean, and will see the Sunset over the horizon. Take me to see the lights, reflecting over the waters. let me take your hand, and let me dream away, dream away. Take me to see Moon going to sleep beyond the horizon, let me take your hand, and let me dream away, dream away."

Working at my job was very stressful, as stressful as dealing with people always is. That break I took with her that day was in a way for me, an escape from reality. It didnít make sense to grab her hand, but it was the right thing to do at that moment in my heart. I did it with my heart. I didnít think about it. I donít even know what Veronica thought about it, other than she told me at the end of that brake, that she had a good time that day.

A few days after that moment, right after I had dinner with my beloved mother Mercedes, I called Veronica to see how she was doing, and I ask her if she would like to go out for a motorcycle ride along the ocean. With a lot of effort I had bought me a motorcycle with the fruits of my work. My first big dream come true I should say. I got me a Honda cruiser 400cc and as I remember I got that motorcycle way before the movie Terminator, and the motorcycle looked just like the one in the movie. I ask her if she wanted to go for a ride and she said yes. I was feeling great that night. Right after dinner with my mom Mercedes I grabbed my motorcycle, and I went to Veronicaís house. I got to her house in a heartbeat. When I got there I had to wait for her to get ready. I waited on her living room for about a good half an hour. Half an hour, but for sure the wait was worth it every second. She looked great that day, and especially on my Bike. Before she got on my bike, I gave her a quick motorcycle safety brief. Always safety comes first. "It is very important when you ride with somebody in a motorcycle, to let them Know that they need to lean with you at the same time, otherwise you can have a very bad accident. If the person does not lean over with you, the motorcycle will keep going straight, and you cannot turn. I was very careful to explain that to her." She got on my bike after me and I told her, "Hang on tight. Lean with me as much as I do all the time, okay?" okay she said and on we went for a ride in another night of perfect weather in Arica-Vice. No vice for me at the time though.

We went for a ride along by the ocean at the perfect time, in a perfect night, the temperature was perfect. Almost no wind, just a gentle warm breeze coming out from the ocean, and on top of all that a moon was out in a clear sky full of stars. What a night that was. After a little while I stopped in one of my favorite places, a parking lot along the road, right at the edge of a low cliff right in front of the ocean. Plenty of big round rocks around where you can sit on it, and on that place waves crash into the rocks at the very bottom of the cliff with a lot of force. Sometimes with such force that the waves made the place rumbled with the roar. We sat over the rocks, lucking at the moon and the stars, and we chat for a bit.  At that time in my life I used to believe in Jesus Christ, and I was curious about her faith. Out of the blue I ask her, "What do you think of Jesus?" Veronica being a history graduate from one the most prestigious Universities in the country, she gave me pretty much a lecture about this very well known character in history, instead of an answer. She mention all about the Historical impact of Jesus Christ in his time, and influence of this character that appeared in History two thousand years ago. I must add that I was a bit disappointed with the answer she gave me, but the question came right back at me, and that was the time to show her my Jesus I said, "First of all I do believe in the Bible so for me Jesus is alive today. He is bigger than you and I, and thanks to him we are here today. Thanks to Jesus our sins were cleanedÖ and Ö" I continued, "ÖWhen I look at the sky, I do realize that there is something else, other than just humans out there. I feel it and I know one thing for sure, I am part of it. Nothing is completely oblivious to its surroundings, and I have faith that is alive, and does care about us."

She was not too impressed with my answer at all, and to be honest with you I guess, I went a bit too deep. I enjoyed the conversation nonetheless, but I wanted her to go a bit deeper, more precisely I wanted her to show me her spiritual colors. For her Jesus was nothing but another famous character in history, and that was it. End of the story. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed, because after all she got married at a church, and I didnít see any indication that there was faith in her heart. I thought she may even add something, but no, we listen to the waves hitting the cliff, and she changed the subject, and that was it. We did go back to her house and right before I left, we had a little Porsche moment. Somehow we went back to God and I opened up spiritually to her. She knew about my life quest that started when I was about thirteen-years old, and she knew I wanted to be the one who proved to the world, once and for all, that God does exist or at least proved to the world that God existence was possible. With her for me it was easy to talk about my favorite subject, and that was God, at least she did listen to me. I said to her, "Veronica let me tell you this, "If God created the earth and the heavens above, is a fact then, that God must had left clues all over and around. We just have to find the answers, but they are out there. I hope one day I get to understand energy, because I think understanding energy is the key to understand God."

I wished I was a scientist or something like that, but truth was: I was nothing but a Joe Schmoe, barely surviving, and still believing in Santa Claus.

That was my hope anyways, I was poor but I had a dream. Thatís why I kept working on my perpetual motion device, and due to the lack of resources I kept working on it, but only in my mind. For some reason I kept thinking about it, and every time I had the chance, I thought about of it and I knew, I was getting closer to find one. I said to her, "I do have very limited financial resources, but thanks to God, I have a mind that knows no limits when it comes to create things inside of it. One day Veronica, one day I will surprise you, and I will show you my creation."

Once I heard a saying that got stuck in my mind, "A man speaks of what his heart is full of." Thatís why I am always so quiet, because my heart was full of God, and it was hard to find people wanting to talk about God. Most of the people, very quick start talking about religion, and for me God and religion were two very different things. God for me is pretty much life itself, and religion is the way you express your gratitude for these precious gift that has been given to you.

Time went along nicely at my work except for a couple of times that I was late. I had a busy, and very entertaining life at the time. Still kind of lonely, but a busy life nonetheless.

Over there in my country a full-time jobs are 48 hours a week, so for me first time working full time was a very hard thing to do. At the same time at that moment in my life I finally realized something about drugs. There was no doubt in my mind, that the reason way they felt so good was only because I was addicted to them. Only those who have endured addiction can understand the struggle. Once you were an addict is very hard to come out of that circle that you got into. You become convinced that you cannot live without them, but you know better, and that is the struggle.

When you do come out of drugs you struggle, but as the time goes by, little by little you regain your confidence and self-esteem back. Finally I knew Paste was nothing but garbage, and you smoke garbage you become garbage. My next step on my life was quit smoking. I regretted smoking every time I had a puff. I have been always very athletic, but I was still smoking. At the time I had about six cigarettes a day and a few beers on the weekend for sure. I wanted then just to go down to one cigarette a day, but there it was always an excuse. My only excuse to be a smoker was, "At that time on TV, newspapers, radio and magazines, smoking was the coolest thing to do. Fact! We all know much the indecency of the tobacco industry was then. That is a reminder that humans are humans, and thatís why people that leaves in a democracy, need to be always watching for those with a lot of money. Many people with money will do it just because of the profit, and with complete disregards to look at the impact of their actions in a social context. Humans are the biggest evil you will ever find on the face of Earth. As far as History goes, humans are the only ones who can turn Heavens into hell in a heartbeat.

As the days went by on my time off I love to practice playing the guitar, but I sucked at music. I was tone deaf, had no rhythm, but anyways I keep trying. I use to say, "If I do believe in eternity there is no doubt in my mind that one day, I will understand what music is, and if it is not on this life, it will be in the next one. One day I will be able to play the guitar, and one day my dream of playing music along with other people, will come true."

In that almost studio of mine, I had a spider-pet named Petronila. She was really special to me. She came out of hiding and got closer to the glass when I started playing my guitar, and she moved one of her legs to the beat of music. I swear! It was hilarious. Petronila was my first fan ever. She liked to listen to me every time I played the guitar, and for me playing the guitar was something good for my soul.

One of those days I got home from work and for my surprise, when I checked the mail, I found a letter from FUSA financial. I saw the letter and I remembered that has been months from the moment I filled that application. It has been so long that I was starting to think that all was lost, thatís why I was so surprised to see the letter.

When I got the letter I was so happy. I was pretty much jumping in one foot out of happiness. I was celebrating that I got a letter back from Fusa Financial, when all of a sudden I thought, "What about if the letter had nothing but bad news for me? What about if the letter says, "Thanks for applying with us, but we have hired someone else sorry!"" Right after that thought instead of opening the letter I did freeze, I clutched, I did stop in the spot, and I remember a tear of sweat appeared on the side of my face. I didnít know what to do, I wanted to open it, but I was afraid that the letter contained nothing but bad news. I stared at the letter for a good minutes and a half for sure, and my heart was pounding. Finally I put the letter over the table right by Petronilaís cage, and I said to her, "Petronila do not let anybody touch this letter. Keep an eye on it Petro. I need a shower before I do open this letter." After I took a shower I grabbed the letter in my hands, cross my fingers, and found the courage to open it. After about two weeks since the last testsóa math test, written and psycho testóthey let me know on that letter that I have been selected for their new Arica team as a Credit executive. I was so happy that I started jumping up and down in one foot saying yes! Over and over. What a nice time. Unforgettable!

In my old job I had to go out and look for people that wanted to borrow some money, and now, in this new job, the people will come to me if they wanted to borrow money. I was going from commission to monthly salary, and not to mention the little perks that the job came with it, like paid lunch at a restaurant of my choosing. This job supposed to be much nicer and I thought, "More incentives for me to be a good boy." I told myself that I was going to keep it quiet, but I couldnít. I couldnít stop talking about it. In a few days I had told, all my friends and family, and everybody I knew was happy for me. I didnít say anything at work though.

Veronica and I were still getting to know each other, and I was opening myself up to her, every time a little bit more. The more I shared with her, the more she shared with me. Little by little I was starting to get to know the real Veronica.

One of the things I didnít like to know about her was that she liked and believed in the Oracle. Actually she liked and believed in the zodiac readings, Tarot cards, and predictions about the future from psychics. I didnít know that her room had no curtains. Little things like that, kind of threw me off, but I believed in free agency, and there is no such a thing as a written destiny for you, so I didnít pay much attention to those, "Little personality facts." In the other hand Veronica and I had our favorite subject to talk about, and that was history. I knew a bit of history from the money point of view, and she knew Global History, mixed together gave place for conversations that lasted for hours. I really loved to listen to her talking about those subjects. It was like watching a documentary every time we did, and those hours seemed for me like minutes. Veronica and I had our differences about spirituality, but in almost every other aspect of life, we had so much in common. By then, I knew I really liked her, but I still didnít have the courage to ask her to be my girlfriend. For some reason I felt she was out of my league, and still she was inside my mind in the, "Forbidden. Do not touch section."

About a month after I received that letter of acceptance from Fusa Financial, I had to go out of town for a couple weeks of training. That was a very exciting time in my life. I had to go to a town right in the middle of the Atacama Desert named Antofagasta. Everything was fine except for one little detail. I didnít have anybody that could take care of Petronila.

At the end I had no other option but to beg Veronica to watch after Petronila. After a long struggle she finally agreed to take care of that gigantic disgusting bugóas she used to refer to it. She really couldnít stand to be close to spyders, but if she didnít take care of it, most likely the spider was going to die. Right before I left for my two weeks of training I gave her my house keys, and I showed her how to take care of Petro.

To go to training for my new job was a very nice experience. Up to that moment, that was the nicest thing ever happening to me work wise. We flew by airplane to Antofagastaóa city by the ocean, four times bigger than Aricaóand that was my first time flying. I really felt like I was in a different world. All my life I have been poor and now I was flying business class, working for a very prestigious financial institution. In my mind I was on the top of the world and I felt really good.

When we got to Antofagasta after a short one hour flight, we had dinner at a very nice restaurantóa restaurant right in front of the ocean with an unbelievable view of the bay. There I met all the people selected to open this new office in Arica, and every employee of the Antofagasta branch was there to welcome us. We had a great time and right after dinner, they send us in a cab to our hotel rooms. We needed to get ready to start the very next day, first thing in the morning, our intensive training.

Not everything that shines itís gold. After all that glamour from the airport, and then the fancy restaurant, we got to the Hotel rooms, and the magic was gone in an instance. I was very disappointed to get in our rooms, and realized that we have been placed in cheap motel rooms, the kinds of rooms that most likely get rented by the hour. I was so tired that night after all that social interaction that I just crushed over the bed.

Social interactions has been always something very stressful for me, because is very hard for me to stay put all the time without being lost free inside my mind. When I have to be aware of all my surrounding, and pay attention to what people are saying at all times, is hard for me. In the other hand when I listen, I really do listen.

I remember resting over the bed and I closing my eyes for a moment, while I was falling asleep came to my mind, how nice one of the girls has been to me all night long. She was a very good looking girl and as I was falling asleep, I could see her smile, and the look in her eyes, "Cute girl" I said  and that was the last thing I remember doing that night. I was so tired that I fall sleep right where I was, and how I was.

I heard the alarm clock next morning, and it felt like I just close my eyes for a minute, but it was next morning already, and it was time to get up.

At breakfast time that morning the rooms were the talk of the hour. I was not the only one complaining about it. During breakfast I couldnít help to noticed that this girl, my new co-worker Ruth she kept being just a little extra nice to me, standing just a bit too close to me, just a bit.

We talked about the rooms with our supervisors before training, and by the end of the day, they gave us the good news, that they have upgraded our hotel rooms, and now we are booked to one of the most luxurious hotels in town. Everybody was thrilled that day. At the end of a very intense training day, we went to the Hotel, got our stuff out, and went straight to our new hotel rooms. There everything was so much nicer. It was great!

The next day after training some people went out for a touristic ride, some went shopping, but I was tired. For me nothing works better to relax than a long walk, so that day after training, I went to the local market. I really needed to go for a walk that day. The Local Market was the only place that I could think of at the time, and it was close enough that I could get there, without having to take a taxi or having to ask for many directions.

I was walking and admiring all the new scenery in this new town for me. It was like playing discovery. I love that feeling. I was walking along the corridors of this big market, when I walked in front of a flower shop, and I saw a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I donít know why, but I thought of Ruthóthis girl that has been so nice to me, and it felt so right to buy her a bouquet of flowers in appreciation for her good disposition towards me. I wanted to say thanks for making my life much better in a place full of estrangers. I bought a very especial bouquet of red roses, and I have to admit, that I didnít think much about what I was doing. It was a very spontaneous thing that I did, and that, is not a common thing for me to do, because most of the time, I have the tendency to over think stuff I do.

After that long walk I really felt great again and back at the hotel, I knocked on the door of her room, that by the way, it was in the same floor my room was, just a few rooms away from mine. She opened the door, and I give her the roses saying, "Thank you for being so nice to me, appreciated. I will see you tomorrow at breakfast. Good night Ruth." She was a bit out of words, but for what I could tell, she really liked the flowers, and she said, "Thanks have a good night too. Iíll see you tomorrow. Thanks again. The roses are beautiful." Your welcome I said and on I went to my room. On my room I took a shower, got in bed, and I started to watch the news on TV. I was about to turn off the lights and go to sleep, when my room phone rang. It made me jump out of my bed. I thought it was my supervisor. I answered the phone and it was Ruth. We started talking for a bit, and she was feeling lonely. She asked me if I wanted to give her some company for a little bit. Who wouldíve thought that the trip was going to be that good, but there I was, me and this good-looking red hair girl. Oh what a night! (December of 1963 The Four Seasons)

And I thought that this trip was going to be a very busy boring trip, but actually ended up being one of the most exciting times of my life. Oh what a night, late December back in 63, what a lady, what a night.

Next day at break time we talked about it, and we decided to keep it to ourselves. We needed to keep our distance, because after all, we were coworkers, and we didnít want to be in a violation of any work policy rules, if there it was one. The truth was we didnít know, and we got scared. We decided to keep it quiet. It was a secret, and that made it even more exiting, but I pinched my arms a few times that week, just to see if I was dreaming or I was awake.

For me love starts with trust and respect. Trust and respect is the keystone that keeps everything together in a relationship. I wanted to find a girl that could say God is the corner stone of my soul. I wanted a girl that loved God above all just like me, keeping always God above all. I was glad for some reason that I didnít over think what happen that night. Good thing I was too busy at work that I didnít have time to try to make sense of what happened that night. At the time I knew one thing only, and that was: It was a wonderful time, and I wanted to live it just like that.

Back in Arica, after two weeks of intense training, we had a meeting with all the big wigs of the company. The meeting was right the night before the grand opening of our brand new branch to the public, and it was a very nice reception. They gave us the best of lucks, and welcome us to our new family. That night right before the end of the reception, I was able to finally talk to Ruth, and I got close to her, but she was not being nice to me anymore. We started talking and when the moment was right she said to me, "You know I donít want to risk losing my job for just an adventure with you. I have a child to take care of, and this job is all I have. Unless you want something real serious with me, you better keep your distance, and your mouth shut. If you want something serious, I might be able to consider it, so think about it and let me know. You know where to find me. Good night now. Iíll see you tomorrow." She looked upset at me, and she really took me by surprise. I didnít take that as a rejection first, but then I thought about it, and realized that what she was saying was something like, "You got lucky boy in a moment of weakness or whatever happened to me that night, but donít you think of me just like another of your toys. I am not that kind of girl, and consider yourself lucky." She turned around and left.

After all this years now I do understand. Now I know why she was upset, and it was because I hesitated, right after she said, "Unless you want something serious with me." There she paused, and I really did hesitate. I didnít know what to say, and I guess that was enough of an answer for her. That was the answer she was looking for, and she was right.

At the opening day of this brand new branch, the lines of people were so long, that they went around the block. It was hard to believe that so many people were in need for some money. Our job was to fill out the applications for them, and submit those applications for approval. I never worked so hard in my life. We couldnít keep up with that immense amount of people. We needed help, but our manager said to us, "..donít worry it will get better soon," but day after day, week after week things didnít get better, and no signs of slowing down. The long lines kept being long and endless from the moment we opened the doors, until the time we closed the doors.

My first month went by super quick, and every day I got exhausted of so much work. Every day the only thing I did was, go to work, eat something and go to sleep.

One of those days at work I was filling out an application as usual, and I looked up for a second, and I saw Veronica. That was a big surprise for me. She was the last thing I was expecting to see that day at work. She was dressed very nice like always, but that day I looked at her, and she was astonishing. As soon as she realized that I acknowledge her. She came to me, and with a keen attitude, she got close to me and said, "I know youíre busy, but I need to talk to you. Anytime when you get a minute, come and see me." She said that to me very quick, and she left. I looked to my right where Ruthís desk was, and yes, I did catch her looking and paying a lot of attention to what was going on. As soon as she saw me looking back at her, she put her head down, and kept working, and so I did.

After work I called Veronica, and we agreed to meet at my place for lunch. Even though we were nothing but friends, I was glad that she was part of my life at the time.

I had been all my life very anxious, so I was very excited about what Veronica wanted to talk to me about. I got home and when I opened the door she was already there. I almost forgot that she had the keys to my apartment. She was lying on my bed very comfortable, and as a pair of good friends, we started talking. At first we talked about very trivial things, but after a few minutes we got to the point where I asked, "So Veronica what do you want to talk to me about?" She answered my question and she really took me by surprise. She asked me straight out, "Do you like me?" Moment of truth, and I was thinking, "I really hope I donít mess this up this time." It got me totally by surprise. I found nothing better than let my heart do the talking and I said to her, "Before I answer your question, allowed me to take a minute, and explain something to you. Like you said to me many times before, "It is nothing bad, so donít worry. In a way allowed me to say my peace, before I give you my answer. As you know I do like and respect you and your family, especially your mother Abby, and I donít want to disappoint her. Talking about you and me, I already made a mistake dating your sister. Personally I donít call it a mistake. For me was nothing but an attempt to find true love. For a moment I thought she was the one, and I have no shame on that. I have to confess to you that I really felt something special for her, and you know the rest. I had good intentions, but things didnít work out. Many of the things that I liked in Margarita, are present in your personality as well, your feminism, your intellect, your education, your kindness, and your sense of humor. I really like your family. I like your family and out of all of them, you are something special for me. I always saw you as somebody completely out of my league. Like I told you that day at The Costanera, "Let me take your hand, and let me dream away. You are nothing but a dream to me. I thought you didnít like me as a man, but since that last barbecue when I put that piece of meat in your mouth, something very special happened. That moment was the first time I ever saw something else in you. It was just a split second, but I cannot take that moment out of my mind. And there is a problem, because I donít think I like you, I think I already love you. The answer is yes! I do like you and I already do love you."

I took her hand and I ask her to stand right in front of me. I told her, "Could you put up your left hand please? Lift your hand as if you are given a high five. Close your eyes." I put my right hand in front of hers, almost touching it, but not really. I closed my eyes, and I felt how my heartbeat changed its rhythm, and started beating faster as we were getting closer to each other. I got closer to her, like you get when you are going to kiss, but I didnít. I barely touched her lips I kiss, and I gave her a kiss on the cheek. I almost kissed her again, but I changed my face to the other side, and I kissed her in the other chick. Then I touched the tip of her nose with mine, I leaned my head to the right, and I finally, softly I kiss her in the mouth, and I kissed her lips until I took her breath away.

After that moment my life became very exciting all of a sudden. We started having a secret affair. We didnít want anybody to know about us. We wanted to keep it just like that, until we found out where we were headed. We didnít want to upset her mom one more time, and first of all, we didnít want to hurt Sebastian. He really added a degree of seriousness to our relationship, and the last thing we wanted to do was to confused him or hurt him in any way.

Sebastian was happy to see me more often, and I was happy to see him more often too. These two people were putting some sense of direction back in my life at the time. They were for sure something special.

All of a sudden my life made sense. I was happy like I havenít been in a long time. Veronica and I had lunches together in downtown, every single time we could. We both dressed very well, very executive like, and I really liked to see her dressed like a lady, and with her girl on, all the time. We were still getting to know each other though, and right in the middle of that magic time after, about a couple months from the beginning of our relationship we stepped over a rough patch. At that time in my life I couldnít be more faithful to her. For me to swindle with another girl, was to betray my own heart. I was jealous too, and I have to accept that I got jealous quite often, but when those feelings came to me, I said to myself, "What good is to love somebody that you cannot trust." I did take a deep breath, and said to myself, "I am not doing anything wrong, so the rest, Iíll leave that up to you my Lord. I will not poison my heart with that kind of dark feelings, and let it be your will and not mine." The rough patch that I was talking about was a time when she threw a fit at me, crying and accusing me of being unfaithful to her. She really thought I had created on her, and she was totally wrong.

I thought by then, that a little of time was going to fix our small differences. I thought soon everything was going to go back to the magic of that beautiful beginning. But our rough patch with Veronica didnít end just like that. Her jealousy started really getting on my nerves. One of the things I really didnít like about the way she was acting was the fact that for mean times, I already had enough with my biological family. The last thing I wanted to have in my own family it was to have another relationship where yelling and acting out of control, was part of the daily routine. Being in my biological family those moments when all of the sudden hell broke loose for no reason at all was more than enough, and what I wanted to find in my life was a woman with whom I could have a family like my mom Nieves and my daddy Oscar had. Her scenes about me being with another woman, when it was not true, it did really put a dent on our relationship, and made the magic almost completely disappeared. Her scenes of jealousy brought me back to the worse moments I had in my bio-family, and that was really hard for me to handle. At the same time the couple times that we broke up over it, revealed a bigger issue behind it, and that was, every time I broke up with her, I was breaking up with Sebastian as well. Because of that, I did talk to Veronica and I said to her, "This is the last time you make a scene over nothing, next time you do that I swear it will be the last time." It was hard for me to say that, but I knew that the last thing I wanted in my life was to live the way I used to live with my bio-family. Nobody is perfect and every family does have their own difficult times, but the difference is how you deal and how your treat each other in those difficult times. Like I said, trust and respect must be present at all times for a couple to say that they have something real.

One of those times when we did break up what brought us back together was Sebastian. She said to me, "You might not want anything to do with me, but Sebastian is missing you. He has been asking me, "What happened? Why Daniel is not coming over? How can you be so cold hearted? If he was your biological son you will never break up for something so small like a fight out jealousy. Would you?" I said to her, "Love starts with trust and respect, and if you cannot trust me or respect me even when you get mad, I cannot believe that you really love me. At the same time is really hard for me to turn on and off my feelings for Sebastian. I canít do that. Every time we have serious differences and we break up. I have to try to turn off my feelings for Sebastian and then when we come back turn them back on. You need to understand that we are in a serious relationship. We owe to each other more respect. You cannot treat me like I cheated on you when you have no proof of it. You need to understand that is double hard for me to deal with this situation. Whatever you say about this, you cannot justify the way you act when you get jealous. Things get out of control, you start swearing at me and you start pounding on my chest with closed fists. I really worry about this situation, if we ever going to be together, I donít want you to give that example to my son. I do not want to have a family like the one I had with my biological parents. In my bio-family yelling, hitting the table, and swearing to the top of their lungs was the way to deal with family problems. I want to have peace in my house, and I want to have peace in my heart as well. Remember that Sebastian reminds me of my daddy Oscar and my mom Nieves you know the story. That is how I want to have a family. I want to have a family just like my daddy Oscar and my mom Nieves had. You know me, and you know how much I dislike those out of control arguments that we had when you get jealous. My dad Luis use to do that all the time at my house, but he was diabetic, at least he had an excuse, whatís yours. I donít want to live my life like that. I want a family full of love and harmony, and I know that it might take some work, but I know is possible."

It was clear that we had our differences, and our differences instead of growing thin, they were growing wide. At that time in my life I dreamed of a woman that can say grace before we eat our meals. Might not be that big of a deal for many, but for me it was. Something like that, like saying grace is something that has to be born from the bottom of that personís heart. Something like that cannot be a request. It has to come from your heart, and she didnít have that, and like I said, at the beginning was not a big deal, but as the time went by, those little things, were making our differences bigger and bigger to the point.

Something was fundamentally wrong on this relationship of us. Never before Iíve been in a relationship, where there was a child in the equation, and our relationship went through ups and downs constantly. Sometimes too high, sometimes too low. It got to the point where we came back together, saying to each other, "This is the last time we come back together, if we do break up again, it will be for the last time." I said to her "I want to give myself one more chance, but this is the last time, because if we broke up again you will confirm to me one more time, that if you donít know me by now, you will never do. I donít want to be treated like a liar and a cheater when I am not. You trust me or not, no more jealousy scenes." We had so many of these real serious moments, but after we talked about, and we went for a ride, we ended up back together, once again.

In a corner of my mind, and in a corner of my heart, there was this feeling, and this feeling was just like being seated in a roller coaster, that you promised not ever to ride it again, but there you were, seated on the same roller coaster, not knowing when or how it was going to start, but you knew it was going to start, sooner or later.

This situation with Veronica started to have a very negative impact in my life. My work was busy as always, and I was doing okay, except for the fact, that I got late to work a few times, and all because I had not enough sleep. Being late to work was not a pleasant experience at all. The manager did let me know right away that I could not do that. I have never been the strongest physically, I am not the weakest either, but I was working really hard, day after day, and once in a while having these big arguments with Veronica, really drained me out and took away the best of me. Many times that fact was reflected in the way I use to wake up the next morning we had one of our arguments. I used to wake even more tired than when I went to bed. A busy job and a jealous girlfriend donít mixed very well at all.

I wanted to go early to bed, but she didnít let me, for one reason or the other, she didnít want to leave my place until it was a very late. I think she thought sometimes, that the only thing that I wanted was for her to leave, and then instead of going to sleep I was going to go out with someone else. I talked to her about my problem of waking up in the mornings many times, but she didnít listen. I guess she thought that if she left early, I was going to sneak out, time after time, taking advantage of her.

Like I said, with her it was a ride from heaven to hell, and from hell back to heaven again. I was really getting sick of that emotional roller coaster, and I got so sick of it, that we broke up one more time.

By myself, at home playing the guitar for Petronila, I started to think about my life, and trying to make sense of all this, I found that there was an analogy between her and my job.

Her and my job at a point where far out of my reach; they were a dream that you donít even dare to think about it, but somehow, someway they became true, and they become part of your life. Once these dreams become real, and you start living these dreams, after a little while you start to wonder, if they were even worth the trouble in the first place. It is hard to realize sometimes that your best was not good enough. Sometimes everything around you is the same, but you are not the same anymore. Just like that day when you stopped playing with your favorite toys and you understand that you are not a kid no more. Life happens even if we like it or not.

I felt really lonely at that instance in my life, and I wish my mom Mercedes was there for me, so I could talk to her, and asked her for some advice. Even knowing that most likely her advice, it would be the last thing I would do, but sometimes is nice to have somebody that you can share with. My mom Mercedes by that time, she was not leaving in Chile no more. She was already here in the U.S., and she loved it. She followed my sister Belinda, and she was living in the city of Billings, Montana to be more precise.

Thinking of my mom at that time, made me remember her saying something in the lines, "When you see a chance, take it!" and I thought about getting a Visa to travel to the US. I donít know why, but I did. Now or never, now I had a good job that could make me qualify me for a tourist visa to be able to visit my mom if I wanted to. In the middle of this emotional storm that I was going through, I had a moment of clarity, and I applied for the US visa. Even if I was working really hard, and I barely had the time, I made the time and I applied for the vise.

At work after two months still lines of people were going around the block every single day, day after day. I never worked so hard in my life. In the middle of all that, I look up and there she was again. I knew I had little defense against her, so I knew I was in trouble right away. I could see myself again in that same roller coaster. Soon after that visit of Veronica to my work, after she asked me to call her again, we were back together again. I loved to spend time with them, and especially with Sebastian. He was such a clown; he always found the way to make me smile no matter how serious I was. He was sharp and upbeat, and his laugh was so contagious that he filled my heart with joy, every time he laughed from the bottom of his heart. I wanted a kid just like him. Many times though, I thought he was really my son.

This time we got back together really felt like we were trying to glue back a broken glass and it was definitely not the same.

Veronica had a friend, and she was her best friend from childhood. I have seen her a few times before, but I never had the time or the chance to get to know her any better. One day though Veronica told me that we have been invited to have dinner with her best friend named Sigrid, and her boyfriend Mike. For my surprise I was told to be on time American-style, because Mike was from the US, and it was very disrespectful to be late for them.

The day of the dinner I knocked on the door at the address they gave me, and a guy opened the door in a very strange way. He looked like he was making out with somebody. He was tightening up his belt and fixing his hair. The funny thing was that I heard a guy asking him, "What did you do with my pants honey?" And he answered check behind the couch sweetie. At that moment I was like out of words really. I thought I got the address wrong or something so I asked, "Are you Mike, Sigridís boyfriend?" He said, "Yes, and you must be Daniel. Come on in." I asked him, "Am I interrupting something? I can come back later if you would like?" They both started laughing saying no Daniel, we are just kidding with you buddy. I am Mike Sigridís boyfriend. I am Eugeniaís fiancť, and you must be Daniel right? Nice to meet you they said to me, "We were just pulling your leg have a seat. The girls should be here shortly." I have never felt so uncomfortable seated in a couch, but we started talking and after a few minutes everything was just fine. The girls finally arrived and Sigrid and I were finally formally introduced. We all started talking and caught my attention how polite and happy Mike was. For my surprise he was not born in Chile, and he did speak perfect Spanish. He was from New York, and he was American. In Chile we call American people, "A Gringo" In Chile these words mean nothing, but an American white person, no disrespect at all. At that dinner I found out that Sigrid knew my German friend Manuel. He has given some German lessons to her older sister. What a small world. I asked Mike, "How come you are here in Chile?" And he said "It is quite a story." I said, "I really want to know. Iím curious." He said okay and told us, "Is a very long story but Iíll give you the short version." His father was from Peru and for work related reasons his father went to New York, and there in New York he met his mother. After about a year of dating her, they got married, and moved to China for a few years, then they move back to Chile for another few years. That was how Mike met Sigrid. They were classmates in middle school. Then Sigrid was his high school sweetheart, and when they broke up, he moved back to the US. He started working as a firefighter for another few years, and then he realized that heís true love was Sigrid. Then he came back to Chile and started dating Sigrid again, and he proposed her, and then they got married. To make the story short he said, "Öand here I am with the love of my life."  And they kissed. It was for sure a nice story, and we said cheers to that. We had a wonderful time that night, having dinner together, playing some games, and a few drinks.

Since then we started to hang out almost every other weekend, and no matter what we did or how simple it was, together we always had a good time. Mike really loved animals. Animals were his true passion, and you could tell. He brought his two dogs from the US, and he really loved them. In Chile dogs were dogs, and dogs donít travel in airplanes. We keep the dogs outside, and we never allow them to get on our furniture, but not Mike, his dogs were like his brothers. You could see that dogs were his extended family for him or something like that. His dogs got inside the car, over the furniture, the bed and they were almost always inside the house. Those little details revealed that he really was from a different culture. At the time he was in his late 20s, and I really like the fact that for him, dogs and kids were something special.

Veronica, Sebastian and I looked just like a happy family, and in my heart they were my family. Even if we have come along in our relationship with Veronica, she was still too jealous for me. Here and there she was still giving me some grief, but not as often as she used to at the beginning of our relationship. Once in awhile we had what I used to call, "The show" she will say things to me like, "What youíre looking at that girl for? Why are you late?" She even asked me sometimes why I was using that certain kind of underwear or why I was putting perfume on me and such.

Inner peace is a blessing. I love the feeling of having inner peace, and actually to have my inner peace is paramount in my life. Sometimes being alone is the only way to keep it strong. Introverted I guess, but not an island. Those senseless arguments, were the only thing keeping me from going all the way with her. I had never before experienced so much uncertainty about staying in a relationship or calling the quits. I guess Sebastian was always in my mind, and when I thought about breaking up with Veronica, he was always in the mix. Sebastian was giving me that unconditional love of a child, and I really respected that. Sebastian reminded me of how much I loved my Daddy Oscar, and how much I have missed him throughout my whole life; especially when I entered my 20s. I wished that I could have his advice, and listen to the fruits of his own experiences. As life happens we like it or not, Sebastian and I bonded. I didn't ask for it, it just happened. Every time I saw Sebastian was like looking at myself, when I was little, and that fact, really made me think twice every time I had an argument with Veronica.

I was not a saint, I know, I looked to other girls. I just couldnít help to look, and even to this day sometimes I see a nice girl, and I canít help to look at her, but it doesnít mean that I am going to act on it. Anyhow to cheat the one I loved was for me betraying my own heart. We were learning to accept each other imperfections. We were learning the meaning of the word we.

In our country work wise is common to have a job that gives you a four hours lunch break, and most likely you have four hours of work in the morning, four hours of lunch break, and another four hours of work on the afternoon. That is a typical work day in my country.

One of those days instead of taking the bus home, I decided to walk home. I needed to go for a walk badly that day. My legs needed some exercise and it was a beautiful sunny day. It was not hot at all, so it was a great day to go for a walk. I wanted to walk home that day, cuz I needed to take a break from this busy and senseless world, and for that nothing works better for me than walking and thinking. Letting my mind free to think whatever my mind wants to dream about, is the best way to find balance in all aspects of my spirituality. For me walking and thinking has been my favorite thing to do, and it was free, actually walking saved me the bus ticket.

About half way walking to my home, I started to think about my perpetual motion device, and I was trying to break this dead loop of physics. Physics says that you canít overcome the principle of Conservation of Energy where energy can neither be created nor destroyed. In other words you need energy to produce energy or energy never comes for free. The interesting part of this theory is that in physics matters is always related to what we can see, matter itself, see to believe. For me this notion was incomplete, because things like love or hate they donít use any physical space, but as far as we know they still exist, and they are very powerful. When you go this route in your mind it gets very complicated, but think about that if that principle of physics is correct the Universe would have never existed. Science today is telling you there it was a beginning and there it will be an end. Everything we see and we know has a beginning. For me the problem lays on the fact that if we find the beginning of where matter comes from, we will find the origins of energy. There is a formula to be found in a perpetual motion device. The fact that we can think and be aware of this miracle call existence and life, is completely spiritual. Without the spiritual side, the universe would not matter at all.

I like to call these things, "The essence of a human-been. What you believe and what you donít, are in essence, your essence."

Some say sex is love and thatís it, but we know better. Having sex with someone or killing someone is part of the physical world, but they are led by a thought first. Something happened in your brain first, and how our brain translates that emotion into action is very abstract, just like music is, and if the whole Universe was nothing but music, God would be the rhythm, and that is what I am talking about.

I donít know why, but when I think about this, I always remember the words from the Bible, "Spirit over matter" Every time I thought about my perpetual motion device, for some reason made me think about eternity. Spirit over matter, and eternity, what a pickle!

It was for sure a pickle, but I loved to think about it. I started thinking seriously about these ideas since I was thirteen-years old, and I remember very well that day when I said to my friends, "One day, I will be able to prove that God exist." At the same time, that day, I realized that has been ten years since I started thinking about that, because I was twenty-three-years old at the time.

Walking home thinking about this pickle, and all the ideas that I had worked on, one by one, and as one thing led to the next, something clicked in my mind, and led me to a new idea. I had a Eureka moment. The idea that I had, was not a new one, but at the time for me was a mind bender. Actually what I was thinking about was the Leonardo da Vinciís spinning well. I didnít know back then, how close some people have been to create an actual working artifact that can move continuously without using any source of energy. Since the time of Leonardo da Vinci many have tried to achieve this goal, and all of them for one reason or another, they have all failed, and none of their ideas have actually worked.

The idea I had was something like that, but not exactly. That day I got very excited and I couldnít stop thinking about it.

That day Veronica came to my place to have lunch with me, and while eating she noticed me very distracted. I was spacing out without even knowing it. I was still hanging on that Eureka moment. I was dreaming big, like as if my invention was already working and being used by everybody. I was dreaming that my invention was the new standard of residential building code and stuff like that. I couldnít help myself.

Sometimes is good to dream. Imagine a house that is self-sufficient energy wise. Imagine a house that doesnít need to be plugged in into an electrical grid to function or connected to a gas line. This new home of mine was 100% self-sufficient energy wise, able to produce free energy and enough of it that you can run your whole house. Now imagine that when you are not using all the lights or the stove is off you have energy left over that can be used to run your car. In that case your house will be your gas station as well. If every home had an energy source like that, all the houses together will be able to supply the whole country with all the energy it needs to run and with the greenest energy ever.

I was dreaming about that and God when all of the sudden Veronica materialized right in front of my face. I was so lost thinking about that perpetual motion device of mine, that I forgot I was having lunch with Veronica. While dreaming and eating she got me out my dream asking me if I was listening to what she was saying asking me, "Please finish my sentence." I didnít have a clue about what she was talking about and I responded, "Have I told you about my new theory of energy?" Right away she got upset and she said, "Who is the girl that has all your thoughts, have you stupefied, and so confused." I said to her, "Actually I was thinking of my perpetual motion device. In a way I was thinking of God. Iím sorry if I didnít pay attention to what you were saying. And yes I did bless the food already. I mean no disrespect, and if you knew me a bit by now, in my life God is first, and if I donít talk much at the table, you should know is because Iím talking to God. Not really talking to God, but I am thinking about God. Iím thinking that God and energy have something in common, and Iím sorry if I spaced out, but today walking home I had a Eureka momentÖ" She interrupted me saying, "Sorry if I interrupted your conversation with God asshole!" she stand up and left.

I was so sorry. I have been ignoring everything she was saying, just because I was lost inside my mind. I was so sorry, but I was helpless. I couldnít stop thinking about it.

To be honest with you, at that moment in my life I realized that I was a dreamer and I couldnít bring myself to stop dreaming about this machine. At the time I was completely convinced that I had to get that idea out my mind and make it happen here, in the real world. Inside my mind I was thinking about this machine that could be set in motion and never ever stop again. I had this eureka moment and because of my new design, I couldnít find any reason why it couldnít work in real life, and I couldnít wait to start making a prototype of my latest invention. Was I just having a dream or not? I had to find out.

Sometimes I do start thinking about things like this one inside of my mind, and I do get lost in my thoughts. I do this quite often when I am eating. While eating I start thinking deep inside my head, and I could be at the table with my whole family, and I go Autistic on them.

I was so sad that day because she left, and what I really wanted to do was to let her know how excited I was about this latest idea of mine. I wanted to tell her about my perpetual motion device, but Instead of saying something as she was leaving, I just stayed seated and kept swallowing my food. At that moment was already too late to say Iím sorry. I knew trying to reason with her while she was mad was a waste of time. I just sat there, finished my meal, thinking that I was nothing but a jerk, but I could not help myself.

Our relationship was brutal and by dinner time, we were already back together like nothing happened. Actually I felt so bad about what happened at lunch time to the point that I suggested to her, "What about if we go for a ride by the ocean, and have dinner together tonight?" She accepted my apology.

That night I was exhausted of thinking so much about all that stuff, and I really needed to take a break. I sincerely apologized for my behavior at lunch time. That was my bad for show.

Listening to the waves crashing over the rocks for me is like magic, it makes me feel automatically good, and especially at night time when the lights are reflecting on the ocean.

While having a good time walking by the side of the ocean, we started talking and she said to me, "I apologize for my scene at lunch time. I shouldíve known you better, and trust you more." I said, "First able thanks for this beautiful moment, and second able you know I can be social like everybody else, just not all the time. Sometimes I need time for myself, a little bit of time here and a little bit of time there. I donít mean to be an ass, but thatís what I do sometimes. Sorry Veronica." We had a great time that night, and we got really lucky that night because it was a moonset night. We got to see the moon disappeared on the horizon. It was a beautiful scene.

Next time we had lunch together I explained to her what was happening to me that day, and I let her know that I was going to save a bit of money, so I could make a little prototype of my idea. I explained to her that I really needed to get that idea off my mind, and she said to me, "Oh youíre just crazy, not even da Vinci was able to do it. I donít know why you think you could." The sad part of her answer was that she was right. Not even Leonardo da Vinci could make it work.

To make a real prototype I needed a lot of money and like always, I had not even a penny to my name, so it was not much that I could do about it anyways. I started thinking about how I could test the principles involved, and I scaled down my project to the bare basic bones. After a few weeks I found a very peculiar way to put this mechanism together, and I found a very economical way to test the concept.

In college I learned to be organized on my thinking, and the first thing that you do to start a project, is to start making a budget plan. I did that and I named the project, "Spend what you donít have." I tried to explain what I was doing to Veronica, but every time I did, it was just a waste of time, she really couldnít care less and I said to her, "What I want to do is a cheap model just to test the idea." The idea is so logic and so simple, but still is like putting a bicycle together for the first time where every part has to be custom made and that is very expensive. Veronica understood one thing and that was, I didnít have money to buy a bicycle even less to make a custom one. She was practical and like always I was dreaming big.

I named the project, "Spend what you donít have" because whatever money I spend building that artifact was more money that what I could really afford. Actually I looked at my shoes, and they were starting to get holy on the bottom. I couldnít afford to buy a new pair of shoes at that very moment, and how ironic that every penny I didnít have at that moment, should have go to buy me a new pair of shoes, but guess what I did? Little by little I gather the materials, just like when I built my foosball table, and little by little I put together this Frankenstein looking artifact, of course, it didnít stay working forever like it should, but the principles that I used to put that artifact together, they all work as I thought, and I was very impress of what I saw.

I looked at Veronica and I said, "Veronica it didnít work, sorry." Veronica couldnít be happier that day. She got to rub it on my face, and with that sarcastic tone on her voice she said, "I told you it was not going to work. If that was possible they wouldíve done it long ago. Many have tried before, and they all have failed."  I said to her, "You win" facts are the facts, and it didnít work. I know, I know.

That day after all, I had a smile on my face that lasted all day long. In my mind, I had accomplished something really great. I went from having an illusion inside my mind, to having a blueprint of something I have never seen before, a real picture of an artifact that I have created. That day I was in heaven no doubt about it. One of the happiest days of my life, "Dreamers!"

I thought, now I have something real, not just an idea. For the first time I was able to add dimensions to my artifact. I learned from that test how small it could be, and it was a small enough to fit in the back of a house. For the first time I was certain that if this fuel-less engine was well-built, it could run nonstop for at least a hundred years. If my assumptions about this engine were correct, you could start thinking on conquering another planet with it. If you were to take this engine with you to another planet, you will have a source of energy for a hundred years at least. Amen to that! That was what Veronica said, right after I tried to explain to her my vision, my vision of God and energy, altogether in these new artifact that I have put together. In all reality at that moment in my life I didnít have the resources to keep working on that engine, and I wish I could have, but my reality said otherwise.

At that moment in my life, I was hundred percent invested in my relationship with Veronica, and I never looked to anyone like that before, in my eyes she was everything. I was happy to be by her side regardless, and being around her was all I needed.

Veronica didnít understand that I wasnít looking to solve all the problems of the world, or change the world, or get rich with this, nothing of that did really matter, because to me what I was really doing, was trying to find the answer about what I cared the most in this life, and that was God.

 

Chapter Seven

 

Having in mind, the fact that I didnít have the money or the time to build this engine of mine, I knew right then that in all reality I had nothing. My financial reality was very plain to see, and if at the time I wouldíve stop working even for a month, most likely I wouldíve have to go back to my mom Mercedes house. Good thing I had a mom with a house, and a heart big enough to give me a place in her home.  Chilean families many times have no other option but to let their kids back in the house.

