She couldn’t sleep very well that night. Her mind carried her from one weird dream to another. When dawn was breaking, she jumped out of bed. It was a warm morning, so she had a quick breakfast, prepared her typical mate drink, and headed towards the beach. Man, had she missed the rambla! Montevideo has a long and beautiful promenade along the coast that runs through the city, from one neighborhood to another, traversing the port and gorgeous beaches surrounded by parks and buildings. Despite not being a tropical country, there are palm trees lining the bay. Even at this hour, there were people running, doing yoga, or meditating on the rocks by the sea. She took a deep breath and said aloud, “This is not so bad.”
About an hour later, the sun was almost up, and the humidity was making it too uncomfortable. She was familiar with high temperatures, but had completely forgotten humidity. When she found a nice spot under a tree, she decided to chill there for a while: watch people go by and maybe even read her novel.
“Oye, no!” – Jules’ suddenly opened her eyes and intuitively reached for her purse, as she felt someone tugging on it. She pulled harder and a few seconds later, two big guys approached her and, after throwing a few punches that did not hit the intended target, they were able to chase away the empty-handed thief.
Jules was speechless. “Yup, I’m definitely back home” she thought with sorrow. It hadn’t been just the humidity she had grown unaccustomed to. A few seconds later she realized the two big guys who’d helped her were asking her something. “Oye, chica, are you okay?” the taller of the guys repeated.
“Sí, sí, thank you,” Jules replied, slowly coming to her senses, “I must have dozed off for a bit. Thank you so much for your help.”
“No worries, chica,” the guy replied. “We gotta help one another,” he added with a smile any dentist would be happy to claim responsibility for. “Are you from around here? You seem a bit lost,” he asked, concerned.
Julia smiled. How could she tell him she was from here and from somewhere else? That she was trying to understand how to adjust to her own culture and feel part of it again? So she just replied, “Yes, I am, I’m just a bit disoriented, that’s all. Where are you two from? I hear a Caribbean accent?” she inquired with earnest curiosity. She’d always been fascinated by languages and accents.
“Yes! That’s right!” the shorter guy replied, as if she’d solved a mystery. “We all are!” he added proudly, pointing at a group of about 5 people in their 20s or 30s staring at them, awaiting an update on the situation.
“Care to join us? Maybe you can then tell us why you people carry a thermos under your arm every day, all day!” – he laughed loudly, and Jules joined them. Only now did she consider how something so natural for her, like the mate and thermos, a habit she hadn’t lost after years abroad, could look so strange to outsiders. “Sure!” – she caught the joke quickly. “Not only that, but I’ll also even let you in on a few secrets, like why we drink hot mate in 90° weather!” she continued, and everyone burst out laughing.
They all sat in a circle and immediately started talking on top of each other, cracking jokes and laughing. Jules asked where they were from, and how they had ended up so far away from their homes. She was well aware of current events, instability and social unrest throughout the continent, but what you read is never as insightful as what you can learn from someone who’s been through it, from their unique perspective. They had come in recent years from far away. Some were professionals awaiting their papers; some worked as Uber drivers; others did all sorts of odd jobs. They had arrived here after being sponsored as guest workers by an international network, had overstayed their visas, or had been hosted by a friend of friends of friends. They had all left communities and families behind, and were trying to adjust to a culture with many similarities, yet even more differences, by trying to make their own Pan American bubble where they could unjudgmentally reminisce about their own lives, try to understand these differences, laugh at their own blunders, and, most importantly, support one another. They also asked about her story. Why had she left? Why had she returned? She had an idea about the first one, but was only starting to allow herself to answer the second. She told them about her travels, her experiences and they asked her many questions. There was mutual admiration and intrigue in their words; and yet, they all understood a little bit about how they felt.
“Arepas!” Maricarmen exclaimed, “I miss them so much! Nobody can make them like my mom!” she exclaimed.
“Oh, but I know this new place, I’ll show you, their arepas are to die for!” Carlos interjected. “The first time I ate them I almost shed a tear.”
They all laughed, the feeling too familiar.
“I know!” Jules said and started chuckling. “I nearly cried yesterday after enjoying a real asado. I hadn’t tasted anything like it in 3 years!”
“Patacones!” Eduardo shouted.
“Sancocho,” Mari tossed in, giggling, as she let her curls bounce over her shoulders.
(…to be continued…)
Transadaptation Volume 4 – Material Dissent
January: A Blinding Light and Then, All Darkness – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)
February: The Opportunist – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)
March: A Stranger in my City – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)
April: A South African Soundtrack – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)
May: Full Circle – Ina Maria Vogel (Germany)
June: La Lluvia en Bogotá – Adriana Uribe (Columbia)
July: Freedom – Krisztina Janosi (Hungary)
August: A Bus Ride – Svetlana Molchanova (Russia)
September: Transcendence – Armine Asryan (Nane Sevunts) (Armenia)
October: Motherhood – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)
November: To be announced – (hopefully) Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)
December: Open – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)
Background – Context
Transadaptation Volume 3: Evanescent – Young Adulthood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2022)
Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)
Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Credits Montevideo, Uruguay – Buceo beach – DFLC Prints (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed