I am aware that this blog has been left stagnating a month or so now. There are two reasons for that: firstly, I went on holiday(For details please see http://www.shesmiddleagingdisgracefully.wordpress.com/). Secondly (and this is the part that I didn’t want to write), Andrés Brayan didn’t come up trumps. I wanted to believe that he had – so much so that I went back to him every day, twice, three times a day sometimes, for over a week, believing that he had indeed forgotten the camera, would go back to his bedsit and fetch it, had given it to a lady at one of the stalls to look after; I believed him when he said she didn’t usually get to her stall until 3pm, I believed him when he said he’d get it off her later in the afternoon.

Eventually, I came round. “Andrés, which lady is she? Which stall? I’ll get the camera from her myself.” A vague wave of his arm indicated that it might be any stall, any lady. The fact was, he didn’t know and she didn’t exist. He was fast running out of excuses. “I’ll go and get it developed myself if you like, Ale.

“Andrés, if you haven’t shown me that you have the camera, how can I believe that you’re going to get the photos printed?” We went on with this rhetoric until I said what neither of us wanted to say.

“You’ve lost it, haven’t you?”


“Tell me, you’ve lost it.”

His head dropped. “I didn’t want to tell you”.

Now, I could tell you all about my reaction but I’m sure you can already imagine it. Anger? Check. Disappointment? Check. Frustration? Check. Tears combining all three of the previously mentioned? Check. I thought it only sensible to wait until the turmoil had ebbed away to write this down. I don’t want to vilify Andrés Brayan because he is a good boy. However, I will never understand his logic in thinking it was the lesser of two evils to make me keep coming everyday rather than simply tell me that he couldn’t return the camera. But there we have it, human beings are unfathomable creatures.

Feeling sore, I sought fresh inspiration, which brings me to my next shining light (for there must always be one). If I’m going to learn about picking myself up and starting over again, it’s got to be from my next protegée.

Sheyla by Pati. Sheyla holds her personal diary and the teddy bear she was giving to her mama for Christmas later that day.

Sheyla Olvera Guerrero is 17 years old and a Casa Alianza resident of three years. She came bounding into the photography project all guns blazing and it transpired that she is currently applying for a university placement in Communication; she wants to be a journalist. With this in mind, she and I are putting together a sort of Communication Project which will include photography and writing by her about her. She told me that she had only ever written privately, so I presented her with the first challenge: to write something for the public eye. You, readers, will be her first critics.

I present it to you both in Spanish and in my English translation (comments on this also welcome for those bilingualists!).

Guest blogger, Sheyla Olvera Guerrero (Part I).

Quiero que mi primer blog sea de mi vida.

Mi familia es algo amm….  Muchos dicen que disfuncional, yo le digo rara. Mi papa y mi madre se divorciaron  cuando yo tenía 3 años; desde ahí  digamos que empezó mi infierno. Mi hermano abusaba de mí. Dicen que los niños hacen lo que vieron o les hicieron, así  que siempre he pensado que a él le hicieron lo mismo. Mi hermana era dura, muy dura, para ser sincera se volvió así. Tal vez  desde que mi padre le dijo que no era su verdadero padre. Desde ahí ella me humillaba por un abrazo; ya que me sentía muy sola.

Mi mama desde que la dejo mi papa se obsesionaba con su trabajo. Cuando yo era pequeña mi papa me robaba, mi mama siempre hacía todo lo posible para que yo estuviera con ella. Ya que mi papa siempre querría que su otra esposa tomara el lugar de mi madre. Claro que yo sabía muy bien que mi madre era Alín. Con el tiempo me sentía rara, no sabía con quien estar: con mi padre o con mi madre. Al fin de cuentas mi mama se quedó con mi custodia y no me quedó de otra que dejar de ver a mi padre y solo estar con ella. Más bien estar sola. Cuando iba a la primaria era duro pues salíamos muy temprano, a veces por las prisas de mi madre. Principalmente, a mí jamás me ha gustado su trabajo así que hacía todo para que la despidieran, pero mis intentos siempre fueron fallidos.

Mi hermano era muy peleonero, a veces me defendía de los niños que me molestaban y esa fue la razón que mi mama me cambió de escuela. Ahora me quedaba a unos minutos de mi casa, pero tal vez ese cambio fue lo peor pues conocí a unos amigos si, se les puede decir así, casi no entraba a la escuela. Siempre la escuela mandaba a llamar a mi madre y yo por miedo jamás le dije. Me gustaba estar sola mas no sentirme sola. Con mi madre casi no había comunicación, ya que nunca estaba. Cuando estaba era raro pues no había tema de conversación. Claro que no le iba a contar de mis faltas en la escuela. Ella al fin del mes se daba cuenta y mis castigos eran moretones en la piel, al igual que los de mis hermanos. Recuerdo que nos pegaba con lo que fuera: cucharas de metal, palos, lazo. Su frase era, “te voy a pegar hasta que me canse,” y así lo hacía. Eran como 20 o 30 minutos de dolor después. Si no estaba tan enojada te daba de comer, pero aun así no me importaba paso el tiempo.