I had no hope to get money out of my invention, at least in the short term, and I wasnít sure a 100% if my invention will really work either. Anyhow to build that prototype for me was enough to understand in a deeper way the idea I had in my mind. I realized that just like mathematicians always say, "Instead of feeling like you discovered something, you are just uncovering something. Math is everywhere and all around us." What I saw on that prototype was a formula of energy, and that formula told me that God could exist.

All the excitement that followed that Eureka moment, and the building of a prototype soon faded away, and my life went back to normal as usual. I needed time to reassess my thoughts and I said to myself, "Take it easy. You might be wrong about what you saw. Remember your brain fills the blanks, and you might be seeing what you want to see." So I did take it easy, and I started saving money so I could buy me a new pair of shoes. That was my reality at the time, and that is what I did.

 As a dreamer was hard not to think about it; I wanted to talk about it, but like I wasnít sure if my invention could work I just had to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes I couldnít help myself and I talked to Veronica about my invention. She couldnít have enough of rubbing it on my face. She rubbed in my face the fact that my prototype didnít work, and she would say things like, "Are you going to be rich now? Hah!" I said back to her "I wish, but I am not a fool. If I had an invention worth something, in this country it will be taken out of my hands in a heartbeat. I will die just like the guy who invented the Helicopter poor like a rat, and that would be in the best case scenario. That would be the case where they had decided to spare my life." When you live your life in a place where there is no democracy, even your thoughts belong to those in power.

For some reason talking with Veronica about my invention got me in a very negative mood, and I remember going on one of my negative rants saying things like, "Secret programs, Rulers! They all are in the business of breeding the most profitable animal of all, humans! Humans are the one animal that produces the most, and it is the most dangerous too. Thatís why the powerful in order to be where they are they have to have the power to kill you." And things like that. In none democratic systems there is no such a thing as "Social Contract." Imagine that many have become millionaires just breeding cattle. Those who breed Humans are ancient monopolies, and they have been around for millenniums." She said back to me, "Why are you so negative Daniel?"

I guess I was in pain. I was just sad to realize that I lived in a very violent and primitive society. Look on the street, donít you see the people without nothing at all. They are the very proof that there is no democracy. Those on the street donít even have a country, less you can say that they live in democracy. To have a nation is to say, "We the people for the people, and nobody should be left behind." At the individual level is where a nation begins, and exactly where a nation ends.

One individual by himself is nothing at all, thatís why it is a blessing to be part of a nation. Being part of a nation makes that individual as big as his nation. Now in a true democracy nobody is left aside. Everybody has rights, and there is justice for all. In a true democracy nobody is left behind, nobody! You donít turn your back on your nation, because thatís treason, and that is what a flag means. A flag flying high meas, "Watch it. This land is part of a nation." The Flag in itself is nothing but a piece of cloth with colors. What a flag really represents is one of the greatest achievements of the human mind, and that is the great concept of humans coming together to form and be part of something greater than themselves. 

Democracy, God, Freedom, and justice for all, I want them all! So, "How many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man?"

Veronica didnít care very much about anything related to my invention, not even the part that involved God. I have to admit that I wish our relationship was better than the one we had, but I had faith that things were going to get better.

Pressure was getting the best of me, pressure on our relationship, and pressure at my work. Everywhere I turn around there was pressure, and everything was so hard for me. Like I said, maybe I am just a wimp.

Back in the real world at my work, I got late for the fourth time. This time I was really late. I was late almost half an hour that day. As soon as I entered the building, I was called to the managerís office very quick, and I was given the news that because of my tardiness, my temporary contract at the end of three-months was not going to be renewed. That for me was devastating. That was the end of my career, my future, my hopes to have a family, and I really felt terrible that day. No contract renewal for me.

The expiration date on my three months temporary contract was going to expire in two weeks. They give me right there the two weeks termination note. Ouch! They were ready for me that day. They had the letter and everything ready for me.

That day after work walking home with a taste of defeat in my mouth, in my mind and in my heart, I started walking and every single thought I had was pretty nefarious. The only thing I was glad about working in that company, was the fact that I had at home a passport with a visa to come to the U.S.A., but I was devastated that day.

When the manager was telling me the bad news I said to him, "I deserve another opportunity." He said back to me, "Iím sorry to let you go, but rules are rules. Company policy and company rules are for everyone including me. As an advice to you Mr. Carpenter, in any other future job you may have, you better make sure that you show up on time." I wish I couldíve have said to him, "Hey you know what? I have a sleeping disorder, and for me is really hard to wake up in the mornings, and that all mattress that Iím sleeping on right now is not a good one. I need a new one, but I donít have the money buy me a new mattress. That mattress is going to kill me one of this days, besides that, my new hot girlfriend does not understand that I need to sleep. Since I started working here, jealousy wise she has been worse than ever." I was upset, and a bit pissed, but besides of my wimpy kid excuses, he was right, regardless, you get to work on time.

I went to work the next two weeks and I was on time. Even if I was getting fired, at least I showed them my appreciation for giving me the opportunity to work with them. For some reason instead of being mad, after the initial shock I was okay, actually I felt relieved and hard to explain, but I was feeling just fine.

I didnít know where I was going to get my next rent money or check from, but after the initial shock, I was happy in the inside. It was weird. It was like an immense weight has been lift off of my shoulders. I started to remember that since I started working at that job, I had nothing but worries, headaches, and extreme hard work.

Soon after I received my last paycheck from Fusa Financial, and thanks to the fact that I was very frugal with my money, I had enough money to last me for one month. I had one month to find another job. One month to get my next rent money and in a third world country to find a job, sometimes might take you years. I was proud to say that I was twenty-three years old, and I was not living with my mom. My brother Luis, he was almost forty-years old at the time, and he was still living with my mom. He had a disability though, he suffered from schizophrenia from time to time, but still, not an uncommon story in my country. Being an adult and still living in your parentís house is the signature of a sub-developed country.

One of those days I was thinking while walking on my way home, saying to myself, "Now that I received my last check I cannot afford not even to buy me a hotdog. Now that I am without a job, I need to save every single penny." It felt Just like when you are in love and you give your best, and your best is not good enough. I was walking home after receiving my last paycheck, and on the middle of downtown a guy approached me and said to me, "Hey Daniel, is that your name right?" I said "How do you know my name?" The guy introduced himself to me and said, "I am a Saint Marry Retirement Account Associate Supervisor, and Iíve seen you working at the main office of Fusa Financial since they opened their doors. You are the guy who lends money. You are the Money Guy." We laugh and he continued, "A lot of people knows you like that, and thatís good. In this small town for people to know your face is very good." I said, "Well I hope so." He said, "Why you are not working today? Are you going to the doctor or something?" I said, "No actually I just got my last paycheck, because Iíve got fired from my job. Iíve got late a few times, and they fired me because of that." He said, "Have you been looking for another job?" I said to him, "Well I tried to get my old job back, but it didnít work. The manager was quick to explain to me, "Once you quit a job, you cannot expect to have your job back." I went over there anyways and at least I gave it a try. Doesnít hurt to give it a try, right?"

All these businesses in downtown were very close to each other. Lots of businesses, and all of them, concentrated in a very small area of downtown Arica so like I said, "In a small town if you donít know somebody, at least you have seen them."

We joke for a bit and he said, "Hey Daniel today may be your lucky day." I said, "Sorry but Iím a straight." We laugh and he said, "What I mean is that we have a job opening over here at this branch. This is Saint Mary financial a big retirement account Administration Company, and maybe you will be interested on working with us. We have an opening right now and this job that just opened is a very good one. Have a lot of benefits, you can go out of town to Santiago, and with all the expenses paid for your initial training. You have the potential to make a lot more money here. Why donít you give it a try" I said, "Sure I would love to fill out an application."

After I filled out the application, I gave him my sincere appreciation for offering me an opportunity, and I kept walking home with the only difference that now I was happy as happy I could be. That day on my way back home I had a big smile in my face, and now in my mind I was celebrating my stroke of good luck. To celebrate that day on my way home I bought me a hotdog. I went to my favorite place and I ordered a hotdog and a beer, and I said to myself, "Thank you God! Love you!"

A few days later after I filled that application, I went back for a personal interview and the interview went well, and I said to myself, "Iím back!" I was back in the business of lending money for profit.

Remember for profit not to help people get out of their problems or to improve the overall state of the economy. I was lending money for profit. At training of course they tell you, "How can we help people to reach their dreams?" Now, this is the key of a good sales speech, "Do you want to fulfill your dreams today or tomorrow?"

I was all into sales techniques, body language, eye language, and everything related to the art of sales. I do remember the famous Burger sales technique, and the lemon theory. They are classics in the Sales World. Like everything, nothing was as simple as it seems, and there was a lot to be learned. In the other hand you become that person that target friends as possible customers, and I really donít like when a good friend targets me as a customer. In a way I became a button holder, and I really didnít like that, but I had no choice.

When I applied to the job they asked me about what they called, "My warm market" Warm market is a list of all your friends, family, and people you know, and let me tell you numbers matter when you are applying for a Sales job. Everything went very well, and I couldnít wait to start working in downtown Arica again.

For me to continue working in downtown wearing nothing but suit and tie was nice. Downtown the coolest place in town!

I knew right then that this job wasnít going to last forever, and no matter what amount of money I was going to make, it was not going to be enough to plan on having a life with. Maybe for a few months, maybe a year at the most, I already knew the Sales business world. I knew the game by then, and in this world was all about the quarterly report, blue or red? If you donít reach your goals in that specific quarter, or your minimum quota, you were out, sorry and next, next lemon, next victim. They know that once your warm market runs out, it becomes very difficult to reach your quota, thatís why I said, "Next Lemon" Because they squeeze every referral out of you, and when you run out of your warm market you are out. Just like a lemon that ran out of juice."

Some salespeople can really make a living out of it, but not many. A job in Sales is like being self-employed, a very rough-road with many ups and downs, and if you want to make it as a salesperson, you have to be a much disciplined and mentally strong individual.

Working in this business you meet o lot of people, and it is hard to believe that many of them at one moment in their lives have worked in Sales. You hear many people saying, "Oh I worked there. At the beginning was really good. When I had my warm market going for me it was good, but after my warm market was gone, got really hard to make the minimum quota. Good luck to you."

That kind of work is very volatile, and it does have a very high rotation rate. My work situation was shaky to say the least, especially when it comes into consideration the long term aspect of any job.

My relationship with Veronica at that moment was shaky as well and something was missing, I couldnít get over the fact that we couldnít connect spiritually. Something was missing between Veronica and me. We were really different on the inside, and those little details that didnít matter much at the beginning, now they have become a heavy burden. Always details do matter.

One of those days in a moment of reflection I went for a walk (Have I mentioned that I love to walk and think) I asked myself while walking, "If you love kids, why donít you have one of your own." My answer to myself was, "Still havenít found what I was looking for." That thought really give me the chills. I realized at that moment that I was changing my answer, at a moment I thought Veronica was the one, and now for the first time I had a change of hearts, I hesitated.

They answer was, "Yes I do love kids, but I donít want to have one with her, at least not right now." I said as well, "If I donít have the financial meanings to afford a family, why even try to think about what I want." My heart was in a limbo, but in a moment of clarity I thought, "I have to keep my options open, this relationship might not end well. I was hesitating and that by itself was not a good omen."

This new company sent me to the capital in an airplane with all my expenses paid, and I had two weeks of intense training. Two weeks doing nothing but living in a luxurious hotel, and going to school during the day.

The hotel was a tall tower right in the heart of the capital, and had a tennis court on the roof it had a terrace where they had a tennis court. The only problem was having to go to get the ball downstairs. Just kidding. The hotel had a nice swimming pool by the bar, and it was one of the coolest places I have ever been. That was one of the coolest times of my life so far.

 After training was over I started working with the vengeance, and everything was good again.

Back in Arica, "One of those days" I was walking down town and I saw Mike, now my friend from the U.S., the boyfriend of Veronicaís best friend Sigrid, and I stopped him and we started talking. While talking to him I found out that he was thinking about going back to the U.S.A., and I said to him, "You know one of my dreams is to speak another language, and I would love to go to the US for a few months to try to learn the language. Would you let me go with you? That way you could give me a hand over there, because I donít know anybody over there, and we could share the expenses." Mike said, "I have no problem traveling with you to the U.S. if you want to." I said, "You know that going with a local is always the best way to experience a new culture, right?" I ask him, "If I get the money to buy me a ticket would you let me go with you, and help me to stay a bit there so I can learn English?" He said, "Sure I donít mind. Iím going over there to see if I can get my old job back as a firefighter. Sigrid and I are thinking to move to the U.S. permanently." He said to me, "Over there you have to have your own money though, you know is the U.S. and over there is hard to make it, and everything is really expensive. I donít know what you think about the U.S. but let me tell you, if you have any problems over there, I couldnít help you even if I wanted to. Over there is tough." I understand I said and I added, "Mike I grew up listening to thousands of stories about the U.S. with my father Luis, and he was a big fan of The Readerís Digest magazine like you know. He has been talking to me so much about, "The Greatest Democracy on Earth" that I would love to go and see it with my own eyes. At the same time I will have the opportunity to learn the language, and being over there, is better than going to the best English Scholl here in Chile." He said, "Iíll take you over there. I have no problems doing that for you Daniel. I can give you a hand with whatever you might need over there as long it is not money. Now over there everything is so different from what you have heard that the only way to understand it is being there. Itís not like in the movies."

We talked for a while about coming to the U.S. together, but it was just a friendly conversation, nothing serious. That conversation though got me thinking about coming to the U.S. for real.

Later on when I mentioned the idea about visiting the U.S. to Veronica, she didnít like at all. In my case I have never been so excited about something in my life. For the first time in my life I was contemplating the real possibility of visiting the U.S., and that for me was like a dream come true.

In a moment I had to myself I started thinking about the words of my dad Luis used to say to me, and it came to my mind, "If you ever have the chance to go to the U.S. donít hesitate not even for a second. One time I had a boss, and she invited me to come to the U.S. but I said no. I had the opportunity to go, but I never did, and now I regret it." My dad Luis used to talk to me for hours about how his life couldíve been so different if he wouldíve come to the U.S. He used to say to me all the time, "There in the United States you have a real democracy in place. There are opportunities for everybody regardless of your color or the way you dress. There you can wear a half of a watermelon as a hat, and nobody would even care. Over there even the handicap doesnít end up in the street begging for money to have something to eat like you see them here. In the US they take care of the less fortunate with dignity and humanity in mind. If you see a chance to go to the U.S. go! Donít be a fool like me."

A couple weeks later Veronica and I went to a ride on the weekend with Sigrid and Mike. We even got the dogs with us, and we followed the Costanera to the "Corazones beach" There we hike for a bit and enjoyed a very nice time by the ocean. On that ride Mike and I started talking about the trip to the U.S. and he asked me, "Do you want to visit the U.S. or you want to migrate to the US?" I responded, "To be honest with you throughout my whole life, Iíve heard that over there you can work and study at the same time. You know I donít have much money, but I would love to stay over there to learn how to speak English. I would love to stay over there for six months or a year if possible, so I can learn the language. In my case with a second language as part of my curriculum would be great for my career. That is what I have in my mind, and I am not going to denied that maybe if everything goes very well, I could send the money for the tickets to Veronica and Sebastian, and we could be neighbors over there. Wouldnít that be nice? That sounded to me very cool at the time, but Mike said, "Everybody here puts the U.S. way up there, but is not all that. Youíll see, if you go with me you will get to see the real U.S., and there is still a lot of racism, and black people they are even more racist than the white people. Is hard to believe but I wish you get the chance to see it with your own eyes. I know how much you do like the U.S. and sometimes you need to experience things on your own, to find out if that was what you really had in mind or not." I said, "Amen to that! I wish I get the chance to experience the U.S. with my own eyes, and find out on my own what the U.S. is really all about."

At that time in my life I was double motivated. I had a good job, and I wanted to visit the U.S. While working really hard for this new company of mine I made so much money, well for me that it is. The first month I made over 5 times what I was doing at Fusa financial, and I went from three hundred bucks a month to fifteen hundred dollars a month. I was out of my body, so happy, so proud of myself, and the ones closest to me were very happy for me. At the same time I knew deep inside my heart that this situation was not going to last long, so I kept repeating to myself, "Enjoy it while it last, and be wise and frugal with your money. Two more months like this one, and you could say, "Watch out U.S. because here I come.""

The world goes around, and the world sometimes turns in a dime. I had that in my mind all the time, but whatever that was, that first paycheck I was able to save enough money to buy the half of the ticket to the US. Soon after that I was planning the dates with Mike to buy the airplane tickets to go together to the U.S.

At that time in my life I used to pray to the living God. At that time in my heart I still believed that there was a living God, a God that listen to you when you pray with your heart, and I used to pray in a very simple way, "God thank you for all your blessings. I say this with all my heart, and like always let it be your will and not mine." I used to add at the end, "And I leave this to you in the name of your son Jesus the Christ Amen." I used to.

I had faith in a living God, and I was convinced that I really didnít have a clue about life. I didnít have a clue about who I was, and my place in society. How the people look at me. I was so clueless, and I used to look to everybody with Godís eyes, meaning, "We are all equal, regardless of social status, gender, color or race."

For some reason my view of the world was so different compared to the view that my friends had at the time. My dream was simple, I wanted to prove that God really exist, and I had a hint. For some reason I believed that my daddy Oscar couldnít be wrong, because I knew that for him there was a living God. When I was little I saw something in my daddy Oscar. He had something especial on him, and with him. Hard to explain the feeling but I still remember, and I thought if I never find God in this life, maybe I will find God in my next life. I used to say, "Who really knows!" Anyways regardless of what I believed, I wanted to live my life without having to choose between a job and God. I wanted to make my living in an honest way. For me living in honesty was the only way to live life. Because of my belief in God, the living God, the one that knew what I was doing, at every single moment of my life, because of that, in a way, God was always telling me, "Do not steal, do not lie, do not kill, and as far as my understanding of the wisdom of God went, I should not use my intelligence to deceive others. Your intelligence is for the sole purpose of survival, your survival and the survival of all living creatures.

One of my favorite stories of the Bible is the story of Noah. In my books the story of Noah is pretty much the voice of mother Earth pleading for mercy to all humans.

I wanted to be able to live in a place where I could exercise my freedom of religion, and to love and serve God anyway I wanted to. God was never for me something about who is right, and who is wrong. God was for me that common thing that can unite us all, even if you were an Atheist. When it comes to a true nation, what you are in your heart it does not matter, thatís why in a true nation you have the separation of Religion and State, because the rule of law is blind, the rule of law does not care of your gender, social status, or how much money you have.

Every time I heard people talking about God on TV or radio, blood started gushing out my ears and eyes, and many times I could not believe to what I was listening. I used to think how that person can be saying that. Thatís not what the bible says. When I heard someone talking about God, in my eyes that person had taken the name of God, and if you do take the name of God, it cannot be in vain or just to sound pretty or to become famous.

In my country you see classes of people and I knew one thing only, I was not a part of the privileged class. Since 1973 my family had a strike of bad luck, and had no good prospects either. I saw my family go down in the social ladder, slowly but surely. People in my county were still afraid of talking openly about social issues, and after so many years things have not chance much. People was still afraid because they could be called communists, and all of the sudden lose their job, and never find another one, at least not one that allows you to have a life, and send your kids to college. Like always in a non democratic society you donít know with whom youíre talking to, and you never know if you are in the black list or not.

How ridiculous is to believe that you live in a democracy when thereís people still living in the streets, and there is people still being assassinated on the streets, just as if they were animals. How can we call this the future if women are still being raped, children are being sold as sex slaves or exchanged for weapons, and how can you call this the future, and how can you call a democracy a place where things like the ones I just mentioned are happening all the time.

Fascism doesnít put chains on your ankles to make a slave out of you. Fascism makes you work and work hard. Fascism uses you, just because you are more valuable alive than dead. That is the only reason why you are still alive. They make you produce, because whatever you produce is money for them. The one who works all his life to the benefit of others is in essence a slave, and the best way to find out if you are a slave or not, is to became old and receive your pension, and if you worked your whole life, and when you retire you still live in misery, you have been nothing but a slave. In my country I always felt like a slave. For some reason I couldnít believe what the TV was saying. For me the TV sounded too good to be true.

I studied a bit of economics, and I had the opportunity to work in the middle of a big social change. I was working while a change of historical proportions was still taking place, and that was the change from Medicare to Private Retirement Accounts. This experiment has been tried before, and it has been a disaster. The subject is very interesting, and the idea behind it is even seductive, intuitive, and logic, but donít get lost in the names, always look at the results. Consider always the Facts and not the interpretations.

I was working for these new created companies in the private sector, and I saw with my own eyes the transition that took place. These new created companies were responsible by law to manage your retirement money. They were created after Pint-of-shit was put in power by the U.S., and he brought into the country a team of economist, the well known "Chicago Boys" Retirement accounts the latest creation of the Chicano boys was bound to happened we like it or not. Let me give you an example of how bad these personals accounts are.

A principal of a middle school when he retired after serving as a teacher his whole life, under the new system he started receiving a hundred dollars a month, that was his whole pension, a hundred bucks a Month.

What was the idea behind taking your retirement money and give it to the private sector. What was so attractive about this new system? What this retirement account administrators were supposed to do for you? Like always the idea was beautiful, but the results were terrible.

That was my work back then, switch people from the old system into the new system. Here in the U.S. it would be the equivalent of passing everybody from Medicare, one by one to individual accounts where if you lose your money is to bad for you. They do it one at a time because they need you to sign the document. Everything has to be done by the law, just like in the Holocaust. In this case they had to have your signature of approval in a document, in which you approved this change to a private system.

I was having a conversation just like that with my friend Mike when we switch to a happier subject, a way better subject, we started talking about the trip to the U.S.

Mike said, "Well actually Sigrid and I are planning to move permanently to the U.S. I already submitted her application to the US Embassy for her to be a permanent resident of the United States. We are tired of working so hard just too barely make it. There is no incentive to stay here in Chile for us. Like you know Daniel, Iím going over there trying to get my old job back as a firefighter, and Sigrid really like the idea of you going to the U.S. with me. She said to me that sheís sending you as a personal chaperone of mine, so I donít do bad things over there. We both said out loud, "Girls." Girls are always so jealous.

I remember at that time in my life I was being very happy, something not usual in me since I moved to Arica. Many times I felt like if my world wouldíve been the music, my life wouldíve been the blues, yah, I got the blues, like I always say, "Mental and Sad, but Social."

I considered myself lucky to have them as friends of mine. I loved their sweet company. Jose Feliciano, Pueblo Mio.

Mike and I didnít know each other a long period of time, but it has been easy to be good friends between us. I could tell Mike was a good man. We all had fun every time we were together. I guess is true the old saying, "Good people good times."

Now that the possibility of coming to the US was real I donít know why, but I started remembering all the good things that my father Luis use to say about the U.S. things like, "In a country with a real democracy you have nothing to be worried about, other than being a productive part of society. Take care of your Nation and your Nation will take care of you. Even if you die defending your nation, you know that those who you left behind, they will be taking well taking care of, at least there will be a roof over their head, and a plate of food over their table.

The Founding Fathers once said:

""Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness", "And for which governments are created to protect."

I pledge alliance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Godís first lesson: God will never impose itself on you. Never! Freedom of Religion.

My dad Luis passed away when I was about twenty four years old, and growing up I used to have to listen to him. I used to think that all what he used to tell me was nothing but nonsense, but now I was twenty-five-years old, and I was starting to understand what he meant.

Growing up in a country ruled by a dictator since I was six, I have experienced firs hand the meaning of oppression, and the meaning of fascism.

One of the biggest symptoms of oppression, and fascism is the lack of education. My Dad Luis once said, "Öthatís why the best way to take the voice of the people away, is not allowing the people to learn to speak, and to achieve that is easy, have public education that donít teach them how to talk. Make them believe that talking and speaking their own language correctly is not cool, and problem solved. Bad education in public schools is like putting a tape over the peopleís mouth. In the other hand good communication skills bring people together, and if you want to stay in power, and control the people by all means, you need to separate them as much as possible. Fascism says, "The people must be as ignorant as possible, and to achieve that fascism will keep all the drugs illegal, so they do not pay any taxes. The crime on the streets must be high, that way you hide the "Other crimes that fascism commits" You got to make sure that the people are busy trying to survive. Thatís how you turn one against the other." My dad had no hope for the world, none what so ever, and I was starting to understand why.

By that time in my life my dad Luis was already gone, and I remembered that whatever happened between my dad and I, I knew he wouldíve been happy to know that I was coming to the U.S.         We were very distant from each other, I never did look up to him, but I knew one thing, he was no fool. He was an inventor, and he was always inventing something or reading the Readers Digest in his spare time.

The thing I like to remember about him the most, are those few long walks we had together just him and I. Talking to him while walking I enjoyed to hear his points of views. They were always at least interesting. He taught me how to play ping-pong, and he used to say, "Ping pong is the family sport." One of my best memories I have with him was the time when I was a teenager, and he took me along with him to buy a car. He wanted to buy an old ford Pinto, but he was not sure if he could fix it or not. He took me along with him, because like I used to be very good at fixing stuff, and he wanted my opinion about a car. We looked at it and we agreed that the car could be fixed, so he bought it. Later on he parked it in front of the house, and challenged me to fix it. The car had an electric problem, but we couldnít figure it out. I had a friend at the time that was studying car mechanics and I asked him to lend me a few books about car electricity. He did and I read them, and I figured out the problem.  After I fixed that car my dad Luis let me go for a ride around the block here and there, and going around the block including the road by the ocean. At the time behind my house, there was just an old dirt road by the ocean, and when I went for a ride on that car I felt like I was in heaven. That was the first car I ever drove, I had super fun times in it, and I know Claudia remembers that car too. Thatís how I prefer to remember my dad Luis.

At my new job I have been working really hard for a while, and itís hard to describe the feeling in my heart, when I finally got the airplane tickets. As soon as I got the money for the tickets I talked to Mike and we set up the date together. We bought the tickets, the date was set, but I had no money left to spend in the US. I bought the tickets knowing that I had no money, but I had faith that somehow, someway things will work out at the end. I didnít know what to do, and it was a really tense moment for me.

Through my work I had the chance to ask for a loan, and I applied for it, but they denied it. They asked me for a co-signer, and at a moment I was thinking, "I canít go to the US after all, I have no money and I am going to lose the money I already spent buying the airplane tickets." Talking about this problem with my co-workers after a meeting we had, one of them offered to me to sign up as a co-signer on my loan. I was blown away, I wasnít expecting it but he did, and they approved the loan just on time.

The day of the flight to the US came faster than I ever thought possible. At my job I asked my boss for a leave of absence, and he approved it, but for 30 days only. I was asking for six months with the possibility of being extended up to a year, he said to me, "If youíre not back in 30 days donít ask me to give you your job back. You know how that goes right?"

Everything was going just the way I wanted except for that little detail about the leave of absence. That meant that if for any reason my trip lasted more than 30 days, when I come back, I will be without a job.

Finally the day came to fly to the U.S. and for the first time in my life I was going to fly out of my country. I was so excited, and I used to say, "See the U.S. then I can die in peace." This trip it was going to be my first international trip. I wouldnít consider going to Peru as going out of the country. Peru was only 15 minutes away from my house in Arica.

The day of the trip at the airport they asked us, "Smoking or non-smoking?" At the time still you could smoke in an airplane, and I thought how cool it would be to have the pleasure of smoke a cigarette seated in an airplane that is flying at 30,000 feet above the earth. I told Mike very quick, "Letís go in the smoking section." Mike told me, "Many Americans smokers are not like you Daniel, they are heavy smokers. Instead of one cigarette here and there, they smoke one cigarette after another, and they donít stop." I thought, one cigarette is bad enough, why somebody will like to kill themselves that badly, especially if that person is an American, a person from a more advanced civilization. How a person from a more advanced civilization would do that. In all truth, like I didnít believe Mike all that much. Mike like always so polite and agreeable, he did the best he could to accommodate my request. He found a couple of seats, the ones right behind the first row of the smoking section, and he said to me, "This is okay. I can survive this even in the worse case. These pair of seats is just one row behind where the smoking section begins, and the air is coming from the front to the back." So he got the tickets in the smoking section, "Oh yeah!" I said. I was excited and I could see myself up in the air in a moment of indulgence, seated in the airplane with my legs crossed, taking a puff out of my favorite cigarette.

That day it was a very memorable moment for me, and it was a very romantic moment too. I got to say good bye to a girlfriend at the airport, right before a long trip. We said good bye, and from the door of the airplane, we waved good bye to Veronica and Sigrid, as we got inside the airplane.

 There we were second row on the back half of a 747. Once in the airplane we sat on our seats, and right after we were seated, right in front of us a pair of Germans sat in the seats right in front of ours, and from the moment they sat in front of us they started smoking one cigarette after another. The airplane was getting ready to take off, everybody was seated, but it took at least 45 minutes before the airplane started moving. These Germans had the whole airplane covered with a thick cloud of smoke. I had never before in my life had so much second hand smoke, and not only the smoke of cigarettes, these people were smoking cigars too.

 Things got better after takeoff but we already had a head ache, and I wished that we were seated in the none-smoking section, by the way, my favorite part of the flight is that moment of rapid acceleration before take-off, and like I am kind of a chicken, I have to imagine in my mind that I was about to go in a very fast car, where I am the driver, and I am in control pushing the pedal to the metal, that was the only way I could go in a roller coaster too. When I heard the engines roar and rumble, I pushed the pedal to the metal in my mind, and enjoy the ride, as if I was in a joy ride in a very fast car.

The worst part of flying especially for the first time is when the airplane after takeoff go down for a bit, sometimes it feels like the airplane is starts to free fall, and then it comes back again to go up. It makes you think that you are going to die over and over again. It is weird to know that if something happened to the airplane in mid air you are history, and it is weird to know that your chances of surviving an airplane accident are pretty much close to zero.

Finally after a long twelve hours of flying we landed in the US and the first thing I heard when I got out of the airplane, it was the slogan of the Miami international Airport, "Welcome to Miami." For me was like a stepping forward 1000 years into the future. The airport of Miami was huge and beautiful. I have never seen before such a variety of nationalities. I was pretty much staring to everybody. I was nicely surprised to say the list when I got here to the U.S. for the first time.

While waiting in line just like a cow in the butcherís houseóI truly have something against treating people like animals and making a line. How uncivilized! However at that very moment the girl right in front of me, started rising her voice to the customs, and the customs call for help. A translator showed up, as far as I could tell something was wrong with her passport. A guard came over and asked her to follow him. As the girl was leaving with the guard, I heard for the first time, "Next!" Mike said to me, "Daniel is your turn. You are the next person."

The custom looked at me; looked at the passport; asked me how long I was going to stay, and the reason of my visit. I said, "Business and tourism. Just like my visa said." Okay he said, grabbed the stump and when he was ready to stamp my passport, I saw out of the corner of my eyes, a black guy rushing towards us saying, "Wait!" I donít know who this guy was, but he interrupted the custom that was checking my papers, and asked me, "Where youíre coming from?" I said, "I am from Chile." And I donít know why but at that moment, I started to get really nervous. For a second the only thing that crossed my mind was, "Okay, thatís it. Youíre history. Youíre going back to your country and all that money that you oweÖ" I got really nervous, the guy was asking me one question after another very quick, and he didnít even let me answer them, "Are you here for pleasure or business? Do you even have a checking account? Do you even have a credit card?" I had to interrupt him to say, "Yes I do have a checking account." I showed him my checkbook, and he said, "Checking account with no credit card?" He was right, I didnít have a credit card, but I showed him one of those department store cards, from my private retirement account, and he swallowed. He looked at it and thought it was a real Credit Card. I donít know what this guy had in mind, but I could tell that he was looking for excuses to send me back to my country. For some reason, something was wrong with me.

 I was by that time already sweating, and almost shaking. I was overwrought for sure. He gave me an order saying, "Follow that girl that was in front of you to that office where sheís going, and wait there for me." I got my papers and I heard Mike saying to me, "Iíll be waiting for you at the baggage claim area" okay I said, and followed the girl to the customs office.

They grabbed my passport and ordered me to have a sit, "Seat down." the guy who took my papers said at the office. I sat there for more than half an hour. For sure that was the longest half an hour of my life. I have never been so tense before. Trying to help myself to relax I started to stare at the clock right in front of me, and I said to myself, "So what? So what if I they donít let me in and send me back to Chile. So what! Want be the first time that something that couldíve been fantastic, ended up being just another dream that never happened, so what!" I was getting pissed, but mainly sad, worried and disappointed. Finally I found my sweet spot in my mind saying to myself, "Let it be your will and not mine." As soon as I got there in my mind my heart started to slow down and started to breathe easier.

The girl that they took right before me, she had a false passport and they took her by the arms and told her, "You need to come with us." They took her inside a room with dark windows, and after all that, I donít know what happened to her.

I was seated in front of the counter, starring at the clock with my head leaning a bit to the right; I had my legs crossed; my right uncle was resting on my left knee, and my right elbow resting on top of my right knee. I had the back of my hand on my chick holding my face, and I looked, and I looked at the tip of my right shoe rocking up and down. I wanted to use the restroom as well, but I didnít want to ask. While waiting I wondered what kind of face I had at that moment. I wish there was a mirror in front of me or a way to take a selfy, but no cell phones back then. I think that selfy wouldíve been a very good one. I just couldnít imagine the expression on my face at that moment. I know my face can be very expressive sometimes, especially when Iím worried. I could tell at the time something was not right with my face. Finally after a good half an hour they asked me to grab my passport, and told me that I was free to leave. They told me that in English of course, and I didnít understand a word of what they said, but I did understood the word free, and with the passport in my hands it was time for me to run. Iím sure I almost did.

When I reached the baggage claim area to pick up my luggage, I was looking for Mike, and I was still afraid, and a bit paranoid. I have to say I was a bit "Duro." I felt like at any moment they were going to come and arrest me, or something. After that experience at airport I got the creeps, and I couldnít find Mike.

In the middle of that almost panic attack Mike found me saying, "I was just about to leave the airport and going get a room in a hotel, and then come back over here to pick you up. I didnít know how long was going to take you. I thought for a moment they were not going to let you in." I said "Oh! I was so worried!" Mike said, "Whatís wrong with that black bro? I donít know Daniel, I have never seen a custom go after somebody so directly like he did with you. He wasnít even in your line. He came all the way across the floor just to mess with you. You are not going to believe me, but black people are even more racist. Youíll see!" I replied to him sarcastically "No! Really?" and added, "I already know my friend, tell me about it." Mike said "He was convinced that you came to stay." and I said "And he was right!" We laugh and decided to shake it off going to eat something. Eating does relax me, and I had to try the famous American sandwich, the famous American Hamburger.

One way or another being in the U.S it was a wish come, and eating a hamburger at a McDonaldís a hundred percent real McDonaldís, was more than what I could wish for at the time.

Dinner at McDonald was okay, but the size of the sandwich was not even a quarter of the size of a sandwich back in my country. The other thing that disappointed me a bit was the flavors of the food. Such array of new flavors overwhelmed my taste buds, the bread, the meat, the oil, the salt, even the Cola drink tasted different. Such a strong flavors, and none of them familiar to me, but not bad, a whole new experience for sure.

What was wrong with that guy at the airport Mike said, and we talked about for a while at that McDonals. I still remember my first meal in the U.S. in all honesty at that moment, I was not thinking on staying here in the U.S. it was not possible for me. I really didnít know if I could even think about staying, the only thing I knew back then, is that I wanted to see with my own eyes the greatest democracy on Earth, and learn as much English as possible.

Next step was renting a car. After that big scared I had at the airport it was nice, actually very nice, just to look around and see with my own eyes, a world that you have seen only on TV.

When I stepped outside the buildings at the airport the humidity, and extreme heat really hit me hard, it felt almost like a slap on the face. It was like stepping into a hot sauna, but I was so happy living a dream.

How can I forget my first ride by South Miami beach, just like in the movies, beautiful girls in short shorts, skating, running or playing volleyball by the beach, it was phenomenal, astonishing I should say.

After we rented the car and went for a little joy ride, we started looking for a place where to stay. Mike the only thing that he had in mind at the moment, was to find the most affordable place he could, and I could see the frustration in Mikeís face, but he kept his cool like always. Finally after hours of looking and driving around all over Miami, he found a place. It was a room with two beds, and a kitchenette with a little countertop on the side. That little humble but clean room it was more than what we needed, so we took it, and paid it on halves.

I donít know what I wouldíve done without Mikeís help. This Hotel was right in front of the Beach, right in the heart of South Miami Beach City. Mike explained to me that the city of South Miami was home of the well-known Art Deco style. I never heard of it before, but I really liked the style. First time I heard that a city was built having in mind a specific architectural style.

After we organized our stuff in our room I did the math to find out how long I could stay. Now that I had real numbers to work with I could do the math. Right after I did the math, I find out that I had enough money to for barely one month, one month only, and I wanted to stay at least six months. I was blown away to find out how expensive everything it was here in the U.S. I wanted to stay at least for six months so I could learn how to speak English. That was the reality I was facing at the time. I was terrified to find out that all that money I borrowed back in my country, would only last for a month here in the US, and being frugal that was. In my country with that money I could survive for a whole year, and to pay back that money, it would take me a decade at least with all the interest they added on top. That was a tough reality to swallow, but that was what it was.

One of my dreams of my life was to learn how to speak a second language, and English was a language in the top of my list, along with German, yah?! French or Russian, it didnít matter to me I just wanted to speak two languages.

I was so happy that day to be here, and I was terrified as well, terrified to realize how little I could afford here in the U.S. That night after one of the longest days of my life, I said a prayer with all my heart, given thanks to God for all its blessings, and I went to sleep like a baby. Iím sure I woke Mike more than a couple times at night for sure with my snoring.

Next morning at breakfast time, Mike told me, "Now we need to find us a car Daniel. We cannot afford to be renting a car for ever. We need to buy a car and pronto!" I couldnít agree more, and we started looking for a more convenient, and economic transportation.

Here in the U.S. "No Car, no legs!" The distances are so big in between one place to the next that a car becomes a necessity.

I couldnít believe my eyes when I started to see what America really looked like. Everything was bigger and nicer than in my little town. I was in awe and I said out loud, "God Bless America! Amen! Amen to that Mike said. We were happy that day. What a pleasure to meet you America. 

After a couple very exhausting days of nothing but looking for a car, we found a cheap, dependable, and decent looking car. This car under my standards was a beautiful car. For me was economic, simple, and had no luxury. This car had only what was needed to move from point A to point B, and it was standard, had no automatic transmission, and had a wimpy AC, but AC none the less. Mike didnít like it that much thought, and he said, "This car is a ghetto car, and has a terrible reputation." I said, "So far mechanically and all around is the best car I have seen within our budget." 

Our budget was very limited and that car was the only thing that we could find. It was a car I have never seen before in my life. I never heard the brand name either. The car it was a "Yugo." I tested the car and it was running like a clock. I said to Mike, "This car out of all the cars we have seen, is the one that have the best working engine, has no oil leaks, and has a standard that makes it more economic." I added, "Mechanically-wise is perfect!" Right after Mike said, "I think is okay. Okay letís buy it." We bought a seven-year-old Yugo. For those who donít remember a Yugo is a car considered one of the worse cars ever made in the history of cars. For some reason the one weíve got was running like a Swedish clock, and for me it was not a ghetto car. In the contrary that car to me was the coolest ride ever! And I was riding it on the streets of Miami, FL U.S.A. Never been happier in my life!

Regardless of the details of how I got to the U.S. I was in a super cool place; I had a car; I was sleeping in a hotel room, and I felt like, "Life is finally happening to me."

We bought the car in halves with the compromise that if any of us had to leave or go back to Chile, the other person will have the option to buy that other half. It was my first car ever, well half of a car in all reality.

Here in the U.S. the cities were gigantic in comparison with my little town where I came from, and here having a car was not a luxury, it was pure necessity. The distances are so big and the points where you have to go were so far apart from each other, that no public transportation will take you there. In the U.S. if you donít have a car, you are a handicap.

Mike has been making phone calls to the fire department to see if he could get his job back, that was his job, and I my job was to enjoy the ride, and get to know the U.S.

One of those days Mike received a call back from the fire department early that day when we were still at the hotel, and I was trying to understand what he was saying, but I couldnít understand a word. After that call he remained very quiet. I could tell he was upset, later on I asked him, "Whatís going on Mike, why are you so quite?" He said right away, almost like waiting for me to ask him about it, "They are just giving me excuses, but I know one thing for sure, they are not going to give my job back, at least not in the short term. What a fucking B.S., excuse my English Daniel, but they told me one thing, and then another, and another, is like they cannot tell you, "No we donít have a job for you." Instead of telling you straight up what is going on, they just keep making you call them back over and over, bummer! Now Iím being forced to use my plan B, and that is: Iím going to the Veteranís Administration to see if they can help me to find a job." In the meantime he said, "I think I can help you to find a job if you want me too." Sure, I said.

A few days went by, and the Veteranís Administration didnít give him very good news either, so very soon we realize that we were just trying to find a job, any job. He said to me, "I never believed that to find a job was going to be this difficult, and here in my own country. F#@$." For Mike the chances to get one of his old jobs back were getting slimmer by the minute. Mike said, "I think is time to make use of my Plan C. I canít believe that I have to use Plan C. Once I was in the Navy and the only thing I did all day long, was nothing but painting every single day of my life there. That is all I did paint and paint all day long from early in the morning till late at night." Mike said, "Actually I do remember the golden rule in the Navy, "If you donít have to salute it, you painted it."" We laugh and we started looking for a job as painters. Mike said to me. "You could apply for painterís helper, and I could apply for a Journeyman. Do you mind painting?" I said, "You know me Mike, work is work, and I always been sort of a handyman. I donít mind to be a painter. Any work is better than no work at all."

We started looking for jobs every day from early in the morning till late at night. That was all we did for weeks, we went from office to office, job site after job site, filling application after application. We did put a ton of miles on that Yugo. We drove that car every day from early in the morning till late at night, and the car didnít gave us any mechanical problems at all, and by the way, the Yugo was still running like a Swedish clock.

For me coming from a third world country, I thought we were never going to find a job, at least not that quick. We needed to find a job before our money was gone, and that was going to be in about two weeks. My inner self went from flying high to a very disappointing situation very quick. There was a lot of pressure involved in this job hunting. In my country sometimes to find a job could take you years, so I was not very optimistic, but for sure I was doing everything I could to find one.

Mike like always so polite, I could tell he was upset and disappointed, but he was very patient with me. I was so obnoxious, and I didnít mean it, but I was asking Mike every single minute, "Mike whatís that? Whatís this? What does that means is? Mike here and Mike there." I was like a kid in a field trip, being overexcited. I was so impressed with the U.S. Actually I could say I was falling in love with the U.S.A.

Now that I look back, I really appreciate Mikeís patients with me, in many ways for me it was just like a field trip to the future in my first car. For some reason there I was, with a smile on my face from early in the morning till I fall sleep. Mike had the patients to explain me, and teach me as much as he could. Those actions are the ones that awaken hope in the bottom of my heart for humanity, and I still have hope and faith, and even if I didnít understand a word of English, I could see the progress everywhere I did go. I was amazed to see so many people, so many cars, so many buildings, and everything was so nice.

Two weeks went by and no luck finding a job. We were getting very worried. Mike said, "My thoughts were that by now I was going to be working as a firefighter or in the worse case I was going to get a job through the V.A." None of those jobs came through and they told him, "Sorry Mike, but we donít have anything available for you right now, call us back next month. Maybe in the long term will have something for you" At that moment I thought in my mind, "Oh man! If it is hard for Mike to find a job, how much harder wouldíve been for me to find a job on my own, and if I wouldíve have come over here on my own, I think it wouldíve been something close to impossible to find a job." 

I was overwhelmed with the complexity of coming over to a complete different country. I didnít know the language; I didnít know my way around, and I didnít know even how to make a long distance call on a paid phone. All of these things for me were mind boggling. I was so glad that I had Mike giving me a hand trying to find a job. He was trying to help a poor Chilean kid trying to stay a bit longer so he could learn how to speak English. How nice of him.

By the middle of our third week, we went job hunting early in the morning. Our first stop was a construction site where we didnít even get close to the trailer office, about a block away a couple of guys standing outside the trailer yell at us, "No work, no job go way" so we did.

