About Refugees, By Refugees


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Photo and interview by:




Belal Darder Mohamed

“To get to know the world but to return back home. That was my dream,” says Ernesto (pseudonym, 40), of visiting or studying in Europe. This was before he was forced, by violence and economic instability in Venezuela, to move to Spain permanently. Having escaped an attempted robbery of his van, he was at risk of being killed on the street: “In a country like that, I could no longer live.” Despite a degree, an MBA, and work experience in engineering, he had to start at the bottom in Spain: cooking and cleaning in restaurant kitchens and later working his way up into real estate: “I took it philosophically,” he says, “as a way of seeing reality.” He adds, “Mentally I’m very strong. Crumbling down is hard for me. The day I crumble it’s because I can’t take it anymore. Like everyone, I’m a balloon, I inflate and inflate until ‘boom’. But it takes a lot.” Now, he holds Spanish nationality. But, should the situation in Venezuela improve, his dream is to “go back home to contribute something.”

Trigger Warning: Racism

full interview

Ernesto, can you tell me who do you live with and what your house is like?
I live with my girlfriend… Ummm… Describe my house? In what sense?

I don’t know… like…. what the house is like? Do you like it or not? Is there something in the house that you like? I don’t know.
It is better than others that we had before, where I lived before it was an attic, I had to share it with other three people, with a big deck, we barbequed there, but it fit our budget, but it was a house that was in really good condition, it was renovated, it was not necessary to do anything, it got furniture, was near the subway. The truth is, it was pretty good, but we did aspire to another one…

What do you expect?
We already have plans for our next place to be a house.

A chalet?
A small chalet for example, even if it is small, semi-detached, it does not matter. Or an attic or something like that, but that it is separate. You know? Something that it isn’t an entrance, that you also have a yard of your own, which is key. In fact, if you look out we have a patio on the balcony with artificial grass and everything. We need that, to sunbathe.

Because we need that. Sunbathing and…

Aha. And how’s living with your girlfriend?

Do you like it?

Yes, yes, really, yes, a lot.

Do you recommend it?
Yes. This is the second experience I have living with a couple, haha, but it is the first time that I am enjoying it. The truth is that I enjoy life as a couple as such [laughs]. It was a little complicated with the other person, let’s call her complicated and that’s it, but with her, I have a lot of fun, we laugh all day. Yep, already, that, that’s what pays the bill.

Yes, totally

I’ve seen that your cat kind of talks.
You’ve seen my cat talking [laughs]

What a cute cat.
Right now it was screaming at the door because he knows I’m leaving.

I guess in his cat mind he thinks I’m coming back home at night you know? It’s like “I’ll be back in the evening” and he’ll stand by the door. It’s Incredible, he’s more like a dog.

I find your cat very interesting.
My cat is like a dog. It is totally like a dog, plays with the ball, throws the ball, and brings it back.

Wow, that’s interesting!
It’s a very weird cat.

I’ve seen him talking to you about food right? You were bringing him the food and he was like: “feed me”.
The other day he was eating and Jessica asked him “Is it yummy?”, and he answered: “meow meow”, and every time she asked him something he’d reply.

That’s interesting, what an interesting cat. How long have you had the cat?
Almost two years now. Yes, yes, yes. It’s a rescued cat. I used to work in a real estate agency. They were going to sell a flat and over there, they were a lot of cats. And the owner of the apartment… the son of the apartment owner, who was the owner of the apartment, had died. Then, the son of the owner of the apartment did not want any of the cats, which at the end of the day, they were going to be sacrificed. And I went to make a visit, and this one appeared that rolled in my leg and the cat was not close to anyone, except to me, myself I’ve been someone who had never liked cats. And he wound up on my leg.

It was also a connection.
Yes, but I spent about a week telling Jessica: “Shit!, they’re going to kill the kitten”… until in the end, I said to her: “This one’ s for me!”. Then, I rescued him and brought him home with me. Since then it is here, it took him a day to adapt.

Nice nice
Normally you know cats, tend to take their time, they run through corners. They don’t want you to touch them. One day, one day it took to adapt to the house. One day was enough.

