Everyone Returns, the story of my friend Micaela’s return to Peru, produced for Radio Ambulante, is the story of a failure. The failure, of course, is not my friend Micaela’s but of the welfare state, of globalized capitalism, the vaunted first world. Forced to return to her country after trying to settle for years in a Spain in crisis, Micaela is in transit to another possible life in Everyone Returns. Move after move, dissatisfaction after dissatisfaction, the audio piece narrated her return home months later, after our encounter in Lima, her first months of fighting and settling in a place that she thought was lost were hard, to start all over again against all odds. Three years later, the years Radio Ambulante has been producing stories, things have changed a lot for Mica. If already by the end of the story it puzzled me that Micaela was thinking about moving again, outside Lima, but within Peru, she would surprise me again and overcome my skepticism with her transfer to Arequipa, the second largest city in the country. After much searching, a specialized alpaca fabric textile businessman offered her a position on his team as a designer of her own collection. Although her dream of founding her company was not being fulfilled, the opportunity was great: she would have total creative freedom. She was given all the facilities and soon Micaela, Sergi, and Maiku were living in a beautiful house in the Peruvian highlands, from their window they could see the mountains and green fields, as Mica loved. Furthermore, once a year she would leave behind the province to visit some of the most important textile fairs, in Paris and Milan. Although the work is hard, consuming, and sometimes takes time away from her family, she is happy to be accomplishing her career as a designer. I also changed a lot in those three years. I moved cities, I changed my job. And I’m now in a new metamorphosis. We keep moving, we don’t stop changing and wandering.
The voice. I remember when I was in the recording studio with Daniel on a Skype screen, he was recommending me to change the tone, to sweeten the voice, to emote enthusiasm in certain passages or sadness in others. It was like acting. Time was another important topic in this process. I had never made an audio story and that radio time is tight was just a phrase for me until Daniel landed in Barcelona and set out to erase dozens of other lines that were written in the script. It should be brief, only the essential. Something that I found very difficult. Until then I had not written any chronicle with less than two thousand words. It was a lot of work to make a script for just seven minutes of audio storytelling. The good news is that I didn’t waste all that material. I wrote a chronicle that was then published in the magazine Anfibia titled “Micaela returned to Peru.” Stories move too, they change in different ways, becoming something else. But yet another surprise awaited me. “Everyone Returns” soon became a comic book illustrated by the artist Natacha Bustos and scripted by me, first for the magazine Cometa, in a wonderful special issue in a huge format dedicated to journalistic comic. Thanks to this opportunity, people from the amazing narrative journalism French magazine XXI requested us to expand the comic 30 pages for their annual special edition about journalistic comic. And now we are planning its transformation into a book as a graphic novel. Everyone Returns is still in progress and movement has become unstoppable.
To listen to the original Spanish-language audio story click here.
Text by Gabriela Wiener
*Illustration by Revista XXI, Natacha Bustos, and Gabriela Wiener.