What a way to start the day. Was a rough start, but we kept filling applications at different places anyways. We were getting to the point of giving up when Mike got a buzz in his beeper. Back then a beeper and a payphone was all you needed to stay connected. Back in those days very few people had a cell phone, and if you happened to see a person with a cell phone on their hands, it was a phone as big as a brick and heavy as one as well. For a reason they called it "The Brick." Mike told me, "I donít recognize this number." He stopped at the nearest payphone and called the number back. Back then payphones were the closest thing to a cell phone, and there was a payphone in every single corner. Mike came back to the car after a bit and said, "Good news Daniel. Tomorrow morning we have a job interview at a painting company." Alright! We said, and had a happy high five. We were happy, but we kept filling out applications for the rest of the day anyways. We were not sure if we were going to get a job or not, but we were exited, and optimistic about it.

Back at the hotel room after a long day of running around, we had a very scrawny meal. We were running out of money, and we were trying to save as much money as possible.

After dinner I sat by the window, and I was looking down to the busy street. I was looking down the window when a big black guy with humongous biceps caught my attention. He was seated by the edge of a small brick wall, and I could tell he was dealing something. Here in there someone will come to talk to him, and he received something on one hand, and gave back something with the other. Very clever I thought, and I entertained myself looking out the window of my hotel room. It was so much fun just to look out the window of my hotel room, and see such a diverse group of people. I really liked that. I always loved to explore my surroundings, but there in Miami I didnít dare to go out on my own, especially after sunset "No way!" For some reason I didnít feel safe. For me to be in this whole new world was a very exciting adventure, and everything was totally new for me.

Next morning on the way to our job interview, I started to admire the landscape outside of Miami

City. Coming all the way over here from a rocky desert, with empty and grey hills, is quite impressive to see how much green there was everywhere I looked. The other thing was that there is was not even one hill or a mountain in sight, everything was so flat, so flat that your eyes can see the horizon no matter in which direction you looked at. The most beautiful thing was to see the clouds in the sky getting lost in the horizon. Some of them close to you, some of them far, far away just like in a childrenís book. The landscape it was majestic. What a sight. The contrast you get from being in the middle of jungles of concrete, and then to go out on open spaces, and then back again into a jungle of concrete, was memorizing. From the hotel you get in the highways at least four lines wide, at seventy five miles per hour, and in places the highway is over seven stories high, itís unbelievable!

We arrived to our destination after a forty five minute drive on the Palmetto Highway. We found the place, and it was a very small warehouse. Outside the warehouse there it was a couple of guys loading paint onto the back of a truck. One of them said hi to us and said, "You must be the guys looking for a job right?" Thatís right! Mike said. We introduced each other, and sat over some empty 5 gallons buckets. How can I forget that moment, how can I forget the guys name either, Chris and Juan. Chris Newton was the boss, and he was the typical white person, tall and thick with a nice smile, polite and friendly. I couldnít understand a word of what he was saying, and he started talking to Mike. While Mike was talking to Chris, I was talking with his business partneróa Cuban American named Juan. Juan said to me right away, almost making feel a bit uneasy, "By the way you smile you must be a good man, and I donít care what you know about painting, but if you are willing to learn our way of painting, you are hired." I said, "Sure no problem! I still can learn new tricks." The interview went well and as simple as that, from one moment to the next, I went from not having a job to be hired as a painter helper. That was the very first job ever, here in the U.S. for me.

Mike told me, "You have been hired as a painter helper, and I have been hired as a journeyman painter." I said "Alright!" And I asked mike, "Hey did they tell you how much they are going to pay us? I forgot to ask Juan about that, well actually I didnít dare to ask him." Mike said to me, "Daniel that is the first thing you ask here in the U.S. before you say yes to a job that has been offered to you." I said, "So tell me how much Iím going to be making an hour." Mike said, "Most of the people over here start at four dollars an hour, working as a dishwasher or so, but I did my best to get you as much as possible, and they are going to give you six dollars an hour to start with, and with the possibility of a raise depending on how fast you learn how to paint." I said again, "Alright!"

After we said goodbye and left that place, and we were alone, we started celebrating and feeling pretty good about the situation. That day we were both very happy, but at the same time, Mike was not all that happy, he said, "I canít believe that not even in my own country I can find a decent job." Like he said it, "What in the fuck, is going on with this country!"

I was as happy as happy you can be. I remember that day on my way back to the hotel room, I was so happy that while Mike was driving, I started to singing out loud inside the car, and back then, I was tone deaf, so finally after a few verses Mike found the right moment to ask me in a very polite way, like always, and he said, "Excuse my French, but why donít you shut the fuck up!" and we laugh out loud. Remember heís American.

I was so eager to find a way to stay a bit longer in this country, that I didnít care what I was doing, as long as I was learning English, it was okay for me. Like they say, "Thereís nothing better to learn another language than interacting with the natives. Because that way you will associate a word with a real situation and that is the fasted way to learn." In my mind I was getting paid to go to school Woo hoo! Again. That day we went home early. Mike had some errands to run, and I didnít find anything better to do than going to the beach that day.

For the first time in my life, I was going to swim in the Atlantic Ocean. It was phenomenal! It was a perfect day to go to the beach, and to top it all, coming out of the water I saw walking towards me a beautiful girl in bikini, she was tall, skinny, blond, and when I looked at her for a second glance, I realized that she was topless. What I sight! I looked at her from bottom to top, at least I tried to look at her face, that was a beautiful face by the way, but my eyes were stuck. She smiled at me and said hi. I said hi back to her, and we kept walking. I wish I knew how to speak English then, so I couldíve tried to start a conversation with her. What a day!

For the first time from the moment I got here to the U.S., I felt like I was starting to have fun. After all the pressure of the trip, all the pressure that I went through just to get out of the airport, and then finally to find a job, for sure has been a daunting job, but so far so good. That day I was all relaxed, happy, cozy, and very excited to start my first job here in the U.S. For me to be able to stay here in the U.S. was like getting accepted to a very prestigious university. I was being presented with the opportunity of studying a major degree in English, and I was going to get paid for learning.

I have to admit that at that moment, I knew what I was doing was wrong, because my visa was not a work visa, but oh well, that was my chance, and I took it.

Our first day of work was great! We had our brand new painterís uniform, and that day we had a very good start. They left us alone painting the drip edge of a roof, in a one story home. We needed to put a very stinky stain blocker, and we did a very good job at it. When Juan came and check our work he was very happy with it, and he said, "Well you did a good job, so instead of giving you a check, and say good bye to you guys. I have to say good job and Iíll see you tomorrow again." Mike explained me that if we didnít do a good job in a reasonable amount of time, we couldíve got fired in the spot. Next day I had to paint the bottom of the concrete ramp on a three-story-high concrete parking lot. I have never seen before a whole building dedicated just to park cars. I was blown away. Juan came over that morning and hand me the tools. He gave me a brief introduction on how to paint, and got me started. I followed his instructions to the letter, and after a couple hours he came back and said to me, "Break time." He looked with a lot of attention to everything Iíve done so far, and then he looked at me, and said, "Good job! Youíre doing a very good job. My only advised to you it would be to try to put more paint on the wall, and less paint all over you." He laughed and left. I had paint all over me. Good thing I was wearing white, and the color of the paint was light pink. Beige pinkóa very common color in Miami. Itís like the color of the flamingos, but not that vivid. After the break was over he came over, and gave me a few pointers on how to paint without me being under the roller. I didnít realize it at the beginning, but I really had a lot of paint drops all over me.

That day was another hot and humid day in Florida. I was starting to learn the painting trade. Juan said, "Today is going to get over hundred and ten, so go and get something to drink, and try not to take more than 15 minutes on your break." I said Alright! I really liked the American way of work. After two hours of work you get a break. I loved that.

Painting at the beginning was okay, but as the days went by, I was just starting to get really tired. It was not too hard, but after a few hours pushing that roller up and down, you started getting really tired. Just like holding a brick in your hands, at the beginning is absolutely nothing, but as the time progress you realize that you cannot hold it anymore. It was a good thing for me to have been swimming all those years. I have to admit that I was a bit out of shape too, after working on sales for so long. Working back in my country as a paper pusher got me soft. Swimming and painting they do have a lot in common, you gotta move your arms a lot, and in different motions, but you gotta move them a lot. Definitely it was a good thing to know that soon I was going to be in a great shape. Working outside in Miami is like working inside a sauna. I thought great! Iím getting paid to exercise, and to learn English, awesome!

Juan talked to me in Spanish, but all the names of the tools, he called their names in English. That in itself for me was a free extra English lesson. He treated me with respect, and explained everything very well to me. I really like that. He said please every time he asked for something, every time he called me he did call me by my name, and I really liked that. Back in my country I was always called by some nickname, but hardly ever I was called by my real name. I really liked that here in the US.

Back in my country they always find a nickname that becomes your name. They throw nicknames at you until one of them sticks to you. I never liked that. I could see here in the U.S. that people in general had better manners. Chris, Juan and all my coworkers they call me, and call each other by their name, and I really liked that, very much so.

After a few days I asked Mike, "When do we get paid?" He said, "We are lucky Daniel. This week they closed the payroll, and we get paid for whatever we work this week this coming Friday, and after that we get paid every other week." I said, "Nice!" I was so used to get paid once a month over my country, that this was awesome news for me. I asked Mike, "Donít we have to pay our rent at the hotel next week?" Mike said, "Yes! Thatís why Iím telling you we are in luck, because I am running out of money." I said "Me too, actually this weekend Iím out money completely. I donít know what Iím going to do next week." Mike said, "Me too! I donít know what are we going to do my friend, but at least we have a job!" Totally! I said. I was so happy, thrilled and motivated and every day that went by I learned something new.

I remember Mike talking with the owner of the hotel about our rent money. He had to talk to the owner of the hotel because we were not going to have the money on time. Mike had to make an appointment, and we were very worried about it. Mike came back to me and told me, "Okay we are okay, we can pay the rent a week later but not a day more." What a relief, I felt so lucky to have Mike as a friend. I donít know what I wouldíve done without his help. The hotel where we were staying at the time was the Haddon Hall Hotel in South Miami Beach. Iíll never forget that.

Anyhow we were not out of trouble yet. We solved one part of the problem, but we still have to eat and survive one more week before we could receive our first check.

That week was tough, we were working hard, and the food we had was all gone. The last couple days at home we ate nothing but toasts with a little bit of vegetable oil and salt, and at work our lunch for a few days was nothing but a two litter Coke that we shared on halves, and some plain bread.

Finally after a lot of hardship, payday was upon us, finally! And we had a problem, so I thought. I thought that I was not going to be able to cash the check, because I didnít have a checking account. Mike said to me, "Donít worry Daniel" Mike said not to worry, but at the time I have not even a valid U.S. ID or any proper identification. In my country that is the first thing they ask to cash a check. I was just panicking. I have been always a bit anxious.

In a lighter note I have been dreaming all week long, about receiving all that money in American dollars. In my mind I started making the math comparing how much money I was doing here in the U.S. compared to how much money I was doing back in my country. After I did the math, I was blown away! In one week of work I was making as much as I did in one month back in my country. Wow! I said.  

That payday I was very excited, I couldnít wait until the moment where I could cash my check. Chris showed up at the last minute that day, and he gave me an envelope with my first check. My first check ever in the U.S. and he said something to me that I was not expecting, he said, "Thanks for your help, and thanks for your hard work." He took me by surprise, but I was even more surprised to realize that I did understand what he was saying to me in English. It felt great to receive the check and realize that I was learning another language. I smiled and said to him in English, "Youíre welcome"

Here I do appreciate the complexity of every human been. At that time in my life I was experiencing a duality. This duality had in one side the spiritual chasm that I was going through at that moment, and on the other side the pure struggle to survive. Both of these things were very strong experiences, they were happening at the very same time, and they were both life changing experiences.

 

Chapter Eight

 

I told Mike looking worried "Mike how am I going to cash this check?" He looked at me with a smile on his face and told me, "Daniel as you might know by now, you are not the only illegal person working in this country. Let me show you something. Follow me." We jumped on our little red Yugo, and we went to a close by neighborhood shopping center. When we got there, he pointed his finger to a sign hanging on a window of a convenient store, and he said, "Daniel every time you see that sign, it means that they will cash your check, even if you donít have any identification whatsoever."

After I learned that, I realized that pretty much every other store could cash my check, and then again, I was in disbelieve but oh well. I went to one of those stores, cashed my check, and finally I had in my hands a whole bunch of American dollars. I said to mike, "I guess this means something like, "Welcome to America Compadre! Mi casa es su casa.""

We both were very happy that day, and we totally agreed that this event, needed to be celebrated accordingly. That day we hurry up; went home; showered, and changed clothes as fast as we could. We couldnít wait to get us some food, some real food. We decided that we needed to celebrate with pizza and a beer.

Mike took me to a pizza place where some scenes of the TV series Miami Vice have been filmed. It was a little restaurant right in the heart of South Miami Beach. It was a very peculiar place that had a Vintage look style. The place looked almost like a bar in an old western movie. After we took a tour around the place looking to all the pictures of movie scenes hanged all over on the walls, we went outside, and sat on a table on the sidewalk of a busy boulevard. That boulevard once was a busy street, but now the street was closed to traffic, transforming it into this very inviting place, with people walking everywhere. We ordered their specialty; Mikeís favorite pizza; the New York style pizza cooked on a stone oven. What a place to be in a Friday night at sunset time.

We waited for our pizza drinking our beer, and talking about the lucky timing at which we found work. I wanted to ask Mike a whole bunch of questions about the English language, but that night, that night I give him a break. Sometimes I know, I did get a bit obnoxious asking so many questions, but I couldnít wait to speak the language. We were seated in a very relaxed way in the middle of this boulevard, looking at the people walking by, and having a good time. We were just enjoying the moment celebrating our first checks.

While seated and talking to Mike, I realized that I had never seen so many people looking happy. Everywhere I looked people was having a good time, to the point that it was contagious.

After e few minutes, about half way of my glass of beer, I realized that the beer went up to my brain really quick. All of the sudden I was tipsy. For a bit I saw everybody moving in slow motion. I donít know what happen. I guess the paint fumes, and a little bit of alcohol donít mix well in an empty stomach. I was in the middle of this realization when I saw a couple that stand out of the rest of the people, and this couple really caught my attention. They looked just like people in a movie scene, and the place where we were at, really looked like a movie set. I remember looking at a beautiful tall skinny girl in a short purple dress. She was my kind of girl. She was tall, skinny, fit, with a short skirt, and a long jacketómeaning a long set of sexy legs. She had as a companion a handsome guy, taller than her, and dressed in a dark blue suit jacket, with a black sport T-shirt under. This couple was the perfect example of Miami vice style, and I was right there, first row in the U.S., watching everything happening live. I have never been happier in my life to be in a place where I wanted to be. This couple made a very nice couple, and the contrast of colors between them was astonishing. I will never forget that moment, and I donít know what kind of face I had at that instant, but the girl looked back at me as she passed me by, smiled and put her head down, as if she was a bit embarrassed. Soon after that moment the food arrived. We said cheers and started to enjoy the meal. The pizza was just perfect, and it was delicious.

That moment is an iconic moment on my life. That day I realized that the possibility of me staying here in the U.S. was a real possibility. What a moment! It felt almost like being inside of a Hollywood movie scene, and I still donít know if I was just happy, or it was the beer or the paint fumes, but whatever it was, I still remember that day like as if it was yesterday.

In my mind while eating I went for a little ride inside my mind, and before I got lost in my thoughts I said to mike, "You know me by now. Iím sorry if I do not talk while eating." Mike said to me, "Donít worry Daniel, I know."

While eating I started to think, "Ancient wisdom is a legacy. Wisdom is the fruit of human experiences, and those collective experiences are the pure essence of Humanity.

To know for sure the outcome of something before hand, is a task that no human can accurately calculate.

I thought at the time that if I stayed in my country, somehow, someway I was not going to receive a good retirement pension. For me my golden years, even if they seemed at the moment really far away, they were one of the most important things I worried about, because I knew they were coming, and quick. My prediction of my own destiny and future in my country was a very nefarious one. I knew if I worked my whole life over there, no matter what I did, or how hard I worked, I was going to ended up receiving a pension that the only thing I was going to be able to afford, was nothing but misery."

I thought, "Here in the U.S. if there is a job there is a way. If you can find a job, and cash a check with no objection to your legal status, it means that they are giving you the opportunity to escape the chains of an oligarchy, and oppression. This is your chance. I saw a chance that was given to me, and I was going to do everything in my power to take it.

My family was a typical middle class family in a democratic nation, but since I was six years old the U.S. had put in power "La Junta" and at the head of the "La Junta" Augusto Pint-of-shit. The highest Rank General on the Chilean Army at the time. He didnít even know how to speak his own language. How Pint-of-shit got there, still remains a mystery. Some say that he was not the one with the highest seniority, some say they were a few more generals with more seniority than Pint-of-shit, but they were not willing to kill and slaved their own people, so they just kill them. Some say that they were four of them ahead of Pint-of-shit, and they were in the same room. They asked the one with the highest seniority if he was going to do as they say. He tried to negotiate a better outcome for our people, and the U.S. seeing that the general was not surrendering unconditionally they shot him and the head where he stood. In the same room with pieces of brains scattered all over they asked the next one on line, and the same thing happened. He followed the same tradition of Battle of Concepcion heroes, and asked for what he thought was the right thing to do, so they shot him too. They shot the next one as well, until it was Pint-of-shitís turn. Like the coward that he really was, and after seeing four great men dead on the floor, he bent over as far as the C.I.A. wanted. He was the one that became the cold blooded assassin that killed hundreds of thousands of his own people, and became the supreme slave master. In my account of the events he became an employee of the few super wealthy, and since then even to this day, things have not changed much. We still have nothing but a, "Showcracy" but not a true democracy.

Since 9-11 of 1973 I saw my family suffer the social injustice and I saw them go down in the social ladder. I saw them go from middle-class to third world country poor people. I saw that with my own eyes, and I did grow up in the after math of a nation falling victim of a more powerful and merciless thieves."

After that little celebration working hard and studying English as much as I could was all I did. The time went by really fast, fast like never before. I was working hard but no matter what, I always found the time to write a letter to Veronica. I was sure that here in the U.S. we could have a life together. Here in the U.S. I thought it was the place to pursue happiness. At that time in my life I was in love with Veronica. I felt the need to let her know that I was doing everything I could, to get the most out of this situation. I wanted to let her know that I was looking for a better future for the three of us, and I was feeling so well, that I was even considering the possibility of being the four of us.

Here in the U.S. I thought I was in heaven. For some reason I thought I have escaped the tyranny and oppression of a country that has fallen one more time, under the rule of a super power. I thought here in the U.S. I could dream of freedom. Now could that be possible? For how long? I didnít know. Still what I was doing was illegal, and I could be deported at any time. Back then I was really afraid of "La Migra." Sometimes you forget about it because you are having so much fun, and working so hard that you donít have time to think about it, but deportation was always something hanging over my head.

I was 25 years old when I started working here in the U.S. and I thought that here in the U.S. I was going to be blessed with the opportunity to have the means to support a family, so I thought.

I thought that here in the U.S. was "the place" That place that my father Luis once taught me, and I wanted to believe that. I wanted to live here in the U.S. and I thought that if I work hard I could afford to have a family. I thought here in the U.S. my son Sebastian will be able to grow in a land where the people trusted in a God as much as I did, and I was so happy to see in every American bill the proof of that, because in every American bill had the words, "In God we trust." I thought maybe here I could afford to have a family, and maybe have a child of my own, maybe. Believe it or not when I came here for the first time, I felt happiness in my heart like I hadnít felt in long while. I saw hope with my own eyes.

At my work I did my best every day, and I put in a hard honest day of work. When I first got here I was twenty-five-years old, and I still believed in a living God. A living God that was looking from far away, but always looking, and regardless of what I was going through, I always dedicate a little time to God saying a prayer and giving God thanks for all his blessings.

Before I came to the U.S. Veronica knew that after I got fired from Fusa Financial, I didnít want to stay in Arica no more. I felt weak against Paste, and I feared for a moment of weakness, and that I was going to get hooked in Paste again. There in Arica I was not a very happy person, and I was aware of my weaknesses. I wanted a fresh start as well, and here in the U.S. was now a very good candidate place to pursue happiness. The U.S. was giving me the opportunity to start all over again, and I thought in my mind that all I had to do, was keep working hard and the rest will followed, just like the Bible says, "Help yourself and then I will help you."

Here in the U.S. I had a lot of time to think about what was going on in my life, and every day when I was writing a letter to Veronica, I thought long and hard about our relationship. I was trying to find the answer if she was still the one. I thought about all the good and all the bad in our relationship, and the result depended on how I was feeling that day. While here away from her I thought hard about how much I wanted to be with her, and mostly comparing one day with the other, it was right there, right between good and bad, not quite hundred percent sure. I had my doubts, but at the end one thing was for sure, I thought this time apart was going to be, a make it or break it kind of thing.

I had a clear reason why I didnít want to stay living in Arica, and that was because in that city I had too many bad memories,ómainly referring to Pasteóat the same time I had the best moments of my youth, and all of that in that same precise city. Knowing that my options were limited because the only other place I wouldíve loved to live was in my home town La Serena, but to find a job over there for me was pretty much next to impossible. For me it was time to find out what I was going to do of my adulthood. I knew at that moment that staying here in the U.S. could be awesome, but I didnít know if that was even possible. At least I knew I was giving it a try. The rest was not up to me.

On one of those moments I started thinking about me and Veronica and all those times where we did break up and then come back together again. That was our story. She has become just like my cigarette addiction, I wanted to quit smoking badly, but I just couldnít. Every time I did quit smoking, after a few days later I will quit quitting, and then Iíll quit again. When I got back with Veronica, I did remember how much I loved her, and then I would remember why I broke up with her. At that time in my life all I wanted was just a little bit of peace and stability. I knew cigarettes were bad for me for sure, but I couldnít quit, about Veronica I wasnít sure if she was good or bad for me. When the three of us were together, sometimes we had such a good times, that those moments made me forget all about the hard times we ever had. That was a problem for me, because I didnít want to have so many ups and downs like that. I wanted something more stable, and as far as I knew at the time, I was willing to give it a try, and that was what I was doing in every aspect of my life. I was giving my best and waiting to see what life through back at me.

Writing to Veronica one letter a day for me was a way to prove to her, that not even a day went by without me thinking of her. For me to write a letter was a very difficult thing to do. My whole life pretty much I have been a rebel without a cause in school, and I thought that writing was a waste of time, but even though, even if it was super difficult to put an idea in writing for me, anyways I wrote a letter to her every single day. There was a period of three months where I was writing to her a letter a day, and it was hard for me to believe that during all that time, I received back only four letters from her. For her to write a letter was super easy, but she wrote only four letters back to me in all that time. How Ironic that our song with Veronica, was a song that once we sang together, in one of those tea times. Before we became more than friends, we share a moment trying to sing a song together, and the song was More than Words by Extreme. Ironically that was what I felt with her, for some reason I didnít feel like she really loved me, I didnít see it in her actions and what I needed from her was precisely that, I needed, "More than words."

Writing a letter a day was the best way I could find, to let her know that what I was doing, I was doing it with her in mind. It was my way to show her that I meant what I said, when I said to her, "I love you." Up to that moment I was convinced that she never believed me, why? That I donít know, but always she made me doubt her, and she made me rethink about our relationship mainly because her little lies. What happens in a relationship where trust has never existed on one of the parts, at least it has been lost many times over, what happens then? She was always lying to me in little things, but one after another to the point that made me wonder about the bigger things, things like being faithful or saying I love you. I didnít know really what to make out of that, but regardless a letter a day it was, "Give and you shall receive. Blessed is the one who loves, not the one being loved."

In the two months working for Chris as a painter helper, I went from house to house from Fort Lauderdale to the Callos, and pretty soon I got to know Miami like the palm of my hand. Our crew could paint really just about everything. In two months I have been involved in so many painting projects, that I was amazed about how much I have learned, and in just a couple of months. We painted factories, offices, banks, condominiums, and residential houses inside and out. I was so impressed by the professionalism of everybody that worked for Chris. I really liked how important it was for them the word "Pro."

After two months and a half of being here in the U.S. Mike received the news that Sigridís paperwork have been approved, and Mike just needed to go back to Chile and pick her up. Sigrid at that time was about five months pregnant, and Mikeís dogs the three of them were still back in Chile.

 I said to him, "Would be nice for me to go over there too. Now that I know that I really want to stay here, and I know that I donít have a job to go back to. I want to go over there and sell the few things that I have, and I want to say goodbye to everybody because if I over extend my Visa, Iím not going to go back unless I do get deported." I said to Mike, "There is no way Iím coming back to Chile. They will have to deport me. Iím not going back. at least not on my own." That was my attitude at that moment in time.

I was well aware of the rental laws in Miami, and they were merciless. You donít have the rent money on time and you were in the streets. You donít pay your rent and they will say to you, "Sorry but if you donít pay rent, get out of my property. I donít care if you have childrenís with you, or nothing, I do not care!" That was the law in FL. and everybody I knew warned me about it, but I didnít care. On those couple of months, I made a remarkable progress learning the language, and I was so excited about it, that I could not see pass that. In many was ways I was completely blinded.

After only a couple of months of being in here I found to be a very exciting subject to think about, and that was the prospects I had here in the U.S. compared with the opportunities I had back in my country. It was scary to think that after all my calculations here in the U.S.óa complete strange countryóI could have a way better life than the one I could have back in Chile. I thought, "What are the chances of an illiterate succeeding in a foreign land?" In my calculations the chances were very slim, but for sure better chances than the ones I had staying in my own country. It was pathetic to say the least, but it was true. In two months working hard here in the U.S. I was already able to buy me a ticket back and forth to Chile, and I was able to buy it cash.

Mike asked me seriously, "Are you sure that you want to go back to Chile? Are you ready? Can you do it?" I said, "I am sure. I want to go back and say goodbye to everybody, and ask Veronica if she wants to wait for me. I want to know if she would consider seriously the option of coming over here with me. I knew back then that if I over stayed my visa, it will be a long time before I could go back. I knew if I stayed Iíll be leaving the life of an illegal alien. Pretty much a criminal being forced to hard labor. Pretty much being a slave by all definitions. I knew that, but at the same time, it was the only way I could afford some English classes, and the chance to have a life. Pathetic but true.

I knew I will become a stranger and an illiterate in a foreign country, an outsider that doesnít even know how to speak. I asked myself, "Do I take the chances that have been given to me or not? Back in Chile I could make a living working in suit and tie, and here in the U.S. if I want to be a real help, Iíll be working most likely with my hands. I thought, "Well Iíll be getting paid to stay in good shape, and Iíll be getting free English classes. Free English classes every day if I get to stay here in the U.S." Mike said to me, "I was just checking." and added, "Like they say over here in the U.S. you better double check. Measure twice and cut once."

A few weeks after that conversation we went back to Chile. Mike to get his wife and his three dogs, and I, I went over there to sell my stuff, and ask Veronica if she was willing to follow me.

I had my doubts about Veronica wanting to come over here, because she will have to leave everything behind including her university education, and because over here in the U.S. she will be just like me, another illiterate and illegal person living in the U.S.

On that trip for some reason Chile didnít feel like home at all, and Mikeís wife Sigrid, at the time was living in a house that Mike rented for her, and that house was only a couple blocks away from my momís house. At that time though my momís house has been rented out long ago, because my mom was already here in the U.S., more specifically, she was living with my sister Belinda in Billings, Montana.

While staying at Mikeís house, one of those days, I borrowed Sigridís car and something really bad happened. Getting out of the drive way I didnít realized that four kittens were taking a nap right by the rear wheel and I run them over. Just a few days after we got back, Mike let me used his car, and I started to back up to get out, when I saw Mike hitting the passenger side window with the palm of his hand really hard saying, "Stop!, Stop!" I stopped as fast as I could, and got out of the car being really worried. I didnít know what happened and I asked Mike, "What happened?" He said "Didnít you see the kittens under the wheel of the car?" I said, "No, what?" He said, "You just run over these little kittens." I felt so bad, but it was already too late to save them. A couple of them were still moving and mike broke their necks. There was not other option. They were badly hurt. I felt terrible that day, and I thought, "This is a bad omen."

That same day in the afternoon, Veronica told me that Adrianóher ex-husbandówanted to talk to her. I remember being really emphatically clear saying to her, "Please donít! I have a bad feeling about this." As far as I know she didnít, but that day, I really felt darkness all around. Indeed it was a really dark day. That day Veronica was going to give me an answer as well about coming with me to the U.S. how ironic.

She said to me later that day, "I donít want you to go to the U.S., because over there you will meet another woman, and you are going to abandon me." and she started crying. I said, "Over there we can have a better life, thatís why I want to go over there. Over here I donít see a future for me. Over there you will find a true democracy, and you can see the progress everywhere you go. At the same time I donít want to stay here in Arica. As you know La Serena is too expensive, and it is such a closed society, to the point that I see more chances to succeed there in the U.S. than in my own home town." She said, "I know you. I know that you are just looking for excuses to live me." I said, "I guess you truly donít know me at all. In the three months I was there in the U.S. I received only four letters from you. For me that was terrible, and on top of all not even long letters, the few letters you wrote on top of all that, were very short." We argued for a while, and we went to sleep that night agreeing that we disagreed. We completely disagreed. She didnít understand my point of view, and she was upset because she thought that I was not staying in Chile, only because I wanted to break up with her. She said she loved me, but her actions, and her words told me otherwise. This was exactly one of those moments where I really didnít understand her at all. What a dark day that was.

In one of those days in Mikeís house we decided to throw a barbecue to smooth things out. Both of us, Mike and I, had nothing but trouble on our relationships since we got back from the U.S. Sigrid was complaining to Mike that she agreed to go over there thinking that he was going to have a decent job, not just a painterís job, and I, I was supposed to be already speaking English and getting a better job.

On that barbecue that we had together to smooth things out, I remember something happening in my heart that day. I remember missing to be around my boy Sebastian. He has become a link to a happier me in the past. He has become a continuous reminder of my daddy Oscar, and I realized that we had bonded. In my heart he was my Champ, my son, I was proud of him, and I was his daddy.

Sebastian was always happy, and he loved playing heroes. He had a lot of imagination and he loved to get in character. Many times while he being in character you had to call him by the name of the hero or youíll be in trouble. That day he was being Batman, and he was running around in a mask with a cape of Batman. He was running around as happy as a child could be. I knew that day in his world, he had everything he needed to be happy. There it was his mother, and his dad. What else a child could wish. While I was cooking the meat in the barbecue, Mike had made that day a custom for him out of some gray thick plastic he had laying around. I remember that day my heart telling me that everything was going to be okay. That day I felt my daddy Oscar in my heart, and one more time, I wish I could talk to him. I wouldíve loved to ask for his advice, his opinion, and I wouldíve loved to know what he thought about all that.

One of the things I have missed the most in my life is my daddy Oscar, and moments like that one, made me realize how much I really have been missing my daddy Oscar all of my life. Before that I never processed in my mind and in my heart the lost of my daddy Oscar. Actually the first time I was able to process the lost of my daddy Oscar, was the time when I went through the lost of Mr. Alejandro, because when he passed away, the pain I felt brought me back to the day of the funeral of my daddy Oscar, and then for the first time in my life I was able to know what I felt in my heart back then. To lost Mr. Alejandro was hard, but the lost of my dad was even bigger than that, and they stack on top of each other. The lost of Mr. Alejandro brought me back to my childhood, and it made me remembered the pain I felt when I learn that my daddy Oscar passed away. At that moment after all those years, I was finally able to process in my mind, what I went through when I was just six and a half years old. In my heart that day understood that I wanted to be by Sebastianís side the rest of my life.

Life goes on, and there are things you never really get over them, but you must keep going. I knew if my daddy Oscar was still around, he wouldíve told me something around these lines, "Let go, and move on."  Easier said than done though.

Now I was twenty-five-years old, and all of that was behind me. Now I had the chance of not disappearing out of Sebastianís life, and I wanted to be by his side for the rest of his life. That day ended up well, and we had a good time, just like we used to have before we left. That day it all made sense to me, but still none the less Veronica and I, were walking on thin ice. We both were facing crossroads on our lives.

The handful of memories I had of my daddy Oscar have shaped my life and my beliefs up to that moment, in a way I did grow up under the shadows of a ghost. All my life I have been missing my daddy Oscar and Sebastian was a continuous reminder of that love.

That moment in my life was one of those moments where there is a crossroad, a crossroad where you know that the sole result of one decision might change the rest of your whole life.

If I wouldíve been able to foreseen the future, I wouldíve broken up with Veronica right there. Thatís what I shouldíve have done, but Iím only human.

 That night we talked about our future with Veronica a lot. We talked a lot, but we couldnít find any common ground, and at the end I said, "Look, before we continue arguing about what it could be, I have to succeed over there first. For the moment I know I am going back to the U.S., and that is really good for me. I really want to learn another language, and being there is the best place for me to be at the moment. That it is my goal in the short term, and in the long term I really donít have a clue, because I may go over there, and be back in a couple months, because I canít find a job or I could get deported. I donít know whatís going to happen. I really donít know, but Iím willing to give it a try. I am just asking you if you really want to come with me to the U.S. in the case that something good happen to me over there. I want you to tell me if you would follow me, otherwise our relationship makes no sense at all. She didnít give me any definitive answer, and those were very vague terms for a relationship. My intentions back then were clear, I wanted to live my life in a place worth to give my life for, I wanted to live in a true democracy.

In Chile I felt like my Dad Luis has been cheated out of a decent retirement, and I had the feeling that it was going to be my story as well.

In my mind relationships from far away do not work, but for the moment all I wanted to do was to give my best, trying to find a better future for the three of us.

In those very vague terms with Veronica, I came back to the U.S. I came back to the U.S. as a young man full of dreams, well educated and with a clean record. In college I received a scholarship that was given to me by Pint-of-shit and read, "For his excellent grades, and his impeccable conduct." Not a rapist or a criminal I must add.

I felt at that time in my life, like one slave running for freedom. I thought that couldnít be a better place in the world to escape slavery than here in the U.S.  Thatís what I thought back then, and I didnít want to live in a place where I have to go to work, and my job was to scam people. Thatís what I realized after all this time working for the financial system in my country. I realized that the economic system in my country was nothing but a scam. Borrowing money is what I did, and throughout History borrowing money is closely related to slavery. With that little bit of financial knowledge that I had back then, I was able to see how much interest they charge to the people, and for me that was straight out criminal. It didnít matter the numbers, what was important was the fact that people was asking for money, and they did it, because they were desperate just to cover their basics needs (Food, Roof, Health and Education.) Paying for education in Chile all of the sudden became almost impossible to afford, and the banks were capitalizing on it. Many in my country worked themselves to death, just to educate their kids, and then when the kids finally finished their studies and received the diploma, there were no jobs for them. The only thing that they really had after all that sacrifice was a big debt, and they were force to go and take any job that they could find. Borrowing money is one of the oldest ways to turn people into slaves. Many times in History, borrowing money at high interest rates have been straight out illegal, and no true democratic system should allow that to happen.

Yes! That was my choice, "I prefer to be an illiterate on in foreign democratic country, than work with suit and tie on my own Oligarchic country."

A few days before my 26th birthday, I was back in the U.S. and this time it was different. This time I knew what I wanted was to stay and live permanently here in the U.S., at least I was going to give it a try.

With a lot of enthusiasm I started working really hard in this gigantic new country, and when I came back I had already a job. It was nice to have a job, and they had no problem giving me my old job back.

Now here in the U.S., I had to pay all my bills in dollars, and they were so expensive for me. I was always short on money, but some way, and somehow I survived. It was a very stressful situation to know that if I run out of money I had no place to stay, and I will have to go back to my country. It was stressful to know that if I didnít have money to pay for my own expenses, even how I was going to get money to buy me a ticket to go back to my country. In a way, "I was all in." I didnít know what wouldíve happen to me if I ran out of money, and I prayed to God not to have to find out what wouldíve happen every single day. In a way I have never been so aware of God as well. Here in the U.S. I truly prayed with all my heart daily.

After we came back to the U.S. from Chile Mike and I took different roads. Mike and Sigrid and soon the new baby had to have their own life, but I cannot thank him enough for all what he did for me at that time in my life. After we came back, Mike, Sigrid and three dogs rented a little house and Mike like you can see, he had his hands full.

Mrs. Dora the lady who was renting me a room on her house, she and I had became friends, and she surprised me buying a little birthday cake, and sang happy birthday the day of my twenty-six birthday. My very first birthday here in the U.S. for me it was a lonely birthday, none of my family was there, but I was happy. I was thinking in my head, this is the greatest birthday ever! All my life in my country Iíve been dreaming and drooling for a car, and here in the U.S. I got my first car ever in just a few Months. A seven years old, 1985 Yugo that for me was the coolest car ever. I loved it! I was so happy to have a car of my own. It was a dream come through, and I said mine because when we came back Mike sold me his half, and now I had the title, and the car was all mine.

The days flew by really fast. I was working as hard as I could, and I had no life, but this lady did take me on Sundays to her church, and it was nice to have somebody to talk to. She had a daughter named Dora, and everybody called her Dorita. She was very nice and she corrected me, and taught me so many things about the English language. They really made me feel at home.

One of those days Mrs. Dora took me to a card dealer, because she wanted to buy a car for Dorita, and she showed me a few cars that she could afford, but none of them was working. They all had some serious problems, and she asked me, "Do you think that you can fix one of these cars?" I said "Maybe." She has heard my stories about fixing cars, and that I was a really good mechanic, but I wasnít a real mechanic. I have never had been to school to learn mechanics, but anyways Mrs. Dora took me over there, because she had faith in me. These cars they were all in a row, and I checked them one by one. I looked at five cars and all of them had very bad mechanical problems except for oneóa Chevy Corsica V6 3.0ófor what I could see, my diagnostic was that this car had a curved head engine, and all the rest was just fine. Mrs. Dora asked me, "Can you fix that?" I answered "Yes I can" I said, "There is a chance that I might be wrong though. I am not a mechanic that graduated from some school or has a degree in car mechanics, but as far as I can tell, I can fix this car." She and the dealer salesman started willing and dealing and argued for a little while. At the end she bought the car.

She bought the car and said to me, "Now that your work is very slow maybe we can give a hand to each other. You could help me fixing the car, and I will take that as a payment for rent. What do you say?" I really liked the proposal and we agreed. Very next day early in the morning I started working in the car.

I still remember working on that car like it was yesterday. I was right about the car, the car had a blown gasket. While working in the car Mrs. Dora cooked breakfast, and her daughter Dorita was there that morning, so we had breakfast together. Dorita she spoke Spanish and English very well. I was so impressed by that. She taught me English as much as she could, when she had the chance. I was always asking questions about the language anyhow. She had the patience to explain to me how to say things in English, and gave me very good examples. One of the hardest things for me to understand was the fact that straight translations not always made sense. I remember her trying to explain me that some letters, even if they were the same, they had different sounds depending where they were. Many of those sounds I have never heard before. She really helped me with that. I was baffled trying to learn this new language that it was by far way more difficult than I ever expected. I asked her that morning while having breakfast, "Arenít you happy that shortly you will have your own car, and all for yourself?" She said, "Well I wish it was a newer one, like all my friends have." I was blown away by her answer. For me was so hard to believe that someone having so much, compared to what people have in my country was still not happy, and I could tell that the car was not good enough for her. In my mind I said, "Preposterous!"

For me it was so hard to believe how poor I was. For the first time she made me realize that I came from a very poor country, a third world country. I know the few Chileans that are at the top, or around the top, "The elite" for them things were completely different. They lived in a luxury world, but not me. I was a third world country poor person, and to realize that was a very humbling experience, shocking nonetheless, but very educational. There I learned that not everybody see the world with the same eyes. I learned that for other people reality was a very different thing. My question at that time in my life was, "Can I be part of this nation? Is this what I want?" The U.S. was no bed of roses, but to learn a different culture, and have the opportunity to study this culture, pretty much one house at a time, for me it was a priceless. A perk that came with the job, because painting all around town, makes you know the truth, the real truth of many households.

It was hard to believe how poor I was, but that was my reality, and here in the U.S. my chances of succeed on coming out of that situation were far greater than back in my country, so I thought.

 A few days after that breakfast, I got the parts I needed to fix the car, and I started putting the engine back together. I had to rent a few tools, like a torque wrench, but after a couple of days of working under the scorching sun, I started the engine, and the engine fire up the first time. The car started working like a clock. I was so happy! The car was in perfect conditions, and it was a great nice car. I even wished I had a car as nice and fast as that one.

The car was running so good that Mrs. Dora said, "Letís go to Disneyland." And so we did. We went for the weekend to Orlando, and we had a wonderful time. My first time in Disneyland, "What a dream come through." We had such a good time on that little trip. I drove all the way from Miami to Orlando. Back then I loved to drive. I was young, and drive over the highways here in America was like playing in a full size roller coaster for me. I wish we couldíve stayed longer because there is so much to see in Disney, that you wish you had more time to see it all.

A few weeks after we came back from that trip, I suffered my first big disappointment with my little Yugo. The car got its first mechanical problem. I just got out of a highway and the engine stall on me, the engine completely stopped working, and no matter what I did, I couldnít get it to start again. My Yugo died on me, and I could not fix it. You needed especial tools to do so, and I didnít have them, and the engine was so different and so weird, that I tried to fix it, but I couldnít.

This moment in my life was one of the lowest points since I made it back to the U.S. Work was slow, and I had to take my car to the mechanic. Everybody knows that when you have to take your car to the mechanic here in the U.S. you are in trouble. Had no choice, but to take it to the mechanicís shop. They told me not to worry, they will have it done in no time, and it was going to be around three to five hundred dollars max. Regardless of my objection of having to pay money that I didnít have, I said to the mechanic to go ahead and fix it. I had no other choice.

In the mid time Mrs. Dora helped me out letting me use her car so I can keep working. That was a big deal for me at the time. Without her help I donít know what wouldíve happened to me, maybe at that very moment I wouldíve have to start packing my stuff to go back to my country. I was glad that she was able to give me a hand, and I was very thankful of her friendship, and help.

My car has been at the mechanic shop for almost a week, and finally they called me to let me know that the car was ready to be picked up. I went over there, and they explained to me that they had to bring a Yugo specialist, and now the bill instead of being three to five hundred max, now the bill was eight hundred and seventy dollars plus tax. I said, "I donít have that kind of money. You said in the worst case was going to be five hundred dollars. I donít have that much money." They said to me, "You authorized the repairs." Of course I received a call from them, but the person who called me didnít speak any Spanish, and it turned out to be a big confusion. At the end to make the story short, I had to give them the title of the car. There was no way I could afford that much money. I was devastated. I thought that was the end, no car, no work, no work, no money, and I couldnít use Mrs. Doraís car forever.

Back at home at dinner time that night, I told the story about what happened to my car to Mrs. Dora and she said, ďDonít worry you can go to any car dealer and get a car. It doesnít matter if you have papers or not. Any dealer will be happy to finance you a car. You gotta go to those with the sign, ďBuy here. Pay here.Ē I said. ďI donít have any money for a down payment.Ē She said, ďDonít worry Iíll borrow you the money.Ē I couldnít believe it, I never thought somebody that knows me so little wouldíve help me that much. I said thanks to her, and I was back in heaven. I thought for a moment that was the end of me here in the U.S., but now thanks to her I had another chance. I grabbed the five hundred dollars from Mrs. Dora and I went car shopping the very next day.

Trust me there is a drawback when you know a bit of finances, because what you can afford is a cruel mathematical reality. I estimated what was the maximum amount of money I could spend, and the results were about five thousand dollars max. With that idea in mind I went to the dealers looking for a good reliable car. I started looking everywhere. I went from dealer to dealer looking and looking. There were so many dealers that I was overwhelmed by the amount of options I had. Looking and looking I found the car of my dreams, and I was not looking for it, but there it was. That car was a Pontiac Fiero. I really loved that car. Back in my town there it was only two persons that had that car. For me that car was a dream car. I looked at it, and it was clean, nice, and working just fine. It was a beautiful car, and for only six thousand dollars. Still a bit out of my league but close enough. I wanted to test the car, and they let me drove the car all by myself. I was so surprised about that. I was surprise but I didnít ask twice.

What an experience! I got in the highway, and I had the pleasure of driving the car of my dreams at sixty five miles an hour. That speed was really fast for me. Coming from such a small town where the speed limit is fifty miles an hour in the highway. I was blown away by it. It was amazing to be able to go that fast and a highway. At the end of the ride I started dealing and willing with the salesman; I got a little discount, and I bought the car. Another happy moment in the U.S. for me, and on top of all that, I got to drive the car home that same day. Awesome! I was amazed by the fact that they give me credit even knowing that I was a complete illegal. Life was back on track one more time for me, and everything went just fine for a few months.

