My parents married in their early twenties after dating for five years. Soon after that they were brave enough to leave their safe environment in a little town in Andalusia, Spain, to move to the amazing continent of Africa. I grew up in Dakhla, a picturesque town with rounded white houses and flat roofs, located on a tiny cape between the Sahara desert and the Atlantic Ocean. I was a healthy, confident and happy child, full of energy, fantasies and dreams.
My father was a math teacher, like all of his friends in Dakhla. I believed it was fun to be a teacher and I wanted to be one too. Dad used to go to school every day, to teach children how to solve problems, equations and an infinity of things related to numbers and signs. I looked up to my father. I was one of those children who loved to ask questions. He knew everything. He always had an answer, always delivered with kindness and love.
Once a week, big students—most of them older than my parents—came to our home for private lessons that, surprisingly for me, were easier than the ones he taught at school. At the age of five, I didn’t understand why grown ups were learning things that children already knew in their early years. My mom explained to me that they didn’t have the chance to go to school when they were little, and my father was helping them catch up. I admired my father for that too.
I used to watch his lessons from a distance, quietly secluded in my bedroom with a side view of his clean-shaven face, long sideburns and Roman nose. My favorite part was when he wrote the alphabet on the huge blackboard my mom had given him for his birthday, while the attentive students asked questions and took notes. That is how I learned to read, secretly, hidden, peeking behind the doorframe, with voracious big brown eyes semi-covered by my natural golden curls. I loved the letters and I wanted to write so badly that I couldn’t wait to go to school.
Soon after that I had almost as many books in my bedroom as my parents had on their shelves. I developed a passion for reading, and a curiosity for learning. Reading before sleeping became a routine that I have kept throughout the years. Now, I can’t go to sleep without reading, even though sometimes I can only manage a page before my eyes close 🙂