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Interview with Carlos Gongora

Interviewee: 
Gongora, Carlos
Interviewer: 
Valladares, Betty
Date of Interview: 
2002-07-25
Identifier: 
LGGO0419
Subjects: 
relationship with people and places, cultural idenitification
Abstract: 
Carlos Gongora talks about his education and home.
Collection: 
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Betty Valladares interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Transcript:
BV (Betty Valladares): This is Betty Valladares, recording Carlos Gongora, right? [Laughs] The 25th of July of, of 2002. Hello? [microphone sound] ( ) Let's see, say something Carlos to-, to see if I can hear you.
CG (Carlos Gongora): What is it that ( ) upside down?
BV: It's ( ) [laughs] \\ to start with. [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ [Laughs] \\ Yes.
BV: Listen. It sounds much better. [Laughs]
CG: [Laughs]
BV: Hey. By the way, there is a, there is a list of questions.
CG: Oh, that's good. [Laughs]
BV: No, to begin with, right? To have a record of, of-.
CG: I see. About \\ who I am, what I do. \\
BV: \\ -Of information. \\
CG: Uh-huh.
BV: Yes, yes, yes. OK. Your name?
CG: My, well, my, my name is Carlos Gongora.
BV: Uh-huh. And, when we-, when were you born?
CG: Uh, I was born in December 12, 1970. I was born in, uh, in Bogota, uh, and I am 31 years old. And m-, and, Bogota is in Colombia, is the capital of Colombia, and, uh, in this moment, uh, I came to the United States to study, and to, well, to live, also [laughs] to have many experiences, and to, and to know places.
BV: Uh-huh. What other cities have you lived in?
CG: I have only lived in Bogota and, in Cartagena, but only for four months because, well, I had to work and go to college.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: I was there getting some experience, Cartagena is a touristic city and, but there is a whole different-, another idiosyncracy in my country. [Laughs]
BV: Hmmm.
CG: We can talk about that later. [Laughs]
BV: That's perfect. Uh, for how long have you been in the United States?
CG: In three days, it will be three months.
BV: Huh, [laughs], even the day. [Laughs]
CG: Three months in three days.
BV: All that time in Charlotte?
CG: Uh, yes-.
BV: Hmmm.
CG: -Yes, all the time-, but I came here to study and, uh, I am, well, I am going to school now.
BV: Hmmm. And, how many languages do you speak?
CG: One and a half. [Laughs]
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ [Laughs] \\ No, uh, I speak, Spanish, since it is m-, my native language, my mother tongue, and, uh, I come to study English, I studied so-, some Italian, and a little bit of French. In Italian, I can, talk about basic things, such as, "I am hungry," "Who are you," and so, and in French, well, uh, I say a few things clumsily.
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ [Laughs] \\ Uh, level of education?
CG: Uh, I, gra-, graduated from the university, uh, I have a degree, in industrial design, and, uh, I have a, what do you call it? What do you call that? Another area of study in dentistry.
BV: Wow, how interesting. For how long did you study that?
CG: For two years, two years, and the-, the other was for six years that I have studied and, I-.
BV: \\ The thing is that in your country, everything works in a different way \\ right? The university is lengthier in Colombia.
CG: \\ ( ) \\ It takes longer and it took me longer because-.
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ [Laughs] \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: Well, uh, I, it took me several-, like, like, one semester, I was not doing well, but I, I did not, I did not want to pass, I did not take the final test, so that I can study the semester again.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And, then, uh, I, I began to take, a, a, a program called
BV: [Laughs]
CG: And they are asleep because, uh, if you move, the heat, moves with you, or, you, you, move within the heat.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Then people are, se-, seated on a rocking chair, or quiet, sleeping, because the heat does not, does not, it's like, it doesn't move, it doesn't generate, the heat, does not generate energy, it doesn't generate anything.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Then it is like being there, quiet, like, that. I worked as a designer, and I had to design some pieces of furniture, uh, working with wood.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: Then, uh, the work system was that, the company gave the machines and, uh, the raw materials, and hired uh, other persons to-, it is a group, it was like groups of carpenters who would come to work and they got paid for what they produced.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Uh, at noon time, then, everyone stopped working and, I, I started to fall asleep on the woods of the, that is, ( ), I didn't-, I didn't have anyone to talk to, I already knew all of the computer games, uh, I was already tired of designing and, the heat really makes you sleepy, a lot, then, I, I learned [laughs] at, at that time of the day, uh, to sleep on some pieces of wood, very hard ones, but, if-, uh, everyone slept on the floor, they used some wood, put the wood, with an inclination of about 45, 30 degrees, where they put their head, and they fell asleep. Oh, another particular thing was the-, lunch. Because lunch, uh, was prepared by a, a person from that town who, had that type of business, cooking business, uh, she prepared the meals. ( ) Then, uh, I learned about many typical dishes from there. I learned how to eat them \\ because-. [Laughs] \\
BV: \\ Uh-huh. [Laughs] \\
CG: No, not to-, cook them, no.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: Uh, and, so, the amount of food was, uh, it was impressive, they, had those things called food carriers, which are like, like some ( ) of thermos bottles which are divided, and that you, open and close and you have different spaces to, place different types of meals. They would give you juice, uh, soup, uh, a dish, and everything in big portions, and, uh, they did not use, uh, common silverware, but something resembling a seed, I believe it is from the gourd tree-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -Of, of all that, that has the shape, it's like-, similar, to a pear.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Then, uh, if I grab that pear and look at it from its top side-, they would divide into two, uh, then I would see a circle, they would divide it and it, it would form a type of a spoon-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -And, with those spoons, they'd eat.