A single day and he already had a home…
Yes, a single day… It hid under the furniture, just the next day he was already walking around the house with us. That it was already adapted. It knew it was his home.

That’s good.
He adapted and I knew he was part of the house.

And what is your daily life like? What are you doing?
My daily basis is interesting. Interesting but stressful, let’s see…I work for Amazon Spain. In Vicálvaro’s warehouse. How are my days? Basically, it’s waking up. Read the news, because I can’t leave the house without reading the news, and I don’t like to watch it on TV. I like to read them on Twitter and form an opinion of what it is because I like to read both sides of the news..you know? The side I like and the side of the opinions I don’t like and give myself a middle ground.

Then, finish the meal as sometimes my girlfriend leaves very early and can’t finish and one should collaborate a little too… and then I leave for the office. I’m there during the afternoon, between one and half-past eight o’clock, nine. A few days it gets more complicated, I’m until 10. Then come for dinner, shower, dinner, spend the little time I have left with my girl. Yes, go to bed and again.

And what do you do to feel happy?
Even if you don’t believe it… the little things.. .reading with that, is quite a lot. Something I’ve discovered was to sleep with my girl. Yes, yes. The truth is that it fills me with lots of energy in the morning. I’ve verified it. I can have an awful day, but I come home, I see her and we’re going to sleep and it’s just being there and hugging her and it’s already there. In the morning my head is somewhere else, I wake up more…

Is it your refuge?
Yes, it is right now. Right now it is. In fact, since we met each other, I think we were each other’s refuge. It is interesting because we met at a complicated time for both of us and we were a very strong support for each other. It was reciprocal. And I think it hasn’t changed, since that moment.

Truth is that it makes me very happy. Another thing is that they make me happy, but right now I can’t do anything between the subject of time and everything… I like to travel a lot. I really like nature, the mountains. I love it. I love to shoot.

Shoot what?
Shoot guns.

Yes, I like it

Yes? It’s a bit complicated to do this in Europe, right? At least in Spain
Yes, (the) here the shooting clubs… The first thing is that you have to carry your own weapons. The thing gets complicated because you have to buy them, take out the permits, etc., and so on. And then I’ve got airsoft guns. But again, the shooting camps are also far away. There’s none nearby. I can only combine the time from my days off. Just thinking about that the two free days I’ve got to go there…

Two hours, or one hour…
Or wait or to see if there are no people waiting in line because the only time I went I had to wait in line and wait an hour. Then it is the trip plus the wait, an hour. You’ll be half an hour or an hour shooting, then again half an hour, an hour to return. I don’t know… It doesn’t make up for me much unless I have many days off. Right now, for example, I’m supposed to have three weekends off a month. But since we are at the peak. The company where I am now is starting… I told you that day and we are starting right during the peak, the peak of sale. Everything close to Black Friday is the peak, yeah. Which with the time right now, what am I supposed to have free? It’s not real. Actually, it’s poorly adjusted. So, I settle right now for being able to sit, read and be here with the boss. With the boss at home.

How would you describe your life in Europe? How long have you been in Europe? In Spain?
10 years.

In Spain?
It’ll be 10 years in April. Nine years and… Nine years…

Six months and it will be 10 years.
But yeah, 10 years in April. How would you describe it? The truth is that I’ve come from less to more. I know there are people coming, but there is no denying it. The problem is that life…the plan to come to Europe, it wasn’t a plan at all. No, I didn’t have it planned. My plan was to come and be here for a couple of years and go back home. The plan got twisted here. I think that was complicated. I like to have everything planned. And I didn’t have that planned at any time. With which I was surprised by a number of factors that took me by surprise.

The current situation in Venezuela I imagine was affecting you, right?
In fact, it was the trigger. I came from Venezuela because of the problem of safety, like practically everyone. In fact, the decision to take a break from Venezuela was because of an attempted robbery. I had a van and they tried to rob me at gunpoint. And my only reaction was, instead of getting peacefully out of the van, running the van over those who came to steal. As you could imagine… gunshots to the air…

Risking your life?
Basically, because they could have shot on the spot. That is what is the most seen in Venezuela.