One of those days though when nothing new was happening, I met Doritaís older friend Ashley Rainwater. Dorita introduced her to me, and I have never seen a girl that beautiful, and that close ever. What a beautiful woman. She looked just like a model for me. When Dorita introduce her to me, I kissed her on the cheekóthat is a tradition in my countryóand she was okay with it. Actually I think she liked it. I was blown away that day. How I wish I could speak better English then, because I wouldíve love to go out with her, but I was in a relationship with Veronica, and that was not an option. Any how I never thought possible that she couldíve have been interested in me anyways. After a couple of weeks she left, and I didnít make much out of it anyways.

About a Month later Ashley came to visit Dorita for a second time. This time, she was friendlier with me, and she was talking to me about some Salsa classes she has been taking. Out of the blues we ended up dancing Salsa in the kitchen by the hallway, and nobody was around that day. I will never forget that moment. We danced salsa in that little hallway, and when the song ended, I was holding her very close, and we looked in the eye, and we almost kissed, but I couldnít do it. I just turn my face gave her a hug, and pretty much I ran away to my room. I thought, "What in the hell just happened. Why didnít you kiss the most beautiful girl you have ever seen? I asked myself. What in the hell!" I said to myself, "If I love Veronica and Sebastian, and you do love them truly. You cannot do that." Call me a chicken but I didnít. I said, "She deserves better anyways. Iím just a spic here in the U.S., and I have a girlfriend with a child that I love dearly. Besides Iím 26 and sheís not even 19 yet."

That moment for me is unforgettable. Many times I have wondered in my mind what wouldíve been of my life, if we wouldíve kissed that day. I guess I will never find out, it was just another couldíve, wouldíve moment of my life, and thatís it. Anyhow I still remember that day when I met Ashley Rainwater, and we dance Salsa in that little hallway. I know I will never forget that moment, that moment was another crossroad in my life.

Life kept going as usual, and I was happy to make it one day at the time. I was working hard, and on top of all I was going to school at night. For me to go school at night was a big sacrifice. After work I was exhausted. My work was mainly outside out in the sun, so it was really tough on me. At that time in my life has been already over ten months since I came back to the U.S. and all I had in my mind was, "how I could get ahead, so I can buy Veronicaís Airplane Tickets."

One of those nights in the classroom my teacher asked me in the middle of class if I got a business card. She knew I was working as a painter and she asked me if I could give her an estimate to paint the outside of her house. "Lucky me" I said, and over the weekend I went to her house; met her husband, and I gave her an estimate. She liked it and I did get the job that very same day. I was so happy that day. For the first time I was contemplating the real possibility of Veronica and Sebastian finally coming over the U.S.

I did get the job done in two weekends, and the day after I finished painting my teacherís home, I received two thousand dollars cash. That was more than what I needed to send the money for an airplane ticket to Veronica. I was so happy that day. Another great time here in the U.S. the place where things do happen.

When I took the job, I didnít have a clue how I was going to do it, but I said, "God will provide and somehow someway, I am going to get that job done." My first problem was how to rent a high pressure washing machine. I didnít have a credit card. Good thing at least I already had a Florida Drivers license. Looking and looking for a place that would rent me a pressure washer. I found this little paint shop where the owner said after learning that I didnít have a credit card or enough money for a cash deposit, he said, "I tell you what. Leave me the cash you have in hand and your car, and Iíll rent you the machine. I can give you a ride where you are going to use the machine, and anyways the machine does not fit in the trunk of your car. Deal?" Deal! I said right away. I was killing two births with one stone. Even if I got to rent the pressure washer, I didnít have a truck to take it with me. The owner said as I was living, "Do you mind if I take your car for a little spin." I said, "No I donít mind. Go ahead; just treat it with care please." I was so glad that somebody without even know me took the risk of borrowing me a very expensive tool. After I got done pressure washing the house, I had plans to go and celebrate my good luck. After the house was washed all the rest of the work I had to do, was nothing but painting, so I had all the tools to finish the job. Something so simple, but if you donít have the tools, you canít do it. I wanted to celebrate, but I had no friends to hang out with. I was working and working and nothing but working at the time. Work is all Iíve been able to do, and that was the only thing I was able to afford to do anyways. Work and study English hard, was all I did at the time. Anyhow my social life was ended since I got here, and I was getting used to it. I was going to school and working for my future, so no complains there.

Like I said that day, I felt like celebrating. After I finish washing the house and I received the down payment. I picked up my car, and I went home; took a shower very quick, and on I went for a joy ride. After I took my shower and got in the car, I realized that the guy has left in the ashtray of the car a joint. A joint like I have never seen before. It looked like a cavemanís club. I couldnít believe it. I thought, "Awesome! Woo who! It has been probably only no more than three times, at the most four times that I had smoke a puff of pot up that moment in my life, and I donít want to exaggerate, but Iím positive that it has been no more than five time that I had smoked pot in my life up that moment. One playing Pinball and the other times with one of my friends nicknamed the Smurfóhe was short. Well the thing was no more than four and "One Puff" at a time. Those few times they have been very good experiences.

And just like in the song Hotel California "The warm smell of colitasóa pot cigarette butt." I took a puff and I got in the highway for a joy ride. I light up that joint and took one puff. I was driving in the highway along the ocean in a warm beautiful day, a typical day of South Florida, and it was amazing. I was driving, and the radio started playing a song that for the first time I was starting to understand what the lyrics said. The song was Lights by Journey. For the first time I understood the phrase, "When the lights go down in the city. And the sun shines on the bay." While listening to the song I started thinking about the most beautiful girl I have ever met, and I foolishly refused to find out if she wouldíve kiss me back. The moment came to my mind, the moment when I was face to face with her in my arms, and looking at each otherís eyes.

Like the other song says, "In a dark desert highway, cool wind on my hair, (It was getting dark at that moment. The sunset was already gone) the warm smell of "Colitas" rising up through the air. After that magical drive I saw a shimmering light. The sign said, "Dancing Dirls" My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop and see these girls for sure. When I got inside that place, I sat at the edge of the dancing platform, and while I was drinking a Coors lightómy favorite American beer at the timeóa beautiful woman dressed in a little sexy white cowboy attire, started dancing right in front of a gentleman that was seated right by my side. Close enough for me. What a sweet moment.

I was working really hard but little moments like that one, kept me going, and to know that I was making progress learning English really made me feel good.

Actually at the time in my life I was being exploited, I was working 60 hours to 80 hours a week and getting paid only for 45 to 55 hours a week max, and no overtime. I had no choice either, "If you donít like it, you can always go back to where you came from." I said, "Work is work." At the time I didnít care. Every day that I was able to make it, was a day more of learning English, and a day more of contributing in a positive way to this new country that was lending me a hand. I was in the prime of my health so I didnít care how hard I was working. I learned at the time that here in America, they tried to get as much as possible out of you, and they had no shame on doing so. I was in disbelieve that here in the U.S. they allowed the exploitation of people like that by the thousands, and as far as I could see, with my own eyes, they had a whole system going based on that. The exploitation was at a massive scale, as massive as the highways.

The time went by very quick, so quick, that I couldnít believe when finally Veronica and Sebastian were on their way to the U.S.

 Mike has been renting a house with two rooms for a while, and Veronica was Sigridís best friend, so she had a place where stay when she got here. She was coming over here to take a look, and see with her own eyes if she liked things here. That was great because I had no money at all to pay for a hotel room, or any room for that matter. At that time I was renting a little room that had not even a private bathroom. It was impossible for me to receive them where I was staying at the time. I did thanks Mike and Sigrid one more time for their help, and is all I could do anyhow. All my hard work went to the airplane tickets, and like always money was really tight, I donít know what I wouldíve done if my friends Mike and Sigrid were not there to give us a hand.

It was a moment of a new beginning for me, a moment of freedom and independence. All I ever wanted from society was a place where my work the only thing I ever had, was enough to make a living enough to have and raise a family in an honest way.

 I was living renting a room still but not at Mrs. Doraís house, I was working so hard that I needed a place with a better mattress. At Mrs. Doraís place I have been sleeping for a while in this two feet wide old camping bed and it was killing my back. I needed a better place to stay, so I moved from Mrs. Doraís house to an apartment where I rented a room from a young couple. Another young struggling couple trying to live the dream here in America.

Hard work and the extreme hit were taken a toll on me. For the first time in my life I started to understand what my friend Abelardo was trying to tell me all along. He used to tell me all the time, "No matter how hard you work, you are not going to be rich." And his famous quote was, "Donít you be a fool." But he said it in Spanish, "No seas to guevon" (Donít you be a dumb ass) He used to say, "You need the money, but you need your body even more. Donít work so hard. Is not worth it." He was a coworker of mine at A+painting with Chris Newton. We painted countless houses together, and he taught me many, many painting tips, and all of them were absolutely true, and soon enough I found out what he meant. Working more than extra hard for a long period of time, and breathing all those fumes, working under the sun, under the scorching heat it was really taken a toll on me. By that time I was being exploited but I didnít care. The only thing I cared was to get the money to afford how to receive Veronica and Sebastian here in the U.S. I wanted to make the best out of that experience. That adventure we were about to live together.

I was working hard, and waiting for them to get to the U.S. when I experienced something I have never experienced before. For the first time in my life I started to dream at night what I was supposed to do the next day at work. I woke up in the middle of the night having these nightmares. I wanted to rest but I couldnít. I could not rest enough for my body to recover. I was working so many hours a week that I started having nightmares, and I started experiencing symptoms of being burnt out. In my quest to make enough money to survive, I heard that other companies paid more, but you have to work harder, and I didnít care. At the time all I cared was about the money. I was money hungry. I left Chris Newton Company because I was barely making it with six bucks an hour. After about six months working for him I asked Chris if I could have a raise, and he tried to talk to me and explained me why he couldnít give me the raise, but I didnít speak English well enough to understand all what he was saying. I did understand a few things though. One of them really got stuck in my mind, "Öif you want to earn more money learn how to speak English." He got frustrated and at the same time he turned around saying, "English man, English!" I couldnít express complex ideas in this new language at all. I thought when I came to the U.S. that in six-months I should be able to speak English with no problem. Man was I wrong or what? This language was far more complicated than I ever expected, and I realized as well how cocky I was thinking that I was going to be able to speak English that fast. Being here in the U.S. for sure has been a very humbling experience.

To improve my situation I needed to find a better paying job so I move to a different company, because I found a job that I paid me seven dollars an hour. By that time for me to find a job was not a difficult task, all considered I was able to speak English well enough that I could find a job easy. I realized that there were more jobs that I could think of. Once you get here might be difficult at the beginning, but soon you learn that there is plenty of jobs available, but none of them give you a life. A lot of people cannot work in construction, they donít have a trade, and they do get paid even worse. They get paid about four dollars an hour, and in some cases only $3.50 an hour. I was lucky that I was able to make more than that, but raising a family here in the U.S. with that money is near to impossible. Now I can see that, but at that time in my life it is hard to believe how much faith I had or in other words how naÔve I was.

By then when I left Chris painting company, I didnít know how much Chris have taught me about painting, but soon all those skills were going to be put to the test. In this new company they tested my skills. The first day of work they test me on cutting with the brush, and I had no problems. Second day they test me painting walls with the roller, I did very well. Third day they let me use the sprayer, and I did very good as well. They hire me in the spot and they told me that I could be a supervisor. They told me if I did well having a crew of my own I could make some extra money. They said that they could give me another fifty cents extra an hour. This job had the potential to get up to nine dollars an hour, and I never had earned so much money in my life. Even though that was the case, here in the U.S. that money was not much at all. I had to pay everything in dollars as well.

By the end of that week I was driving a paint truck 40 feet long, and I had five people under my supervision. With their help, we were painting about a house a day. It might sound like a big stretch, but no, what happened is that there it was these massive projects, about three hundreds houses each, and you follow the finish carpenters, you go house by house, and see what needs to be done, in each one of them. At the end you are painting about a house a day, some small houses, some huge houses, but at the end about a house a day.

 At that moment I realized how well Chris have taught me how to paint, because I would get into a house that was under construction, and I knew exactly when and what that house needed to have done. In my obsession to succeed and to provide for my family, I worked even on Sundays.

That was the point where I started having these bad dreams about working on my next day assignments. I was working so hard, I was so tired that I lost track of when I was asleep and when I was awake. The exploitation and the work conditions were deplorable. I remember one time I run out of paint thinner, and the big boss happened to be there, and he said to me, "Use Gasoline, it will work just fine, just get that house done." And I did, even with a full-proof fumes-mask I got badly intoxicated. They didnít care not even a bit. A few months after I understood why he didnít care. A few Months later I saw him driving a brand new sport Camaro.

When I saw him I remembered one more time the words of my friend Abelardo, "Donít you be a fool. You do need the money but more, you need your body even more, and especially your peace of mind."

As a teenager playing water-polo and swimming I was no stranger to push my body to its limits, but I thank God I followed my friend advice, and I stopped working so hard, and especially on Sundays. After that for some reason I was never the same again. I had to accept that I had my limitations, and I was humans after all. Nonetheless I was disappointed with myself, because I felt like I was failing to provide for my family. I felt like I was not doing enough, certainly I was not making enough money.

I remember talking about it at Mikeís home at dinner time. One of those days I was invited over for dinner, and I remember that night very well for two things: One it was one of the first dinners we had together since Veronica and Sebastian got here, and second we had for dinner Brussels sprouts, and donít get me wrong I love Brussels sprouts, but not everybody does, especially Mike. We were seated in a humble little roundtable that was nicely decorated, and we were talking about how fast I became a supervisor at that company. I remember very well, closing that subject on our conversation with the remark, "Easy come, easy go."

One more time we were having a great time together. Sigrid not long ago she had the newest addition to their familyóa beautiful girl named Ericaóand she was seated on her high chair spilling food all over. Veronica and Sebastian were by my side, and we had another great time together.

 After three weeks working for this company I received my first check, and I was not happy at all, my fears were confirmed. I heard about it but I refuse to believe it. Sometimes we hear what we want to hear. We were getting cheated on the hours we worked. They were stilling money from us, and I was working so hard for them, Like I have never worked for nobody, and they cheated us. I remember receiving complaints from my crew, and I even complained to the big boss, but you know what they say, "If you donít like it Juanito, you can go back to your country." Let me explain: We started working at 7 AM loading these huge trucks with hundreds of gallons of paintís. Then drive to the construction site, prepare and organize everything for painting, but you didnít make a penny until we started moving the brush or the roller. I couldnít believe it, we were being cheated and exploited here in the U.S. As soon as I realized that, I started looking for another job, but after a complaint to the owner he replied quote, "if you donít like it you can leave any time, but that is how we roll over here." What sucked the most was the humiliation of having to stay. If I was by myself probably I wouldíve left at that very moment, but having a family behind you changes everything. I had to swallow my pride and keep working.

I was working so hard that Veronica and I had no time to be together. She started complaining about staying at home all day long. We were barely making it, barely surviving, and on top of all, when I got home the only thing I wanted was to rest, and they the only thing they wanted to do was to go out and see all this new stuff. I wish then I could do that but many times I didnít have the means to afford not even the gas to go for a joy ride. We were behind in on everything; we didnít have anything, and we needed everything.

 Veronica and Sebastian were right I was working too much but I wanted to rent a place for the three of us, and in order to do that I needed lots of money, and I didnít have the money. Even working as hard as I did it was not enough. At that moment Veronica has been here only for a couple of months, and she was still staying with Sigrid at Mikeís house. Every time I got home they wanted to go out, and I wanted to stay home and rest. I was exhausted, burnt out and I remember making a big effort just to go out and play for a bit with my little Champ. He like always made me laugh, and reminded me what life was all about.

Mike at that moment offered me help one more time he said to me, "Ö if you want to, you can move into my house, at least that way you guys can be together, and maybe then, you could find a better job." I did listen to Mike and we started living on Mikeís house. We had a full house for sure. It was very nice of them, very nice indeed. I really appreciate what Mike did for us at the time, and with his help one more time, I was able to relax a bit, and I was able to try to find a better job.

Finally after a few weeks of looking I found another job. Paid me the same seven dollars an hour, but at least I had the weekends off, and they did start paying me as soon as I started doing anything, actually the only thing I had to do to start the clock was to show up on time, unbelievable but true. That was nice for a change.

The problem remained the same though, "How to afford a place for the three of us, so we could have a normal life." The problem was that in order to rent a place in Miami, we needed to have up front the first month of rent, one month as a deposit, and the last month of rent, plus two deposits, one for the gas and the other for the electricity. For me to save that money wouldíve taken me about a year to do so, unless a miracle happened.

Three of us in each room, was taken a toll on all of us, but Mike and Sigrid didnít say a word. they knew I was doing everything humanly possible to fix the situation.

Mike one of those days came home with a bigger smile on his face than usual, and he said to me, "Daniel I have the solution to your problems my friend." I said, "Tell man whatís up" He said, "Ömy landlord talked to me about exchanging some work for rent. She said in a way to give me a hand I could helper to fix a house she wants to put for rent, and like you know by now, I donít know anything about construction, there is where you come in. You know a bit of everything so maybe you could rent a house from her, and exchange work for rent. So if you are interested we could go and talk to the landlord, and I will translate for you. What do you say Daniel?" I said, "Thatís great news awesome!" I asked Mike "What kind of work does this house need to have done?" Mike said, "Iím not sure but we will talk to the landlord together and weíll go from there." I was excited.

Back then my faith was still strong. I thought someway somehow God will provide. I had the conviction that I was doing something good, and because of that, God will someway somehow help me to find the way to succeed.

Soon we worked out an agreement with the landlord, and I started working every day after work in this old beat up house. The house was pretty much a trash can. I was tired after work, but I wanted so bad to have a little place for the three of us, that I couldnít help to start working as hard as I could one more time. My body never really recovered after being burnt out, but I kept going. Here and there the three of us had little good times too, but they were very limited. We liked to go play mini-golf at this nice family entertainment center, we went to ride carts, and I was hanging in there. I could see Sebastian happiness in his face, and that made it all worth it. By then Sebastian started going to school and everything was just fine for a little while.

A little happy humble moment in my life, a little bit of luck, and I had hopes once again. Little by little I fixed everything broken on that house. I started with the bathroom. Mike was so surprised to see me fixing plumbing issues. I had to build a new bath pretty much from scratch. I installed a new vanity sink, new toilet, and new everything. I was surprised to somehow I was putting in practice all the carpentry lessons that my father Luis taught me. I figured out how to fix the bath then I moved to the kitchen. I installed new cabinets, new countertop and sink, and after I installed the tile floor, you could say that old beat up house was a home one more time. The only problem was, that the house had no AC, and the landlord said that she didnít have enough money to put one right away, but she will. At that time I was so desperate for some peace in my life that I didnít care. We had a livable place, and we moved there regardless. The house was not even a block away from Mikeís place so we really liked the fact that we were going to be neighbors now. That was great! I was at the edge of exhaustion, but very happy. Working so hard got me in a bit of trouble after being late for work a couple times. Thatís the story of my life. It was so hard for me to wake up in the morning, like always but, I did what I could. Actually a Cuban coffee made marbles in the morning for me. The shot of espresso and hot Cuban bread and butter were at that time what got me going in the mornings.

Life went okay for a bit. Sebastian was going to school; Veronica at home, and I was working hard as always. We had no TV, no dining table, no furniture and no AC, and that was hard for all of us, especially for Veronica. She had a University degree, and she didnít cope very well with the fact that here in the U.S. she was nothing but an illiterate. I could see her motivation and hopes going down the drain. On top of all that she was pretty much recovering still from a very serious body surgery that she had done back in Chile. A few months before she came over, while I was here in the U.S. she had to go under surgery, and she almost lost her life. She had an abscess inside of her, and almost killed her. In a way she was still recovering from that, and for some reason after the initial glow of being here, she was not the same person. At least not the one I once met. Sebastian overall was happy as happy as a kid should be. He was learning English, and faster than any of us. He really liked to go to school here in the U.S. He was thrilled with the idea that he was in the same place where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lived. At the time the TMNT were his heroes. My life was spinning around them, and I was completely dedicated to the success of our new family.

At work one of those days, the owner of the company talked to me, and I thought he was going to give me a raise but he said, "For your good work Iím going to send you to a very fancy, and nice project. There are not many houses on that project, but the work needs to be excellent, so you need to take your time, and do a good job. I know you are not going to disappoint me." Having that being a good time I asked him for a raise, but he said to me that I needed to speak a better English first. Then weíll talk about it. He gave me the address and left. Of course, with my Tarzan kind of English I couldnít argue, by the time I was able to put an idea together, and translated into English, he was already out the door.

Next day I went to the address he gave me, and for my surprise I ended up in a painting crew that had two Chileans in it. The supervisor was from Chile, and one of the painters that I worked with was from my country too. For a moment I felt right at home. Almost as if I was working back in my country. I liked the fact that I was around some people from my country, but they always are so obnoxious, even for me. Let me give you an example: After a few weeks, at work on my break, the Chilean supervisor called me aside and told me, "You need to educate your butt. Iíve been noticing youíre taking a long time when you use the "John" If you need to use the restroom use your break. Maybe if it is an emergency it would be okay, but if you go and use the "John" every day like you do, you are taking an extra break, and that is stealing from the company." I was in disbelieved and I knew that nothing I could say could help the situation. I was out of words anyways. For the first time since I got here to the U.S., somebody at work said something to me about going to use the restroom or taking too long to use the bathroom. Before that everybody that I work with, they told me, "Hey, if you gotta go, you gotta go! Hurry up though." After that conversation I tried not to upset him again. Anyways I thought he was out of place, and when I started working with them I knew something like that it was going to happen sooner or later. Chilean people let me tell you.    

This new project was a small project, but the houses were big and very fancy. This job had a different approach to building. The focus of this job was quality and customer satisfaction, not just production. I felt almost like working for Chris Newton again, almost. In this project my knowledge and painting skillís really shined. I was told many times how well and smooth the houses started to come out since I got there.

This small change was very good for me, because in a time when I really needed to take it easy, I found a more relaxed and nicer work atmosphere. At that time I was working every day fixing that old fixer-upper and I had no time to spend with my family. The only time I had to spend with my family was dinner and that was it. I was working so hard and I was so tired, that when I got to my bed, I used to put my head on the pillow, and I was already snoring.

The people that gave me my first job here in the U.S., Iíll always remember them because we not only painted together, we had fun painting together. Around them I was always treated with respect and it was nice to do everything in a very professional manner. They taught me the meaning of the word "PRO" They used to say to me, "If you want to make more money, you need to be a Professional Painter. No matter what you do, you need to know what youíre doing, and conduct yourself in a professional manner." Working with them I was impressed by the quality and the speed at which they painted. They left no drops on the floor, and every line between colors was just right, not perfect just right, just like the work of an artist. I remember at the beginning I couldnít do it, and I couldnít keep up with them, but practice makes perfect. Since then I took the word Professional very serious, and I took a lot of pride on what I was doing. In my family as well I heard many times, "Any honest work is a good job. No matter how humble it could be, a job is a job." I was happy to have a trade that I could pay my bills with, and they always told me, "Here in the U.S. if you want to succeed, you need to be a professional. After I left Chrisí company I thought every other company was going to be around the same, but boy was I wrong. This new project reminded me of my first job as a painter, and the whole crew I worked with. In this small project I found guys that were in the business of building better homes, and I could tell the difference.

 In this small but nice project I started working under the close supervision of the carpenter in charge of passing the houses inspections, and I didnít spend much time with the painting crew. On that project I got to work closely with the lead Carpenter, the one that everybody refer to him as "The punch out guy"óthere was a punch list indicating all the details that the houses need to have done before they get sold, and there is where the name came from. He was the one making sure that all those details in the punch list were taking care of. This guy was a young energetic Cuban American named Bob Rodriguez. He was easy-going and he was always in an up-beat mode. He was always very polite, and I really liked his personality. Every time he needed something done, he asked me with very good manners, Could you? Would you please? I really liked that. The work atmosphere at my new job was very nice, and I have no complains working over there except for one: One day we had to paint a house that was out of this project, and when we got there we were pretty much the only ones on that project. At lunch time a guy from Colombia before the half hour lunch was over he started painting, and he started to paint the wall right where I was eating my lunch. I asked him nicely, almost joking with him, "Hey come on, donít be an ass. Let me finish my lunch man." He was serious and he kept painting closer and closer to where I was. We started arguing about being quiet, and respecting lunch time. The argument little by little escalated to the point where we started a fist fighting. At the time I had a pony tell and after an exchange of punches, that none of them landed on our faces, he grabbed me by my pony tail. That was the first time in my life that I had long hair, and he thought he had me. I was bending forward looking at the floor, and he had me by the pony tell with both hands, and I couldnít move. He freed one of his hands and try to punch me in the face, but I had no problem blocking him with my fore-arms, and every time he tried to punch me I responded back with a punch up to his face. Even if I could not see his face I could feel it in my knuckles. He was very surprised to see some punches coming back to him, and after a few seconds that seemed like an eternity in that stalemate position, my Chilean co-worker came to separate us. He almost got hit by both of us throwing some punches getting away from each other. My Chilean buddy was very skinny, and he got lucky he didnít get knocked out. The fight ended right there. He was bigger and taller than me, but he asked for it, and he got some of this Chilean Fury. He was so obnoxious. We were not even finished with lunch and he started painting right where I was eating and he said, "You better move or Iím going to paint you over." He thought it was funny, and I said, "You better stop or Iím going to fuck you over." That is how the fight started. He really made me mad that day, and to say the least, I wasnít in a very good mood either. From that moment on he had a lot more respect for me. I could not stand him, but it was work and you not always like the people you work with. I know one thing though, I am not a hatter and he was one, because of his size, he was used to that everybody just got out of is way, but not me. That was my only objection to my new job.

In a lighter note Bob Rodriguez job was to insure that every house as they were being built, passed all the inspections with no delay, otherwise was his responsibility.

At work everything was okay. I was starting to learn a lot about the residential Construction Codes and I was working hard, but not being exploited like I was for a little while in another jobs. I really liked to be painting at that project.

Everything was going good at work but at home was a completely different story. Veronica was not coping well adapting to this new culture and her new situation. I donít blame her either, our home was empty of furniture, had no curtains and I had no money to do anything about it either. I had faith though, faith in a better future and I still thought someway somehow things will work out at the end for us. So far we were surviving, and having them by my side, especially to have my Champ close to me, it was a blessing, and that kept me going.

One of those days talking with Bob Rodriguez he asked me if I could give him a hand taking down a basketball hoop. I immediately thought of Sebastian, and I knew he wouldíve loved to have a basketball hoop at home, so I asked Bob, "Hey what are you going to do with that basketball hoop after you take it down?" He said, "You can keep it if you want to." I said, "Awesome! I will."

I went over his house on the weekend, and I gave him a hand taking this nice basketball hoop out. This hoop was right on the side of his driveway, and some of the teens around while he was not home would came and start playing waking up his new born daughter.  After we were done we put it  on the back of his little Mazda truck and dropped it in my house. That day I got to know his family, I met his wife and his few months-old little girl. He had a lovely family. We talk for a bit, had a soda, and after a few minutes break, I said good bye to his wife, and we went outside again, secured the load on his truck, and headed straight to my house. When we got there Sebastian was waiting for us. He was so excited. He knew about the basketball hoop and he couldnít wait to start playing on it.

On that old house with no air conditioner, I didnít have many things, but I had just the perfect spot where to put this new basketball hoop. That day Bob met Veronica and Sebastian, and we talked for a bit before he left. That same day Chevy was begging me to put the basketball hoop up, and I was so tired but I havenít seen Sebastian that excited in a long time, so I started working on it right away. Sebastian was my little helper that day. I remember Chevy couldnít wait until the concrete around the base was dry, so he could start playing on it. All weekend long I had to explain to Sebastian that the concrete needed to dry first before we could play. Monday after work he was waiting for me to get home, and I still remember the excitement on his face. As soon as I got home we started playing on it, and it was a lot of fun. We really had a good time together that day. After we played for a bit dinner was ready and right after we went at it again, just for a few minutes though, I was very tire and I needed to rest. That was truly a happy day to remember. No matter how tired I was, I always had some time to play with my little Champ.

Everything was going okay at that moment except for the A/C and the lack of furniture, but Veronica and I, instead of growing closer together, for some reason we started growing farther apart. Veronica knew at that moment that I couldnít make it on my own. She knew I was doing everything I could, but there it was no way for me to cover our basics needs. She even tried to help me out working a little bit here, and a little bit there. She wanted to see if she could find something that she would like to do, and the only thing she could find was manual labor. She work a few times cleaning mostly, and she really didnít like it. I guess she was sad because she was looking at the reality just how it was, at that moment. She was more realistic. I was looking at thing as they could be someday, somehow. I was unable to see the truth because I was looking at the future like dreamers often do. She was down to Earth and I could tell. Her attitude was hard for me to understand at that moment on time, but I have grown older and now I know better.

Out of all the things that were bringing us apart, let me mention one and this one is closely related to the last straw that brought down, what was left of our relationship. Right after they got here from Chile I asked Veronica to register Sebastian for school, and I told her months in advance. Then later on, two weeks before the beginning of school, I asked her, "Did you register Sebastian for school?" And she said, "No I havenít. I havenít had the time, and I donít speak English." She started giving me excuses and reasons why she didnít register Sebastian for school. I just couldnít believe it. She said, "I donít speak English." What a lame excuse, especially in Hialeah. In this town is hard to find somebody that speaks English. I couldnít understand how she didnít find the way to do something so important like registering Sebastian for school. At the same time being so close to the beginning of school classes, we got lucky that we found a place for him where to go to school. Most of the good options, like better neighborhoods and newer schools, all of those places were already full. I could tell in a way that she was not happy, and there I was, nothing I could do about it either. I guess the lack of time to spend between us, was taken a toll on our relationship. The little time I had after work I took her shopping, laundry, and to run errands. I had to take her everywhere, she didnít know to drive and taking the bus was unacceptable for her. We were always looking at things from such a different perspective, always! I wanted to stay home on the weekends, and they were begging me to go out for a ride on the weekends. I did understand them, but the money was so tight that I couldnít afford even gas for a joy ride. The only thing I wanted to do at the time was to rest.

I remember I was trying to quit smoking because in a way I was trying to boost my stamina. Back then I was always so tired all the time, and I knew that the first thing I needed to do was to quit smoking. At least I knew that much, I didnít have to see the Dr. to know where I needed to start. I knew I was working hard, but not as hard as I was working when I was being exploited. I wasnít a heavy smoker either, but I knew for a fact that smoking was bad for me, and like I wanted to give all Iíve got, even those few cigarettes I smoked, they weighted heavily in my consciousness. I guess there is a reason why people say, "Wait Ďtill you get older." But I was only twenty seven years old, and maybe I was just burned out. Maybe I had no time to recover, and I didnít have money to see a Dr. either. Regardless of how I felt at the time, for me the only thing I could do was to keep working or else.

It has been over a year of extreme work, and under extreme weather conditions for me. Coming from weather that almost never exceeded 80įF was really hard on my body, especially working outside under the sun with temperature was over 110 F. All that combined was taken a toll on my body, but I had no choice. I was the only support that they had here in the United States, and the sense of responsibility was heavy on my shoulders. Sleeping at night without air conditioner was hard too, and on top of all that the windows didnít close very well either. Sometimes in the middle of the night roaches crawled on our bed through the window cracks in between the glasses. A few times I woke up yelling on top of my lungs, "A roach, a roach!" around once a week roaches, big flying roaches got in between our sheets, and run on the side of our bodies waking us up in the middle of the night. By the way that is the only thing I donít miss about Florida.

One of the first things I learned about American culture was the fact that is pointless to spend time on what couldíve or shouldíve been, and it was better to let go and move on, "Be part of the solution, and no part of the problem." The problem was, I couldnít make it for the three of us, and I was doing my best to take care of that.

There is a saying, "I used to be so certain, and now I canít figure it out." There was a time when turning the page over and moved on was a breeze, was easy. I used to do that, and I was able to let go and moved on, I had the strength to do it, but now I couldnít. I started to have problems even thinking about it. It was a really frustrating situation to realize that no matter what I did was not enough to provide for my family.

In our relationship with Veronica was not only about her and I only, there was in between us my little Champ. I knew I really love him like my own son, but Veronica and became a sour couple, in a sour situation. Sometimes I had to say to myself, "Take it easy, rest, maybe youíre just too tired, and you are over thinking it." 

I was barely hanging on to the ladder in which I was painting, and I was barely hanging on to the idea that we could eventually succeed. While painting the fascia of these houses, a task that required a lot of patients, up high in the ladder, I use to find solace and time to think about our relationship. Up in the ladder while painting I found time to think and rethink what I was doing to do with my life. Now my favorite time to think was while being up on the ladder. That time made me feel like I was walking along the ocean, back in the ocean of my hometown. Thereís nothing like walking and thinking trying to connect and make sense of the struggles between your heart and your mind, and the struggles between what you would like to happen, and the cruel reality of what can you afford to happen. I was trying to get over the hurdle that a human see what he wants to see, and I was starting to realize that no matter what I did, she wasnít to be happy with me, I wasnít happy with her either. For me being around her was like a trip to heaven, then a trip to hell, and back and forth again. Was her fault or my fault? I used to wonder, but no matter what I concluded as the result of my thinking, didnít change the fact that our relationship was not working. What I couldíve done different, I donít know, and I just couldnít find the answer, because here in the U.S. and back in Chile, our problem was exactly the same one.

One of those days early in the morning when I got to work, I saw the owner of the company talking with my supervisor, and then the supervisor came over to talk to me and he said, "The owner was talking to me, and he said that he just lost a big project, and that there is going to be some changes over here. I am sorry but we are going to have to let you go. Itís nothing personal, and it doesnít have anything to do with how youíre doing your job. Over here we have a rule, the first one to go, is the last one that got hire, and that person is you. Sorry but you are the first one on line to be fired."

I picked up my stuff; I put everything away; I leaned on the side of the car by the front door, and I started to think what I was going to do next. Right before I got in my car to start looking for another job, I took a moment to breathe deep, and I remember looking up to the sky. I closed my eyes saying, "Oh my Lord. Now what?" When I opened my eyes I saw Bob, like always, driving fast and stopping quick. He stopped right in front of me, and he rolled down the windows, saying to me, "I need first thing in the morning touch up on house five, then eleven and a walk through on the 15th later on the afternoon. You got it? He started to leave, and he was almost gone when I said to him, "Wait up Bob! Wait up man. Sorry but I canít do that. I just got fired." He got really surprised, and he said to me if I was kidding him. We started talking and he couldnít understand why they were letting me go. I explained to him what just happened that morning and he asked me, "What are you going to do now?" I said, "Well before I got here I was looking for a job, and that is going to be my full-time job now." He asked me, "Do you know anything about carpentry?" I said, "Yes, I come from a family of artisans, my dad and my brothers made a living out of making artistic creations on a wooden lathe. In my house there was always a little shop, and I know how to use a welding machine too. The big difference is that over there, you do everything by hand pretty much, and using nothing but handsaw and a wood chisel. Over here I see every carpenter using a whole bunch of tools that I have never seen before." Bob said, "So youíre telling me you have good carpentry skills?" He said, "I have to see this with my own eyes." And he added, "Why donít you work with us as a carpenter helper? We are looking for a carpenter helper. Do you know how to read a tape measuring? Are you interested?" I did ask him, "How much?" He said, "Well carpenter helpers usually start at nine bucks an hour, and after a couple months if you do well, you could be making 10 bucks an hour." I said, "Where I have to sign. What I have to do to get higher" he said, "To be a carpenter helped here, you got be able to speak English well enough that you can understand when they are calling the measurements to you. You need to be able to cut the pieces of wood precisely at the right angle an exact measurement. You will be the one who goes and get the wood, and give it to them, you will be the "gofer" the one that goes for these and goes for that." We laughed and I ask him, "Am I going to be working with you?" He Said, "Sometimes, but you will be working with me and another two Carpenters. They work for the Same Company I work for, and you have seen them before. Well I have to go to work now, but come over tomorrow morning at the same time as always, and we will go from there." Take easy he said, and see you tomorrow.

He left as quickly as he came. I think in his mind he was a Daytona kind of guy. He always drove that little Mazda Truck like if it was a racing car.

And just like that, I got another chance for a job. I was so happy, but at the same time worried about what Bob said, "You need to speak English well enough to understand when they call the measurements for you to cut." I didnít know if I could do that yet. I didnít know if I could understand that much English. Anyways I was not going to let pass the opportunity without giving it a try. At the same time for the first time in the U.S. I was offered that much more money. As a painter I was doing seven fifty and hour, and I have never ever made that much money, that was a record for me. In my country with numbers of unemployment always in the double digits was hard to find a job, and sometimes can take you months, if not a year or more to find one. It was hard to believe for me that I had a job interview the very next day I got fired. Unbelievable!

All this time since I got here I have been studying English as much as I could, but I wasnít sure if I was up to that challenge yet. At the same time I knew if I was able to work around people that speak English only, my chances to learn good English were much better.

The only thing I needed to do was to understand how long the cuts needed to be, how many degrees, and the side of the angle that the piece of wood needed to be, left or right, short side or long side, oh man! Was I exited or what? That night thinking about it I almost couldnít sleep.

Next day I was the first one to be there at the project. I had the jitters that morning, and in my mind I was thinking that probably the solution to all my problems could easy be this opportunity. Maybe this was the change for a better paid trade. I didnít know Carpenters made that much money. Finally five minutes before the hour, Bob Rodriguez arrived, and so did my ex-supervisor. They arrived at exactly the same time, and my ex-supervisor passed me by and as he passed me by in his car he turned his neck as fur as he could. I guess he was surprised to see me there. Anyways he didnít stop to ask me or talk to me, he just kept going. Bob in the other hand he came over, say good morning to me, and with a smile on his face. We started talking for a bit while we waited for the other two carpenters to show up. I remember that morning they had a little safety meeting, and Bob told them that I was going to be the new helper. He introduced me to the guys, and soon after he told me to go and help Bob Maureen saying, "You will be helping him today, and you will be cutting some baseboards for him today." I followed this guy, and he was a retired marine. He always looked pissed.

Bob Maureen had a tough look on his face. He was intimidating. I have seen him before working in some of the houses, and he was the kind of guy that was always upset at something. Upset with the tools or with the materials or whatever, but he had to be cursing at something. He was the complete opposite of Bob Rodriguez, and now, he was my boss that day. I was starting to get really worried, I said, "Okay thatís it, I donít think I am going to get the job. Not with this guy." He doesnít know me but he already doesnít like me at all.

I was intimidated that day I have to admit, but I just said in my mind, "Let it be your will and not mine" and I followed him to the trailer to get the tools. As soon as we got to the assigned house after loading the tools in his truck, he asked me to set up his tools in a very specific way. In the mid time he went outside to smoke a cigarette. When he came back he grabbed a piece of wood on his hands and said to me, "Right down the measurements Iím going to give you." He drew some lines on that piece of wood and explained to me that the lines indicated the side of the angle, an outside or inside angle, 22.5 or 45 etc. he asked me, "You got it?" I said, "Got it!" He started measuring the baseboards one room at a time, and he was dictating the measurements to me without not even looking to me. Right after I had to go and cut the pieces, and bring them back for him to nail them. It was a very fast system he had going. I had have never seen it before, and he was talking very fast too. It was really hard for me to understand what he was saying. I had to catch the things he was telling me in mid air. He was measuring and giving me the numbers that the piece needed to be cut at, and what kind of angle it was, long or short pointÖ etc. Oh man what a task! I was shaking and sweating, but I did my best. That was one of the toughest days I had since I got here, and it was not physically hard, but it was mentally hard. That day I felt the pressure for show.

At the end of that day, actually I was surprise of myself. After the day was over, I was able to sort of understand what he was saying, and I wasnít completely sure, but I tried my best, and out of all the cuts he gave me, I got wrong only a couple of cuts in the whole house.

At the end of that super though day when we went to the trailer, I was in disbelieve that after all I did, he was complaining about my lousy performance. When we went back to the trailer Bob Rodriguez asked Bob Maureen, "how the rookie did?" and he responded, "I want somebody that speaks English. He messed up." Then Bob after talking a bit more with Bob Maureen, he call me to the side and asked me, "So what happened? How come you messed up?" I said, "Well as far as I know I got wrong only two cuts out of the whole house. Two cuts where my fault. I messed up. Sorry. I thought at least I did okay." Bob said, "Only two cuts wrong in the whole house?" He turned around and he went right back to talk to Bob Maureen. They argued for a little bit and Bob came back to me saying, "Iíll see you tomorrow at the same time. Youíre hired! Welcome to Carpenters brotherhood "Loca."óthat is how sometimes he used to call me, it means crazy girl in Spanish.

What a day! I was giddy with excitement. I couldnít wait to get home and tell the news to Veronica and Sebastian.

 By then I realized that I wasnít as brilliant as I once thought. If I was that smart by then after almost a year and a half, I wouldíve been able to speak perfect English. By then I realized that in many ways I was just full of it. For sure being here in the U.S. it was a very humbling experience. From learning how to speak the language to the way Pro Carpenters work, I was completely impressed. I realized that I was not that smart, but oh well, at least I wasnít dumb.

That day on my way home I did ask myself, "Do I need to be that brilliantly smart to be happy?" I was expecting better from myself of course, and that is a good thing, because at least I was trying. I said to myself, "Be patient with yourself, donít be so hard on yourself, you are still growing up, you are not an old-man yet." I thought, "When can I call myself a mature adult? When can I start taking myself seriously?" The radio was playing, "How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man. How many seas must a white dove sail, before she sleeps in the sandÖ (Bob Dylan. Blowing in the Wind) I love that song.

 

Chapter Nine

 

That day if it wasnít because Bob Rodriguez spoke perfect Spanish, I wouldíve never been hired as a carpenter helper in that company. I remember that day being an exceptionally hard day at work, and it was mentally very hard too. It was mentally hard because I was forced to understand English being spoken very fast. At the end of that day I remember being completely exhausted, and when we went to the container where we used to store all the tools, Bob Rodriguez told Bob Maureen that I was going to be the one hired for the job unless he had something to say about it. Bob Maureen didnít like my performance at all, but the job was done fast, with good quality, and with only two minor mistakes on my part, so they started arguing. Soon they escalated the argument, and they went at it like I had never seen before in my life. That day for the first time in my life I saw two guys screaming at each other to the top of their lungs, face to face, even using foul language, and they didnít punch each other. At that moment I thought, "What kind of fight is that?! Are they fighting?" I didnít know what to do, and I was thinking, "Are they arguing because of me? That was the last thing I wanted to happen on my first day of work." I wished at the time that I could understand what they were saying, but they were talking so fast that I couldnít keep up with their pace. At the end I kind of understand that if he didnít like me, he could use the other helper when he needed a hand. He could use the labor guy from Jamaicaóhe spoke better English than me. That day Bob Maureen was completely pissed. He turned around, put his head down, and kick the ground as he was walking away, mumbling and swearing out loud. I thought after that argument I was a "gonner," but no, I wasnít. Bob Rodriguez after that heated discussion, calmed as if he was listening to Classic Music, come over where I was, and he started talking to me like nothing happened. He said to me, "Donít worry he just like to piss and moan." He switched languages and said to me in Spanish, "Keep learning English man. Since I met you, you have made a lot of progress English wise. Keep it up. There are people that have been in this country for more than 25 years, and they donít speak a word of English. They donít speak half of what you already do, and instead of trying to adapt to our culture they want to turn America into whatever their country was. Anyhow welcome to the brotherhood of Carpenters where "one hand washes the other." Let me tell you something. Last thing before you go bro, "You are here in the U.S., but not really. The day you really get here to the U.S. will be the day you learn how to speak English. Remember that!" I said, "Thanks Bob, I am not sure what you really mean with that, but I will not forget that you told me that. Thanks Bob. See you later gator."

I still remember those words and he was right. Those words are true. Once you learn to speak English, most likely you are able to understand the American culture as well, and that means you can not only speak English, you can think in English too. Thanks Bob Rodriguez for the opportunity you gave me, and where ever you are now, I wish youíre doing well.

That is how I started working as a carpenter helper 20 years ago here in the U.S., and since then I have been always very grateful of these guys help. After working with them I knew that I could find a job as a Painter or as a Carpenter Helper. Two trades that I could earn my ends meet with, and with that my chances to find work double for me. That gave me a sense of security, and for me that was a sign that I was living in a real democracy, because once you have a way to make a living regardless of color, race or religion you can say you are free, as long as your work allows you to pay for your minimum basics needs, you can declare yourself a free person. That day I gave thanks to God, because of my good luck.

In my mind I always remember that Jesus was the son of a carpenter, and I always thought that if God sent Jesus as a carpenter, there must be a greater spiritual reason for that, "Spirit over Matter." And to be learning that trade for me was very inspiring. I really like the idea of becoming a Carpenter.

