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In Her Shoes

In Her Shoes

SPAIN | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [109] | Scholarship Entry

I reluctantly dial the number of a local newspaper at a payphone in Pontevedra. Images of how she would grab the phone handset with a stiff posture making up her mind about the phone call permeate my vision of her.

I can barely put together a couple of words in Spanish, let alone find the way to seek to post an advertisement in ‘otros servicios.’ This cannot be true, shrieks my fainting subconscious.

To my surprise, the voice on the phone is nothing near the Latin ‘species’. It is rather German-like! But why would a Spanish local newspaper have a German person on the phone?

Hola, Hablas Inglés? I swallow hard. Unexplainably, the man on the phone is hopping mad. Not too long before my ears are assaulted by a wild bull that has just seen a red muleta. Were I to face him, he would point those horns at me and toss me somewhere on the floor. Much to my relief, the German ‘gentleman’ hangs up unapologetically. My damp hand lets go of the handset instantly.

I take another disdainful glance at the sheet in my hand. The game is a role-play, the aim of which is to explore Pontevedra in the shoes of an unfortunate immigrant. Every team has to randomly pick a sheet from Van’s folder, co-organizer of our project O Por Qué Do Como: Immigration. Then, from amongst each team is designated someone to perform the tasks listed in the sheet. This means we impersonate immigrants so as to come up with authentic discussions of possible difficulties an immigrant would encounter. My juvenile enthusiasm has insisted I be the ‘Chosen’ one in my team. That has been before my eyes fall on the instructions.

Upon reading those assignments, hues of stigma strike my senses:

NAME OF THE IMMIGRANT: Maria Luiza Amarante Neto

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Praia, Cabo Verde
AGE: 26

1 Call a newspaper to post an advertisement in ‘otros servicios’ about your new job.
2 With 20€ go to Ferpes/ Calzedonia (underwear shops). What will you buy for your best client?
3 Find a NGO that works with prostitutes.
4 Ask for help. Where is the prostitutes’ neighborhood?
5 Find a hostel with 20€/night or less.

I ignore my mortified subconscious and reiterate the sentence in my head “I’m an escort. I would like to make an advertisement for my job”. The echo of my voice sounds too aberrant; I almost fail to recognize myself in it. Has she recognized herself in hers? Has her heart raced fast and have her hands gone damp?
Mine, already moist with shame, plucks up the courage to dial the number…

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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