Montse and I met in the early 1990′s at a Mom’s Club ‘mom’s night out” dinner. As everyone present introduced themselves and shared a little bit about their lives, it was immediately clear that Montse had led a very different life than the rest. I was instantly entralled with Montse, who sounds and often acts like the very talkative, “Gloria” from the television show, Modern Family. Hers is a fascinating story of being born in Spain, growing up in Venezuela, falling in love with an American that moved her to the U.S. and who eventually brought her to live (albiet temporarily) in China.
The story begins in La Palma, a picturesque “isla” in the Canary Islands of Spain where Montse’s parents were born and raised. To financially assist his single mother, Montse’s father was working by the tender age of eight. He walked some 5-6 miles to work before attending school at night. At seventeen he left the island in search of work opportunities which led him to Venezuela. Feeling like he needed more in his life than work, he decided it was time to settle down with a wife. He returned “home” to La Palma in search of a partner. There he met a beautiful woman, dated for two months and decided to marry her. Marriage was followed by pregnancy and the decision was made for Montse’s mother to stay with family in La Palma till her baby was born and health enough to travel to their new home in Venezuela.
Ambition seems to be a trait passed down from Montse’s mother who became a teacher when that was the highest accepted role for a woman in her country. While teaching, her mother brought a very young Montse with her to work everyday which meant Montse sat through Kindergarten four times! Montse showed much promise early on, with very good marks in school. It was no surprise to anyone that she would be accepted to one of the best universities in Venezuela to study Engineering. Fast forward to her twenties, Montse found herself armed with a great job as an Engineer at Honeywell, a bachelorette apartment (when women didn’t live on their own) and a full social life!
A good looking American international salesman had been frequenting her place of work for two years before any real sparks flew but after a trip to the Venezuelan jungle with this salesman and two other adventurers, no more kindling was needed. Three months later, after creating a cover story “business visit to Chicago” (remember, Venezuelan culture and norms were more conservative in this regard) in order to have a meetup with her new love, Montse found herself saying “I Do” at an altar instead of “I accept” to a new job in Chile. Funny how powerful love is!
Montse, like her mother so many years ago, left her native country, family and culture to build a new life in a foreign land. That was a pretty gutsy move for a woman who spoken little English and had a very promising career as an Engineer. Montse learned English, raised two beautiful and intelligent children and created a busy social life full of friends. She is the poster child for assimilation. Don’t misunderstand, she has kept a healthy dose of her native culture in her life as evidenced by her loud shouts that echo throughout the house when calling her quiet family to dinner. Her children may bear a physical resemblance but interestingly, neither of them inherited her fiery personality and ability to speak faster (even in her second language) than one’s ear can process.
A true adventurer at heart, Montse jumped at the chance to move to China when her husband, Doug was asked to go there for several years in order to prepare for the Olympics. She reports that it was the opportunity of a lifetime and dreams now of future adventures. She is passing on her love for travel to her children who travel frequently with her to Spain and Venezuela. One cannot say with any certainty where Montse will show up in 5 -10 years but if someone reported that she was said to have moved to a new colony on the moon, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.