After that experience of finding a job just like that, I thought, "What a different way of seeing life. Now I better forget everything about my cultural background, and I should relearn a new way of common sense." That argument between the two Bobís got me baffled. Almost didnít make sense for me, but I realized that here in the U.S. people were not afraid to speak their minds.

I said, "Now I can find a job very quick or I am being extremely lucky." Honestly I didnít pay much attention to that at the time, but I knew right then, that my chances of staying here in the U.S. had at least doubled. At that moment I remembered the words, "Where ever you go, do as you see." and I said to God, "Let it be your will and not mine."

Everything here in the U.S. was so different, so much better, that it was hard for me to believe it. I was experiencing I guess what is called a Cultural-Shock. Back in my country a painter or a carpenter helper were pretty much people living in the streets. And not only that, here in the U.S. they even had cars, and they were treated as equal.

About a week and a half of working as a carpenter helper, Bob asked me to fill up a job application, "Ö so they could cut me a check for the hours I have already worked." I said to Bob, "Ö In all honesty I do not have a Social Security." I asked him, "Itís that a problem?" At that moment my heart was on my throat, and I didnít know what to expect, but I was not going to tell him a lie, not to him. He said to me, "I know that you and probably the majority of the people that works here donít have papers, but between you and me, I donít care about that, as long as you are an honest and a hard-working individual, thatís all I care about. Do you love this country?" Yes I said, "I do love this country, and every day a little bit more." Bob asked me, "Why donít you just lie like everybody else does, and I pretend that I believe it? Just put in there any number with nine digits and thatís it." I said, "I donít like to lie, and especially to you Bob. I thank you for the opportunity, and my family thanks you as well. Thanks." He looked at me straight in the eye, and I knew he was tempted to ask me more questions or he was thinking something on the lines: Are you serious? He was tempted to ask me more questions, but he didnít. Maybe he had nothing good to say, and like a good American that he was, "If you donít have anything good to sayÖ" Why somebody in my situation wouldnít lie to him? Wouldíve that made a difference? I was breaking the law anyways. Now I look back and makes no sense, but that is how I use to think back then. I used to think that if for any reason I got caught by immigrations, at least they would not have evidence in paper that I was lying to get a job here in the U.S.

At that time my visa was expired already, because after the first six months my tourist visa was renewed for another six months, but after that, I didnít renew it again. I didnít renew my visa because I was short on money. I knew that what I was doing was not by any means legal, and I felt like a thief, but so far, I was just a trespasser after warning, kind of. In the other hand it was fun to be here. At least here in the U.S. something was happening in my life. The alternative wouldíve been being back in my country, living with my mom, and watching TV all they long waiting for something to happen day after day, month after month, and year after year, most likely.

I was twenty-seven-years old and I was a young man full of life. I felt the urge to be able to declare my own independence, and I was willing to work for it. I thought God was looking after me, and regardless of the legalities, I had faith that God understood why I wanted to stay here. I just wanted to be in a place where I had legal rights, and a way to make a living. I was looking for a way to have some stability so I could think in the true possibility of having a family. For me, if I couldnít have a stable job, I should not even consider myself able to have a family. How could I? You cannot leave out of good intentions and faith. With good intentions and faith you donít get to feed a baby or pay your bills.

I was living at that time one pay check away from being homeless. I was living at the very edge of being in the streets. I was in a very different society where I was nothing but an illiterate. I was working as hard as I humanly could, just trying to survive one day at the time. It was really hard for me physically and mentally, but I didnít care. For me just to have the blessing of living in a true democracy made it all worth it. In my mind it was all about living in a place where you as a human have rights regardless of your social status or the color of your skin. This was the place where whatever happened to me, nobody will search my house just because I looked suspicious or because I had a different religion. I thought, "Here in the United States there was a thing called, "The Rule of Law" and nobody was above the law. Here in the U.S. atrocities like the ones I went through back in my country will never happen ever again!" So I thought and I use to say, "Now I am in the United States of America. I am in the greatest democracy on earth. Here even if I am an illegal worker at list I have human rights."

All of the sudden I had to learn a new language, a new culture, and I had to learn my way around in a brand-new humongous city for me. All of the sudden I had to work between sixty to eighty hours a week to barely made it, but I was making it on my own. It was a big change for me but I was young, and for me all this was like a big adventure in my life. All in all I had everything at the moment to be happy, and shouldíve been the happiest time of my life, and in a way it was, but at the same time I was buried with worries about how am I going to provide ends meet in a steady manner for Sebastian and Veronica. To be able to provide for them was the top of my priorities at the time, and I never felt before so much responsibility over my shoulders. In a way I had faith that somehow someway something was going to happen and everything was going to be just right.

Truth was I was no longer myself, I can look back now to that moment in my life and realize that I was lost. Looking back now, probably what I shouldíve done was to call the quits right there and then. We shouldíve grabbed our bags and go back home all of us, right there and then, but we didnít, and I was leading the show. For me at the time being here in the U.S. was matter of do or die, learn English or else. For me it was a challenge, and I do like challenges. Honestly I was too busy trying to learn how to become a carpenter, how to be a father, and how to survive one day at a time in a complete strange country, that for me being in here was something like, "One more day here in the U.S., one more free English lesson." So many things were happening at the same time, that I completely forgot who I was.

At work, I was learning the international building code in every phase of the construction process, and it was really fun for me to be learning that. I knew right then that what I was learning was something that I could use for the rest of my life.

 I was so busy learning all these new stuff that my ego was completely gone. I used to care so much about what I was wearing, the brand name and such, but now all that was gone. Who was I? Whom or what have I became? At that time in my life honestly I didnít have a clue about who I was. I knew though that in the social scale, and especially here in the U.S., I was nothing but a stray dog, I was at the bottom of the food chain. I knew I was poor and I had no money, and on top of all that, now I didnít even had a country that I could call my own. The only thing I had at the time was a whole bunch of dreams, a girlfriend, and a son. The only thing for sure was that I knew I loved them very much.

About that time I was starting to realize that no matter what I did here in the U.S. or there back in Chile, whatever money I made here or there was not enough money to support a family. At that time in my life, I was living in a constant stressful situation, and my question at the time was, "How long can I keep this going on? It will be there a job for me tomorrow? What would happen if I canít find a job in less time than a week? What if I run out of money for gas, and I became stranded?" That idea every time it came to my mind gave me the chills, chills down my spine. Many nights a lost my sleep thinking about it, but regardless of my fears, life kept going as usual for a little while, and I tried my best to provide for my family. So far up to that point we were making it, barely but we were making it, we were surviving one day at a time. I was walking the edge, pushing the envelope a little too far. Sometimes I look back and I just wonder, "How I was able to go through all that. So many bad things couldíve had happened." At that time in my life I was a young boy full of dreams, I was for sure a fool full of dreams, a naÔve person thinking that nothing could go wrong in a country like this one. 

One of those days about six months after Veronica and Sebastian got here, I got home and they had something to tell me, something happened to Sebastian at school and they wanted to talk to me about it.

 At school in recess time he got bullied and a kid put his hand inside his pants, and tried to stick his finger up his bum. After I heard that, I asked him if he was okay or if his bum hurts. I asked him, "Are you hurt? Are you okay? He said, "No dad I am not hurt. Donít worry. I defended myself and I told the teacher, and the teacher said that it will never happen again." The teacher took matters on her hands, and assured to Veronica that something like that will never happen again, and if for any reason something were to happen to let her know right away.

I was glad that nothing happened, but now, I was worried more than ever. Inside of me something clicked after that moment. I thought to myself, "Do I really know where am at? Is my recklessness putting Sebastian in harmís way?"

After the realization that I was playing with fire I thought, "If I care about them I need to stop playing with their lives like if it was money in a casino. If I donít have a way to assure their safety, and if I do care about them, I needed to send them back." I thought, "If I get caught by immigration, whatís going to happen to them." I remembered Mikeís words telling me, "Over there in the U.S. donít ask me for money. Things in the U.S. can get very serious. Things over there are not like what you see on TV. I can give you a hand when you get there, but after that you are on your own, and if immigration ask me if I know you? I donít know you!" I did remember that, and I got really worried. I got worried to the point that I decided to do something about it. I really didnít know what to do at that moment, because honestly, my sincere intentions when I brought them here were really good. I thought that here for the three of us was the place to pursue happiness, but I was starting to have serious second thoughts.

That was an epiphany, a realization that one more time I was dreaming. I was in complete denial of the truth that here I was nothing. On one side that was true for some people, and for others as far as I knew, they were happy to have somebody willing to work hard for this country. Up to that moment I have met so many wonderful people here in the U.S. that I was in love with this country. On the other hand I shouldnít be here working illegally. I really didnít know what to do, things were not clear, but one thing I was sure about, at that moment I needed to make a decision about my relationship with Veronica and I, because things were not working out between us. She was not happy. I was not happy and now I just remember Mikeís words, "This is not a very good neighborhood." Now on top of all that I had to go to work thinking, "What about if something happens to Sebastian? What would I do if something bad happens to him? Wouldnít that be my fault?" For sure I had lost my peace of mind, and since that moment on, I realized that the possibility of something bad happening was real, and it was as real as it gets. Like it or not I had to admit things were not going well for the three of us. At that moment I realized that this entire situation was a failure, and it felt like a failure too, thatís for sure.

 At work was a different story though. Bob Rodriguez told me that I was doing a pretty good as a carpenter helper, and that soon I was going to get a raise. At work every time he gave me a task for me to do, he was showed me how to use a new tool, and how things were done here in the U.S. That was great for me. He told me how to use tools that I have never seen before. He showed me how to use routers, airless nail guns, the jigsaw, and one tool that became really quick my favorite of all: The saw-saw. As soon as I learned what it does and how to use it, I thought, "No more hand sawing for me. Alright!" I have been cutting my whole life wood and metal by hand, and trust me cutting wood and metal by hand is not fun at all! Bob was teaching me how to use tools that you use them once, and you start to wonder, "How you ever went by without them." All those tools made my job so much easier, and the quality of the work was so much better. I was really happy to be working in this new trade, and I was learning how to do things the American way. Sometimes like he put it, "You need to learn to do things like white people do." I remember at the time that all those tools were so expensive for me, and I was lucky to have the privilege to learn how to use them. With tools like those everything became so much easier to do, and I was having fun working with them. Sometimes I had to use Bob Maureenís tools, and he did complain to Bob that I was making money with his tools, but Bob Rodriguez always found a way around his complaints. At the time I found everything so expensive here in the U.S. I was still making the translation from Dollars to Pesos all the time in my mind.

One of those days at work Bob Maureen spent the whole morning trying to fix a lock on a front door of one of the most expensive houses in the whole project. He worked all morning long on that door and for some reason he couldnít fix it. He had a lot of carpentry skills, but had no patience at all. Something in the front door was not working properly, and the door didnít close the way it should. After Bob Maureen gave up Bob Rodriguezóby then I considered him my friend alreadyóhe called me, showed me the door, and asked me, "Can you fix these door? Can you?" I said, "I think I can"

Bob Rodriguez left his truck with all the tools with me and said, "Ösee if you can fix the door please. Take your time." It took me an hour and a half to fix the double front door. After I was done with them, they closed just like they were intended. I have never seen such a beautiful and expensive doors ever before. They were made out solid Oak, and had a big oval glass on the center. Before that moment I had only heard about Solid Oak doors, but never worked on one of them. For me was a test, and it was a challenge. I had fun fixing them.

The problem was hard to find, but I just had to correct the inside working space on the mortise for the lock. I had to give the right space to the hardware for the lock to work properly, and that was it. Parts of the mortise in the door needed to be chisel out very carefully, a bit here, and a bit there. In order to fix that you needed a lot of patience, and there was no power tool to fix that. You had to do it by hand, and that was just like I was used to do things back in my house, just using nothing but a hammer and a wood chisel. Just like in the good old times for me.

After I finish the doors they were very surprised, they didnít expect me to solve that problem. Actually after that incident Bob Maureenís attitude completely changed with me, and seems like from that moment on I earned his respect. After that he started talking to me in a more friendly tone, and he started to take the time to explain me how things were made here in the U.S. From that moment on was fun to work with him, and they used to love to crack me up with old racist jokes like, "One time an Angel from heaven was bore, and he stud right behind a white guy that was rowing on his small boat down the river, and he was counting the strokes one, two, three, four, and one, two, three and so on and so forth. The Angel while seated behind the guy he thought, "What about if I take the right part of this guyís brain out?" and he did. The guy started counting one, three, five, seven, and one, three, five and so on so forth. Then the Angel took the left part of this guyís brain, and the guy started counting two, four, six, eight, and two, four, six and so on and so forth. Right after the Angel thought, "What about if I take the whole brain out, all at once?" and the Angel did. The guy started counting Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro, y Uno, dos, tressÖ" I laughed so hard. They were having fun with me, because every old joke they knew, it was totally new for me. We started having a lot of fun working together after I fixed that expensive front door.

After that moment everything work-wise started going pretty good, and the work atmosphere instead of being dense and tens, started to be nice and fun. Actually I remember the day that for the first time, Bob Maureen let me ride in his truck at lunchtime. Thatís how nice things started to be.

One of those days at lunch time they invited me over, and I sat on the back of his truck. I mean the back seat of his Chevy truckóa crew cab Silverado that he was so proud of. It was a beautiful truck, and brand spanking new. After we left the job site to go lunch, like about a block away from the project they stopped on the side of the road and light up a joint. I was so surprised like you couldnít believe it. They pass it up to me but I didnít smoke Pot, so I said, "I pass. No thanks." Before I got here to the U.S. I only have tried pot a couple of times before in my whole life, and every time I tried it, was just a puff and that was it. I didnít smoke Pot with them that day, but the second hand smoke was enough to get me going. I remember that day having an exceptionally good tasting lunch. At the same time I felt the rest of that day very calm. I felt some sort of peace of mind all over me. Even though nothing has changed, I was able to see everything clearer, and I was seeing things from a better point of view. I was able to concentrate in what I was supposed to be doing that day very well. I remember that day.

At that moment in my life I realized, that every single little thing that my father Luis taught me about carpentry, every single little thing was being very helpful, and I was using it in a daily basis. I realized that I was able to hold that job mainly because of him. Maybe he didnít have much patience, but at the end, I was glad that my dad Luis one way or the other taught me along with my brothers the little I knew about carpentry. With a lot of sacrifices my dad Luis was able to have a little shop on our backyard, and that way we all learned basic skills. Maybe he did that because he knew we were not going to have the money to send our broken stuff to the repair shop, I guess, I wish he was still alive to ask him. In the other hand I remembered as well my daddy Oscar. He built his whole house almost single-handed, so in a way he was a carpenter too. My dad Luis taught me about metric and standard measuring systems, so it didnít cost me a thing to learn how to use inches and feet instead of meters and centimeters. My dad Luis along the way with my older brothers taught me a lot about carpentry. They taught me how to do a lot of stuff related to carpentry, cars and motorcycles, and art as well. They all knew very well how to create beautiful little figures in a wooden lathe that my dad Luis always kept in the house. To do that, they used a beautiful wood typical of the fourth region of my country, and is called Guayacanóa beautiful wood with one exceptional characteristic. The wood of this sort of bush is so hard that you can do really fine and small pieces of art with it. The colors of this wood are yellow, and dark brown to almost black on the center.

At that time of my life I was glad about what my dad Luis had taught me, and at the same time I remember how much of a bipolar my dad Luis was. It was really hard to deal with him; he was a diabetic, and at a time where medicine was not as good as it is today. He could turn from nice to yelling and swearing out of control in a second.

For some reason that day I thought quite a bit about him. My dad Luis passed away when I was twenty-four-years old, and I didnít go to his funeral. By the time he passed away we didnít talk to each other, and I didnít want to have the look of his dead face as a memory of mine. He was such a bipolar. We had such a different point of view but all in all, in our family we all had a roof over our heads, and a plate of food on the table. I have to give him that. As I grew older I started to appreciate all of his sacrifices just to accomplish that. I remember for him being so hard to wake up in the mornings, just like me, and regardless he didnít skip or miss not even a day at work. In my head I was trying to get to terms with my dad, and as I was growing older. I was starting to understand a bit better where he came from every day more and more. I remember saying that day thanks dad, I never thought that to have a family you have to work so hard, and every day that goes by, I do appreciate your dedication to our family a bit more. Regardless I had a father. There is always worse. Rest in Peace my Old Man.

I remember he never had very good luck in his life, and he used to say every time in his life when something good was about to happen, but somehow someway it didnít happen. When that happened in his life he will say out loud, "Justo!" and he stretched the letter u for a bit, just like sometimes you hear Homer Simpson saying, "Donít" holding a bit longer the letter "o" My dadís "Justo! Moment" That bash of bad luck right in those crucial moments of his life like the time when he was about to live for the U.S., but something happen, and he couldnít come to the U.S. "Justo." That bad thing that happened always right at the last minute, and stopped him from having a better life, as he put it many times, "My life sucks!" Remembering his bad luck I was soon going to have one of those "Just!" moments. I remember he loved music and he used to sing along with my mom Mercedes. He loved music and his favorite singer was a famous opera singer named Errico Caruso, and he was able to sing along with him. I remember too one of his favorite tango singers was Carlos Gardel. One of his favorite songs was a song where the lyrics goes something like thisóexcuse the translation but you will get the idea: Imagine the tango rhythm, and remember this is a classic of Tango Music, "The world have been, and it will be rubbish and nothing else. It was rubbish on the eighteen hundreds, and passed the year two thousand still will be rubbishÖ" I donít know why at that moment I started to remember him so much, but I guess it was like a premonition of what was coming.

My "Just!" moment was about to happen in my life. At work everything was going just fine but "Just!" when I thought everything was okay, Bob came to me and said, "bro this project is about to slow down big time! Weíre going to have to let go some people, and if somebody can find another job, and leave this project go ahead, no hard feelings. Christmas is coming and by the middle of December, every single house in this project needs to be in the ownerís hands. We are giving you 30 days in advance notice, so please take note."

And just like that, when I thought things were going my way, sort of, I found myself again in this limbo of not being able to earn a way to exist. That was for me the last straw that broke the camelís back. I was devastated by the news. Not now! Not now! I remember saying. I thought I was going to have at least good Christmas. Sebastianís first Christmas in the U.S. I wanted so bad to be a Christmas to remember for them, and I guess after all, it was going to be a Christmas to remember.

After Bob told me that I started looking for a job everywhere, but every single project was closing for the end of the year and Christmas time. At the same time I didnít understand very well what was going on, but I heard that we were bound for a major economic slowdown, especially in construction, and all over the country. Many people I knew and they were from Mexico they started going back to their countries, because Christmas was going to be a very slow working season here in Miami, and especially in the construction industry. That was exactly what I didnít need at that moment to happen "Just!"

Reality hit me really hard all of the sudden and one more time was obvious to me, that I had to accept the fact that I cannot have Veronica and Sebastian by my side. It didnít matter what I wouldíve loved to happen or what I wanted to happen. It didnít even matter if I loved them or not, the only thing that really matter, was the fact that I just couldnít afford to have them by my side. Truth was, I really didnít know where I was. I didnít know what kind of place America really was. So far I have seen a lot of irregularities that in a well established democracy, those things shouldnít have to happen, like exploitation of minorities, and complete disregard for labor laws. At that moment I asked myself, "Was Sebastian in a good school? Was he safe? Out of all the things I had to be worried about, having to be worried about the safety of my son was something hard to bear. That was a very difficult reality to deal with, and I had to make a decision like it or not. Actually the decision was already made for me. As far as I was concerned life one more time was bigger than me and truth was, I was living an adventure, a real life adventure with real consequences, and I could not keep gambling with the future and safety of my son Sebastian. Sebastian for sure was at the top of my priorities, and I couldnít help to think about what was better for him. Where will he be better off? Here in the U.S., or back in his country?

I knew in a way that Sebastianís world at the time was all about super heroes, and here in the U.S. was the land where the Teenage Ninja Turtles lived, and he liked that very much, besides he really like to go to school. He was a happy little boy. He was very smart and I could tell he was happy by the side of his Dad and Mom. He was as happy as happy a kid should be, back in Chile his grandmother was a retired middle school principal, and she has worked her whole life as a teacher. His two aunts back there, they were both professionals one was an architect, and the other aunt a prominent professional Nurse, so regardless Sebastian back in Chile he had better chances to have a better education for sure.

His grandmother Margarita "Abby" was something very special, she was a woman full of love, well educated, and I knew for sure that she was missing him. Sebastian at the time was her only grandchild.

All those factors weighted heavily in my mind, and I wouldíve loved for thing to be different, but like it or not, I had to accept the fact that I didnít have enough money to care for them, and if I only thought about Sebastian, Sebastian and nothing else, I knew he would be way better off back home with his grandma than here with me.

Veronica in the other hand she was not coping very well being in an empty house with no furniture, and not even curtains on the windows. On top of all that a house in Miami with no air conditioner was hard to in especially in summer time. Good thing the glasses at least were obscure, but not all of them. Here in the U.S. all her studies were nothing but a waste of time, and back in Chile she was a professional with a very prestigious degree from one of the best universities in the country. Here in the U.S. she was nothing but an illiterate and a cleaning lady at the most. Considering all these factors and knowing that time was at the essence, I started to think seriously about our future together here in the U.S.

Here in the U.S. anything could happen, and things could go from unstable to bad really quick. I needed to find out what could I do about this situation, because something was fundamentally wrong.

I have never felt so helpless in my life. I didnít even have the money to buy them a pair of tickets to send them back to Chile, and with cherry on top, if for any reason I couldnít find another job soon, I could easily end up on the streets.  Having to imagine going through something like that, with a six year old boy by my side was an idea that started to look more and more like a nightmare for me, "Man, what a hard time that was."

 Thinking about all if these in an act of desperation just out of a hunch, I called the airline and I explain the situation to them, and whoever this person was on the other side of the line, the one listening to my problems, I thank God even to this day, that she was there at that moment. She took the expired tickets and validates them so they were good once again for one more time. I gave thanks so much to that person that day. She found a way to do that and that person made sure that I understood the words, "These tickets are valid for one more time only, and you cannot make any changes or you will lose the tickets for good. Do you understand?" I still remember that she didnít speak Spanish, but she did the best she could to help me out. I had to give her a date and a time at that very moment, so without even talking to Veronica, I had to make the decision on the spot of when they were going back to Chile. The earliest date that they could go back to Chile ended up being the middle of November and that was only a few weeks away. After that call all of the sudden I had the tickets for them to go back to Chile, and they didnít even knew a thing about it. I felt terrible that day. I thought that was the best thing to do, but I didnít have the time to consult with Veronica about all of this, and now I had to find the courage to let them know. I knew right there that this one was going to be a good one, and talking about dropping a bomb unexpectedly. I felt like the biggest looser of all times, I thought, "What a loser!" That is how I felt in my mind and in my heart at that moment. I knew as well that the renting laws in Miami were completely merciless to say the least. No rent and you are out in the streets regardless. No rent money and you are out so in my mind I had no other choice.

I thought what about me and Veronica do I love her? Truth was I was in doubt. I was not sure if I love her at that moment, and because of all of those things going on at that time, I couldnít see clearly what was going on, but I thought, "If I was in doubt I was already out of love." Anyhow at that moment it didnít really matter what I felt, because what could afford was what really matter.

Before I talked to Veronica I needed to think about this seriously one more time, and I needed to think it over night, this situation was as serious as it gets. I gave myself my usual four days to think about it, and I gave myself an ultimatum like I usually do before I take a serious and final decision. Looking back I never loved a woman as much as I loved her, and I never had so much trouble in my life either. Before this experience in my life I use to be so certain of my convictions, but now I could barely figure it out. I thought about it for four days and four nights, and at the end of those four days I didnít want for things to end up like this, but there was nothing I could do about it. When you are poor it doesnít matter what you want, it doesnít matter what you feel, it doesnít matter what you wish, whatís wrong or whatĎs right, the only thing that matters is what you can afford.

Before I came to the U.S. back in my country I gave it a try and I realized that over there I couldnít afford to have a family, and here in the U.S. I gave it my all to see if I could afford to have the privilege of having a family but I could not. At that moment in my life I realized that the thrill of living a dream was gone. I realized as well that I was seeing one more time what I wanted to see, at that moment I realized that people is the same whatever you go. What kind of democracy will allow such a huge amount of employment laws violations, what king of democracy will allowed so many laws to be broken like I have seen with my own eyes. If the U.S. was true that an illegal immigrant canít work in the U.S. how come that even banks opened their doors to those illegal immigrants? How come, that even the banks got involved in this circle of corruption? It was hard to accept the truth, but I put myself together, and after those four days of thinking about what to do, I found the time and the courage to tell Veronica of my decision. Is hard to tell somebody that the road between us has ended, and it ends right here, you like or not, it is over. That was harsh from me to her, but what about me? What about Sebastian? In my heart I wanted to be there for him for the rest of my life. I didnít want to disappear out his life, but there I was, having to say goodbye to Sebastian like it or not. I know I couldíve gone back with them if I wanted, but not really. At that very moment I could not, because I didnít even have money for curtains much less for an Airplane ticket. It wouldíve take me months to save for an airplane ticket, months before I could even think about going back to Chile, months.

 At that moment my financial situation was very poor, and considering that, I thought, "I could rent a room, eat a dollar burger a day, and save money to buy me an airplane ticket. Now how long it will take me to save one thousand dollars if Iím making seven bucks an hour. Letís do the math and letís be realistic. letís assume that I am working thirty hours a week, considering some days with no work, and there will be weeks with overtime, right? Letís do the math: An average of 30 hrs a week at 7 dollars an hour totals $840 dollars coming in every month, minus taxes, lives me 700 hundred dollars free for the whole month if Iím lucky. And I need to save a thousand dollars for the ticket. Let say I do buy a burger and a bottle of Pepsy a day for thirty days, that is 60 dollars on groceries a month, four gas fill ups is 90 dollars. I need 200 dollars for the car payment, and 150 on Car Insurance. That gives me a budget of about 500 hundred dollar a month, so I could save realistically 200 a month. I need to work for five months before I can afford to buy a ticket, wait a minute, I forgot the beeper bill. How can I go to work if I donít have a beeper for my boss to call me? So minus another fifty dollar, at that moment I realized that I was trapped here in the U.S. Unless turned myself to "La Migra" and even on that case was known that no matter what they keep you in jail for at least three months. There I realized that "just!" Just to undo this predicament where I was, I needed to work exactly for 6.66 Months to save the money that I needed to take an airplane back to my country. I was from that moment six months away to see my boy again, and honestly at that moment, I didnít even know how much I loved him. I knew I love him but not how much I had not even a clue. Anyhow what king of a good father is the one that is not there for his children? I was really down at that moment of my life. I truly felt like failure. I knew very well how hard has been for me, not to have my daddy Oscar by my side, and I how much I have missed him my whole life, and now, I was pretty much voluntarily saying good bye to my son Sebastian.

Ironic was that I was saying goodbye to Sebastian, just about at the same age that my daddy Oscar disappeared out of my life. How ironic.

Maybe I could go back sooner, but I didnít know that for sure. For the moment I didnít even knew what was going to happen to me, and whatever it was, at least they were not going to suffer that with me, and I was glad about that. I knew that without a job I couldnít be here in the United States, and if I couldnít find another job soon, I most likely ended up out in the streets very quick. Like in every big town everybody is so busy with their own survival, that there is no time or logic in lending a hand to a stranger.

At that moment in my life I realized that I was trapped in a big scale exploitation scam, where everybody was involved. I realized at the same time that what I was doing legally wise was very serious, and on the other hand how come that there was so many people doing the same thing. I could not understand that, I guess I was in disbelieved or denial, I donít know, but there I realize how much of a shmuck I was, and how clueless I was. I was back then a clueless naive young man that once believed in such a thing as a nation ruled by the rule of law, with justice for all and Democracy.

Even Bob at work asked me, "What happened to that smile in your face?" The smile in my face it was gone. That happy person that once escaped oppression, and landed in the best and the greatest democracy on earth, that boy was dead, "There is no rest for the wicked."

Veronica and I, we talked a lot about it, but it was final. They were going back to Chile. I was breaking up with Veronica, and that meant that I was breaking up with Sebastian as well. That little unresolved issue about what was Sebastian for me was really driving me insane. What was Sebastian for me now? An ex-son? That little unsolved puzzle really felt hard and heavy in my heart. At that time in my life I was drowning in bad thoughts and feelings, I had no hope left in my heart. Not any more. For the first time in my life I felt like I couldnít care less either. I couldnít provide for my family and the only thing I was able to see, was a very unhappy woman at home, and I was not happy either. I felt like a good for nothing.

By that time what got me out of my bed in the morning, was not the wish of living the American dream, that dream was dead, but what got me out the bed was pretty much my new daily habit. A habit that I pick up here in the U.S. and that was a cup of coffee and a doughnut. How pathetic but true. That was what got me going in the mornings now. My new tradition was a good cup of coffee and a cake doughnut at Dunkin Doughnuts. All my life I used to drink tea and now I was drinking black coffee and a cake doughnut. I was able to order my coffee okay, and my English was doing a little better. That was the only thing that was okay after all. No matter what, I could say I was speaking English, broken English at the time, but English nonetheless. That made me feel like at least like not everything was a loss.

Sometimes I felt so embarrassed of myself trying to speak English, and sometimes I hear myself talking like a child often does. You know? Like a child in the process of learning a new language you need to speak it, you need to talk that language as much as you can. If you donít speak what you already know and practice it, you lose it. Sometimes people laughed at me because of what I said sometimes came out funny, but at the same time they did appreciate the fact that at least I was trying. It was embarrassing at times, but I swallowed my pride, and kept practicing English as much as I could, and there was an English lesson free of charge in every corner. Thanks God for that!

Talking about God since I can remember, giving thanks to God before I eat my food has been always a well regarded tradition of mine. My daddy Oscar always said grace before eating, and for some reason I always remember that. I believed that you should bless your food before you eat it. I have not always done that but here in the U.S., I found myself blessing my food all the time, in a way coming over here I found myself closer to God. At the same time unbelievably aware of all the Evil present in the world as well. I say that because I have never seen a house of a person that practice and worships the Devil ever before in my life, but here in the U.S., one day I went with Bob to a project where they had to do some warranty work, and it was in a house sold less than a year ago. On this house I saw for the first time in my life the house of a Devilís worshiper. I remember being afraid of going inside at first, but then I realized that as a professional, I needed to learn to handle this kinds of situations. After all if I had faith that there is only one living God, I should not be afraid. I remember doing the job really fast, I remember I felt the whole time like somebody was watching me over my shoulder, and almost breathing on my neck. An old ladyóthe owner of the houseóoffered me something to drink. She said, "What would you like to drink, water or iced tea?" I said ice tea, and then she brought me over a very dark red ice tea. I looked like blood really, and I was not going to drink it at first. Then I thought of God and my faith, and I got really thirsty. I thought, "I am just being an idiot" and I drink the tea. The lady was a very nice person, and I had a very good day that day.

One of those days at lunch time before my meal I said grace, and when I started blessing my food, giving thanks to the one like always I choked, I choked not with the food, I choked with a tear in my eye that closed my throat. I choked in the word God. At that very moment I saw the memory of Sebastian playing basketball outside the house with me, playing in that driveway of that old house that I fixed with my own bare hands, and I saw myself playing with him. At the same time I saw the look on his face when I took him for the first time to Toys"R"us, I still cannot forget that look in his face. At that moment in my life, I wish I could have the meanings to continue writing more of those good memories, but I could not afford that, and I said to myself, "Keep learning more English, give some more time to yourself and then decide what to do. There is nothing you can do about it right now." I thought it was the best advice I have given to myself in a long time, and I said to myself, "Take it easy. Let the storm pass you by, and once the dust settles, then decide what to do." Like the American culture says, "let go and move on." Easier said than done though, but that was the plan. At the same time I remember asking myself, "Why I choked with the word God." I just kept driving and I didnít pay much attention to that.

I got to work that day and I found me something to do right away. I wanted to be busy doing something with my hands, because once I started doing something with my hands, I was able to put my mind at ease. Being at work gave me peace of mind, because I knew that at that moment, I was doing everything I could, and I was in the place I was supposed to be. For me it was a moment of peace. There it was nothing else I could do anyways, and I was doing all I could do. While working I found solace looking at the pieces of wood. They were taking their place with no complaints, and I, in a way, I was crying like a baby, because I could not accept the truth that I was nothing but a schmuck. Here or there it didnít matter, "Tell me how much do you have, and Iíll tell you who you are." I realized at that moment that I had nothing, not even a country that I really could call mine. I looked at the pieces of wood and I asked myself, "Why donít you learn to be happy with what you have, and just live the moment without thinking about it." I said to myself, "Donít think about it, just keep going, just like the piece of wood take your place in this world and do not complain."

 At home the situation was very tense to say the least. One of those nights I was lying down in the same bed with the person that I just broke up with a couple weeks ago, and it felt like torture. I felt terrible and there it was nothing I could do. I didnít even have a couch where I could sleep. I had to be in the same bed with Veronica like it or not. Since I told her about the tickets she became my ex-girlfriend, and we talked to each other mainly out of respect for Sebastian and that was it. Even if I didnít want to do that, I had to sleep right by her side. That  night I shed a tear and I realize that I have not been praying for a while, for the first time in my life I realized that I was losing my faith, and at that moment I couldnít care less if there was a God or not.

One of those days prior to Veronicaís trip back to Chile I made it to work extra early and nobody was around, no security guard, nothing. I was parked right in front of a house that we were waiting for the tile to be finished in the kitchen countertop, and this type of countertop was just like the one I started doing in the kitchen of my house, but of course, I didnít have the money to buy the tile and finish it. I thought, "I could pay part of the rent if I ever finish that countertop, part of the rent if not the whole month worth of rent. While sitting in my car waiting for the rest of the guys, I realized that the tile delivery guy had left the boxes of tile in the dirt between the sidewalk and the curve. I donít know what happened to me at that moment, I guess my inner Chilean kicked in on me or something, but I got out of the car very quick without even thinking about it. I put the boxes of tile inside the trunk of my car, and I closed the trunk, got back inside my car at normal speed, acting like nothing happened. I looked around and nobody was there, nobody saw me. That day I took the boxes of tiles and I found me something to do at home. I donít know what Veronica told Sebastian back then, but even he was upset at me, and things at home were not going well. I couldnít wait until that situation was over.

Days passed by and nobody even noticed that the boxes of tile were missing. About a week after that day, Bob came over and told me, "Could you believe these guys!" I said, "What guys?" Bob said, "The tile delivery guys. They shouldíve delivered the tile days ago, and I call them to ask them what was going on with the tiles, and they said that they already delivered the tile last week. I told them that there was no tile here, and I argued with them for a while on the phone. At the end they decided that they were going to deliver the tiles over here tomorrow morning. Man can you believe these guys? I have been here all week long, and nobody has delivered anything. I even looked around throughout all the houses to see if they have delivered the tiles to the wrong house or something but no. Now because of that Iím going to be late for the inspection on that house. You know that I am the one responsible to pass all the inspections right?" Bob was upset, but he didnít even suspected or mentioned that the tiles couldíve have been stolen, and I said to him, "Yup I know Bob that you are the one responsible to make sure that all these houses pass all the inspections on time. I know Bob take it easy man. Iím glad that they solved the problem so quick for you, so you can have the final Walked Through soon." We did talk for a few like always and he left. After he left I realized that I have been talking back to him like nothing ever happened, just like if I didnít have a clue of what happened to the tiles. I was so surprised of myself, and I said to myself, "What a hypocrite!" Honestly at that moment I didnít know I had it in me. Believe it or not up to that moment in my life, I could see that as a young man I believed with all my heart that there was a Living God, a God who knew if you have been knotty or good, and I was twenty seven years old, actually closer to twenty eight back then, when this happened and that was the first time in my life that I could say I did acted with such disregard. What a "Hypocrite" 

That day at work I acted like nothing ever happened, and I knew nothing about it, but on my way home I started thinking about, and I knew that I was in need; I was poor; I was going through hard times, but that was not an excuse to steal and become a thief. I genuinely tried to be an ass, but I could not. One thing is coming over here to the U.S. and staying a bit longer than allowed, and another totally different thing was to become a thief. I was a trespasser after warning maybe, but not a thief.

 Like I said I tried to be an ass, but I couldnít. So a few days later, when I found the right time and the right moment, I talked to Bob and I apologized to him for what Iíve done. I said to him, "Iím really sorry, I am going through hard times emotionally as well as financially, and I sort of got confused, I guess, I donít know what happened to me when I did that, but whatever it was is not an excuse to steal, especially from the same place where they are giving me a way to earn my ends meet. Sorry. I want to pay for it, just let me know how much is it, and I will make it right to you. I will pay you back the money for those tiles. I am sorry." It was really hard for me having to say that to Bob, but I did. I apologized and asked him to keep it quiet. I was already embarrassed enough and I said to him, "It wonít happen again." He was pissed mainly because of the delay on the schedule to pass the inspections, but he accepted my apologies.

 Later that day he did get back to me, and said, "You know what? Is very difficult to make changes right now paperwork wise, I donít even know what papers I will have to fill up. Letís just pretend that you never told me about the tiles, and no hard feelings. Anyways those guys owed me a lot of business, and anyhow they had shorted me on some orders of tile a few times before, a box of tile here, and a box of tile there, you know? We can call it even and screw them!  Karma it is. Them fuckers!" He smiled at me and said, "You are a fucking good liar, youíve got me fooled there for a while. Iím going to get you back bitch!" He smiled at me and as he turned around and got on his little red Mazda truck, he said, "Have a good day! Iíll get you later "Loca.""

He is one of the coolest people I have ever known. Why I did that? I wish I didnít have to ask that question to myself in the first place, but I guess I was lost, lost but not all that lost after all.

I truly felt much better after I confessed to him, and we became even better friends after that. We even started talking more personals things, and we shared a little about our families. I even told Bob that my family was going back to Chile, and he said while they are here and before they live, I want to meet them. At the same time he said to me, "I want to check out what kind of tile work you did on that countertop of yours. To do tile is difficult."

A few days after that talk he stopped by my house and visit with us for a few. It was really difficult to make him feel comfortable on that house, and you might imagine why? There was no furniture. We just had two mattresses and two wooden stools. That was all we had. We did our best to show him that he was welcome, and I remember that day that he was reluctant to eat a burrito that Veronica cooked from scratch. Actually he refused to eat it, but Veronica and I really insisted, and we insisted Spanish hard for him to at least try the burrito. At the end he ate some of the burrito. Now I know that I shouldnít insist on somebody trying to make them taste our countryís food. We find our food so delicious, something so special, but food still is just food. Anyhow he was eating the burrito right over the countertop I built with the tile I did steal from the project, and he couldnít stop looking at it. He ate part of the burrito, and I could tell he wouldíve preferred not to. That was kind of awkward. Since then I started to understand that Americans are very picky when it comes to food. He said right before living, "Iím very impressed with your tile work, and that countertop is professional grade craftsmanship man. Good job. Iím impressed."

 Actually, I was the one very impressed with American craftsmanship, and the way things were done here in the U.S. Up that moment I had learned a lot about construction in a very short amount of time, and it was all possible mainly because of Bob Rodriguez. I was thankful to get to know him, and to this day I really appreciate his help, and his understanding especially on those times.

Bob knew that they were going back to Chile, but he didnít know why they were going back. I didnít want to tell him the whole story about Veronica and I, it was not a happy story, and anyways they were living soon. At the time I was counting the days until Veronicaís trip. I could not wait until this whole situation with her was done and over with.

One of those nights about a week before Veronicaís trip became clear to me that something has changed on me. I couldnít quite put my finger on it, but I was following the trail, and I was getting closer to figure it out in my mind. Actually the change was mainly inside my heart. Due to the indoctrination of my childhood, in which you must never question the will of God, and everything happens for a reason, because it is Godís plan, I thought I was here in the U.S. because God wanted me to be here. For these reasons I was blind to see the truth that was laying down right in front of me. At that moment in my life I just remember going over the facts inside my mind, the facts of what I saw with my own eyes in this country and nothing else. It has been only a about a year and a half since I got to Miami, and I have seen with my own eyes people dying at the emergency rooms of the hospitals because they didnít have health insurance. I went once to an emergency room, not because I was sick, but Mrs. Dora the first person that I ever rented a room from here in the U.S., she got really sick and I gave her a ride to the emergency room. I was completely surprised to see that here in the U.S. people were begging to be seen by a Dr. In an emergency room full of people where all of them looked very sick, and many of them lying on the floor, and all of them waiting to be seen by a Dr. To see that with my own eyes was hard for me to believe, and it was hard to believe that people here in the United States were left aside to die like they were dogs on the streets. Honestly at that moment I thought that dogs many times got it a lot better in this country than many humans did. I remember Mrs. Dora coming back home next day on the afternoon, because she had to wait for more than twelve hours before she was short seen by a nurse, not even a doctor, she was seen by a nurse, and she was sent back home with some antibiotics and thatís it. Then I remembered the time, a few months after I moved to Mrs. Doraís house, when there was a lock-down. A large area of Hialeah was completely closed down, and surrounded by police. Nobody could go in or out of that area. All this because a teenager has been shot by a police officer on the back, and the victim was a young African American riding his motorcycle. He has been shot in the back, and not with just one bullet. I think you already know the rest of the story. Then I started thinking about the construction sites. All the construction sites that I have been working for, all of them were driven by a force of illegal workers, and of course all of them being exploited paying them very little, and forced to work extremely hard, and long hours. Most likely none of them got paid overtime, and if they got hurt, they were threatened with deportation. I started to remember how many of them I knew personally that they got fired, and didnít get paid the last two or three weeks of work. Was that a coincidence? For the first time in my life I started to question the very existence of a God at all.

 Before that moment never crossed my mind to even think about doubting or questioning the will of God. That was a sin, and that was due to my childhood indoctrination. I realized at that moment in my life, that I have been brainwashed since I was a little kid. At that moment in my life, even if I didnít say it, or crossed my mind to say it out loud, there was a phrase stocked in the bottom of my heart, and that phrase was, "Fuck you God! What kind of sick God allows all these things to happen? Fuck you God!"

I have reached that same conclusion once before in my life, and that was while serving in the Army. Back then I was a little over eighteen years and I didnít blame God, at the time I blame men for what I was going through. This time I have reached the same state of mind, but this time I was upset at God. At that time it has been almost exactly 10 years after the moment I almost committed suicide in the army, and I was facing again in my heart the same kind of feelings, with the only difference that at the time in the Army was God the one who saved me, and I never blamed God for what happened to me. Now here in the U.S. it was different, I was blaming God, and I really didnít care. I knew only one thing at the time, and that was God plan, if there it was one, in my eyes it sucked! One more time I was feeling and reaching the same conclusions in my mind. I had the complete certainty that I should end my suffering, end my misery, and accept that basic rights like living in democracy, having a family, and the pursuit of happiness, all that was for somebody else but not for me. I was not good enough to have a life. I was nothing but a peasant and for me, there it was nothing but slavery in my future, and I was better off dead than alive.

With that kind of thoughts in my mind I went to sleep that night. I do remember exactly how I was feeling that night because that night I had a dream, a dream like never before, the most beautiful dream ever! It was so beautiful that the feeling I experienced on that dream stayed with me for days on end.

More than 20 years ago I thought I have lost my religion, my faith in God, my faith in society, my faith in justice when in the middle of the night I woke up with the most beautiful feeling I have had ever felt before, I was elated and almost in tears. I had a dream like no other before. I saw myself walking in the middle of darkness. I could barely see my silhouette. I was walking slowly with long steps, one after another, like an old clock second after second. My hands were in front of me palm to palm with the tips of my fingers touching each other, almost like a little child praying to God before he goes to sleep. I was looking to myself walking in the middle of darkness when a spot light came on, right above my head. At that moment I was back into myself surprised by the light, and I heard a deep voice that surrounded me saying, "I will give you no answer. I will give you understanding." Right after hearing that, and feeling an amazing emotion, a sensation that took over all over me, I woke up still immersed in this beautiful feeling. My heart was beating hard and strong, but slow and calmed. I catch my breath after I opened my eyes taking a deep breath, and I sat on the bed asking myself, "What was that? Veronica woke up and asked me what was going on. I was in awe and I didnít want to start thinking about the sensation I experienced, I wanted to enjoy it as long as I could. I thought the felling was going to disappear quick but no. Slowly I found the words to tell her about the dream, and she said to me, "And thatís it? Donít worry is just a dream, go back to sleep." like we were almost not talking to each other, I turned around and I pretend that I went back to sleep. I lay on my bed and I felt peace all around me as if I was being hugged by peace itself. After a while I went to sleep but the feeling on my heart and all over my body was still there. That night I fall asleep surrounded and immersed on that beautiful feeling.

Next morning I wake up and for my surprise the feeling was still there. I started getting ready to go to work and I couldnít help to go over and over that dream, again and again in my head. Before I went to work I said goodbye to Veronica and I hugged Sebastian knowing that soon, I will have to say goodbye to him, and I didnít know how long it was going to be before I see him again, if ever.

That morning I stopped at my favorite place at the timeóDunkinóand I grabbed my coffee and a cake donut. On my way to work I couldnít shake the feeling off of me. I thought that sensation it was going to gone by then, but no it wasnít. At the time I was driving a little white caróa Geo-sprint turboóthat I bought if as a junk car, but I was able to fix it myself. I loved that little car because that model had a turbo engine on it and it was fast, really fast. It had an impressive acceleration and it was a four cylinder engineóa very small engine 1.6ccóand it was standard. I was going to work on my little fast white car, drinking my coffee and eating my donut, listening to the music on the radio when all of a sudden I heard the same voice again, in a very commanding tone telling me, "on the next corner turn left." I felt that feeling that I had on my dream all over again, and I did as the voice commanded me. Then I heard the voice again telling me, "Next light turn right" and I did. About half way on that block I heard, "Stop right here." and I did stop. I parked my car as fast as I could. I parked my car right in front of a park that I have never seen before. Honestly I didnít even know where I was, but I stopped as the voice told me to do so. The park I was looking at, it looked a bit out of place. This park had a beautiful big green trees but it didnít have grass, instead of grass had dirt and round river rocks all over the place. Right by tress there it was a creek running across, and as I was looking at the very out of place landscape, at that moment I heard the voice again saying, "I am surprise that you recognize me that quick. I know that you have reached the conclusion for the first time in your life that I do not exist, and for the first time in your life you have lost your faith in me. We need to talk. If you want I can pay you a visit and we can talk about it. You have four days to give me an answer." Right after that I got out of the car, and sat on the curve right in front of the car, and I asked myself, "What in the hell is going on with me." I have never heard voices in my head before, and actually I couldnít tell if the voice was inside my head or not, because the only thing I knew, that voice was loud and clear and was able to hear it like just like when somebody right by your side does talk to you. At that moment seated by the curve, I found nothing better than pray with all my heart and so I did. I said "My heavenly father with a humble heart, I give you thanks for all your blessings. My Heavenly Father sorry if I have doubted you, but please, donít let me go insane, please. I leave these things in the name of your son Jesus Christ. Amen." After I finish praying I said to myself "liar! Do you still believe in God?" In all truth at that moment in my life I didnít know anymore what to believe. For sure I was going through a spiritual crisis. Somehow I put myself together, got in the car, and continue on my way to work.

Since I was a teenager I have been praying always in a very simple way, I used to say, "My Heavenly Father let it be your will and not mine." I always thought that in a way I was being guided by Godís will, but after all I have seen back in my country, and now here in the U.S. I wasnít so sure no more. In a way, to expand my horizon seeing a different culture had expanded my view of the world in a wider and broader point of view, but at the same time it got me lost. For sure at that moment in time I was lost.

Nonetheless, that day I did my best to keep myself together and I went to work, and at work even if it was very hard not to think about what happened to me and I was a bit distracted, I was able to put another day of hard honest work in.

When finally I got home that day I was exhausted. I was emotionally drained, but anyways I found the strength to play basketball with my Champ Sebastian. I knew we were spending our last few moments together, and before he had to go I wanted to use every single minute I had with him. I wish at the time I couldíve been able to take him to Disney Land or something of that sort. I really wanted to take him to an iconic place so at least he had something memorable and nice to talk about for the rest of his life. Anyhow I was happy to see that after all, he has not lost not even a bit, all that happiness inside his mind and his heart. I was trying the best I could to keep things together, but there was a storm of emotions raging inside of me. That day while playing with Sebastian I was thinking, "Am I going crazy? Whatís going on with me?" I remember wanting to take him to Disney, but that was nothing but wishful thinking, and to think about that made me feel even worse. That day at dinner time Veronica and I talked about the dream, but like always, she dismissed the subject, and quickly and swiftly she changed it to something more trivial. I couldnít stop thinking about it. While we were talking Sebastian came over and tried to make me smile making one of his funny faces. He showed me his last creation and like always he made me smile.

I tried to make the best out of that situation, but it wasn't much that I could do to change any of what was going on. The days were going by really quick, and money like always was very short. I wish I could send him back with a lot of stuff, but I couldn't afford it.

Last night prior to their trip back to Chile, I tried to teach him how to pray. I tried to teach him the same way to pray to God, that my mom Nieves once taught me, when I was little. I remember that he was still afraid of darkness, and that night, the last night before their trip back to Chile I turned off all the lights, and I said to him, "I want to show you something. Donít worry there is nothing to be afraid of. In darkness you canít see, but it doesnít mean that things disappear. There is not such a thing like monsters or ghosts, none of that. The biggest monster you will ever find in this Earth is another human being, and I wish God protects you against harm. There is something that I want to show you tonight. I want you to remember what I am going to tell you. I want to tell you that there is a living God, and you might not see God, but God is always there, just like me by your side right now. You might not see me but I'm here, and even if I am not by your side God will. God is always there, right by your side, even if you canít see it." That night I tuck him to bed, and before he went to sleep I said to him, "Repeat with me, Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here. Ever this day or night, be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen." I said that to him and I tuck him in giving him a hug and saying good night. That was the last night that we spent together as a family.

Next day early in the morning, we grabbed our luggage and went to the airport. After a long line and a few words, the time came to board the plane. We got to the point where I couldn't go any farther with them, because of security reasons at the airport, and I let go of his hand. I said goodbye and good luck, and I said to him, "Remember that I will always love you." He looked at me and he said, "I don't want you to be lonely so I'm going to leave with you my teenage mutant ninja turtle to make you company and protect you. Bye dad." He gave me his most precious possession at the time, and that was the latest stuffed Teenage Mutant Turtle that I bought for him, not too long ago, and that was the toy that he fall asleep with.

I remember looking at them as they were walking away from me, and at the same time feeling deep in my heart a pain like I have never felt before. Right after they disappeared out of my sight, I felt like my heart was ripped in two, just like you rip a sheet of paper in halves. I have never felt such emptiness in my heart before, and at the same time I had the sense of being lost, completely lost, and I was totally overwhelmed with emotions to the point that was hard to walk straight.

That day I went home and when I got home I looked at the calendar and I realized that had been four days since I heard that voice, and I look at the clock, and it was exactly 6 PM with six minutes. At that precise moment I heard the voice again asking me, "What's your answer?" I reply almost instantly, "My answer is yes! Yes my Lord. Here I am. If you want to talk to me here I am." Then the voice said, "I will be here with you for 40 days and 40 nights. Mark those days in the calendar starting on November 6th" And so I did. I grabbed a pen and marked 40 days on my calendar, and right after I did that, I heard, "It is not easy for me to communicate with you, and if your faith is not a strong enough you might misunderstand me. If you donít get this right you could lose your mind forever, and you might even die. I will give you a few more days to think about it, but after that if your answer is still positive, there is no turning back." As the voice came in an instant, the voice was gone. I thought that what I felt at the airport was strong, but what I felt after I heard that voice again made me reach a new level of pain and grace, and all at the same time. For sure there was a strong feeling all around me, but in a whole new Plato. I should've been afraid, but every time that voice came to me it was almost like being around my daddy Oscar. I felt peace, serenity, and love all around me. Once the voice was gone I looked at the empty house, but now for the first time the house was as empty as I was. The house reflected very well how I felt inside. From the moment Sebastian disappeared out of my sight, I started to realize how much I really love him. He has become my sunshine, my battery pack, the reason that I was going to work for, and all that, now it was gone. That day after the voice was gone I remember staring at that old mattress lying on the floor, trying to make sense of what was going on, but I couldnít.

Next day at work I got busy as soon as I could, because I wanted to forget about everything. I started to work as hard as I could, trying to shake this nonsense out me. Nothing works better for me than working hard to clear my mind. Doing something with my hands, and focusing hundred percent on what Iím doing, makes me forget about everything else. At work I tried to look normal, like nothing has happened, but Bob who knew well, he asked me a couple times that day if everything was okay. I guess he could tell that something was bothering me. That day I remember he offered me to smoke a joint, but I said no thanks. At that time I was quitting smoking cigarettes, and it has been about a month since I quit smoking, and I didnít want to inhale any smoke at all. He said to me, "Well I guess if you donít want to smoke a joint is fine, but I need my medicine. Iíll be right back." I asked him before he left, "Your medicine?" He said to me, "Donít you think that you are the only one with problems. We all have our problems and it is hard to deal with them and work at the same time, but try to leave your problems at home. The only thing that gives me peace of mind is to have a couple puffs of pot here and there. It relaxes me, and makes me focus on what Iím doing instead of thinking about all my problems. like you know I recently had a baby, and Iím still dealing with hospital bills, and other stuff with my wife, and because my insurance didnít cover everything right now is a mess. Donít think you are the only one with problems. I know is hard for you not to be around your kid. I can relate. Finish that little project while Iím gone. If somebody asks you where I am, just tell them that I needed to get some materials." I kept busy until he came back, and I could smell it on him. For some reason I really liked the smell of it. For some reason the smell of pot was so appealing. When he came back he really got into what we were doing, and he started finishing everything real quick. On my part being used to be the helper of my brothers and my dad, was easy for me to be a good hand for him. One of the things that I like the most about him, was the fact that he liked to work with music, and that day, I remember asking him what the lyrics of a song that was playing in the radio meant. I wanted to know what they were saying because it repeated time after time, and I could not understand one word of it. He said to me they are saying "taking care of business. Everyday!" and finally it all make sense, and I realized that I was starting to understand a little bit more. When I got to that project and I started working with Bob Rodriguez, was hard for me to work listening to rock Ďn roll, but now one of the things that I liked the most at work, was to listen to rock and roll while I was working, especially because of the rhythm of rock Ďn roll. The rockín roll beat is the perfect rhythm to be working with. By then I realized that I was starting to have a change of hearts about music. Now the first thing I would do when I started working with Bob was to set up the radio and find a rock Ďn roll station. Now I was starting to really like to listen to rock music. Rock on!

That day I got home after eating a cheap meal and I have almost forgot all about the voice. I was tired and I took a long shower; I put on my clean clothes; I was thinking on taking a ride just to break the day before I went to bed, and as I was walking towards the door I heard the voice again, "Do you have an answer for me?" The first thing I said was, "God?" The voice replied to me, "Who said I am God!" At that very moment I got really scared, literally I almost shit on my pants. At the same time everything around me turned pitch black, completely dark and I felt like if I was in the presence of something humongous, something gigantic, and I heard the words, "I am who I am, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, the end, and everything in between." As I was listening to those words, there was nothing but darkness, and all I can see was a silhouette as big as the line of the horizon getting closer to me fast. I saw just some places being darker than others, and on the upper right of my eye sight I saw many Golden lights symmetrically organized, and as I looked and focus my sight on it, every single one of those lights were not a single golden color light, each one of them was like a cluster of stars. I could tell that I was still far away from it, but it was so big that filled my whole field of view, and as I focus my sight on one of them, and I can see this cluster of golden color like with more details. I felt being pull away from it, and I felt so insignificant and small, and as I was coming back to where I was, at the same time, I saw a gigantic face like the face of a Buffalo and the voice said, "Thatís who I am, but on this land I roam as a buffalo. Donít worry, I will leave with you my son." Then I saw a humanlike figure, a figure that was riding this gigantic sort of buffalo, and came down out of its head, and then things appeared back again around me, as they were before. I was able to see the house where I was again, and I did get on my knees and I said, "My answer is yes my Lord. I donít know whatís happening to me right now, but Iím willing to give it a try." I heard the voice again saying, "There will be many things that Iím going to say to you, and there are many things that are going to happen to you after this moment, and you will not understand them, but remember the words, "By their fruits you will recognize them." At the end you will not have any proof that this ever happened to you, but by the time you are about forty five years old everything should be in place for you to understand why, I am talking about to you today. If you get this right when you are about forty five years old you might be my voice on earth one more time." The voice said, "The first thing Iím going to ask from you is an act of faith. Imagine that there are two chalkboards right in front of you, and those two chalkboards are your mind. I want you to pretend that you are erasing parts of these chalkboards as I tell you to do so." So there I was, imagine me in the living room of this house pretending that I was a sort of mime, and I was erasing parts of these imaginary chalkboards. As I was doing that the voice said to me, "As you are doing that what Iím really doing is rearranging the space inside your mind. I am erasing worthless stuff stock on your mind, because I need all the space I can get. When youíre done go and take a shower you stink. Then go to bed, youíre going to be tired, but before you do that, bless this house so I can set camp here. Now you have the power to bless." So I blessed the house the best way I knew, and then I understand that it doesnít matter how you bless the house, the important thing is that you blessed that house in the name of God.

At that moment I understood that in order to bless in the name God, you need to say it in the name of Father and in the name of the Son, and not in the name of Jesus. I understood that in order to bless, you have to be bestowed by God himself with the power to bless. For sure that was a shocker for me.

From that moment on that empty old house was still the same place, but didnít feel empty no more. Now it was a sacred place where God had set camp. When I got out of the shower and I went back to the living room was already midnight by then, and the voice came on again saying, "On your knee." so I did, "Now I bless you. I bless your father and I bless your son." and as I was down on one knee with my head down for respect and reverence, I felt being touched on my left shoulder and then touched on my right shoulder. After that I stood in silence for a few seconds, and then I stand up, and I went to bed. I remember being really exhausted after that, and as I went to bed I thought to myself "Have I gone completely crazy?" I was tired, confused but I was okay, so far so good.

Next day at work everything was normal as always, but I remember being alone in a house that I needed to touch up some of the baseboards before they installed the carpets. On that house being all by myself I finished the downstairs and I went upstairs to the master bedroom. As I got into that big bedroom a wind twister took me by surprise. This wind current was very strong, and as the wind hit me I remember flinching and freezing up for a few seconds. The wind was so strong that messed up my hair, and lift up dust from the floor. The wind was so strong that the double doors leading to the balcony of that big master bedroom, they got wide open. The wind turned so fast that I thought the glass was going to chatter. I couldnít explain how that happened because every single door and windows were closed. That day outside was very hot and the AC was turned on.

That day I went home and I remember hesitating to go into the house, but as soon as I stepped into that empty old house it felt very inviting, it felt like I was walking into a different world. As soon as I stepped inside there was nothing but peace and harmony. I went to the bathroom and before I took a shower I remembered to bless the water. That day I took an extra long shower, and right after as I was coming out of the shower, still with my towel around my waist I saw Sigrid waiting for me. She took me by surprise, and I asked her, "How you got here" She said, "The back door was open." We started talking and it was nice to have someone to talk to. After the exchange of a few words, I went to my room and put my clothes on, and we started talking some more. Soon we were talking about how I was feeling, and how much this whole situation had affected me. By the end of our conversation I remember grabbing a glass of water and telling her, how much sorrow was inside of my heart, and I told her that after Sebastian left I felt like my heart was torn apart, and it was ripped in two with no mercy. I grabbed the glass and made a toast to the sorrow inside my heart, drinking the whole glass of water all at once, saying, "Cheers to the pain and sorrow inside my heart." I drank the whole glass of water saying Amen right after. She couldnít stay for too long, but was nice to know that as a friend she cared about what I was going through at the time. Before she left she told me that she came over to invite me for Thanksgiving dinner, and asked me if I was going to be able to make it, I said, "Donít worry Iíll be there. I want miss a plate of free food. No way!" We laugh and she left. That was nice of her.

That night while in bed I started thinking, and I was surprise that I havenít heard the voice all day long, I thought to myself, "What about if Iím just going crazy and this voice is nothing but an hallucination?" Then I concluded that on this one, as many times before in my life, even if it didnít make sense at all, I was willing to find out what it was, I was willing one more time to let my heart lead the way even if it didnít make sense in my mind, because by faith you get to heaven. I decided that whatever it was, I was going to give it a try, and I thought, "By their fruits you will recognize them." Meaning that I wanted to find out what this interaction will bring to me at the end, because if it really was coming from God, nothing bad could happen to me, and the fruits out of this interaction at the end will be nothing but good things for me. I thought, "What wouldíve happened if I didnít hear that voice or I didnít have that dream. What wouldíve been of me? Would I have been dead by then? Because for sure one more time in my life, I have lost all faith in humanity again, and one more time I had reached the conclusion that was better to be dead than having to be a slave that is not allowed to have a life. Whatever this voice was, it was already keeping me alive, and as soon as I finished that statement in my mind, the voice came on and I heard, "Tonight Iím going to teach you about your spirit. I want you to exercise walking with your spirit." At that moment I was in bed lying on my back and the voice said to me, "Start moving your head as if you were saying yes, slowly very slowly, keep that motion going, and stop moving your muscles, but inside your mind keep moving your head up and down ever so slowly, that way now youíre moving your spiritual head. Keep moving your spiritual head and grab your left hand, and with your thumb touch your forehead right above your eyebrows. Place your thumb horizontally starting on the center, and slowly move it from side to side. Move it from your left temple to your right temple. That way you are making a cross, and without stopping that motion, imagine a stairway going up. Imagine yourself starting to walk up the stairs. Little by little one step at a time with your spiritual legs, until you feel like you are moving your legs but donít move your legs, just move your spiritual legs. As you go up the stairs increase the length of your steps, as you are doing this, leave your body behind, and keep going up with your spirit as every step you take gets longer and longer. Keep doing that until you feel like youíre flying in between steps."

When I heard the voice saying, "Imagine a set of stairs in front of you." I saw myself surrounded by fog and immerse in water up to knees, then I saw myself from the back at the very bottom of a round set of stairs going up. They looked like a set of stairs inside of a light house, and as I started to climb up the ladder the fog started to dissipate. I was looking at myself from about five feet behind, and all my clothes were ripped just like the clothing of a ghost. As I was climbing up the stairs my steps got longer and longer. First was one step at a time, then two at a time, and started to double until it got to the point where I was flying. I went through the clouds and I was flying over this beautiful lake, right in front of a green prairie, with a forest on the left side, and a tall cliff with a thing waterfall on the right side. The Sun was just above the horizon and it was a beautiful day. After flying free for awhile, I ended up seated aside a thin creek of crystal clear water. This creek was located on top of the cliff by the lake. This creek led to the waterfall. I was seated on a typical yoga meditation position, and I even had the tip of my middle fingers touching the tip of my thumb, right over my crossed legs. Thatís how I fall asleep that night, believing that I was meditating right on the top of a cliff, listening to the crystal clear water running beside me, on this shallow thin creek, right in the middle of a very beautiful place, full of green and wild flowers.

Next day at work first thing in the morning, they sent me to work on a very odd assignment. They plant a small tree and for some reason now the tree was leaning to the side, almost touching the grass. I remember putting the tree a little deeper into the ground, and I was having fun doing that. I even took my shoes off, and put my feet on the ground. It surprised me because it felt really good to touch the ground with my bare feet. For some reason I was feeling connected to the tree and the ground, I had the conviction that I was being one with my surroundings in a way I never felt before.

Finally I put some bracings on that tree, and everything was just normal, but little wind twisters keep following me around everywhere I wentónot all the time, but one here, and another there. I have fun that day at work, and I remember starting to feel better, but every time I started thinking about Sebastian tears will come to my eyes. It was still very painful for me to think of him. My only consolation was to know that over there back in Chile he was with his grandma, and he was way better off with her than here by my side. I knew that my decision was the right thing to do logic wise, but my heart missed him a lot.

After work I went home took a shower; blessed water, and after that, I went for a joy ride. I took a ride to nowhere. I didnít have a destination in mind, and I was just driving forward. I was looking at the sunset, picking at it through the tall buildings, every time I got a chance, and I ended up by the International Airport of Miami. When I realized that I was there I remember how much I love to watch the airplanes taking off, and right before I got into the airport, I heard the voice saying, "Put your right hand up, and make the palm of your hand face the sun." As you can imagine I followed the instructions to the letter, and Iím really sure that I must looked really awkward. Just imagine seeing somebody driving with one hand and the other hand up and facing the sun. For sure it felt awkward, but at the same time it felt so good. As the light of the sunset Sun touched the palm of my hand it felt like life itself rushing from the palm of my hand all throughout my body. After driving around like that for a few and going around through places I have never seen beforeóexcept for the airportóI got home and I felt totally renewed. As soon as I got inside the house I heard the voice again saying, "Tonight you are going to learn about your spirit. Tonight you will learn the mechanics of the spirit. I will explain to you how your spirit works, and tonight I want you to remember that if you ever have the okay to speak in my name, this part will be part of the message. Four, remember this number, for life to exist there is a spirit first, and every spirit is the essence of life. Every spirit is almost nothing at all, including mine, remember this words, "Spirit over Matter," life begins with the essence of life, and the essence of life does not use any physical space. Life is like a thought in your mind, and that thought leads the rest. Matter is the after math of a reaction that followed the birth of the spirit.

Remember wherever life is born, I am there, how does this happen? Donít worry dimwit, you donít have to understand all that, you just have to accept that there is a thing bigger than you, and way smarter than you, and way older than you. You might think that I know it all, but I donít. Let me tell you my story; let me tell you the meaning of my name. In all reality my name means "The one without a name," thatís why I do not care the name you might give me. Just know that I know when you pronounce my name in any way it may sound. Every time you refer to me, I know it. From the moment that I was born, to the moment I really gain consciousness of my own existence, I donít know how long it took for that to happen, and to become who I am, it has been a long road. Remember the meaning of my name, "The one without a name," after that, I have given a name to all of you, but nobody as far as I know ever gave me a name. Long time ago I was not born, in a way that I just happened. Nobody was there when I was born, and I donít know like I said, for how long there it was nothing but me, and infinite darkness all around me. No matter where I went or how far I did go, there it was nothing but darkness. I went from being the simplest way of existence to what I am today, and I am not perfect, I have made many, many mistakes. I was not born what I am today, I did evolve to become who I am, and I am who I am. More important than to know where you came from, is to know where youíre going, and remember that every step you take could be your last one.

Listen to this dimwit, is very important for you to know the mechanics of your spirit. What you are going through is an imbalance due to your faith, and because I have blessed you. You are going through an imbalance because you have became a Father in spirit, you in my eyes have earned the right to be a father in spirit, and if you know me, to be a father in spirit is more important that being the sperm donor. I, God, I have blessed you with your first physical blessing, and that is the first blessing that any human regardless of gender can receive from me. After this forty days you will became a true father in spirit. What has happened to you is because of your faith in me, your good intentions, and your natural ability to look with my eyes, you earned my blessing. Look with my eyes means that you look at people as I said, you should look at people. You look at people as I do, and that is, you look at people as if they were your brothers, and you are right because every spirit on Earth are my sons and daughters, and everything in between. You look at people as if they were your distant family, but still your family regardless of nationality, color, race or gender.

The mechanics of your spirit it requires an opposition. Since you were conceived, your body that is, I started creating you, and when you are conceived you are nothing but a nest. Even after you are born you are nothing but a nest, but when you get to remember your first memory, that is the moment when your spirit hashed for the first time. At that moment I place your spirit in your body, and you became truly alive, that is the instance when your life started. You really came to this world, the time when you got your first memory, remember that. From that moment on the race for survival is on for you, and at that moment I became in your body more than your creator, I became your opposition, physically you follow me, and spiritually I follow you, you say yes, I say no, that is how I started teaching you how to think. You are limited on how many memories from passed experiences you can hold, those you can say are your instincts, but I can hold more memories for you that you can imagine, and once you learn how to think on your own, that is the moment when you really are born in spirit. You need to learn how to seize the moment, and on that you have no limitations, if everything goes well you should reach that point around forty years of age if you are a male, and if you are a female your should reach that point when youíre around thirty years old. For that to happen everything has to go well, and you, you are in the right track.

The reason why I am here with you right now is because like I said, "where ever there is life being born, Iím there. You have reached in spirit the point where you are becoming aware of your son, your spiritual son. Your spiritual son is waking up, and here I am to bless that birth. I am here to bless the birth of your son, and after these forty days I am living you. I didnít come over here to talk to you, I have been always with you being your opposition, and now after these twenty eight years with you, I will finally leave you. Your spirit with my blessing gave birth to a son, and now you my son, you will became the father of your son, and you know the role I have played in your life, and now is your turn to be the opposition of your son. Congratulations you are a Father now. You have earned my blessing."

The spiritual rule of multiplication: "At the beginning of your life it was only me creating your body, then when you were born in flesh, but spiritually the day of your first memory, that is the day of your birth. Have you heard the saying, "An individual is born twice in this life," and actually it goes beyond that. The day of your spiritual birthday, one became two, and now is the day when two became four. Let me explain, pay attention. For you to understand what is happening to you right now, I will put it in a way that you can understand. I will give you a very simplified version of whatís going on in your spirit. First it was me, God, to your left, as the Father and your opposition. You were at my right as my son, and physically you followed me, and spiritually I followed you, there it was two of us. Now because the rule of multiplication, now we are four, your son will take your right, and you will take the left, you will be your sonís opposition, and because of my example with you, you now know how to be a father. That transition takes about forty days, thatís why I am living you, in about forty days. In reality I will never live you. Now that we are four, after these forty days your son will lead the way, so he can learn to be, and you, as his opposition, in order to keep balance, you need to follow your son. Unless experience needs to take over to avoid disaster, that it is the rule. There is always an exception to the rule.

Now recap: Imagine the four cardinal points North, South, East and West. They are four because your son now is leading the way, and he is north. You following him, become South. I God, the Eternal Father takes East and my son takes the West. These four points they rotate because there is always an exception to the rule. You can take the lead in the case there is a God reason to do so, and that reason is to avoid disaster, and that is the exception to the rule. Thatís why your Spirits still being one, and the same can rotate as needed. This simplified example is as simple as it gets so you can understand the concept, the idea of the mechanics of your spirit. Son leads, you cover his back, my Son it covers your back, and I cover my sonís back. Got it?" Yes my Lord got it! God said, "God night now son." Good night my Lord "Love you." I said, and he said, "Love you too son of mine. Be a good Father. By the way, what name are you going to give him, because you get to name your son?" I responded, "I donít know yet. I will let him choose his own name when he grew up, and if he wants me to give him a name I will, but I will give to my son the freedom of choosing his own name, if he wants to." God said, "Wise decision. Good night son." "Good night my Lord." I said and went to sleep like a baby.    

After listening to those words I was exhausted. I went to bed, and I had another great night of sleep. God said, "If you ever wonder where you go when you fall asleep, is the same place that you go when you die, and that is right by my side."

Next day early in the morning I woke up and I felt the need to pray, to pray and give thanks before I went to work. Before I was done the voice said, "From this moment on people will be able to tell that something is wrong with you. People can feel it, they as well as you, they know me. Some fear me, some get confused, but they know when Iím around, just like you do. Some old fox like you know me very well and is hard for me to hide, especially from you. Today I want you to take some medicine, you need it, bless it before you inhale it, and donít be afraid. Never take more than four puffs a day, donít cross the line. You might know by now, that every time you cross the line there is a price to pay."

That morning on my way to work I grabbed my coffee and my doughnut like always, and on my way to work I was thinking; "Now I know for sure that I am going crazy. Now God is asking me to smoke some pot to disguise my insanity. This is hilarious!" I said, and laughed out loud.

When I got to work, after setting up the tools, and the extension cords like always, Bob came and invited me to go with him to the store to get some materials, and I said sure. I was glad to have someone giving me a joy ride. I really needed some joy that morning for sure. The explanation that God gave me the night before, was long and very deep to the point that my brain was about to explode paying so much attention.

I remember that day recognizing for the first time in my life, that I was being fed up of driving around. I used to love to drive a car, but now here in the U.S. after driving around two hours a day every day, I was glad that I was going to be able to sit down and enjoy the ride.

On our way to the store he asked me if I wanted to smoke a joint, and I said like always, "No thanks I pass. I am good." He took a joint out of his shirtís pocket, and asked me to roll up the windows. He said donít worry, Iíll blow the smoke out the window. I just donít want the people to see that I am smoking it. He lighted up and took a couple puffs, blew the smoke out the window, and right after he put it off and saved the "colita" in the ashtray. I could smell, "The warm smell of colitas, rising up through the airóHotel California, Lyrics. Still the smoke inside the truck for me was very heavy, and I started to roll dawn my window so I can get some fresh air, and as I was doing that, he yelled at me "Close the window! What tha? Donít you see the police car right by your side?" I didnít see the police car that was right beside us, and he said after I closed the window really quick like nothing happened, "I smoke and you get high? What in the hell is going on with you?" We just laugh, fortunately nothing happened.

As we got the stuff at the store he told me that this week as I already knew, it was going to be my last week of work before the project closed. He went to say to me, that he was sorry to have to let me go, but that is how construction worked in the U.S. "Feast of famine." I told him not to worry. I told him that I was happy to have had the opportunity to work as a carpenter helper, and we talked about it while we got the materials we needed at the hardware store. I got the opportunity to tell him how much I appreciated all his help sincerely one more time.

Back at the project we started framing a sort of mechanical room for a heater, like always we did set up the radio, and we started working. I said to him, "Do you mind if I take a puff out of your joint?" "Not at all," he said and handed it to me. I took just a puff and kept working as we listen to rock and roll. After a few seconds I really got into the music. It was just like the time I took a little puff while playing pin-ball when I was a teen. I felt relaxed more focused, and the feeling of anxiety went away in a heartbeat. I was so amazed to realize that nothing has changed, but my feelings of being worried went away. That day was a great day, and lunch time was an exquisite one.

That day after work at home, I took a shower, blessing the water before I did of course, and right after I put my clothes on I went for a ride. I took my little turbo car and I went for a ride to nowhere. I just wanted to go out and wonder around to whatever place my car would take me. I didnít have any specific destination in mind, and I ended up by the ocean in a wooden dock. I was looking at the sunset that by the way, that day it was astonishing, and I was admiring to this beautiful sunset when the voice came on and said, "Bless this place." And without not even questioning that command, I started blessing the place I was, but this time something was different. Something happened at that moment, something very profound, I felt like I was stepping aside of myself and God was taking over me completely. From that moment on I felt like I was no longer in the driver side of myself. I was on the side of myself watching in first row how things unfolded. I was no longer on control of myself. Even my voice when I talked didnít sound the same. You might think I was afraid or in distress but no, it was totally the opposite. I remember being on the side lines of myself watching how things unfolded, and no longer in control, but totally calm and full of a great feeling hard to explain, but it felt amazing!

Thatís what happened at that moment. While looking at the sunset I slowly opened my arms wide open, and I turned around giving the back to the Sun. I stood steal there for a few seconds; then I put my head backwards all the way, as far as I could, and while the Sun was right in my back, I said out loud, "I bless this place in the name of the father, and in the name of the Son. Take unto and do receive this blessing in the name of the father, and in the name of the Son." While I was saying in the name of the father the second time, my right hand touched my left shoulder with the tips of my fingers, and then my arm went back to the position of being completely extended, then with my left hand touched my right shoulder with the tip of the fingers, and came back to the initial position of having my arms wide open. When I was done doing that, I turned to my left and I repeated exactly the same, then I turned hundred and eighty degrees and again I said exactly the same words, and I did exactly the same motions with my arms, then I faced the Sun, and looking at the Ocean I said, "This place is now Holly Land, and Holly Waters." 

As soon as I was finished with that last sentence, a huge male sea lion got its head out of the water, started sniffing me, and looked right into my eyes. At that moment I said, "Yes, I am back on Earth one more time. Go and tell the others that I am back." After I said that the sea lion and I stared at each other for a couple of seconds, and the sea lion got back into the water disappearing out of my sight as quickly as it came. After that I got in my car, and I went home feeling amazingly great. While driving on my way home I heard the voice saying to me, actually kind of singing, "Donít you worry, you donít have to be worried no more, you donít have to be worried," and then again sang, "You donít have to be worried no more, you donít have to be worried."

The voice told me not to worry, but one thing was for sure inside my heart, and that was the fact that I wanted to live close to my family, and I didnít want to be alone no more. For that to happen I wanted to move close to my mom Mercedes. At the time my mom Mercedes was living with my sister Belinda, and they have moved from Billings, Montana to Salt Lake City, Utah. They have had enough with the cold weather in Montana, especially in winter time, so out of all the places that they could go, they decided to move to Salt Lake City, because of the Mormon Church.

My sister Belinda since she was baptized she has been always a very good Mormon, and one of her dreams was to live close to a Mormon Temple, so thatís why they moved to Salt Lake.

My mom Mercedes and my sister Belinda they have been always very close, and like my mom Mercedes used to say, "I want to die in the arms of my beloved daughter Belinda." Out off all of us Belinda was my momís favorite daughter, they were very compatible, and at the time they wanted to be together, "till death tears them apart."

I called my mom Mercedes and for my surprise, she was not with my sister at the time. She was back in Chile taking care of some personal businesses, and when I called Belinda gave me a phone number where to call her in Chile. Finally I got a hold of her, and we talked for a while over the phone. It was for sure nice to hear her voice. Just to hear her voice made me feel for some reason much, much better. While talking to my mom Mercedes she mentioned to me that if I wanted to see her, I could go to the airport of Miami on her way back to the U.S. and meet with her for a bit. Her flight back to the U.S. was going to make a stop for a couple of hours in Miami, and she wanted to see me. 

Right in the middle of those forty days, on one of those days, I went to the airport and met with my mother. It was nice for sure to see her again and catch up with her. It has been more than three years since the last time I saw her. She came to the U.S. about a year and a half before I came to the U.S., and has been over a year and a half since I got here. We talked for a while at the airport and before she left, she said me to take care of myself, we hugged, and we said good bye to each other. Right before she turned around to go back to her airplane I said to her, "Donít worry mom, you donít have to be worried no more, you donít have to be worried." Almost like the voice said it to me, and that was the only thing odd that I remember saying or doing while I was with her. In that short got together at the airport, I tried my best not to act out of place or say something that made no sense. Fortunately nothing odd happened, and it was nice to see her one more time. I have to admit that I had to bless the airport before I met with her though.

The last day at work was a nice one, they took me to lunch, and we went to a chicken place on Bob Maureenís truckóof course, on the way to the place we stopped on the side of the road, in a non conspicuous place, and we lighted one up. This time I grabbed the joint and I took a puff, anyways was pointless not too, because just with the smoke was enough to get me high. We had a great lunch time, and back at work, they take it easy on me that afternoon. When the day was over I said good bye to everyone and I left.

That day on my way home I was feeling very uncertain because I really didnít have a clue about what was coming next. I really liked to work with them, but nothing I could do about it.

That Friday night at home I was all by myself, and after I took a shower and got fresh clothes on, thanks God, God came over and gave me another lesson. The lesson of that night was a shocker. God said to me, "The way our spirit must face the universe in order to work are only two." There are two ways to face the universe, one way is saying yes, and the other is saying no, just like a shark and a dolphin. One it moves in a horizontal pattern and the other in a vertical manner, and what they have in common, is that they repeat the motion over and over. That simple thought caught in the brain as a motion is a true miracle of life.

 God said to me, "I am closer to any of you than what you ever imagined before. To exist is not easy, and do not ask me how difficult is just to communicate with you. Trust me, you donít need to understand all those details, in the other hand if you know how to count up to ten, you know more than enough to be able to make the choice if you want to be by my side or not. If you know how to count up to ten, you can understand me."

God said, "I have told the same story many times before, and there is little pieces of my truth scattered all over the world. They come from people all over the world from different eras, and different millenniums but I have been around humans from the beginning waiting for them to get the point where we start having fun being alive. I have been with you from the beginning of times." At that moment I remember having a memory very patent coming back to my mind. I had a memory where I was dying and I was in my last moment, that moment right after that last breath. I saw in my mind the image of being something like a fish. I was reliving that in my mind when God told me, "That image in your mind, shows you how far we go back. One time long ago I saved your life. You were physically dead, and you shouldíve been dead while ago, but your spirit resisted dying and the only thing keeping you alive was your will to be alive. You were praying for a miracle to happen, and I was able to hear you. As I walked by I rescued you putting you back in the water. That image in your mind is yours. That fish you see is you dying. As, as you remember I was walking with my son by my side and he pointed at you and said, "Father look, that fish is still alive I can sense his spirit." We reached for you and put you back in the water. Little by little you recovered and you came back to life. What was even more amazing was the fact that you remembered us the next day when we pass you by on that pond. You came over and you were thankful and full of gratitude. That is how far we go back son of mine. Your spirit was born long, long ago."

At that moment I was in awe, I was seeing images in my mind of my spirit when was just a fish, at the very beginning of my life as a spirit, and God said, "Eternity does exist. You are the very prove of that."

God said, "The question if not why I left you, the question is always why you are walking away from me? There is a connection between you and me, and there is a connection between every single living thing and me." God said, "Letís leave it up to here. Your little mind has already reached its limit. Think about what I just told you, and will talk some more when you digest what I just said. Donít worry we have all the time in the world, and nice to see you again son."

After that nice night, I had some time in my hands, and everything was nice and dandy. I still had a little bit of money in my pocket, and I was doing just fine. I was saving every single penny that I could though, and I was still able to buy me food and cook for myself. I always loved to be able to cook for myself without having to ask nobody to cook it for me, loved that. I love to be independent. So like I said it was lovely to have some time off and being able to rest, but regardless I was worried because I needed to find a job. At the time that is what I started doing after I got laid off from my other job.

Actually after working so hard and for so long, I was happy to have some time in my hands to spear. It felt great! I remember missing so much just to have fun that one of those days I decided to blow twenty dollars playing in an arcade place. I saw an ad in the newspaper and when I got there I was blown away. I have never seen such a big Arcade. I was in heaven! I found a machine that once was one of my favorite games of all times. It was a Jetfighter game, and this one had a combat airplane cockpit that rotated 360 degrees. Oh my! I donít know how many times I played on that machine, well to be honest I didnít play more than five times, I wish I could, but money was short. That day I played pinball too, and that is my favorite game of all times. Itís so amazing for me to see all the mechanics involved in one of these pinball machines that amaze me even to this day. These machines are full of principles of physics like gravity, resistance, electromagnetism, density and so on so forth. They have targets, slides, bumpers, bouncers there is so much physics involved in this game that I was amazed just to look at them. Every time I had the chance to play on them, I was so happy to have the opportunity to have a taste of the future in my hands. For me on top of all that, the new pinball machines were equipped with integrated computers, and that for me was a Brain Blower. It was Amazing! I love pinball machines. I loved them so much that I spent one whole school year playing pinball instead of going to school. That day while playing in this place, and having fun I realized that since I got here to the U.S. I have been so busy trying to survive and learn how to speak the language that I have forgotten completely that a human needs to play. I was hungry to have some fun, the good kind of fun, the real fun, good fun. Fun that you get not drinking, not smoking, I was hungry for the kind of fun you get playing among myriads of people, and to see all of them having fun made me feel great again. It was a great day, and I had a great time like I havenít had in years.

I remember that day because it was the day before Thanksgivings, and I have been invited to have dinner with Mike and Sigrid at their house at six pm.

Thanksgiving Day I showed up a bit early to Mikeís house. I didnít have anything else to do that day and I loved to talk to them, so I went a bit early. They were my friends and even if we didnít get together very often, every time we did get together we had a wonderful time. I knocked the door and Sigrid open the door with a smile on her face like always. That day I remember I was trying my best to talk and act as normal as I could, but I was able to tell that I was a bit odd. I was without a job and that made me worried, on the other hand, I had just broke up a very long and serious relationship as well, and I was in a new country. At the time I was going through a lot of uncertainty about what was going to be of my future, and all that without mentioning God.

When I got to Mikeís hose he was not there, he was at work, and Sigrid was preparing dinner. I said hi to her and right after the routine clichť introduction, I donít know how we got to a point where I said something really odd. I said to her a typical saying of my country, because we started talking about my fights with Veronica, and those fights at the end were all about nothing but, "Fish heads" meaning something trivial that makes no sense. In my mind Veronica started fights with me because she wanted to fight with me, not because there was a real reason for it. Like I said many time to her, for me before the fight happened I could see her face, "Painted for war." The rest was just an excuse to accomplish the first objective and that was, "Fight, fight, fight." Right after I said, "We fought about nothing but Fish Heads" and the odd thing was that I added, "And what about the rest of the body of the fish?" Translation: We fought for nothing really important. We just fought for trivial insignificant things, but what I meant adding the rest? "And what about the rest of the body of the fish heads." That didnít make sense at all, but I already had said that. Sigrid looked at me surprised and out of words, but then she didnít make much out of it, anyways was awkward. I tried not to say incoherent things as well, but sometimes they just got out of my mouth. After talking a few about Veronica and I we changed the subject because she could tell that talking about Veronica was a hard subject for me, mainly because I ended up talking about Sebastian, and every time I thought of him, tears would appear in my eyes. We changed the subject and we started talking about what I have been doing. Of course I didnít talk to her about God and stuff, but I told her about the jobs I have been applying for and such. After a few, while she was setting the table, she started talking to me about how she was a bit disappointed about the U.S., and how she was not all that happy anymore. In the middle of that she mention Mikeís name, and as she pronounced his name I looked at my watch and I saw the time, and the time was six pm with six minutes, and six seconds. At that very moment I interrupted her and I said, "Stop!" and I couldnít stop myself from saying out loud, "Stop this is not good, Mike is in a six, that means he is up to no good." Sigrid asked me, "What are you talking about?" I said, "Mike is in a six. Look at my watch. When you mention his name I looked at my clock, and it was 6:06 and that means he is no good." Sigrid asked me, "What does that means?" I said, "I am not exactly sure, but what I know is that whatever it is, is not good. I know that much." Sigrid said, "Just by looking at your watch you can tell if someone is doing something bad? What are you trying to say?" Then I came to my senses and I said, "Oh donít mind me, Iím talking nothing but, "Fish heads" and then I said again, "Öand what about the rest of the body?" Then Sigrid said, "Well let me tell you that Mike and I are not doing pretty well lately. Mike and I we are braking up, and I might go back to Chile soon." I said, "I knew it! Something was going on with Mike. Is it his fault? Iím so sorry to hear about that. Are you sure about you and Mike, whatís going on? I guess U.S. is not what you thought what it was ha?" Sigrid said, "No, not really." Good thing she just kept talking to me like nothing happened, but I could tell she was aware that I was not fine up there in my head. We kept talking as she was cooking the last details on the side dishes, and she was keeping an eye on that big bird that she had in the oven. While she was setting up the table and stuff, I was keeping an eye on Erikaóher few months old daughter. Erika was the cutest little thing ever, and she was so sweet. I really liked when she giggled making a very high pitch sound up and down from the bottom of her heart. She was so cute. While Sigrid was cooking and I was entertaining Erika Mike finally arrived. Erika almost jumped out of her chair, she got so excited. Mike said hi to all of us, and grabbed Erika in his arms like he has been waiting all day long just to see her again. I donít blame him she was such a cute baby. Mike and I started talking for a little while, and good thing I didnít say anything out of place or stupid in front of him. We finally sat at the table and started having dinner. We had a glass of wine with the food and we talked some more. I was really hungry that day but of course before I started eating I blessed the food in my mind. That day was a very important day for me, and I gave thanks to God for all his blessings, and I asked God to bless the food, so that way the food could nourish our bodies as well as our spirit. I remember that God has told me, "Thatís why you bless the food every time before you eat it. When you bless your food in my name, that food will be able to nourish your spirit as well, and remember, "Spirit over matter."" I wish you donít have a starving spirit.

We had a great time that day, and it was nice to spent some time with my only friends at the time. To be with them that day made me feel real good, and before I knew dinner was over. We said goodnight, and as I was living Sigrid said, "You can come over tomorrow for lunch if you want to. There are plenty of leftovers." "Count on it!" I said and left feeling great that night.