Then I went to the police to file the report and the police themselves told me that I had to sell my van because now I was at risk of being seen on the street and killed. I said that in a country like that, I could no longer live there.

You can’t live, you can’t settle, you can’t build a life.
No, actually, I had my life done. I already had my apartment, my van, I had a renovation company, I worked for a university too, I taught. But of course, you can have it all. But the most interesting thing is the security of being able to enjoy it.

Yes. So if you run the risk of losing your life in a moment, it’s not clear, even if you have everything.
And at that time I was with the partner I was talking about. We felt that we were also going to settle and we said “how are we going to have a family in a place like that?” Because we’re at risk right now. But, if we decide to have a family, we would also put others at risk.

In Venezuela, kidnapping children is common. Unfortunately. Then we said…we’re going to take a break. Let’s study how to improve our CVs. And so we spent a couple of years outside Venezuela. And we think well, what are we going to do. I just sold my truck, basically because I couldn’t leave it to anyone because of the risk issue. And then I came to study. I came to study and when I was with my partner. We ended the relationship here. It was already complicated, because in a relationship that was six years old. You come accompanied..again, with a plan. And all of a sudden, the plan changes, and it changes a lot. Then my question was what do I do when I get back? How do I solve all the problems I have there? Because I have things half-done. Because I’m not there to sell. And then things went south because the company I worked for called me while I’m here, and let me know they’re going to file for bankruptcy, that I’m going to be one of the few people who are going to get paid their settlement because there’s no money even for that. So at that point, I already had two very important things to factor in. And the university where I was working was offering me a full-time position. Before I had it part-time and that full-time job that didn’t give me at all. The salary. So being here, when we came from Venezuela, we had a preferential change, the famous “Cadivi”, I don’t know if you heard of it…

They pay for the ticket.
No, no, no.

In Venezuela, there is a control, a strict exchange control. Can’t be changed. You can not go to an exchange house, change money freely. You can only change money to travel and up to a certain amount.

Yes, up to 1500. If I’m not mistaken.

They pay you and you use the ticket for…
That’s it. That’s your money, but they tell you exactly what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do with that money. When I came, the limits were bigger. I think it was 3000 euros when I came. And then, if you came to study, you could ask every month to give you the possibility to use a certain remittance. Yes, of course, I had the money in Venezuela. My mother did the transfer without problems, but just being here, they came up with the great idea of taking it away. So, I saw myself with 200 euros in my pocket. At least, I had already paid the entire tuition. The apartment where I lived, only the apartment, was already 150 euros monthly. Alone because the team was no longer there and without knowing what to do is about Venezuela. So that all took place right in the period when I was already supposed to be ending the MBA that I was doing. I had to work cooking. I had to work cleaning.

What did you feel, what did this make you feel?
It was weird. It was very weird because…

A qualified person doing all this.
Yes, basically because in my family we have always come from the bottom to the top. My grandmother, my grandmother, cleaned houses. My grandmother always said to my mother had to be more than her. She paid for her studies with a lot of sacrifices. My mother is a college (university) professional. My mother, in turn, did the same with my aunt. “You have to be better than me”. My aunt had a higher qualification than my mother and in Venezuela, she had the opportunity to get a little more money. Then, they all did the same thing to me. “Well, you have to do more than us”. I had more qualifications and of course, I was better established. And that was the chip I had in my head. Then I got here and I realized that…

The fall, right?
Yes, but more than a fall I do, I took it philosophically, I took it like, like as a way of seeing reality, of facing reality. My reality was different, because it is what is in Venezuela, or at least at the time it was what it was: you studied, strived and you could obtain things. But the world, in general, is not like that, less so now. And I had a pretty interesting humbling moment. Maybe today you’re on top of the wave, but tomorrow you don’t know where you’re gonna be. And even though it was hard for me and thought a thousand times about returning to Venezuela, every time I said it, my friends would say I was crazy. Already the situation had changed radically in the two years that he had been out there. The situation had changed radically.

For the worse?
For the worse. Exactly when it was when everything got very twisted.
And I’ll give you a simple example… when I came here I sold my truck at the time. Two years later, with that same money you could just buy a tire, nothing more nothing less.