BV: Everything.
CG: Everything, everything, the soup-. The spoon uh, was-, they did not understand what a fork was, they did not know what a fork and a knife was, they knew it, they knew it but they did not use it because the spoon-, with the spoon they could eat the soup, and they could eat, they could eat everything.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And, and, it was very interesting because, you see, uh, I [laughs], I was used to my-, my own things, so I went to the machines, and took a-, a piece of, of acrylic, and made myself a fork \\ with the machines. \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\ [Laughs]
CG: "Toc, toc, toc, toc," and that was my-, my special silverware. And I couldn't-, I couldn't-, I cannot eat that much, since I-, the, the space between my hands and the food was like, like a, giant sphere \\ and I would transport it to my stomach. \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\ [Laughs]
CG: It didn't-.
BV: It didn't fit. [Laughs]
CG: \\ It doesn't fit. \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: Then I didn't-, uh, I didn't eat, I didn't, I didn't, I usually didn't eat neither the soup, nor many other things and, I looked for-, I tried to get proteins, instead of ( ), which is a lot, down there people eat many plantains and, and, and a lot of it, that is, all those carbohydrates.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Uh, there was, a juice that I liked a lot, it was called, coroso juice, coroso is a, is a type of palm tree-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -And they would boil this, this, well, it's a tiny red fruit-.
BV: Uh-huh.uh.
CG: -And they would put it to, to boil and, uh, the, the juice is-, is like a type of tea, you see?
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: The-, the-, the-, this coroso has a, a substance and, it turns-, it is, red color.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And, uh, it has a flavor very similar to Kool Aid's. [Laughs]
BV: Oh. Well, that's interesting. \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ I loved it, I loved it-. \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: -Then I bought it at the market and I tried to prepare it, but I couldn't do it. [Laughs]
BV: \\ You couldn't-. \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ The cook- \\ the cooking pot got burned, because-.
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: -Because I saw, I saw-, I mean, I buy, that is, with the, with the maid who used to work for me uh, that is, the maid, uh, she had forgotten something at the market. So we put some water to boil, and went to the market and when we came back, the water got evaporated \\ and all of the corosos and everything else got burned. \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\ That's interesting.
CG: And at night, well, during the night, the thing I like the most about Cartagena, is that I used to sleep in front of a bal-, a balcony and this balcony, uh, well, it faced the shore, and, all night long, uh, during the night, you could hear the sound of the waves, breaking.
BV: Uh.
CG: The waves against the shore-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -That was, it was, very, I mean, very relaxing. You could also hear the, uh, the horse shoes because there were also carriages-.
BV: Hmmm.
CG: -Of this sort and, and there is a road, that is, it goes thru the old downtown, around the city with walls, on these carriages, on them, then it is that sound of the-, of the-, of those horse shoes that I like a lot, and, that I remember with so much love.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And, also drums, because down there, there is a rythm called "Ballenato", it is like different groups, on the beach-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -Then, always, you could hear the sounds of drums from far behind, the ones from the ballenatos, the drums playing ballenatos, were the ones you could hear the mo-, the most, they would travel from a distance, until they reached my, my apartment.
BV: Hmmm.
CG: It was a time, very, very interesting.
BV: What about the food that you said you had to eat. What kind of food was it?
CG: Well, it was, for example, tuna, but not canned tuna, it was fresh \\ fresh real tuna-. \\
BV: Hmmm.
CG: -Uh, now-, yes, I don't like beans-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -And, down there, people prepared rice with black beans, which is a very tiny bean, and it was different from the one I already knew. Uh, there is a-, a dish that everyone liked to eat but I don't remember very well what it was about, it was plantain and cheese, and everybody used to tell me, "Hey., you've got to try it, it is very special." I tried it and I did not like it. [Laughs]
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ [Laughs] \\ and I went "Yuck ."