Next day like I didnít have much to do especially in the morning, I went over Sigridís house a bit early, and Sigrid needed to go and run some errands downtown Hialeah, so I did accompany her. We got in the car, secured Erika on her baby seat, and on we went. While Sigrid was driving she asked me why I said that Mike was bad? I said, "Well like I said 6:06 didnít mean that Mike was a bad person, it was just negative, like a bad omen and thatís it." Sigrid asked me, "But how you reached that thought? In what you base that conclusion?" Of course on those 40 days I couldnít lie so let say that in order to answer that question, I had to do a lot of thinking and I had to omit a few details of course, but I said, "You know I do believe in a living God. A God that can be here and there, and in my beliefs God is closer than what we may think. Actually I have learned recently that sometimes random numbers can tell you something. In my beliefs if God created everything, there must be clues all over and all around us. Now if it is true that God is alive, and interacting with all of us at the same time, through random numbers I can see a pattern that leads me to believe, that Mathematics can be a way to see what you can see with our own eyes. If Mathematics is of an isomorphism of reality, Math in itself could be a way to find those clues that God has left all around us. That day of Thanksgiving, I was following some random numbers, that I was getting over and over, and in my head number six was leading to bad things happening to me, or I should say negative things happening around me. Like getting a red light right, when the time was ending in six minutes, I dropped my coffee and they were playing the song number six. Let me give you an example of my theory: There is random numbers all around us at any given time, like the house number where you are walking by, the number you get the time you look at your clock, the last few numbers in the car odometer, the receipts you get every time you buy something. All those are numbers that changed constantly and if you have a thought that ends in a question like, "It would be a good thing or a bad thing to go back to Chile" and then right at that moment that you have that thought, you look at the numbers present around you, and in those numbers sometimes you will find a hidden pattern. I found out, and it may be just a coincidence but bad things or negatives things most likely happened in a six. I have been following those numbers lately, and that day for some reason number six was linked to bad things, and bad thoughts, thatís why when you said Mike I looked in my watch, and I found out that it was 6:06pm and that for me gave was a sign of something bad. It was just a bad omen, and I shouldnít take it so serious you know. Is just some coincidence, but something bad at least not good it was really happening between the two of you. Something in those lines I said to her, and that was a great way to deterred the subject, because I could not tell her something like, "Oh that is a lesson that God gave me the other night. He told me that after these forty days I could still keep in touch with God, using my sensitivity, and those random patterns of numbers. That way we could talk through numbers, you know?" That wouldíve been a good answer, I am sure. To say something like that wouldíve been something totally beyond reason, and besides that I could not talk about God then. On my books that day I was exercising what God told me about patterns in random numbers in which Zero meant the beginning, neutrality, One it meant that zero has become all there is, so now you had a duality, two concepts: One being nothing, and nothing being all there is, and that gives the origin of number two. Zero and one now are two, but still one and the same, and when there is one and only one, there still nothing at all. That is the duality present in everything, and one of the properties of zero. Now you have number three because there is zero and one and two, so there are three. Three is when life hatch into existence. God explained me that sometimes what we believe that is our idea, in reality is not. We cannot think, every idea is Godís idea, and in order for God to remember, God lives clues and symbols. Number three is a zero opened in halves. Now that is four, because you have now four digits 0,1,2 and 3. Once you get to four you have five, when you reach five is the moment when you have reached balance between nothing and everything. Where everything is represented by a circle, and nothing is represented by a square. That itself is a conflict that reaches balance expressed in the number five. Number five symbol is the half of everything represented by the half of a circle, and the half of nothing represented by the half of one square. That is number five. Now there is six digits 0,1,2,3,4 and 5 so you get to six. Six then represents the growth of nothing into something. Six represents when you became aware of your own existence, and is because that small circle in the bottom is part of a much greater circleóthe Circle of Life. Seven represents nothing becoming something, where nothing is being represented by a square that is torn apart by an angle other than a 90 degree angle. Once that happened that square or pure nothing, has been changed forever, and that is the beginning of eternity. Seven is weird because you never know what you are going to get out of nothing. Something has been changed for all eternity, and then Eternity comes to existence, and Eternity is represented by number eight. As far as God told me when the random numbers fall or follow number eight means for me to leave whatever that is or was in Godís hands, because eight is the highest state of existence for us, and with the consent of the Father and the Son, you reached number ten. Number ten means that you have reached a higher level of existence, a higher Plato and you can only reach that level with the consent of God through his son. Number nine is the beginning of the process of reaching a higher level, meaning it could be one or the other or reaches a higher level or forever vanishes. Number six is the beginning of something, and nine the end of something as it was. Number eight it represent that you have reached the balance between your body and your spirit, and from there only God knows where your spirit will go. Nine it could represent death. Number ten represents that through that process you have reach a higher level of existence, and that is not possible without Godís guidance. So I think God told me one of those nights. That is why you only need to know how to count up to ten to reach the glory of The Heavens and understand God=Life.

I could not explain that to Sigrid, because it was forbidden for me at the time to talk about that, and at the same time I didnít want her to think that I have gone completely insane. Anyways I told her a bit about my way of thinking, and why I believed that there it was a living God. I told her that I didnít care what people said or believed, but in my world God could be anyone, and reality as we know it was way more fragile that what she could imagine. At the end I repeated to her, "God is alive today, and God could be walking among us, and how could you know anyways?" At that very moment while talking to her I pointed at a tall mature guy with white hair and I said to her, "What about if that guy was God, how would you know?" She replayed to me, "bologna." At that moment after talking for a while, we both realized that we have been talking about God way more than enough for one day, and we kind of stopped on our tracks right there. Right there was a moment where we both stud steal in the moment and the feeling of God presence I knew was strong. I could tell. At that precise moment I looked to Erika that was in her chair on the back seat, and even if we were talking loud especially me, she was deep asleep, and you could see the expression of peace on her face.

Anyhow I didnít want to scared her or anything, but while talking I told her that God was the one keeping things in order. If God didnít exist and matter acted anyway it wanted, we wouldnít have the illusion of a fixed reality at all. In that case solid could be liquid just by will, and everything would be chaos, and there would be no way for any spirit to exist. And remember that you only exist when you are aware of your existence.

At that moment in my life that was the kind of things that I was thinking about, and for some reason I had enough trust on her to open up a bit about the world inside myself. I wish I could tell her everything about it but I couldnít. The only thing I knew at that moment was that I was going through a very hard time, and I guess anyone who knew me could tell. And believe it or not, things were about to get even weirder.

Next day I woke up early in the morning, and I heard the voice saying, "Letís go!" I boot up really quick and grabbed my little turbo car, and on we went with no destination in mind. At least I didnít have a clue where we were going. I was just going forward and the voice was leading the way, all the way. One more time I was looking at myself as if I was seated on the passenger seat, because I was helpless. I had no control or saying on my actions. At that moment on my mind God was in complete control of my will. After a long ride I ended up in a big parking lot, and out of the blue I did something that I was really good at it when I was a kid. I claimed a wall and started walking on top of it. I donít know how, but I got inside of a warehouseóa tire store of some sortóand I got inside in a very sneaky way. In this store I found over some metal shelves a paper with cocaine in it. Must have been at least like ten grams, all together in a pile, with a line ready to be snort on the side. Right at that moment I heard the voice saying, "If everybody was doing what they were supposed to be doing, this whole world would be a complete different place. This world will be what I intended it to be or else!" At that moment I looked up and, I saw and old guy holding gently by the shoulder to a younger guy, that for the look in his face he was ready to kill me. Both of them looked at me, but they just looked at me, and then looked at the cocaine, and back at me again. I just left that place claiming the wall and walking on top of it, just the way I came in. Walking through the thin wall I got back to the parking place where my car was, and I got in my car and left. After a little driving around it was lunch time, and I stopped in an all you can eat buffet. I knew most likely that was going to be the meal of the day, but before I got inside the restaurant I blessed the place, and as I sat down inside I blessed the food, all the food in the restaurant, and all the water. That day was a nice day. I spent the whole time just driving around and visiting different places. I donít know how many places I went and I just got inside like if it was my house, and nobody stopped me or asked me where I was going. In all those places I saw people not doing what they were supposed to be doing, and I heard the same comment over and over, "If they were doing what they were supposed to be doing, this world wouldnít be what it is right now."

That day I made it back home safely and after all I did, I was so surprised that I was not arrested for trespassing, especially when it was so obvious that I was not part of those offices staff. I remember that day I was wearing a pair of jeans and a blue T shirtóa T-shirt that a Peruvian lady gave me as a gift for doing such a job on her houseóand I had my hair back in a pony tail. On top of all that I was really brown at the time, because I have been working out in the sun for more than a year. Anyhow I was happy to be home safe and sound that day.

After my usual shower with blessed water of course, I heard the voice saying, "Tonight we are going to revisit the story of Abraham and his son Isaac." I got my clothes on, I made my bed, and right after I went to the living room. I sat on the floor like meditating, put my mind at ease, closed my eyes and the voice came on, "Abraham was a young man just like you, and no matter what he saw or what others did, Abraham followed me with his heart. At a point in his life after seeing so much injustice and atrocities all around him, he decided that it was better to be dead than giving in. At that moment because of his love to life, and everything around him, like plants, insects and animals I couldnít hide from him. His spirit was able to see beyond the obvious. He saw more than what the eye can see and at that moment when he was about to attempt against his life, I talked to him and I explained to him the same thing I am telling you. Then decades latter in his life, he talked about that experience publicly, after I gave him the okay to go ahead and talk about me. The first thing I told him was that his son could die, and he could fall into an imbalance greater than what he could handle. I told him as I said to you, if he didnít get things right there was the possibility of his spiritual son dying, and him getting lost for the rest of his days. I asked him, "Are you willing to risk the life of your son for me? Would you sacrifice your son for me?" God said, "Like you know I was not talking of his sons or daughters, I was talking about his spiritual son, just like I am doing with you right now. When the bible says I ask him to sacrifice his son, it was not his son Isaac. I wouldíve never asked for a human sacrifice, not even an animal sacrifice. What I told him is the story of the Father and the Son, the same old story I am telling you. I donít know why old farts like me like to repeat stories over and over, but I do."

Once upon a time there was a man who loved and respected the teachings of God. This man loved listening to ancient wisdom stories that had been passed on from generation to generation. This man grew up strong in spirit, and when he reached maturity, he went through a process of multiplication just like you. He thought that he had fall into madness, and the ones around him thought that he has been taken over by evil spirits, but what he was going through was no madness. What was happening to him is the same phenomena you are experiencing, and that is your spirit has reach maturity, and with my blessing the spirit has started mitosis. In a way it was me getting closer to him, because he has gotten closer to me. There is a point when a human regardless of gender reached the point where the spirit gives birth to an offspring. Let me tell you that there is no life created in this Universe that is not my offspring, every child is my child. You are undergoing the same process, and your spirit is being ripped apart and torn into two. You are becoming two, but remember that we are talking about your spirit. At a point every spirit goes through this process and this process happens naturally, and especially to those who follow me by heart. To explain it in a way you could understand, I have to simplify it almost to bare bones, but this is what happens: Every woman is a spirit that has reached the point where multiplication has become one of its talents. In spirit, me plus a spirit in a higher level can make multiplication happen, thatís why I do say that I am the Alpha, and every single woman is rightfully mine. I am the strongest and no human male is a threat for me, not even if they blow this whole planet, not even this whole star system, still they are nothing to me. Women in a way are my body on earth, and males like you, are my hands on Earth. At least that is how I intended to be so, and there comes into place the path that a man must walk, in order to rightfully take my name. In spirit a woman is ahead in evolution, and their spirits are closer to me than any human male. Women are spirits that when they get close to me life as you know it happens. In your case as a male you are behind in importance, and there is where in spirit children become first, then woman, then man, and then animals. Remember the story of Noah? To simplify it for you, this is how life begins: Life begins first with a spirit and one of the properties of the spirit is that when they reach maturity they give a seed, they multiply, and as you grow up you must, "Grow up and multiply." First for life to happened there is me, God, and then my son, we are one and the same, but in one side of me as an intelligent been and aware of my own existence, this is how I walk through existence. The best of me I call it my son, and the knowledge that I use to survive I call it the Father. They are the two extremes of me, the best of me and the worst of me. I moved forward wishing for the best, so I can say my son is the one who leads the way, and if something is wrong or there is a threat, then the father takes over. The Father is the experience, the instincts, ant they are always there to help you navigate through life, as a father should be. The very essence of life "Survival first" and you, dimwit you are made to my image sort of. Talking in a simplistic way that is, so today as your spirits is being ripped apart in two, and give birth to your son, your spiritual son, is because you have reached the point where you know enough of evil, so you can put that knowledge behind and call it the father. Let the best of you lead the way, and the best of you call it your son. In order to keep things in balance Iím always there with you, and never forget being a child, because that is what you are, and what you will be at least for the next thousand years, talking in Earth time.

Remember this spiritual rule, "One, is no one." For you to get to this moment donít think that has taken only twenty eight years to get here, and instead of me visiting you, in all reality I am living you. Now you can understand that I am switching sides with you. Since you were born I have been by your side. I have been your father from the moment of creation. I rescued you from darkness, I brought you where I live, I brought you to the side of the light, and now as I did with you, you must do with your son if you want to continue growing. Take care of your son as I have taken care of you. Your son must lead the way, and call that North. You cover his back, and as a father be there to help him, and call that South. Be in the sidelines behind him, and in case of a threat take charge as needed, but let your son lead the way. To the East, I will always be there as your Eternal Father, and at the West will be my son, and together we walk through life as one. Remember "One is no one" You and I, we are one.  Remember Women are ahead of you by a whole level of existence, and thatís why they can take my name ten years before males could do. Women in front of me are born in spirit when they complete thirty turns around the Sun, "The Sun your other Father." Males are born at the very least after forty turns around the Sun, and both at the earliest age that they can serve Life=God is at the age of five after they are born in spirit. They serve Life as a way to say thanks, and give back to Life itself. I do not use, and I will never use child labor in my endeavors. Child of mine, understand that for you to exist, I have to be there with you, until you reach this point in your life. Once you became two and two became on, you can finally start walking in your own. Remember child of mine that you are in the Heavens. You donít have to go to heaven, because you are in the Heavens, and you are in my Home. Earth, your other Mother, is my home, look outside through the window of the kitchen, and I will give you eyes to see."

I open my eyes and I went and look through the kitchen window and I saw in the top of a hillóremember that I am in Miami, and there is no hills in Miamióbut I saw in the top of a hill a golden glowing figure like the Egyptian Sphinx, and the color of it was just like the eyes of Godóa very special golden glowing color. I realized at that moment that I was in The Heavens I was in Godís home. I was still in Eden. At that moment it was revealed to me that Earth is one of Godís Temples of Life.

God said to me, "As you are blind to see me, I am blind to see you. Those like you who recognized the link between you and I, are for me like a window into a dimension hard for me to see, but there is record of everything you do, and everything you have said. I love you too son of mine, and good night. Sleep tight."

 

Chapter Ten

 

Next day was an easy one. The only thing I had to do was to take my medicine, and think about the Spiritual rule of the Ten Numbers. That day I had to digest what God had told me the night before, because with those numbers we were supposed to keep in touch.

I remember that day very well because the only thing I had to do was to wake and bake. Woo-hoo! I woke up early in the morning and I took a puff of my Jamaican medicineóthat very potent strain that was given to me by my Jamaican co-worker, that by the way, I wish I could remember his name. I took one puff and after a few seconds I looked at the sky and I heard that voice again, that voice that for me at the time was Godís voice. Every time I heard that voice, was like finding a son that you have lost for decades, and suddenly he appears out of nowhere like nothing has ever happened, and there he is, all of the sudden, right in front of you, and you just canít have enough of that unbelievable good feeling, a feeling so good that fills every single square inch of your heart.

I looked at the sky and God said, "Before the time itís over, you will have to make a choice. There is a path that those who say to love me must walk on this Earth regardless, and sometimes some of those who have followed the path, because of their love to me, some of them have became my voice on Earth. Some of them are called by me to serve a mission, and you have the potential to become one of them, but before you can even mention my name, you must walk the path first.

Now you know that I am closer to you than you ever imagined before, and there is a time when you have to start walking on your own, and that time has come for you. Letís see now if you can prove yourself worthy of being here on Earth. Not too long ago you were born in South America in body and then in Spirit. Your body was born on February 26, 1967 and your Spirit was born the time when you got your first memory. Your first memory is the day when you were born in spirit, and remember, "Spirit over matter." That is an undeniable truth and for many is really hard to understand the difference between your body and your spirit, and I know you can make a very good job at explaining that simple fact.

That moment when you get your first memory is the day your spirit came to life, before that, was just me waiting for that moment to happen. From that moment on I became your opposition, and I stood by your side until this moment, this moment when your spirit has reached maturity and with my blessing your spirit is now multiplying. Right now your Spirit is being torn apart and is dividing itself into two; your spirit is giving birth to your son, your spiritual son. You can say that your spiritual son was born here in America. Now you have to accept that because of free agency, you must let your son lead the way. Let him lead the way and be by his side as I have been by your side. Be his opposition as I have been yours and know this: At one point or another I have talked to everyone, but I do it just once. Be your son opposition and if ever in your eyes, you see your son about to make a big mistake, as his spiritual father, is your duty to say "NO" as I have said to you once before. You remember very well when I said "NO" to you. That time you were about to make a big mistake, and you could tell the difference between my voice and your voice. The same will happen to your son, he will recognize your voice. That is your duty as a father, and as your Sonís opposition. Your duty is to save him from making a big mistake, and your duty is to say "No" but just once, because "One is no one. Right?" After you have giving him a fair warning, you have to follow the rules of free agency, and that is all you can do about it. Is his free agency to take your advice or not. More likely he will, but not always, and then if he fails, I will rescue your spirit, and you will have another chance to eternity. Just remember the way I have been your father until now, and from now on, you and I, we are equals. One day when your spiritual son have about the same experience as you have leading the way, you can say that you are a man all around, and you both, I wish you both become one, because when a man becomes one is there where eternity is born. Even if everything around you will be the same, the clarity and harmony inside of you will become something amazing. That state of spirituality some call it, "Being awake, to wake up," some call it "Nirvana," some call it, "Finding your Destiny." I have been your opposition pretty much your whole life, and now Iím about to leave you. My son as you know now Iíll be at your left, my son to the right, your son leading the way, and you protecting his back. From this moment on you can start practicing walking on your own, and you know what they say, "Practice makes perfect." I cannot be by your side holding you like a baby for all Eternity. We all need one opposition so we have the illusion of making a decision, and that is what we call being smart. Intelligence is the best tool you can have to survive, and know this, "To use your intelligence for evil is the biggest sin of all." What is Evil you might ask? My son is not easy to explain what evil is and what is not, in a Universe where there is no right and no wrong. Like there is no such a thing as up and down, but do not get lost in the way words do sound, pay attention on the results of your actions, and always consider that if you are here, is because I put you here, and you are here because of the continuous sacrifices of many that have come to this world before you. Those who have come before you with my help, we have define what evil is here on Earth. Together we have drawn the line in the sand, and we call that line the Rule of Law. Remember Democracy is born when a group of humans come together to form a nation, when a group of humans became a team, and they worked together to achieve a better existence and a better future for their posterity. A nation in democracy is the most profitable system of all, and the one that takes care of physical and spiritual needs of a human. Bibles of today were yesterdayís attempts to form a nation.

You owe what you are and what you have to those who have became before you, and any human you see on Earth, at a point going back in time, they have been the Hero that saved the day, and the one that saved humanity from extinction. Any human that you can see today at a point in time has been The Hero.

There is evolution happening all the time. You donít look the same as when you were a baby, because you have evolved, you have grown up, and remember as well that any life could be your last life, thatís life, "By their fruits you will recognized them. Do unto others as you wouldíve done to yourself."

Thatís why you need to walk the path that has been laid down for you. The path is the road that you must walk to earn your freedom. You have walked that same path many times before, and to follow it or not is inside of your free agency. After this moment I will step aside, and I will not interfere in your decisions anymore and you soon will wonder if this ever happened. After this moment till the end of your life faith will be the only link between you and I, because of the rules of free agency, I can only interfere only once, because "One is no one." The Path is to walk through life being my hands on Earth following these four basic rules: Do not kill, do not steal, do not lie, and work with your hands. Until you became a mature spirit in my eyes, you are not born yet, "Spirit over matter."  As a man you should be free to walk where ever you want to go, because in my eyes you will have earned your freedom in this life, and the reward for walking the path rightfully so is to have another life.

Know and remember that my name is The One Without a Name, and the closest meaning to my name is "Life." When you follow me you are following life itself, and eternity is possible in spirit, and is possible in the physical world as well, "Spirit over Matter."

God asked me, "Look at the sky and tell me what you see." I answered, "I see the Sun coming up behind the clouds and there are four columns of light coming through clouds. One of them is smaller than the others." Then God said, "The smallest one represents your son, and one day you will become a man in complete spiritual balance again, and I say again, because you have been here before, you have followed the path once before, actually many times before, and no matter what, you keep finding me over and over again. I heard you saying once before that you donít care where you went after you die, as long as you are in my house. Even if it was as a little bird on the corner of the roof of my house, because as long as you were close to me, that was all you care about." Now you know that you are in my house son.

The House of Life is a sacred place, and in my house there is no lies, there is no slavery, there is no killing, no raping, and no child labor just to mention a few, in my house nobody is above another. In a true nation nobody is above the law, nobody is above the Rule of Law. The law is nothing but where we have drawn the line, and most important of all, no one gets through life without working with its own hands. The path of life is not hard to follow, and is present everywhere you go."

God continued, "When you become fifteen-years old you should be on your own, just like your dad Luis once said to you, and you should be working hard helping to build your nation. Do not judge others, and do whatever is needed in order to keep your nation strong. That is the path.

Religion these days is pointless, because there is already a Nation in place, and the purpose of religion once was to build a Nation. Long time ago when the idea of religion was born, they were raw sketches of what a nation should be, and religions were constitutions to draw the line between what was good and what was wrong, what was legal and what was illegal. Those ideas were the answer to their problems back then, way back then. Today religion should be nothing but the way you want to say thanks to life or to whoever you want too. To worship, or not to is inside of your free agency rights, you can choose my son or the Father, the priest or the warrior, it doesnít matter, you are free to worship or not, donít forget that you are in my house.

Donít worry son, I know is a lot to take in such short period of time, but when the moment comes you will understand. Thatís why I said to you in your dream, "I will give you no answer, I will give you understanding." The only thing you need to know for now is that you are in my house, as well as everyone else. They are here because I put them here, and as you grow up and walk the path, everything will fall into place. Hopefully you will be my voice on Earth, if I need you to be my voice on Earth. Now would you take me for a ride? Come on, letís go! Donít be so serious, letís go."

That day I did nothing but driving around, and we went here and there making short stops in different places. I remember talking to people like if I knew them for the longest time, and I talked with complete strangers especially at breakfast or lunch time, and most of these people were older and mature people. I remember one of those conversations very well, because it was a very special one. I was having lunch seated at the bar, and I started talking with a lady. Out of the blues we started talking about God and religion. The lady came to me and sat by my side, and she started talking to me. She said that I caught her attention because she saw me holding a moment of silence, and she felt that I was praying or saying grace before I started eating my meal. She was intrigued to the point that she had to ask me and she added, "That is what you were doing right? You said grace right?" I said to her, "How do you know that? She said, "Hard to explain but I felt it." I said, "Well you are almost right. I blessed this restaurant and everything in it before I came in, so my food was already blessed. When I came inside and sat here, like you can see started raining, and while seated here I closed my eyes and I blessed the rain. That way every place and everyone who got touched by the rain got a blessing as well." She said, "Never heard that before. Are you a priest?" I said nope but I have been invested with the power to bless." She asked, "By whom?" I couldnít lie, so I said to her, "I have been invested with the power to bless by the living God itself." She smiled and we started talking for a while about God and religion. After awhile we get to the point where I explained to her that God and religion are two completely different things. God is what God is, and religion is the way you get together with others to express love and give thanks to God or whatever is your thing. I explained to her that the closest thing to explain God was to think of the word "Life" and that God happened long, long ago, but Life, life happened even before God. Thatís why God has always said, "I am who I am." At the end she agreed, and out of nowhere I said, "I have to leave now. Nice to meet you again, see you around." She said, "Have we met before?" I answered, "Yes, but not in this life. I met you a few lives ago. I love you too. Take care and keep being a good girl." She stood in one piece not knowing what to do or what to say, but I still remember her eyes looking at mine, like I was a beloved son of her or something like that.

I left the restaurant and kept driving around in a beautiful rainy day. Driving around that day I ended up in Fort Lauderdale, more specifically at the Port Everglades, and there was a large warship carrier on a big concrete pier. I stopped and looked at it for more than a few, and that day I had a great time for sure.

At home after my shower and after sunset time I heard the voice again this time saying, "Now you know that after you are born in flesh, youíre not still born in spirit for me. You donít exist to me until you as a male or female became born in spirit, "Spirit over matter." You as a male, you are born in front of me, after you are forty-years old. Donít forget the words, "Spirit over matter." For me your body does not mean much, other than your body is the very temple of your Spirit. Your body is the vessel that holds your spirit at a given moment on time. By the way, today is almost exactly ten years since I told you to read the Bible. Do you remember that whisper in the wind? That was me, and now you know that I was right there with you. I know you had the courage to end your misery, but I didnít let you because no child should commit suicide in the first place, and second you were targeted by assholes that donít know better. That was unfair and you did not gave in. You in my eyes were brave like none of them will ever be, and I broke a mayor rule rescuing you one more time from certain death. When I told you to read the Bible, I told you that your forbidden fruit was going to be the Apocalypse, and you have done well. I am glad you didnít get lost trying to unravel that pile of rubbish, where many have wasted their whole life. So you know that is the very initial intention of the Apocalypse when it was written. Do you remember when it was the first time I said to you the word "no" to you?" I said, "That must be the time when I saw my father Luis doing something very naughty." God said, "Yes that was the time, and you being so young, you did like just like monkeys do. Monkey see monkey do without having any explanation for it. You need to know that sometimes I do break the rules, and that there is always an exception to the rule. Nothing is perfect not even me, not life, not the Universe, but sometimes I do speak to some, and as we agreed long ago, I will always warn you when you are about to fall out of heaven or kicked out of Eden, like it used to be said in the all times. Referring to the physical and spiritual point where you have gone too far, so far that there is no other way but to keep moving forward. They were referring to the point of no return. The rule is, "I will warn you, when you are about to cross that boundary, that point of no return, but only once." You did ask long ago "How we will know that it is you God giving us the warning?" Many have asked me before, "How we will know when you gave us that last and only warning? And I answered long ago, "You will know when you know." In your case when I gave you that warning, you didnít know what it was, but you stopped in a dime didnít you? Remember? Remember I do speak but only once. That was the deal, because at the end you are the one who need to learn to walk on your own, not me. Donít forget to practice walking with your Spirit." I asked, "My Lord you keep telling me as we agreed long ago, what you mean with that?" God said, "From a rock to become what you are now, do you think that did happen just in one life time? Long ago I promised that the reward to those who followed me was going to be eternity, and following me is you taking the right decision to follow Life, as I do follow Life. Know that you are living Eternity. Every time you passed away you go back to me, and as consciousness gives you the gift of being, that gift has been given to me as well. I do give you the gift to be who you are one more time, one time only because, "One is no one."

God said, "The greatest times of any of your lives are recorded in your Spirit. Thatís why you have sometimes dreams or nightmares that feel way too real to be a dream. Some of those dreams are nothing but memories of your past lives.  Only me can unlock those memories in your state of existence, and Eternity is a reward given by me, and you and I have many memories together. I remember the time I first saw you. That time you were a little fish that shouldíve have been dead for sure, and awhile before I found you, but your raw will to survive was strong and it had all the potential to be something bigger and better, so I did take you in my hands, blessed you, and put you back in the water. You learned a lesson that day, and that was not to be so curious. You learn that being to curious can kill you. There is a line always that you should not cross ever. I remember you being in awe looking at this other world, this world that was beyond, above, and out of the water. This world was in the heavens above. That image in your mind is you looking at me and my son for the first time. That was the time we found each other in this place called Universe long, long ago. Son do start thinking Eternity, because one day when the time is right, after you put my words in writing, the end of your book will say, "I donít believe in Eternity. I am living Eternity." That is how your book will end, and you will know exactly why you will be saying those words. At that time everything should be in place for you to deliver my message, unless you failed to follow The Path."

After that God said to me, "Now I will live you with two of my favorite Spirits. They can instruct you in how and when to deliver my message. That is in the case you are given the okay to deliver the message, and because timing is everything those Spirits are part of the message, and they are General MacArthur and General Patton. Remember that you and I come a long ways together, and I can trust you. You have time and time again followed my path regardless of the situation in front of you. Thatís why you are in my inner circle called the Circle of Fathers, and you are the one who should deliver the massage, because the Earth and the Moon are part of your Kingdom, remember that? The Circle of Fathers are those Spirits that work with me keeping Life alive, and they are capable of doing any sacrifice necessary, even given their lives to protect the life of others. They are founders of Nations, and they are founders of Heaven here on Earth or any other place I might send them to. Listen to them, learn from them, and remember this main spiritual rule and part of the message that you hopefully deliver to the American people: The right thing, at the right place, for the right reason, at the right time. Four, four will be the message. With a number four is how it does start the Thousand Years of Peace, and hopefully the most beautiful era of Human Kind. Listen to them and see you around, and the other part of the message is classified until the end of the book and that it is: "J.. Ö Ö Ö" four. When you put in writing the main part of the message your writings needs to say, and have to say: Released on July 04 of whatever that time is plus a thousand years."

Thatís how the most radical part of this odyssey started, because after that was like God had left, and God had put these two Generals in charge of the rest. Right after that God said that to me I heard two guys arguing, "You go first, no you deal first. Iíll give you a head start this time. Pool it is!" Then they said to me, "Hey dimwit, take us to a place with a pool table. I have something to show you." Once we got there they said, "Lesson number one: Donít forget that there are four. Four from me, and four from him, thatís eight, plus The General of Generals approval and his son, that is two more, and as you already know that number ten is when you have reached a higher level on existence, and that can only happen with the blessing of the Father and the sun. Where two whom became one, makes it ten, and ten means, that with The Generals of the Generals approval, you have reached a higher spiritual Plato. The pool table is where we can give you an example of it." It was late at night when that happened, but anyways I went to a pool place that was open 24/7. I went to the exit 106 of the Palmetto Highway in Miami, and in my mind I was taking General MacArthur and General Patton with me to a pool place. When we got there and we started playing for everybody else I was by myself, but in my mind I was listening very carefully to what they were saying, about strategies and the way to deliver the message. The only thing I do remember saying out loud sometimes, was a word that at the time I was practicing itís pronunciation and it got stock in my mind during that time, that word was: unbelievable, and unbelievable it was. I was playing a game of pool that Iím sure nobody could understand. The game I was playing made no sense pool wise, but strategy wise it was unbelievable! They said to me that I needed to know the rules of engagement from Heavens above, what Heaven was, and how lucky everybody that was here on Earth really were, because they were in one of God Lifeís Temples, and in a temple, "Do shall not kill." Of course there is always the exception to every rule like Self-defense. Then the more subtle break on the rule, when one human kills another human, and you wonder what to do? What happens to Cain when he killed Abel? The answer was given to us by God long ago, and that is the rule, "Eye for an eye." That rule must be applied with the difference that body wise Cain killed Abel, but spiritually in all reality Cain just committed suicide. I can tell you that Abel is still here with us. Spirits can be rescued by God, and God is the only one that can do that...."

It is hard enough to lose one life here on Earth, and it is even harder to lose two of them in this material world, but for the protection of others, those who break the rule "Do shall not kill" must be measured with the same ruler that they had measured. Death was their own verdict not ours. You need to understand that you are in a sacred place, a place ruled by no human, a place ruled by the Rule of Law. When you are inside a nation above all, you are ruled by no one but by The Constitution of the United States of America. Thatís why any who does otherwise is betraying the Constitution, and the punishment for treason is death. When it comes to treason because of the rules of engagement, is on the Armed forces discretion to intervene or not intervene, but any traitor to the constitution must be prosecuted in a Martial Court, and not in a Civilian Court, because is the duty of the Military to protect its people against any outside threat or any domestic threat. A nation like this one is based in true values of freedom, so if you decide to be an atheist you are in your divine right to do so, and because out of respect to Freedom, there is the separation of Religion and State. In this sacred place ruled by the Rule of Law you do not kill, you do not steal, you do not lie, and everybody pays their dues to the Nation. The exception to that rule is the one person that represents the constitution of that nation. There must be one person whose duty is to make sure that nobody is above the Law of the Land. There must be a defender of the Constitution, and that is exactly what we are missing right now in America. As far as we can see, the Constitution of the United States right now, is nothing but a dead piece of paper with a nice story in it. As far as we can see, in a few words, America is under the rule of organized crime. (Remember: Things the way they are right now in a few words you can say that at the end Al Capone won.)

The person that we are talking about must be a person who has the duty to ensure that the Constitution of the United States of America is alive. This person must be pro-active and among its powers, should have the authority to take to the Supreme Court up to four cases in a year. This person in any case of his or her choosing, he or she, could vote as part of the Supreme Court, and especially in a case where there is a vacant seat in the Supreme Court. He or She should be able to address the whole country all at once up to four times per year, and they could audit any Government agency, or any State Government or office up to four of them a year per State. She or he should have the power to call for a vote in any issue of her choosing up to four votes per year. This person should be able to call any issue for a vote at any time in the House of Representatives or the Senate. This person must have these powers at least, and if we want to have a Nation that can last at least for the next millennium, we must have somebody making sure that the Constitution of the United States of America does not ended up being  nothing but a piece of paper.

The constitution is the soul of our Nation, and where "We the People" have drawn the line as a Democratic Nation, about what our Nation should be today and tomorrow. In a Universe where there is no right or wrong, "We the People" have decided to put in writing where we draw the line between what is right and what is wrong, as well as our duties and our rights. A Democratic nation is a place where you can be whatever you want to be, because you are free, and regardless of your religion, and regardless of your color, as long as you are a good pair of hands for your Nation, the rest should be nothing but History.

Four: In order to have a Nation that endures the next thousand years as a Nation, there must be four parts to it.

One: The executive. The Head of a Nation. The President, that person must be somebody that represent everybody or at least the majority of those who form that Nation.

Two: The Legislative and the Judicial. These are the ones who draw the line, the embodiment of the Rule of Law and the Law in the Land. Their responsibility is to ensure Justice for all. Remember the Pledge of Allegiance: "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Three: The Armed forces. They provide the security and defend our Nation from any outside or domestic threats. They must make sure that nothing governs the Nation but The Rule of Law. The People for the People is the most important part of our Nation.

Four: Four is the missing part right now. Four is who will make sure that the Constitution of the United States of America is not just a Piece of Paper. Here we proposed one solution and that is A King or a Queen that have well defined powers, duties and responsibilities, and who ever ended up being the one, that person must ensure that the Constitution is not just a piece of paper, and must be somebody that only bows down to the Constitution of the United States of America. That person must have total immunity, unless that person does commit a felony. Today we can find an example of what we are talking about in The Queen of England. The Queen of England even if she is not the head of the nation as a president is, still she does have influence from the side lines to ensure that England keeps being a great nation.

Do not think that you have to know the constitution on its entirety, trying to know all the details will make you very confused, just remember the Spirit of the Constitution of the United States of America. The purpose and the spirit of the constitution you will find it in the document that gives the order to create the Constitution, and that document says:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Unites States of America.

 The guy at the counter of that pool place mustíve been having fun seeing me playing this weird game of pool, and hearing me saying out laud once in a while "Unbelievable!" but in my mind I was listening and watching a lesson about true Democracy expressed in a pool table, a hard to imagine analogy, but there I was listening and playing a pool game with General Patton, and General MacArthur, unbelievable!

I have to admit that during all that time there was always a part of me that was saying, "Oh oh?! Now you are completely nuts. The biggest fear of your life came through. I guess with these experiences, and the forty days stuff, that fear really came to pass." On the other hand I was calmed and thinking, "So far nothing bad has happened to me, and I havenít done anything wrong. For whatever it is, I wonít "Live the door un-answered before I know who is knocking at my door." And "By the fruits of this interaction, I will know what this experience really was all about. So far so good." In my heart I had the most wonderful feelings, and in my mind except for the shadows of uncertainty, I was receiving all this answers through understanding of all those things that were like puzzles stuck in my mind, and for sure I was blown away to hear all that.

Just to understand that the Bible was a pure spiritual book, for me was a shocker, and in order to understand the Bible I had to believe that nothing matters but your spirit, and that no matter what, "Spirit above matter always." just understanding that, the whole bible takes a completely different meaning, and everything starts making sense, like the Story of Abraham and the sacrifice of his primogenitor. That story what should really talk about, is the fact that wherever life is born God is there. Even in the case of an individual reaching a higher Spiritual Plato, where God was the spiritual opposition, and that individual gives birth to an spiritual son, following the rip apart of the spirit by dividing the spirit of an individual in two, and one part takes the right and the other the left, so the spirit in one side became the father, and the other new part becomes the son God is there. That is the old story of the Father and the Son, and that story is as old as humans are, because God had told that story many times before.

Was that hard to believe that up to that moment God has been always by my side being my opposition and that now it was my turn to became a man and let my spiritual son lead all my actions? Was so hard to believe that now I have to take the left being the opposition of my spiritual son, so he could exist? And then, when my spiritual son has led the way, and grow up for about twenty years, we will finally be one. Was that so hard to believe? I have never heard something of that sort, ever before in my whole life.

Twenty years is just a brief moment on time, and just twenty turns around the Sun. We will both be adults by then, and we will have reached balance once again. Even though knowing such an incredible account of the facts, still was unbelievable to know that God was that close to me, because in order to be in balance and being able to exist, you have to have four points in your spirit, and these four points switch among them as needed. For you to exist, meaning being aware of your existence, and being in balance you need these four essential points. North is the main point where the son should lead the way; South the Fatheróalways best to face danger and the unknown; East God and West Godís Son. Remember you and God are still one, regardless. Life and you are two different things but still one and the same, just like you and the Universe, two different things but still one and the same.

  MacArthur was very eloquent, and convincing when he talked to me and it was hard not to understand his point. By the end of that session I overheard them say, actually they were sort of arguing with each other again, and they came back to me saying, "Tomorrow son you will take us north, and we want you to take us to a Mormon Church, and at the end of that trip you must likely will ended up getting rejected by a black priest saying, "Iím sorry but this is a black church." I said to myself, "Whatever" and I immediately heard, "What you just said Maggot?" "Nothing Sir, nothing Sir," I said very quickly.

Right then I knew I have cross over the threshold, because one thing is talking to yourself and another is arguing with yourself. Anyhow it was late and I was exhausted, so I was dreaming of my bed. When I got home really was like entering The Garden of Eden. There was peace and solace all around the house with a warm and cozy sense of home. Loved it! I fall asleep like a baby that night.

Next morning following their instructions I was getting ready to leave in my Van, and a lady approached me saying, "If you have anything you want to sell, before you leave please let us know." I donít know how she knew I was living, but she was going to grab my arm that was resting on the frame window of my Van, and as she was telling me that, I was quick to say, "Please do not touch me." It came out very awkward, but I couldnít help it, at that moment I donít know why my skin was so sensitive to the touch, and I felt like if somebody touched me it would hurt me badly. After that I told her very respectfully that I had nothing to sell. In all reality I had nothing but a couple of old mattresses and that was it.

I left that morning and like it was my custom at the time, I had my coffee with a doughnut, and it was a very calmed and early morning. It felt so good to have some time for myself, and I thought that was the beginning of a calmed and lazy day, but as soon as I finished my doughnut I heard, "Donít we have to go and find a Mormon Church up North?" I said to myself, "Here we go again" They didnít want to go in my Van, they wanted to go in my little white turbo car, so after I got my coffee we went back home and switch cars. Before I left I took a shower and put on my best clothes at the moment, and that was a pair of jeans and a blue t-shirt that a Peruvian lady, owner of one of the biggest houses in the project gave me as a gift for my good work. Like always of course I blessed the water and before I left I prayed for a blessing of safety. Right after I was finished praying, I took my little white turbo, and I started traveling north. I had not a clue where I was going, the only thing I knew was the fact that I had to go north and find a Mormon Church. I asked myself why a Mormon Church? And the answer came to my mind. The answer was simple God asked me a few days before, "If you were to tell a mayor religion about your understanding of the Holy gospel, which one would be the religion of your choosing?" I remember my answer was, "The Mormon Church" Godís answer was, "Good luck with that. Go and tell them the good news. Remember that your 40 days and 40 nights are not over yet, and so far so good, you have been good, your faith is strong, and thatís good very good. Let me tell you something, even if you survive these forty days, and get to tell the Mormon Church no one will believe you except for one. You might think they will be happy to hear from me, but donít worry thinking about that you will have plenty of time to see with your own eyes. One of the problems I want you to try to tell them about is the problem related to the prison system. A nation or a group of people that say to follow me would never torture, never ever, because if they truly follow me, they will know that the only thing they are doing is torturing me. Remember that anyone can worship me, in any way they want to, and if they want to gather and say thanks to me thatís fine, but that doesnít make them more or less in front of me. Let me tell you that Killing and torturing are two of the greatest insults to me, and I condemn them both, but out of the two, torture is by far the worst. I am a God of mercy, and whenever I can I take the place of those in eminent danger of dying, and I even lie to them if necessary so they donít suffer. Remember that I am with you at the moment of your conception and at the moment of death as well. I am the giver and I am the taker. When your soul comes back to me, I try to fix the problem that caused that soul to go bad, but Humans are about to reach the point where they have everything to restore my house to what once was. My home once was the Garden of Eden. If after all they decide not to honor that fact, it will be there choice, and most likely you will have to tell them, when I told you to do so "J.. Ö Ö Ö Four." What I mean with that is completely spiritual, because I have done everything possible to fix the problems with your design as a human. That is a design chosen by you, and if you know me a bit, you know that I am the greatest Carpenter of all, thatís why if you ever want to speak in my name you need to become a master carpenter first. There is many lessons to be learned in tinkering with matter. Doing so gives you an idea of whom and what I am, and I am who I am, and matter is what matter is. They are two different things, but still one and the same. As the master of all masters, I have giving you all the tools that you need to alter reality. Every human is endowed by me to alter reality, and you are capable of doing miracles, miracles are not magic tricks. I have giving you the authority, and the knowledge to accomplished miracles, and when the time comes for you to talk in my name, will be the time when you all as humans will have to answer one simple question from me, "Are you with me or not? I am God and I chose to let my son to lead the way, meaning whatever I do is for a good cause first, and I am giving you the best of me, and you will have the choice one more time, to choose to follow me or not. In this Universe there is no right or wrong only where we draw the line or are you with me, or you are against me. I have faith that you will choose wisely."

I took my little car and on I went to the highway. I had no clear destination in mind, and while driving north I thought, "One day more, one day less." I have to admit that there were moments where I have my doubts about what I was experiencing. I got in the highway and I really felt like I was seated in the passenger side, because I had nothing to do with the driving. It was like putting the car in autopilot and I was admiring the landscape enjoying the ride. I remember while driving that the car got intentionally very close to a truck, and almost getting under the frame of the truck, between the front and the back double wheels. That was risky, very risky and dangerous, but in my mind I was not driving, the ones driving were Patton and MacArthur, and they were having fun just like cowboys in a movie. They were driving recklessly and I have to admit that I was having fun. After being driving in the highway for over half an hour at least, we got to Fort Lauderdale and I stopped in a big parking lot, and as I got out of the caróstill in one piece thanks God for thatóan old man and who appeared to me to be his older son crossed my way, and I asked them, "Do you know where can I find a Mormon Church?" and the younger man said to me, "Mormon Church my dick!" As he grabbed his crutch and gave me the finger." His dad grabbed him putting his arm over his shoulder saying, "Calm down son. Donít be so disrespectful." and they kept walking and so I did. I saw a big grocery store and I started walking towards it, and as I was walking through the parking lot, there was a painting truck with a ladder tied over to the truckís bed. When I walk by I could saw the ladder had blood stains in it. As a painter I could tell that somebody had a bad accident in it, and reminded me of one of my co-workersóa Colombian coworker that once before, he had broken his leg in a ladder accident. This coworker out of desperation because of his bad financial situation, he told me that he was so desperate, that he wanted to break his leg again so he could make an insurance claim. The last time he broke his leg he received about $150,000 and that money very soon was all gone. He gave a good down payment on an okay house, bought a couple cars, but in a couple years the money was all gone, and now he was about to lose the house. Sadly enough I saw him trying to break his leg at work, a couple of times while he was working close by to me. He was desperate and it was hard to believe that somebody will do something like that to himself. Good thing he was unsuccessful while I was around, but for what Iíve heard he had a ladder accident a couple of months after I left that painting company. He was sick of life, and sick of working like an animal just to barely survive. He was desperate to provide for his family, and all those thoughts came to me at that moment and I remembered as I looked to the blood stains on the ladder, that he used to say, "This is Berraco." It meant something like, "This is wicked!" Looking at that ladder reminded me how much of a mess is to be Spanish here in America. Unless you can work two jobs you canít make it, at the same time no human been can work that hard for too long. Working that many hours a week is impossible to keep up with that rhythm in the long run, especially when it comes to a thirty years mortgage. I was thinking about that while walking towards the grocery store, and I donít know why but people were staring at me as they walked by with their grocery carts. Then when I got to the store I stop at public phone and I started looking for a Mormon Church in the phone book. As I was doing that people started gathering around me. At that moment I donít remember doing anything unusual, but as the people got closer to me I asked, "Excuse me. Do you know where I can find a Mormon Church?" but nobody answered me and I saw a white guy, way bigger than me trying to pick pocket me. I saw him through the corner of my eye, and as he turn around trying to pretend that I didnít see him, I turned around and I faced him saying, "Is this what youíre looking for?" and I showed him and handed him my wallet. He looked at me with big surprised eyes, took the wallet out of my hand and started looking for cash. I said to him, "Whatever you take from me, God will give me back ten times over whatever you took from me, and you will lose ten times what you think youíre taking from me." He took all the cash I had on that wallet. He took almost twenty dollars. He took the money and left the wallet over the paid phone. At that moment asked one more time to a white lady, "Do you know where I can find a Mormon Church?" she just kept walking and as I was going to get into the store, a security guy came and told me something, but he spoke to me so fast that I couldnít understand a word of what he was saying. I understood that  he said wait here Iím going to give you the address. He turned around and as he was living I did ask him "Do you know where I can find a Mormon Church?" then again as he walked away he said something I couldnít understand, I thought he said at the end "Wait a moment there I will look that in the phone book." And I did start waiting for him thinking how nice he was, I thought he was getting a paper to write down an address or something, but in less than a couple of minutes a police car arrived and the Police officer said something to me, and I donít remember why I had such a hard time understanding what they were saying at the time. He did make me turn around and he slammed me against the police car and hand cuff me, he put the hand cuffs really tight, put me inside the car and took me to a nearby jail where they booked me in. They took my picture and my finger prints and put me in a cell where there were at list over twenty people of all colors and sizes. I remember telling the guard almost as soon as I saw him "I am famish, I am parched" I was using the words that one of the carpenters taught me at my job, he was from England, and he always used to tell me how bad American English was.

