“I was raised by my grandparents in Bolivia. My mother had married a Dutchman and lived in Amsterdam. One day she asked me, “Would you like to come and live here?” I was 15 years old, and very curious about Europe. I knew it from the TV. In May 2003 I arrived at Schiphol. It was in Amsterdam that I really got to know my mother. That was exciting. My mother is a genuine person who really wants what’s best for me. We phone each other every day. Even when I’m abroad we’ll Skype a lot.
I immediately like Amsterdam. My first impression was that people here are real sun worshippers. They’ll sit in it with their faces upturned and their eyes closed. In Bolivia you do the opposite. You search for the shadow.
I really wanted to meet some of the locals. Because I was in an international school, I didn’t meet any Dutch people. If I went to play football with the local lads, there was a language barrier. I also didn’t speak English, and so I made up my own kind of logic; if someone spoke to me in Dutch I’d say “yes” the first two times, and then “no”, and then the other way round. Of course, people realised pretty quickly that I didn’t understand a word.
I really wanted to ride a bike, but my stepfather didn’t have one. I bought a folding bike and rode to all the local football pitches to meet new people. Since then I’ve got to find my way around Amsterdam pretty well. Because I’m not originally from here, I have two homelands, instead of one. You might think, “Well, where would you want to live?” For me there’s no question about it; I can’t live without Amsterdam, and so I always come back to it.