Yes, yes
Just for you to see how inflation in two years ate through the money. As I told you, I had money in the account from what I had sold in Venezuela. But it’s just that money wasn’t worth anything anymore. So I couldn’t go back to Venezuela either because I had nothing in Venezuela, aside from my flat…

Well, the flat, because I agreed with this girl to keep the apartment, had been paying for it, thus I kept it, but it was the only thing I had. So, I had nothing here and I had nothing there.

You were in limbo.
Yes, and it was like if I go back to Venezuela, what am I going to do in Venezuela? Because the company where I worked isn’t there, even if I’m qualified, who will pay for me to work? Friends who were in the same sector were leaving because they couldn’t get a job anywhere. Of course, I had a flat but that was all, the bed and a place to sleep in.

My family was starting to depend on my remittance and what I sent them, and how was I going to give them anything if I was in Venezuela too? So I made the effort, I stayed. I finished until the end of the two months that I had left of the master’s degree. I worked in a kitchen which is the last thing I recommend to the people of this country too because of the horrible overexploitation we faced. And nothing else. And I said I stayed here. Little by little I was trying to look for the best. And the truth is, I was lucky but my qualifications also helped me. I have not worked on my own again, I have not returned to engineering, although I’ve had experiences here. I am above qualified for a certain position. Actually, I had an argument once with a recruiter basically because I’m over-qualified but I’m accepting your terms. I come here and you’re offering me 1000 euros, right? If I’m over-qualified, I think I’m doing you a favor. You’re paying me the same amount, as I’m not asking for more, you’re giving to an intern. And he said no, that I was too qualified. I said: “What was the problem?”.

But I want to eat.
For example… I come to work and meet your conditions and end of the story. It’s okay. I’m not striving for your job. These kinds of things happened to me in interviews. Then, again I took hold of my humility, as I had learned the lesson, I said it does not matter. So, we start from the bottom. And worked as a warehouse waiter. After the same university where I was doing the master’s degree, they asked me to give them a hand implementing a quality system. I worked for them for two years. Between quality and attention to students.

Which university?
“Eude”, European School of Management and Business. Then, from there, after that they called me from a real estate agency to help them with the quality management system. But one thing happened to me… I understood something silly about this country, aside from the bad things it has. I came to the real estate implementing a quality management system, which is a technical job and they paid 800 euros a month, but a salesperson inside the company will earn 1000. Plus commissions…

Yes, yes
Qualified staff earned less than the unqualified staff.

And it’s something I still haven’t understood from this country. The less qualified you are, the more you earn. Great! So I switched to sales and I spent four and a half years as a salesperson. It was when I met Jessica, already leaving the company and… then I had a bad experience running one of their offices. Because it’s the same thing: qualified personnel earn less. They brought me up to the head of one of the shops. But it’s just that in that store you earn directly on commission. You don’t have a salary. While everyone was earning their 1000 euros, plus commissions, You… unless you sell and divide to see the profit margin, you don’t receive any income. Incidentally, they made me boss on June 25. The summer season, which Is awful, so in June, July, August, September, and October I worked for free.

Oh God…
We didn’t receive anything.

It was also when my mother came so it was only spending, spending, spending… the house… We’d just moved here. Well, it was all spending, spending. spending. Gas was…

Another cost, right? Food.
Everything adds up to the expenses and we had no income. And then, when in October they sit down to talk to me, they were finally thinking about bringing money, they tell me that the office can’t maintain itself and they demote me back to being a salesperson. And there it was and I was leaving the client list full of customers and money, so that month I would have started to get paid. And of course, I didn’t accept it, I said… sack me, I’m going on unemployment where I’ll receive more money. At least with the severance payment, I can catch up with what I’d spent in those months and that’s it. Then I had a three-month experience working in furniture with Chinese people, which is something.

That you don’t recommend?
Under no circumstance… They cheat a lot. They are such cheaters that I almost got into trouble with people who had a lot of cash, and in this country, besides being forbidden, it almost always has something to do with money laundering. And I told my boss if he wanted to kick me out, but I wasn’t going to go out and I didn’t. No, I didn’t accept the operation. Here in Spain, you can not do trades above 10 000 euros in cash between individuals. And this person was putting almost 100 000 thousand euros on a table, in bundles, in a bag. That hasn’t been through a bank. You do not know where that came from, and we are talking about a person who came every day in a suit and talking with a Romanian accent every day, every day he came and everyone who has a new suit and an ever-bigger watch.

That’s sketchy.
It was a little bit weird. And of course, when the person, after three or four days, realizes that I don’t want to do the operation, the threats begin. They start with “if this… If any of this happens, you’re going to see. We know where you live” and those kinds of things. I said look fire me… Fire me. Fire me and take care of it yourself, you crafty traps as you want to do them. Accept the cash, but I don’t want to get in. And after just 15 days, a friend tells me that Amazon is looking for staff for deliveries. Then she tells me about the salary and I say it can’t be that I earn more than even a person who is sitting in an office.

Damn! As a delivery person, you earned more…
As a delivery driver, I earned more and I was also deducted less from taxes. And I said “It’s can’t be, In the office it was 900 euros in the agency and now it turns out that I’m here and it’s 1000. It can’t that the delivery driver who has no qualifications…

Well, I ventured there and spent two years delivering, well, a year and a half. And they told me It was time to go up to the offices and here I am now.

From what you tell me, you’ve been through very hard things, haven’t you? And what are the qualities that helped you cope with this?
I adapt to changes. But it’s been like that since I’ve been a child.

That’s what helps you, right?
It has a lot to do with the fact that during my childhood my father worked… this is a trademark of stories in movies… My father, my father traveled a lot due to the company where he worked and we moved a lot and therefore I moved with them. We lived in many places. For a child it might be, let’s say, easier to adapt to the new school, the new place as such, and I got used to it. I got used to getting to a new place.

And restart your life again, start again.
New friends, new places to see. In fact, what I told you, is that I am so curious, but maybe I get to a new place and I didn’t see it as I have to start from scratch, but more like what can I find here that I haven’t seen before. And the same thing happens with work. I had the first shock, with those jobs I didn’t like but then I asked myself: What can I learn from them? And on the topic of cooking, I learned a lot. Then, I worked as a warehouse assistant, I learned a lot, and when I was in the real state I learned even more. It is about seeing it less as… I always try to see things less as an obstacle and more as something like “well I’m here already”.

Basically, it’s like a challenge.
Yeah, basically like a challenge. I’m here. I can’t do anything else. Now, what can I get from the good or the bad? I need to obtain something out of this. If not, I consider it time wasted if I can’t get something good. And if you open your eyes, you’re going to see me like this. Actually, when a problem happens to me, I always see it like that. Once, I had a car accident here and Jessica said to me.. Sorry, I sometimes call her Rafaela because her name is Jessica Rafaela and out of love I call her Rafa… Everything happens to you, but you hardly get bothered by anything, and I’m like… For some reason, the battery car is drained… so, I’ll look for the reason why it’s drained in order for it not to happen again, period. And now I have to buy a battery and do things for the battery not to discharge. I mean, I didn’t see it as a problem…which was in itself a problem…but I didn’t see it as such I saw it as…

As a learning opportunity.
Yes, as a learning opportunity to see what has happened here and not let it happen again, to learn what happened here so that it does not happen again. And that’s every day. Every time I have a problem like that, I try to get the best out of it. Yeah sure, they are times when I feel like the world is collapsing or whatever. But it’s not something where you can’t take a minute and take a deep breath and maybe get more information from the situation so that it doesn’t happen again. You know that’s always been my philosophy.

Can you think of any more qualities?
Mentally I’m very strong. Crumbling down is hard for me. The day I crumble it’s because I can’t take it anymore. Like everyone, I’m a balloon, I inflate and inflate until “boom”. But it takes a lot, a lot for, for it to come to that. Especially in times of stress, people always say that they don’t know how I manage to keep my demeanor, my face, and everything, but it all has to do with the same thing.I see what I have to do, this, this is what I have to finish. And it’s like in movies. And I see it like in wars; they’re running down a path and they’re watching the bullets. So I have to get to the end, get to the end of the trail, and then see if I’m hurt.

But yeah…

Focus on the target, right?
I actually see no other way to set a target. You set a goal and when you achieve it then you can do a damage count.

Now I can look.
Yes, now I look. I got the bullet, I Iost a foot… but I got to the end. Now let’s see how I can resolve everything else. And again, I’ve managed to solve it. What do I learn from this? That next time I might not choose that path, that I need to maybe duck. Or maybe…

Yes, yes, yes, yes
…I need a new vest.

But that’s always been like that. Especially at a family level. All, everything. My whole family relies on me very much. And that’s why because they know that… they’re going to tell me a problem, I’m going to see it from another perspective, maybe a cooler perspective and I’m also going to be there: ” listen, don’t worry about that, it will get solved”. My friends… I’ve always been their psychologist… in fact, we are all in different parts of the world. Actually, my best friend lives in Colombia right now and every time he has a problem he calls me to tell me, but because they know I’m going to solve it. Or at least I’m going lend you some encouraging words.


What was I going to say… Can you say the same thing, because I have to quote you? Because the idea is a picture of you and my dream before coming to Europe was and my dream now is… Can you say it like that?
Yes, “My dream before coming here was to go to Europe on holiday” [laughs].

That was my dream.

To get to know the world but to return back home. That was my dream.

“My dream, now that I’m here, is still to know the world. But I would like to go back home”.

You want to go back to Venezuela.
I’d like to go back. I would very much like to go back to my house but go back home to contribute something and this discussion we can have with any Venezuelan. I’ll tell you, Venezuelans, he’ll tell you he doesn’t want to come back for the reason…[mumbles]. I think that this that has happened to all should serve as an experience…before we saw the world outside, like a wonderful place where we are only going to spend our holidays… And we’d disconnect from Venezuela but we do go back. Not anymore, now we’ve lived outside and I think we’ve all learned things and things that can make [Venezuela] a wonderful place. But for that to happen, we have to go back. The thing is that in order to go back, the conditions would have to be very, very different, very, very…

Very different.
Very, very different. There should be people to listen to us, projects that allow people to integrate into them or give their opinions, what they saw here and… For me, that would be a dream, to go back and contribute something.

Personally, I’m not Venezuelan or anything, but I am very sorry about the situation in Venezuela. A country with so many resources and so much energy at a human level and resource level. And that makes me sad. Although I am not from the country nor am I from this culture. But it still, it still makes me sad. How does it make you feel?
Me, in itself… when I was there it was already terrible, and when I was outside, It was worse. You know your family is there and you are aware of how they are living… But they are adapting, they are getting used to any living being like any other. They’re adapting to what they’ve got and you listen to them and think… It’s not possible to adapt to this… But it is a shame. The best example for me has always been the island where my family is from, Margarita Island which was once a tourist world power. Now it looks like Old Havana. All buildings destroyed, cars from the year God knows when… So old that if a tire is damaged, there’s no replacement as there are currently no more spare parts. There is no water because fresh water comes from the mainland. On the mainland, there’s a shortage, now there are problems with water, so Margarita has less water. There are problems with the electric power. They intend to launch it as a tourist offer…How do you send tourists to a place where they don’t even have services for your own people? So…It’s a shame, it’s a shame because Margarita is the second beach in Venezuela with the highest wind gusts in Venezuela which makes you think of a wind farm. Call me silly, but maybe a wind farm could be the solution for a sector of this island. It is an island, surrounded by water… A few plants of reverse osmosis I think might be able to solve the water problem and call me a fool again, but I believe there’s a population for it. I think there is the human capacity for that. I think there are good technicians for it. It’s a shame, because with that simple, with those two simple things, most likely, everything else will begin to…

To advance. Maybe the relaunching of the destination as a touristic place is possible, but it needs services. You can’t, you can’t just throw yourself, you can’t jump into the pool like that

How does it feel to be far away from your family?
It’s hard. It’s tough because I’ve always been family orientated, very much a home person, and I… My family lives on this island. Margarita is 30 minutes by plane from Caracas, from the main airport of Maiquetia and I lived next to it, practically Maiquetia airport, with which on weekends. As I tell you when I was a little well-off I practically went every weekend to Margarita. Practically every weekend. I left on Friday night and returned on Monday mornings and this was almost every weekend. I mean, I almost got to see the family at least twice a month.

