Mexico Trek!    SILVIA: Interview
When and where were you born? October 8, 1971; Madrid, Spain

Who did you grow up with? My Spanish mom, my Cuban father, my Californian sister, my grandmothers -- a Cuban "abuela" in the States and a Spanish "Nona" in Spain, galapago turtles, goldfish, dogs, cats, parakeets, newts, mice, hamsters, and rabbits.

What do you like to do with your friends?  Explore new places on foot, play at the beach, watch movies, and talk a lot while drinking coffee.

What things are you afraid of? Physical pain, war, that the world will become so consumption-ridden and obsessed with industrialization that indigenous cultures will be wiped out, that the environment will be ruined beyond repair, and that people from different cultures will fear one another out of ignorance and not get along.

What is your favorite book? The Alchemist: A Fable about Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho, a South American writer. It's about not losing the sense of wonder and awe about the world that children have and being determined to make a dream a reality.

What is your favorite food? Spanish paella with sangria, and Cuban frijoles negros with mojitos. Do you know what these are? However, I could live off of fresh, cold fruit anytime.

Where is your favorite place? A Spanish Mediterranean port town called Denia, in the province of Alicante. It's where all of my family lives. It has the most festivals of the entire country, I can ride a bike everywhere, and the sun shines brightly all year. It only rains during January and February. There are lots of palmeras (palm trees) there, irresistible food, and the Dianenses are friendly people.

What are you good at? I can sleep anywhere and anytime, read very fast, like to listen to people talking, and sometimes teach other people English. I've always liked learning new things, so I've usually been good at doing my homework and going to classes.

What are you not so good at? Washing dishes. I try to go so fast that I usually break some glasses, so my mom gave me a plastic cup. I don't like to cook, I detest gardening, and I absolutely hate making my bed, so when I do, it doesn't come out so straight. I need to learn to be more patient when I must wait for something.

What are some really fun things you've done? Waterskiing. It feels like flying. Being a summer camp monitor, where my job was to play with children all day outside. Learning to Salsa dance in Cuba with my cousins.

What's the most stupid thing you ever did? Not wearing a helmet when I had a motorcycle. One day I had an accident, lost consciousness, and couldn't remember anything. But when I woke up my parents were with me.

Who or what has had an especially strong influence on the direction of your life? Reading. I've read so much by different authors, fiction and nonfiction, short stories and novels, in Spanish and English, and it still amazes me to see how creative people can be with their imagination, or how one can learn from what has happened to others. Many of my ideas to do things have been inspired by something I've read, and there's always something new to be discovered, even when re-reading a book. Now I read very fast.

What is your advice to young people today? Know that the only thing no one can take away from you is your knowledge. Be brave enough to push yourself beyond your limits, and you will discover that you can be stronger than you imagined and overcome obstacles you did not suspect you could. Stand up for your beliefs, they make you who you are.


Monica . Shawn


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