Un día, cuando tenía 8 o 9 anos, estaba sola, ya era común, y me decidí salir con mis “amigos”. Recuerdo que tomé demasiado alcohol, tanto que tomé la loca idea de consumir activo con tachas. Eso me hizo sentir bien, más bien sentirme en un planeta que jamás había estado y donde me gustaba estar todo el tiempo. Cuando me acordaba de todo, lo que me hacían poco a poco consumía cada vez era más, y ya no solo esas drogas sino también consumía  piedra, cocaína, marihuana y todo lo que me encontrara. Así pasaron años. Eso me hizo muy rebelde. Mi mama no encontró de otra más que correrme de la casa; yo ya tenía 11 o 12 así que ya no me daba miedo. Me fui con una de mis tías paternas. Siempre me iba con la misma tía hasta que llegara el momento en que se cansó y ya no me aceptó en su casa. Me fui con otra tía. Ella me aceptó por mucho, pero mi primo quiso abusar de mí así que me salí y fue mi primera vez en la calle.

Esa noche estaba lloviendo y yo no llevaba suéter. No me quedó de otra más que estar en una casa abandonada y así estuve tres meses. Fueron difíciles pero no me importaba; prefería vivir ahí que regresar a mi casa. Mi mama no me buscaba. Llegó el momento en el que no querría ya estar ahí; me dolía mucho el cuerpo y regresé con mi tía. Ella no me dijo nada como había faltado 3 meses a la secundaria pues tomé la decisión de regresar. Empecé a ir pero mi vecino de enfrente un día me hizo una propuesta: el empezar a vender drogas. Me dio mucho miedo pero lo empecé a hacer en las noches cuando mi tía dormía. En la  secundaria entraba por la puerta principal y me salía por el estacionamiento. Llegué  a tener problemas con otros; por eso muchas veces me corretearon  y solo sentía las balas cerca de mí. En esos momentos yo pensaba, “¿Qué hago aquí? ¿Por qué lo estoy haciendo?” Y siempre corría por mi vida. Era difícil salir y siempre estar volteando para ver si no te están siguiendo.

I want my first blog to be about my life.

My family is something ummm… Many say dysfunctional, I say strange.  My dad and my mother divorced when I was 3 years old. Let’s just say that that was when my hell began. My brother would abuse me. They say that children do what they have seen others do or what has been done to them. I’ve always thought that they did to him what he did to me. My sister was a very hard person, very hard; in order to be sincere she became like that. Maybe she was like that ever since my father told her he was not her real father. Since that day she would humiliate me just for being hugged; already I began to feel alone.

After she left my dad, my mum began to obsess over her work. When I was little, my dad kidnapped me from her, so my mum always did whatever she possibly could to make sure that I was by her side. My dad already wanted another woman to take the place of my mother. Of course, I always knew who my mother was, she was Alín. Over time I began to feel strange, I didn’t know who to be with: my father or my mother. At the end of the trial my mother won custody over me. She refused to let me ever stay with my father or see him; I was only ever with her. Better said, I was alone. When I began primary school it was very hard because we would leave very early in the mornings, mostly because my mother was in a hurry. I have never liked her work and so I would do everything in my power to get her fired, but my attempts always failed.

My brother was a fighter, sometimes he would stick up for me against the kids in school who bullied me. It was for that reason that my mum had me change school. Although now I was only some minutes walk from my house, perhaps that change was the worst decision she made; I made some new friends and, let’s say, I hardly ever went to school. The school was always leaving calls for my mother and from fear of what she would do, I never told her.

 I liked to be alone but not feel alone. With my mother there was hardly any communication between us, she was never there. When she was there, she wouldn’t talk to me. I obviously wasn’t going to tell her about my failings at school. At the end of one month she found out anyway and punished me with bruises all over my skin, same as my brother and sister. I remember that she would beat us with whatever was at hand: metal spoons, sticks, whips. Her phrase was, “I’m going to beat you until I get tired,” and that’s what she would do. We would be in pain for 20 or 30 minutes afterwards.  When she wasn’t annoyed she gave us something to eat, but as time passed I stopped caring whether she did that or not.

  One day, when I was 8 or 9 years old, I was alone, as was common by now, and I decided to go out with my “friends”. I remember I drank too much alcohol, so much that I had the crazy idea of taking Activo glue and ecstasy. It made me feel good; I felt so good, as if I was on another planet and I wanted to be there all the time. When I look back on everything, what I was doing was consuming more and more every time, and not only those drugs, but also crack, cocaine, marihuana and anything else I could find. Years passed like that. I became rebellious. There was nothing for my mother to do but throw me out the house; I was 11 or 12 now and I was no longer scared. I went to live with one of my aunts. I was always with that aunt until the moment finally arrived when she got tired of me and didn’t want me in her house. I went to my other aunt’s. She accepted me for a long time, but my cousin wanted to abuse me so I left and that was the first time I found myself on the street.

 That night it was raining and I didn’t have a jumper. I did nothing else but stay inside an abandoned house where I remained for three months. They were difficult months but I didn’t care; I preferred to live there than to go home. My mother didn’t look for me. Eventually, I couldn’t bear to be there anymore; my whole body was aching and I went back to my aunt’s house. She didn’t say anything to me about it. I had missed three months of secondary school so I took the decision myself to go. I did for a while, but then my neighbour, the one who lived opposite, made me a proposal: he was going to start dealing and I would help him. I was really scared but I started to sell drugs at night when my aunt was asleep. I would go to school through the front gate and then leave for the station. I began to have problems with the other dealers; there were many times when they chased me and I could feel the bullets around me. In those moments I thought, “What am I doing? Why am I doing this?” And I would run for my life. It was difficult having to go out and always be checking behind your back to make sure no one was following you. 

This is Sheyla’s ‘ideas’ page about herself. It says:

She finds it hard to follow rules.

She likes Rhianna – although her life wasn’t so beautiful she puts in her all.

She [Sheyla] has great dreams.

One of those is to become a journalist.