You went from this to not seeing them…
Going from seeing them to not… And that the only two… I’ve seen my mother twice since I came. One was because she came here and the other was because I had to go to Venezuela for my grandmother, who was sick. Those have been the only two times I’ve seen her. Going from seeing it every weekend to two very specific cases… My sister had my nephew and I’ve met him…

Via Whatsapp and Video chat, right?
Yes. And I’ve practically raised my sister. In fact, my sister has always said that I am more her father than our actual father. I don’t even know my nephew, these are the kinds of things that can mellow your mood. But in any case, you have to keep the attitude of “someday this will be over, at some point we will meet”. I don’t focus on the things I’ve missed with them, but the things that I have. [interviewer speaks over Ernesto].

That you’ve earned, right? That you’ve acquired.
Yes, but especially at the family level and the things I’m losing. For example, my nephew’s first words…[unintelligible] are things that I’ve already lost, I can’t do anything about it. But maybe, I can focus on things that I’ll do in the future. With my mother… With my mother, it’s the same. The years I’ve lost with her… It’s true that I’ve lost a number of years, but well, I’ll have to give her love in the years that we are close again. There’s no other option left. I can’t sit with…[mumbles] There is a saying in Venezuela that says “Don’t cry over spilt milk” because in the end it was already spilled. You can’t do anything with that milk anymore.

Yes, hmm, yes. I read a lot about stoicism. I’m not sure what it’s called in Spanish, but…

Stoicism. And I like the idea that you can’t change what happened, but you can change your attitude about what happened. You can change your feelings. You can change the way in which you receive or react to what has happened.
That’s it.

And this is something I’m trying to apply in my personal life too.
It is difficult to re…

It’s hard, yes.
Yes. It requires a….

A mindset…
Yes, to change your mindset, to change the chip. To sit down for four, five hours at a time and think about the pros and the cons, scaling it. And when you realize you can’t do anything anymore…That’s the key to the issue. I was telling this to a person who has ended an almost 15-year relationship. Imagine 15 years…

The emotional investment… right?
At an emotional level, they are distraught but can do something to change it right now? No, because it’s a decision you’ve already made. Well, that’s it. What do you think brought you here to not do it? It’s hard, it’s cold, maybe I’m the most insensitive person in the world, but believe me, I’m not. Believe that I’m doing you a favor. Think about it in retrospect, the ups, and the downs. That there were extremely wonderful things? Yes. So, you keep them the “wonderful things archive” and when you feel really down, you can access the archive and that’s it. But learn from what went wrong because there were a lot of bad things. And don’t do it again. When you have the chance again, don’t repeat your mistake.

Do you sometimes think about the… the hard things that have happened to you? Do you think about them? Do you think about the negative things that have happened to you?
Always. The human brain has a wonderful and incredible ability to be a masochist from time to time. You have, there were, times where it wants to think about everything and return to “what would happen if I had done…?”

Yes, yes.
But of course, I see it, I see it from this perspective. I maybe have my two minutes of “what would happen if I had done this?” But my brain answers with “but you didn’t.”

Leave it
But you didn’t do it, period. Maybe, maybe… I sometimes imagine, inside my head, a story from the Marvel Multiverse. Maybe, in an alternative universe, there is an Ernesto who is on that timeline. And look, this has happened to him or something else happened to him, but it’s another timeline, it’s not this one. You know? I can’t do anything. Maybe, in the future, there’s a machine and all of us can connect, and the Ernesto’s of the Multiverse meet. “Things went great for me, for me, they were terrible, for me they were even worse” and that’s it. But unless that happens, this Ernesto has carried on through the chosen timeline and followed it period. There’s nothing more to do. To take, to take all that experience and carry it on your back and… apply it to their life. And if it is possible, tell someone who may ask you, because I don’t like to brag about know everything because I don’t and say: look, this has happened to me. If you want to take the advice, take it, if not, it’s okay.

Great, that’s it.

Many 1000 Dreams interviews were not conducted in English. Their translation has not always been performed by professional translators. Despite great efforts to ensure accuracy, there may be errors.