>> Volver a Dende o conflito


In 2009, far later than Saínza but same as her, I was sitting on the terrace of a hotel in Rwanda overlooking lake Kivu, listening to shooting on the other side, on the Democratic Republic of the Congo…


Even if I have not yet been to Afghanistan, same as Saínza, my visit to Pakistan and working there regularly helped me get to know the country and be moved by it. A country divided, torn from its beginnings by the interests of empires, same as many other in the region (Photo: January 2014).


Just like Saínza, I started visiting Great Britain regularly as a teenager. London is a city I have reconciled with after some time as I have always preferred smaller cities and towns. However, London is where the BBC’s headquarters are located, and they are crucial for the novel. The pictures were taken in 2012.


Most likely it is Haiti, with Ethiopia, the country in Dende o conflito I have a longer and deeper attachement to. I have been working with women’s groups in Haiti since 2011. Even if I first arrived a year after the earthquake, it was not difficult for me to relive what happened through the voices of the women who were (some still are) living in tents. I wrote large sections of the novel in Haiti and even today, when I drive past the United Nations’ headquarters in Port au Prince, I cannot help but look at their watchtowers and imagine Saínza running and exercising under their watchful presence.


From the first time I visited Berlin in 1997, the city left a deep impression on me, something I tried to convey in Dende o conflito. The weight of history combined with daily life is what I tried to reflect in my novel. My last visit to the city was the week before this novel received the Xerais award in 2014. The pictures were taken then.


The year Saínza works and experiments poverty to the extreme in Ethiopia could not have been written without my own attachment to the country, which started in 2003. I was privileged enough to live with the women of the mountain communities of Wollo, who are in these pictures taken in 2008 and 2009.

Santiago de Compostela

There was a time when everybody used to ask me why I did not live in Compostela, as my work as an interpreter often took me there. Finally, people came to understand that one can love a city without living in it the whole time, something that happens to Saínza too at some point. While Saínza has part of her family in Santiago, I also have my only brother living there.