Good thing he came back in less than ten minutes and gave me his food I guess, because I know it wasnít dinner time. I eat it like an animal, I was starving or I was in an emotional distress. The food was two based eggs and rice with French fries and it was cold but I was hungry. What a great combination if you want to gain weight that is. Anyhow after I did devour the food I felt like taking a nap badly, but first I had to bless the place. I did stand in the middle of the room and tried to find true North closing my eyes and turning aroundóat that moment in time I truly believed that I could sense where North wasóand when I found North, I closed my arms crossing them over my chest, and touching my shoulders with the tip of my fingers, I put my head down, and with a loud voice I said, "My Heavenly Father, giving you thanks for all your blessings, I ask you with a humble heart to bless this place. Bless this place so it becomes a place where you can rest awhile. Come over my Lord and bless this place in the name of the Father, in the name of the SonÖ" as I finished saying that part I started extending and contracting my arms one at a time saying, "Do take unto and receive. Receive these blessings in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son. Blessed this place is. Thanks my Lord, and I leave these things by the love that I have for you now and always, thank you." Everybody was looking at me, and as I ended doing that, one guy asked me, "What did you just eat or smoked buddy? I want some of that!" and as a few laughed out loud with him, I got in one of the beds, and covered myself with the sheet all the way up including my head. I went to sleep like a baby after I shook the dices really quick right there and then. There was no privacy and nothing I could do about it; I guess it was like my last wish. I remember thinking and feeling that I was getting close to die for sure.

Later on I woke up to laud voice and it was the voice of an older tall black guy that he couldnít stop talking. He was about 6í3" and he was bothering everyone. He couldnít stop talking non sense, and I was unable to understand what he was saying in detail, but I felt insulted by the tone of what he was saying and I through a glass of water in his face telling him in a very commanding tone, "Shut up! Leave us in peace!" Right after I did that I started getting ready for waróI thought for sure he was going to try to beat me upóbut for my surprise he just stayed quiet and calmed thereafter.

After a few minutes of calm one of the guys on that cell got closer to me and said, "Thanks for making that annoying guy to keep his mouth shut." I guess this guy wanted to make friends with me, but I wasnít in the mood. He even went to say, "I saw you rolling the dices. Do you want some more action?" I just turned around and let him talking by himself. At that moment a big prison guard came over and asked me to go with him. He took me to an empty metal room and asked me to change my clothes to an orange suit. I refused to do so and he left me in that room. He left me there for a while, I donít know for how long, but it was for sure over half an hour. The room was pretty much a freezer and the temperature kept going down minute by minute, I thought I was going to freeze to death, but after a while the guard came back with another guard even bigger than him, and with baton in hand they asked me if I was going to change my clothes or not, at that moment I accepted the ultimatum. After I changed my clothes, they put me in solitary confinement. I donít know how long I was there, but every minute seemed like an eternity. In that cell all by myself I remember wanting to know what time it was so bad that I was going nuts trying to know what time it was. Being all by myself I tried to recall the sequence of how things happened to figure out what time it was, but I couldnít. The only thing I knew for sure is that I got arrested on a Friday night. I fall asleep thinking about that.

Sunday morning was when I got the next clue about what day was only because a person asked me if I was a Mormon, and I said "Yes I am." This person stopped by my cell and she left as quickly as she came. About an hour later she brought me in a typical LDS tray "The sacrament"óa little paper cup with blessed water and a little piece of bread. For those who donít know what a Mormon Sacrament is, it refers to the ordinance of partaking of bread and water in remembrance of Christís atoning sacrifice. The broken bread represents his broken flesh; the water represents the blood that he shed to atone for our sins (1 Cor. 11:23-25; D&C 27:2)óI took the sacrament and I was glad that the lady told me that it was Sunday morning around 11am. Later on a guard came and told me, "Tomorrow morning you are scheduled to see the Judge" and he left. What a long Sunday that was, what a long weekend that was.

Early in the morning I guess, I was not sure about what time it was, but they handed me a big pile of chains and told me to put them onóI didnít know the name at the time but they were shacklesóI thought at first that it was a bad joke, but no, they are still in use to restrict prisoners and they are mandatory to see the Judge and for the transportation of prisoners. After I put them on they opened my cell door and took me to a van. For my surprise I ended up seated right by the black guy that I threw the glass of water at. He called me brother when he saw me, and I answered with brother as well. When we got to the court building they told us to wait for the Judge. While waiting the black guy said to me "If the Judge ask you how do you plead, just say "I do not accept!" and if he insist donít say anything but the words, "I do not accept." Donít call the judge, "Judge" call him "Your Honor" they like that. Thatís how you need to call the guy on a black dress if you donít want to end up in more troubles." Thanks I said and I followed his advice. We were all in a line and when got to be my turn I was able to see the Judge, and he was high up in a TV set. That really surprised me, I thought we were going to talk to somebody in person but no. So there I was in front of a TV and talking to a microphone. He asked me right away why I was there and I explained to him that I was looking for a Mormon Church, and last thing I know I asked to a security guard at the grocery store, where I could find a Mormon Church, and he said to me to wait for a few, at least that was what I understood, and as I was waiting for him to come back a police officer appeared and arrested me, and I still donít know why? The Judge said to me, "You are being detained for trespassing after warning. How do you plea?" I said, "I do not accept your Honor." I still remember the Judge cleaning his glasses and looking to the side like his eyes were hurting while talking to me. He repeated the question and I repeated my answer, right after that he said out loud, "Next!"

When we were done they took us back to our cells and finally on my cell they handed me the key to take the chains off of me. It felt okay for a moment, but for me it was hard to believe that I was in jail for trying to find a Mormon Church. Anyhow after awhile of being patient and saying to myself that everything was going to be okay, I kind of lost it. I kind of panic and I started thinking, "What in the hell is going on with me?" I started thinking that I was never going to be free again and I was leaning on the wall with my forehead. I started beating the wall with my forehead over and over again and every time a bit harder. I was doing that when I heard the voice of God saying, "Sorry, I just needed to see something in the prison system." Right after hearing that in my mind and all around me I heard a guard that came to my cell and he said, "Hey you are supposed to be out in a couple hours." I looked at him with tears in my eyes and I said "Okay, thanks." To hear that for sure made me feel better, I really thought I was going to stay there forever. Anyhow those couple of hours felt like an eternity.

After hours of waiting they finally showed up and gave me my clothes back. Is hard to explain how much I missed at that time to be in my regular clothes, because I really felt like a slave. Right after they transferred me to a building where there was a lot of people and all of them, I guess, waiting to be released. There were a lot of young people, and Iím really sure that at least there were around a hundred people. I was just looking around when it came to my mind the fact that I had to bless that building, and so I did. I stand right in the middle of the room and I said with my arms wide open, "Take unto and receive in the Name of God and in the name of his Son. In the name of the father and in the name of my son I bless this place. My Heavenly Father, bless this building so this place is worth your presence. Thanks my Lord."

Right after I blessed that place I sat down and a young guy sat by my side and asked me, "Did you just bless this building in the name of God?" Yes I replied to him and he asked me, "What kind of drug did you take bro" None I said and he smiled and kept talking none sense. I didnít paid much attention to what he was talking about because in my mind I just couldnít wait to be free again. In my mind I just couldnít believe that people in these days were being treated just like slaves in the old times, and especially here in America.

Finally after an hour or so they let me go and I was free one more time, I was free again but I didnít have a clue where I was. Once I got outside I started walking without really knowing where I was going. I knew how to get back to Miami from where I parked my car, but after that five minutes ride in the back of a police car when they arrested me really got me disoriented. At that moment I felt overwhelm, my hands started shaking, and then I said to myself, "Calm down. Remember, one step at a time. Simplify." I sat on the grass, on the side of a parking lot outside the building where I was, and that parking lot looked just like the one where I got arrested, but I knew it was not the same one. As I sat on the grass I took a little thin branch that was lying on the grass, and I started breaking it into little pieces. While I was doing that I started to think what I was going to do because I didnít have not even a penny to my name, and I knew I was far away from home. After a few minutes breaking that little branch into pieces I calmed down and I started to come back to my senses. As I breathe deeply and I looked around, I saw a church and I thought, "Maybe this is the church that Iíve been looking for." It was a white wooden chapel with a little Coventry Cupola on top of the roof that looked just like the chapel, including the detail of a white wooden cross with no Christ in it. As I looked in more detail I noticed that the cross in the main building was a little bit crooked. I donít know why it caught my attention so much the fact that the cross didnít align symmetrically with the face of the building, but that was the time when I started to look things with the eye of a carpenter.

I walked to the church that was across the street and the front door it was open, so I got inside of this old chapel. Nobody was around and I started to look at the wooden benches. I was so nicely surprised to see natural oak wood benches with hand carvings on the side of the arm rests. The wood work was exquisite and as I was admiring the wood carvings, a mature black man approached me and asked me what I was looking for, I said to him "I was looking for a Mormon Church because I wanted to talk with somebody in the name of God, and I wanted to ask them a few questions and such but I stopped to ask for directions, and to make the story short I got arrested. They brought me to the building across the street, and now I need to go back to my house, and I donít have any money for transportation, I am hungry, and actually I donít have any idea where I am right now. Could you believe that? They arrested me for asking directions trying to find a Mormon Church." He looked at me directly in the eye and taking his glasses off very seriously he said, "I would love to help you, but this is a black people church." After I heard that I was out of words, I said back to him very respectfully, "Oh I understand." I turned around and left with another whole in my heart thinking in my mind, "How come that a person that has no idea of what God is can be working in a church? How can that be?" Then I heard the voice of God saying, "Thatís why I am here. Like I said before "If everybody was doing what they were supposed to be doing, things would be completely different. I donít care how much the rich have, but when they are raping children, they are raping me. Thatís why Iím here again. Like you could see I am for you Humans very black myself, no offense but the illusion of seeing the color black is nothing but an illusion, because you canít see black and your mind is filling the blank. Anyhow I was expecting more from him, he is not doing what he supposed to be doing. Wait until he does come back to me cuz Oh! Uh! I ainít fixing him again, enough it is enough! A lot of people think because you are going to speak in the name of God you are going to say nothing but pretty things, they are wrong, as things they are, news canít be good. Actually you will be the barer of the most important news in a very long time, because by the time I do ask you to speak in my name J.. Ö Ö Ö Four. This time I am putting my foot down, and this time is for good. He shouldíve helped you regardless of your color or race. If he knew something about me, he shouldíve helped you. Remember the reason why I am putting my foot down this time and it is because, "If you donít know me by now you will never, ever know me." There is a reason why I do stay away from some people. Donít you worry son, sometimes if it wasnít for people like you, there would be no human race at all on the face of this planet." Then after a few minutes of silence God said to me, "Donít you like to walk and think? Donít you?" and I started to walk with no direction in mind at all. I kept walking east, and the only reason I knew it was east was because as my friend Mike once explained me, "When the numbers on a street start to increase is because you are going in that direction." As I kept walking forward I saw far ahead an intersection leading to the highway, at least it seemed to me but I couldnít tell for sure from where I was. So I started walking forward one step at a time. The only thing I knew at that moment was the fact that I was far away from Hialeah, and in my mind I thought, "It took me about forty five minutes on the highway to get where I was, and I was driving a fast little turbo car. I drove forty five minutes, considering sixty miles an hour, forty five minutes is three quarters, and three quarters out of sixty is forty five miles, because going sixty miles an hour is about a mile a minute. I was going faster than sixty but at least that game me an idea how far I was." After I did the math on my head I thought, "What good is to know how far you are?" I said to myself, "Just keep walking." I walked and walked and on top of all that the only way I knew how to get back to my house was through the highways, and because of all the canals and winding roads, I knew the only way back was through the highways. Once I got to the intersection I was happy to find out that it was the Palmetto Highway, but to be honest with you, even in a car a highway is intimidating, and is even more on foot, but Oh well, up on to the highway on foot I went. After walking for hours on the highway, hitch hiking once every few minutes, with no luck I must ad, and started to get dark. The sun disappeared behind the horizon and everything little by little started to look grey. I kept a steady pace but I was starting to get really tired and thirsty. With the high temperatures and the Sun hitting these massive concrete roads, the heat gets absorbed by the concrete, and even if the Sun was gone, the highway was still scorching hot even after dark. I was getting very dehydrated and was sweating profusely. I was trying to keep myself entertained thinking as I was walking, about all this crazy experiences that I was going through. In my mind I was at the edge of madness and I was hanging in there by a thread, but still I have not hurt myself or anybody else as a matter of fact, so it was still okay. While walking I found a phrase that described me well at that moment, and cracked myself up while walking, I thought, "I am mental and sad, but still social." At that moment I wanted to die for sure, I had no reasons to live for but this voice was keeping me alive, and for whatever was, it was a beautiful experience for me. At that moment in my life God was talking to me, God was giving me an explanation about why I was here on Earth, and that was a precious thing for me to know. For the first time it all made sense, and that in itself was something beautiful in my mind.

While walking I started thinking, "For those who believe that there is no God, how easy is for them to think that this life is really simple. Imagine being able to believe that you can do whatever you wish, and whatever you want, because there is no other than this one life." Actually with what God has told me that was true, because most likely for them, thatís how it was going to end. At that moment it was nice to think about the same questions and doubts I had for the longest time, with the only difference that with God told me everything took a complete different meaning.

That there is nothing but this life is something that many really want to believe, because that way there is nothing to worry about but the present itself. Have you noticed how convenient is to think like that? How convenient is to think that there is nothing but humans alive in this whole Universe, and how convenient it is to think that there is no fault for whatever you have done, no consequences, no nothing. How easy and convenient is to think that you will never pay for your transgressions, and how simple to understand. How easy and logic things are for those who do not care about life. They are not with God, so they are against God, and God is great. God lets them because at the end life follows life.

 God it is the ultimate Alfa, and I bowed to God the living God, the one who gave me my life, and yours as well. It is his will for you to be here in Godís house, you are in Heaven and is God wish that you die old. Is Godís will that you be here until you exhausted, use and abuse the body God put you inÖ I was thinking about all that stuff when I heard a car hitting the gravel over the shoulder of the highway where I was walking, and it hit it really hard. When I looked back I realized that was a highway trooper, and I thought, "Man! I am so toasted now. Iím going back to jail." He asked me to stop and put my hands in the air through a loud megaphone with the typical one short play of the siren. I donít know why I got so scared, but I feared for my life. I wanted to run just out of instincts, but the voice said to me, "Do not move not even an inch. Easy boy this one is one big wolf on sheep clothing." The trooper came out of the car and asked me if I didnít see the sign, he said "The sign! Didnít you see the sign that says Pedestrians not allowed on the highway? Hablo English?" I said, "A little." He asked me where I was going, and I told him that I was going to Hialeah, I told him that the highway was the only way I knew how to get there, and I didnít have money for transportation, he said, "License and registration" and corrected himself saying, "Do you have any ID?" I gave him my Driver License and he said, "Wait here!" So I did. After a few he came over and gave me my Driver License back saying, "You canít be here in the highway. Iíll take you to the nearest exit." Before I got in the car he said, "You need to put these ones on." I donít know what kind of face I made at that moment because he added, "Donít worry is just protocol for you to get in a police car." He hand cuffed me and put me on the back of the car. Honestly I thought I was going back to Jail again or I was going to disappear out of the face of the Earth one of the two. After I got in the car and we started moving, he asked me why I was walking back to Hialeah instead of taking the bus. I told him the story, "I went for a joy ride trying to find a Mormon Church North of Hialeah, and I parked my carÖ and so on and so forth." At the end I finished with my favorite word at the time, I said "Unbelievable!" The trooper stud in silence and soon he said, "Your arrest doesnít appear on record. I checked you record and still is clean, no arrests, no nothing." By then we were on one of the highways exits, and he stopped on the side of the road, got my handcuffs off, and before he let me go he gave me a quarter saying, "Here is a quarter so you can call somebody to come and pick you up." He turned around and left.

Right at that exit of this highway there was a paid phone so I looked where I was and gave Mrs. Dora a call. When she answered the phone I explained very shortly what has happened to me, and I explained that I was stranded and I needed a ride home. I was still in Fort Lauderdale and right after I gave her the address she said, "I donít know how to get there. I donít know where that address is at, and it is too far for me, and is getting late." She was in the middle of giving me excuses when the time run out and a message came on saying, "If you wish to continue with your call, please deposit an additional twenty five cents." I was in disbelieved. I had nobody to call for help, and not even a quarter to my name to make another call. I was tired, hungry and a little bit more than upset. At that moment I thought I couldnít keep going, my legs were extremely tired, but at the same time I knew that my only way out, was to start walking again. With no other choice I had to go back in the highway because there was a train yard under the overpass, and there was no other way that I could go through to the other side without getting on the highway again. Before I got on the highway again, I looked around the underpass into the train yard, but everywhere I looked was fenced, and there was private property signs all over. I looked left and right and there was no end in sight of that fence. I had no choice but to go back over the highway, and I thought for sure I was going to get arrested one more time, and this time for a repeated offense after an officer warned me, and let me go the first time. I hurry up as much as I could and when I got to the other side for my surprise I was closer to Hialeah that what I thought, I started to recognize the area, and I knew how to get home from there without using the highway. That was a big relief, but at the same time now I knew for sure how far I was. I was closer than what I thought, but I was still far away from home.

From that moment that was around ten pm I walked straight no stop until seven thirty in the morning. I walked all night long, and when I finally arrived to my block, I was beyond exhaustion, and I was starving. I got home and there was no food, and I had no money either, good thing I had plenty of water to drink and it was blessed water. I filled myself up with water, and I was so tired that regardless of my hunger, I went to sleep like a baby anyways.

 Next day I called every tow company in Fort Lauderdale, and none of them had my car. I called the police, even mechanical shops around the area where I got arrested, but nobody had a clue about my car. After awhile I started to give up on my little turbo car and that was really depressing. I really liked that little car. It was so fast. I really loved my turbo Sprint. Later on that day I went to Mikeís house and I started complaining about losing my car to Sigrid, and she told me that Mrs. Dora called Mike in the middle of the night, and gave him the address I gave to Mrs. Dora, and that Mike tried to find me but he couldnít. The address that Mrs. Dora gave him didnít have a city or a zip code in it. After talking for a bit with her Mike arrived and we started talking about what happened. We were talking about that when somebody knocked the door, and it was Mrs. Dora. She came over and gave me a hug saying, "We were so worried about you, nobody knew what was going on with you, and you called me so late." Mike added, "Sigrid was going nuts! I have never seen her so worried about somebody. She was very worried about you." And as he said the last sentence, "She was all worried." He did these movements of hands over his bold head that for me were so funny that I couldnít help to laugh at. He always cracked me up. I really liked Mikeís sense of humor and his eccentric gestures.

We had dinner all together that evening and it was such a nice time; everybody was in a happy mood; even Erika was playing with food in her High Chair, smiling, and making that high pitch sound of heróa very contagious shriek here and there like always. She was so cute. That dinner it was a very special dinner for me, for some reason that dinner felt pretty much like The Last Supper, because I knew at that moment that I was going to leave soon to Salt Lake City or I was going to get deported or I was going to lose my mind or I was going to get killed, one of the four, but for sure I felt uneasy to say the least. The trip to Salk Lake seemed a bit like a dream at the time, because I had not even a penny to my name, and I have never before driven all by myself such a long distance.

After we sat at the table while eating, I started thinking about having these outstanding and profound revelations about God, and all the things that I have been through since I got here to the U.S.. I probably looked for them like I was spacing out of my mind, but they knew me already. While eating I started to think that now my only chance to stay here in the U.S. depended on my family, because I knew that I needed a hand financially, and psychologically as well. I knew at that time that I needed some emotional support, and I wasnít sure if my family was willing to give me a hand. One thing was for sure though I couldnít stay in Miami, because I had no work and no means to stay. At that time my mom and my sister Belinda were already here in Salt Lake City, and as far as I knew at that moment in my life God was right there with me, but God couldnít help me in any material way. God was there with me in spirit only.

Knowing that soon I was going to leave one way or another, I took a picture in my mind of that moment while all of us were seated at the table thinking, "This dinner might be the last time we all ever seat together at the table." That dinner was indeed the last time we ever sat together at the table.

The next morning I woke up still full from that dinner and that was great, but I was worried about what was coming next. I had no money, no food, and Christmas was around the corner. I had in my mind to come to Salt Lake but in all reality I had not even asked my Sister or my mom Mercedes if they could give me a hand when I got there. At that moment I sort of panic and I called my mom Mercedes that day. I called my Mom Mercedes she was already here in Salt Lake City, living with my sister Belinda in a two bedroom apartment. My sister Belinda at the time had a full house. She had my Mom, two kids and her husband. They were five people in a little two bedroom apartment, and I asked my Mom if she could ask Belinda and Eduardo if I could stay with them while I find a Job, and I rented my own space. I explained to her that I didnít want to go back to Chile, and I was going through some hard times because of the slowdown of the economy, and I wanted to stay here in the U.S.. I asked her if they could give me a hand, and my Mom Mercedes told me, "I will ask them when I find a good time to talk to them. You know your Sister." That was her answer and the conversation ended right there. I really didnít know what to make out of that answer, for me it was like my mom really didnít care, and honestly I didnít know my sister anymore. My sister Belinda and I used to be very close to each other when we were little, but since she started High School she dished me, then she got married, and then she moved to the U.S. For me it was hard to understand why my mom was so hesitant to ask her if I could crash at her house, especially now when I really needed a hand. My sister when I called her she acted like she didnít have the time to talk to me, and put my mom Mercedes on the phone really quick.

Very soon Christmas was upon me and it felt great and horrible at the same time. That Christmas was my first Christmas completely alone and away from my family. That Christmas I had no presents, no food, and not even a calling card to call my momma, and that was tough, really tough. I was going through a lot of pain, and nobody was there for me but God. Honestly it was a very sweet and sour moment in my life. On one side I was missing my son, I was heartbroken, and at the same time God was there with me to tell me not to blame him for all the bad in this world.

Regardless of what it was, I was thinking of that when I looked outside and a few cars parked right in front of my house. For my surprise they were Bob Rodriguez, Bob Maureen and my Jamaican friend. They came over to bring me over some money that they had collected at the Job Site, because they knew I was going through a hard time, and they wanted to give me a hand. At the same time like they knew I was living, they wanted to wish me good look before I left. They knew I was going back to Chile or I was going to Utah to visit my Sister first, but either or I was leaving, so they came to say good bye, and wish me good luck. That was totally unexpected and very nice of them.

They talked to me for a few minutes, gave me the money they have collected, and very soon they started saying good bye. Bob Maureen was the first one to leave. He left after he offered me a beer out of his cooler on the back of his truck. He always carried with him a cooler with some beers on the back of his truck, and I remember his favorite beer was Budweiser. He wished me good luck and left. I was so weak that I remember getting tipsy with that one beer. It was nice nonetheless to see them again and to know that they cared about me. Bob Rodriguez and my Jamaican friend stood for a bit longer talking to me. They collected hundred and twenty dollars and after a few they gave me the money, wish me good luck, said good bye and left. That was very nice of them, and to be honest that is the closest thing I have ever been to witness a miracle.

As soon as I received that money I knew that if I wanted to come to Utah, I had to leave as soon as possible, because I was out of everything, and those hundred and twenty dollars was all I had. Right after they left I started getting everything ready to start my next adventure.

Next morning I woke up early after staying late the night before getting everything ready to start my trip. The first thing I did along with getting me a coffee with a doughnut that morning, was to open my U.S. map and take a look at the route I was going to take to get from Florida to Salt lake City, Utah. On those times a map was a folded piece of paper, with all the roads and highways. Can you picture somebody looking at those old maps, and getting tangled trying to fold them back after you opened them? They were terrible and that was all you had on those times to know where you were going. That map was all I had to start my trip, and on top of all that everybody was telling me, as you travel north the weather starts getting colder and colder, so get some winter clothes.

I started my trip that very same day. I grabbed my sport bag, my two carpenter levels, and my tool bag, that was all I had. That tool bag was now part of my life hood along with my painting tools. I had my short extension, my medium extension, my five Gallons bucket, my cutting bucket, my five-way and my two paint brushesóone for water base paints, and the other paint brush for oil paints. Now thanks to these two new trades I had doubled my chances to survive here in the U.S.

After I started my trip while driving I started to think, "At a point I was getting ready to blow my head off, but now my idea of blowing my head off has disappeared, and now I had the understanding of knowing that whatever I was thinking, if I believed in God, I had to wait until I was Forty five years old before I reached a definitive conclusion and a valid answer. After I turn forty-five then I could decide to finish my life because at that time God will understand and there will be no hard feelings, because I would be making use of my free agency as a grown man. Suicide or assisted death is not right, but after you are forty-five-years old as a man, and thirty-five-years old as a woman, suicide is not a sin.

God had offered me the chance to speak in his name, and the chance to work for him in the future, maybe. Before that happened I had to become a Master Carpenter, follow the path, and make my living without lying or stealing. I thought here in the U.S. to make my living in an honest way, the way God wanted me to do so, was not easy but possible, at least I had better chances here in the U.S. than there back in my country. At least I knew at that moment that I had to stay here on Earth, at least until I was forty-five-years old.

As I was driving north I had plenty of time think about, and one of the things that really caught my attention, was the fact that at that time in my life, in those forty days, I never felt so much the presence of Evil as well. I could see Evil everywhere I went, always present in another person, and not in spirit, actually in those forty days I was able to feel and see things that only God could see in people, unbelievable! Let me tell you that to see a personís spirit in many cases is by far not a pleasant experience. Sometimes in those forty days I saw people and then I saw their spirit, and many of them looked like zombies in a movie, and if I got closer to them, they stink just like their sins. Some even had human skulls hanging on their necks; others had childrenís souls trapped inside of them. Getting closer to God is not that easy. Remember the words "Those who serve God will take the last chair." What that really means is that God is always in flesh and blood here on Earth, but he always is taking the last chair. I remember in those forty days waking up in the middle of the night seeing the interaction of God and a little girl trapped in some place, being raped repeatedly and she was about to die from the abuse. I remember God getting close to her, and asking her, "Do you want to leave now with me?" The little girl was asking God not to hurt his offender, and for some reason God needed to have the girls consent for God to take her. One of the characteristics of the spirit is that at a point in that moment of birth of death, there is a point where they can disappear forever. An spirit is something wild and very hard to get close to it. That is a characteristic of God as well. God is in essence the wildest of all, and to get close to God is like a wild bird landing in your shoulder. Not an easy thing to do. At the end the girl finally agreed to take Godís hand, and God grabbed her took her to safety and God took her place. That was so weird, to see the switch between views. In one moment I saw God taking the girls hand, and then I saw everything from the girlís point of view, and I even felt her pain, and the most incredible thing that she had love for her aggressor in her heart. Once God took her place everything changed though, and before the girlís body expired God stroke the guy right in the eye and he took the guys eyes out of the eye socket, and I could see the blood and the expression of surprise and terror in the guyís eyes, then all of the sudden, peace and harmony again. To get closer to God is not an easy thing to experience; it can easily take you out of your spiritual balance for sure.

Let me give you an example about Evil here on Earth the way I saw it at that time: After that time I was arrested and we had dinner at Mikeís house with Mrs. Dora, she heard me saying I was looking for a Church, so she invited me to her church. I accepted the invitation and what an Evil experience that was. Even if I had gone with her to her church a few times before, this time when I went with her to her church, I was seeing things with a completely different set of eyes. I was inside of the forty days.

Mrs. Doraís church had three Crosses instead of just one cross. These three crosses were outside and right in front of this chapel. They were right in the middle of a beautiful tropical landscape, so typical of Florida. We went to a very especial Sunday service, as Mrs. Dora had told me this service was going to be televised and transmitted live all over the world. When we got there the place was packed and we were lucky to find a good pair of seats for the both us. We ended up in the left side of this big church auditorium, right behind the center stage and one of the main entrances, so we had an okay view. The place was packed with people and it was so loud that we had to yell back and forth to talk to each other. Very soon we got tired of yelling at each other, and we ended up quietly watching what was going on. We had a very good view of the whole place, and I could see people on the stage running cables, and preparing the cameras. I was having fun watching that when the announcer got in front of the microphone and he gave a great introduction to the Priest. When the announcer named the priest everybody started applauding, and then when the priest started talking it got really quiet. The priest started talking, and like always for me he was just talking none sense, so I just spaced out inside my mind and I started praying to God. I was in the middle of that when I got interrupted by the voice and God said to me, "Pay attention to what he is saying. Listen to this priest message." I opened my eyes and my ears, and started paying attention. The preacher at that moment was saying something on these lines, "Today brothers and sisters we meet here one more time in the name of the Lord, and we all know that we owed to him everything weíve got. The Lord loves you and he needs you! He needs every single one of us and more, thatís why if you have a friend or somebody that you know tell him to come to the Lord, insist and bring them here to the house of the Lord. Here we will introduce them to the true Lord, the one that is alive and we have to tell them to come and meet with him. The Lord wants to tell them that no matter how bad they are we need them. The Lord needs you! No matter how bad you are at the end you can always repent when you go to heaven, remember that. Together we can be stronger and if you become part of our family we can help you, and the doors of heaven will open to you, and success will come to you in this life not in the next one. Be part of our family, here, it doesnít matter how poor you are, we will make you great here on Earth, and the only thing we ask from you, is a very simple thing. If you are a man we ask for your ring, and if you are a woman we ask for your crown. Come and meet the Lord, joint us brothers and sisters that there is no other life than this life, and you have to make the best of it, remember that you can always repent when you go to heaven. And now let us pray before we go live through the miracle of television. Soon we will go live and we will connect with thousands of lost souls. Help us pray brothers and sisters to those lost souls. Let those lost souls find solace in our family, help us to make our church greater than ever, and now let us pray. Here it is our sister Marry. She is something very special to our Lord. Let us pray."

She stood up waiving to the crowd and sat down right after she received a big applause. She was right in front of the center of the stage, and as soon as she sat down the music came on. I was in one piece, I was seeing it, listening to it, but I couldnít believe it. The music was not any regular music, the music was a sound coming out of a few big speakers, and it was nothing but loud distortion in a very low tone. The noise was the very definition of satanic music, and as the volume faded down the girl started praying. The only thing she was doing in my eyes was nothing but having a sexual orgasm out loud, and of course she was speaking in tongues. When she was done everybody applauded and the announcer said at that moment, "And now we go live in three, two, one. Now brothers and sister live from Miami our favorite Priest Mr. Blab bla, bla..." and the same priest came back and started talking about a story in the Bible with the Bible in hand. I just couldnít believe it. Now like I was saying, that is Evil for show.

I started my trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, and I had never before in my life taken such a long drive, and on top of all that, "The last straw that broke the camelís back," was that, I wasnít sure if my Van could make it all the way. That Van, I was not even supposed to take it out of state because I was still making payments on it, but I had no choice. My other car, my Turbo Sprint could make it for sure, but I lost it, so I prayed to God asking for good luck, because traveling on that van, I was going to need a lot of luck to make it all the way to Utah.

At that moment I felt like the decision of coming to Salt Lake City or going back to my country was already made for me. In my mind I had the clear conviction that I had decided to follow "The Path," regardless.

I was glad that one more time God had saved my rear end, and even if I had reached the conclusion that living this life was not worth it, now I had to wait until my spiritual son had reached maturity before I could ask myself the question if this life was worth the trouble.

God told me before I left, "I will accept your will whatever decision you take. I have giving you that right. The right of living or not living is part of your free agency. That right must be yours, and it is yours. I will accept your will like it or not, but please do not commit suicide as a child. I know how much you do love me son, and in the name of that love, I want you to remember that if you ever want to quit the path I will understand, but never attempt against your life before you are forty-five-years old. Please! Like I said before, you can quit at any time after that, and even if I donít like it, at least know that if you do it as a mature individual, suicide will not be a sin, but still you will be a quitter, and "I donít much like quitters son." Remember donít forget the message "Four" I know you have bad memory, and Iím working on it. Donít worry son, will be in touch with the numbers like I taught you, and remember to tell them that if they can count up to ten, they can understand me. Donít forget to tell them that science and I are one and the same. Remember that you cannot be the only smart living thing alive in this whole universe, and by pure mathematical and brute strength, you can confirm that such a thing is near to impossible. Son of mine be careful and as your mom Nieves used to say to you, "Habilosito pue!"óBe Smart. Always!"

When I started the trip to Salt Lake I had in my mind the conviction that God had offered me the chance to work for him in the future, and that God had told me that there was a lot to be explained and said, and that forty days and forty nights, that fraction of time was not enough, but forty days was all the time that God could afford to spend by my side. Before I left God explained, "Before you become a forty-years-old man, never take yourself too serious, because you are still a child. During that period of time in your life donít take decisions that involve the rest of your life or eternity. You know now that I am training spirits to be alive on their own, and I will do whatever it takes to give you the chance to understand what life is, and hopefully you become to understand who I am, because I am who I am, and there is nothing I can do about it. Remember that between the beginning and the end there is an eternity in between."

After I was on my way driving to Salt Lake I was feeling better. I was glad that the forty days were over, and I really liked the idea of becoming a master carpenter, and having to make my living in an honest, descent, and dignifying way. That shouldnít be a problem for me.

During that trip as I was driving north, cruising through the State of Florida, I was admiring the beauty of the land, and I was having fun thinking while I was driving. Driving really helped me to relax, but after I passed the city of Atlanta, a few hours later I run out of gas, and I had no more money left. I run out of gas just a few miles passed Chattanooga. My van was still running, but my fuel gage was below empty. Good thing that on the side of the road there was a little store that had a gas station, so I stopped right there. The little store was an old shack made entirely out of wood logs, and it looked almost like an old cabin, with the only difference that this store had a nice asphalt roof. On the garage that was open, they had an exhibition of handmade ornaments, and on the living room of this store-house they had a little mini-market. I went inside and got me a drink with some change I found in the ashtray, and while looking around the store I was thinking what I was going to do next. After awhile the only thing I could think of was to start panhandling. I went to my van and I made me a sign that said, "Going to Utah. Need money for Gas. Help please and God Bless." I stood on the side of my Van holding that sign for hours, but nobody gave me not even a penny. I was about to get inside the Van to take a break, and I was starting to think that I had no choice but to spend the night right there on the side of the road. I was about to get inside the van when I saw a Light-blue and white police car approaching me very fast. The police officer parked right behind my van, got out of the car really quickóit seemed to be already pissedóand he asked me really quick, "What are you doing here?" I told him the story, "No money, no food, going to Utah, and run out of gas."  He asked me for my papers, and while checking them he asked me, "Do you belong to any religion?" "I am a Mormon" I said. The police officer said, "Jump on my car. Letís go for a ride to a Mormon Church I know." He didnít put me on the back seat like the Florida police or make me put on handcuffs, I sat in the front passenger side, and with my little English I started telling him my story. He never asked me about my Immigrant status here in the U.S., but he asked me for my passport and ID. He took me for a long ride, at least a 20 miles ride, and at a point, honestly I thought he was going to kill me, execution style on a desolated place away from all civilization, and where no matter how loud I could beg for my life, nobody was going to hear me. At a moment I almost panic, and I noticed that because I realized at a point that I was not breathing. When I realized that, I took a deep breath and I started to relax, at least I tried, but I canít deny that I was feeling very uneasy on that car, he asked me, "When it was last time you ate?" I said, "A couple days ago?" He looked at me and said you look hungry, I said, "Yes I am hungry" He said, "There is a sandwich in my lunch-box you can eat it if you want to." I opened the lunch-box and grabbed a Peanut Jelly sandwich on a zip-lock sandwich bag that was wrapped with nice white napkins. I was so hungry that I could devour that whole sandwich in one bite, but I was very polite and I ate the sandwich very slow. We didnít talk much because it was hard to understand and communicate with each other because of my English, that at the time it was terrible.

Finally we arrived on a big and long chapel made out wood, and it was a Mormon church. We went inside and I was introduced to the bishop. As we enter the bishopís office and after a very short introduction, the first thing the bishop asked me was, "Who is the actual prophet now in the Mormon Church?" Honestly I didnít know the answer, and as I looked to the side, because I heard the giggle of a child, at that very moment, I saw two little girls playing with a wedding dress that was on a human skeleton inside of a closet. It was so creepy that I got chills on my back. We kept talking and I tried my best to act as normal as possible, but I really couldnít make sense of what I just saw, and even to this day I still wonder, "A wedding dress on a skeleton inside a closet?" We talked for a bit with the bishop but we had serious problems trying to communicate due to my terrible Tarzan English, that he cut the conversation short and said to me, "In my opinion you are not a member of the Mormon Church, but I am going to give you some money for Gas. The money Iím going to give you is not from the church, is my personal help to you, and thatís it. That is all I can do for you." He handed me a one hundred dollar bill and put me on my way with the Sheriff. The Sheriff dropped me off at my Van, and I had a hundred bucks on my pocket. I was so happy that I thanked the Sheriff I donít know how many times, I was so thankful of him that I couldnít help to say over and over, "Thanks. Thank you very much, appreciated. Thank youÖ" Before he drove away he told me as a last thing, "Stay on the road and try not to stop on small cities." I said, "I will" and I thanked him one last time. I fill up my tank with gas, and quicker than quick I was on my way again.

On my way to the chapel riding with the police officer I got so scared that I was overwhelmed with emotions, and I was extremely tired. I thought that day that I was going to get shot at or put in Jail for longer that I can stand not having my freedom, and like I said, I was exhausted, but I could not rest at that moment. It was almost night time and I had to drive at night, because it was winter time and as I kept going north the colder it got. At night it was too cold to park my Van and sleep, so I had to drive at night and rest on day time. I was tired, but I kept going. Finally after an extremely hard night of driving I made it to Nashville. The Sun was barely coming up, and I found a place where to park my van in downtown Nashville, and I fall asleep like a rock.

That evening when I woke up, I wanted to keep going but I was steel to tired, and I needed to stretch my legs, so I went for a walk and I started looking at the cowboy stores. It was so cool for me to see all that cowboy stuff. It was just like being in a big cowboy museum. I was looking around inside of one of those stores, when a girl that worked there started asking me questions about where I was from and where I was going, "she could tell I was from somewhere else" as she said to me. We started talking for a little while and as I was leaving she said, "If you are looking for work I know a person that is looking for painters." I said, "Painters? Sure I would love to work and get a little bit of money." She gave me a name and an address with a phone number. Later on I called the guy and he said to go to the address the girl game me, and meet with him. He told me that latter on that evening, after he was done with work, we could meet at that restaurant.

I went to this address and it was a Mexican restaurant right next to a tortilla factory. Like I had nothing else to do I went over there way early, and after hours of waiting, the people at the tortilla factory started getting suspicious about me. At that time I do remember looking so shaggy, and on top of all that I had a long pony tail. Like I didnít want them to get worried or call the police on me, I talked to one of the guys that worked at the factory, when he went outside to have a smoke break. I got out of my van and asked him if he could sell me a cigarette for 25 cents. He gave me a cigarette for free and we started talking for a bit. At the time it has been over a month since I have not smoked, and I was quitting smoking, but that day, I quit quiting one more time in my life. He asked me a whole bunch of question about where I was from and what I was doing in Nashville, and while we were talking the smells of the fresh tortillas was driving me crazy. I was so hungry and I donít know what kind of face I had at the time, that the guy noticed that I was hungry, and invited me inside to the factory and gave me a couple of tortillas. He introduced me to the manager and told her that I was looking for a job. This mature woman right there in front of everybody started asking me questions about religion, and we talked for a bit. She asked me if I believed in God, and I said, "Yes I do. I do believe in the living God." She asked, "What religion are you?" I said, "Like I believe in the living God, I canít have any affiliation with any established religion because that will be a sin. Those who believe in the living God have no flag, no color, and everybody is their brothers." She didnít like my answer very much, and said to me, "If you donít become part of this church here in this state, you are not going to make it." I said, "So you know I consider myself more of a Mormon, but I think that if you have to join a religion to survive, there is something wrong with that religion." She said, "Why are you going to help infidels. That is like helping the devil." I said, "This world is the house of God, and if God puts us here, must be a reason. We should not discriminate by the way a person wants to worship God. You should be free to love and worship God anyway you wanted." She said, "There is only one correct way to worship God, and that is through our religion." she put her head down and she asked me to leave because they were working. I said, "Sure. Thanks for the tortillas. They were delicious. Thanks." And I turned around and went back to my Van.

At the end I realized that if I was not somebody of her same faith or somebody that was willing to convert to her religion, she couldnít give me a job. No wonder why some religions have so many followers in some places. They are like a mafia, because if you donít joint their faith, you canít make it on that town.

I went to my van and I started making calculations about how much gas I needed to buy to make it to Salt Lake, and I didnít have enough money to get to Salt Lake. I was short on a couple of gas tank fill ups so I could not buy me any food. After that, I tried to go sleep but I was too hungry that I couldnít. I went to the back of my Van where I had my last reserves and provisions, and the only thing I had was the last bit of a loaf of bread, and some little bottle of oil that I forgot I had. I made me an oil and salt sandwich and I ate it like they were the most delicious food ever. I was lucky that day to find something to eat and it was old oil, but I didnít care, for me it tasted delicious. I wish there it was more than two pieces of bread left, but I was so thankful to have something on my stomach at that moment, like you couldnít believe it.

I was so happy to have something in my stomach that I fall asleep. After awhile a guy came over my Van, knocked on my window and he asked me if I was the one looking for a job. I said, "Yes Sir, yes, I am the one." He asked me a few questions and he spoke Spanish so it was no problem there letting him know my knowledge about painting. He offered me ten dollars an hour and I needed to be there early in the morning. "No problem." I said, and he said to me that it was okay to park my Van there where it was, and that I could take a ride with some of the people that I was going to work with if I wanted.

I was so happy that I was going to earn some money and finally I was going to be able to eat. I was so hungry. Right after I talked to the guy, I started thinking that if I was going to make some money I could buy me a plate of food. I saw at that moment the special of the day on that restaurant by the tortilla factory, and they had a very cheap especial. That five dollar especial combo was cowís stomach soup. Oh my! I went inside and I ordered the special of the day. That plate of food I had it was all I ever dreamed of it would be. It was delicious! When you are hungry, everything tastes much, much better.

Next Morning they picked me up and the same guy I talked the night before, he actually woke me up knocking on my window. He told me to go on a car with three other workers. I asked him about if I needed to take any painting tools with me and he said, "You do not need any tools Son. Donít worry we have everything." Any ways I grabbed my painting brushes, and I went with the crew to an old house in the middle of a field on the outskirts of the city.  I worked hard all day and on the afternoon we were ahead of schedule with what they ask us to have done. I was exhausted and week, so when I finished what I was told to do so, I stopped painting and I sat down. I did a very good and fast job cutting the paint with my brush around the windows, and with all that practice, and being so young and athletic I was able to get done a lot in a very short period of time. I have to admit that I wasnít sure if they were going to pay me what they said they were going to pay me, and if they were going to pay me at all, I really didnít know this people. The guy I was working with, he was telling me not to stop moving, but I didnít listen, by the end of that day I was so ex