Though I am Spanish, born and raised, my Peruvian origins always created an attraction in me towards those foreign lands far away where both my parents were born and raised years ago. I was always curious about its history, its folklore, its legends, its landscapes, its cooking, its people and, of course, its language. And I still am.
One of my favourite childhood memories is listening to my father singing in Quechua on Sunday mornings while preparing breakfast. I remember asking him about the meaning of those beautiful sounds and learning this way a foreign language with great gusto and admiration for my dad. So far, the only foreign language I had to deal with was English, at school, and it did not sound as interesting as this one. Little by little, I learnt some useful words, as the numbers, parts of the body… But, sadly, Quechua is not an easy language to study in Europe.
Other memories are related to my parents telling us stories about those lands and relatives at the other side of the ocean, and of those times that seemed so far away. Among my favourite stories is the one about my how my grandfather, my dad’s dad, studied the laws of the land as to know his rights as a farmer. I loved (and love) to listen to stories about the chakra (farm) and the animals, about those mountains which I pictured as those where Heidi lived or those landscapes which I associated with those where Marco looked for her mum so desperately.
And I found really amusing that on both sides of the ocean we love to give people nicknames, using them rather the real names or surnames. My grandfather was el tuco.
Tuco means owl in Quechua. And, a funny fact, I always believed it was pronounced this way, tuco. But recently my father wrote it for me and he wrote tuku. It surprised me and I looked it up at the DRAE (Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española) and found out that, maybe, our backgrounds played a role without us knowing. Or should I say ‘my background’ and my upbringing? Anyways, I was (am) Spanish and they are Peruvian. So I write and pronounce it the Spanish way while they do it the original one.
And, having explained the meaning of this word, why did I choose this animal? The tuco has always had a special meaning for me, because I found it an animal which represented my family and my homeland for me much better than a condor, for example. It is like the totem of our family. My dad is the little tuco, so we joke about my brother being a ‘little little tuco’.
Apart from the personal meaning, the owl has always been related in popular culture to knowledge and wisdom. It is a resourceful animal, always playing the role of the old of the tribe or the teacher on children cartoons and stories. And I want to use my knowledge to help others. I am a resourceful hard-working tuco which will always give her best to give you the best work possible. And owl has traveled, has seen and has learnt as I have done. And as I keep doing.