BV: [Laughs]
CG: I ate it all [laughs] and I, I went, "Yes, it is delicious." \\ [Laughs] \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: Uh, I tried different soups, and different things, well, usually I, uh, I lived by myself and, I was kind of lazy to cook and do all those things, I ate fa-, fast food that I was not used to eating, but, when, I went to the market, I used to buy uh, shell fish, because, when you live by yourself, you can afford to give yourself certain treats. [Laughs]
BV: Uh-huh. [Laughs]
CG: And I prepared-, I don't know how to cook, but I would improvise.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Yes?
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ Not like- \\ not things like coroso, but like, like-.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: -Good things \\ then-. \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: -I used to cook very well. I used to eat calamary, I ate, uh, all those things and I learned toeat, like with another point of view, from a point of view or so. Uh, during my trip on my motorcycle, I, I had to go through, through, thrrough very luxurious places and also through very, very poor places, where there were houses-, where I could hardly pass through, almost a few houses, and that, made me save time an hour, with my motorcycle.
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ Compared to the bus. \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\ To the bus.
CG: Besides that I, I started to know the small streets and I went thrrough the small roads because I rode the, the little motorcycle that, compared to a bus, well, it was much better to go through narrow roads, besides, the buses were always in a hurry to be on time.
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ The buses just stepped on me. [Laughs] \\ Uh, at six o'clock, always, always, always, always, always, all the birds, fly towards the sun. Then, there are many birds and, and there are, uh, uh, something like taw-, taw-, I don't know, uh, little tawnies.
BV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CG: \\ A type of a tawny. \\
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Tawnies, but all kinds of them, right? Macaws, and everything, flying like-.
BV: Parrots? \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: -Parrots, yeah.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: That's what they were called, yes.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: I think so. Uh, flying towards the sun. Then uh, the-, the-, at that time, the rhythm started to change, and night would come, then, night time was, it had much more life that, during the day. Uh, even though that was not the case downtown, in the center of the city, which is a historic place, during the day it is absolutely crowded, mainly because most of it is businesses, people don't live there. Now it is, it is changing but, uh, there are many businesses, very small ones, and many universities and all that. And at night, everything is closed and, the city is there by itself, it is a colonial city, all the streets are empty so that the carriages and, and, with some uh, some kind of a lamp, lamp with a, yellow light, that makes everything look yellow, kind of, kind of weird.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Uh, er, that's why downtown is so magical because there are, balconies and, very tall houses, uh, uh, you traveling in a carriage well is, it is very romantic.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: \\ [Laughs] \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: The-, there is the moon, the sea, the stars and, there is almost no people, and then the rhythm of the day and of the night is different downtown. But in, in the area where the tourists are, the rhythm, the rhythm of the tourism al-, always is the beach and, and all that, but at night, they begin to, to do what it is called rumbear, and, rumbear means, to go partying.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And this rumba, uh, consists of dancing and, spending a lot of time down there ( ) [cough]. Water \\ water. \\
BV: \\ Water. \\ Do you need some?
CG: No, wait.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: Uh, and spend many hours in there, uh, dancing and, well, it's all kinds of people, who, people who ser-, uh, serve you, for example, at a restaurant during the day, dance beside you at night.
BV: Oh. [Laughs]
CG: They are, they are, they are awake and trying to, to look for the, well, the music, uh, er, everywhere and, well, it lasts-, always, always, almost dawn, the, the-, \\ the place where-. \\
BV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CG: -Where, where I was living at, that is. Because I, I used to sleep in that place and I-, I can't, tell you how other things would work.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Uh, on the streets I used to pass by, there were many different things, there were, very old houses, of, of, of Cartagena, like, from the 1900s, or beginnings of the 20th Century, and they are houses, uh, very impressive houses, uh, where many Arabian, Turkish and people from everywhere arrived, therefore the-, the-, the architecture also has to do with it, such as fences, tiles, and things with-, things like bal-, balconies or so, and houses similar to the ones here in Charlotte, with columns \\ like all those places. \\
BV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CG: Some very old houses and such. And-, and there are others, uh-.
BV: And that was the luxurious area?
CG: -Uh, one, one high-class area, yes, but-, but, no-, not, not that much, the high-class area is where the buildings are with-, with a very impressive architecture, uh, in the island where I used to live, uh, there is no water. I did not know that there was no water.
BV: Hmmm.
CG: The ho-, the houses of-, of the island, don't have water, the buildings have tanks, they keep the water-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -And they always have water, but at a certain times, the houses don't get any-, any water because, I don't know, they don't provide a good service.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: I believe, no, no, I really don't know [laughs] for some reason. So, that is Cartagena, well, my Cartagena.
BV: [Laughs] \\ ( ) \\
CG: \\ If I-, if I \\ had gone as a tourist, it would have been different-.
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ -Completely different. \\
BV: You talked about-, about studying engineering-.
CG: Yes.
BV: -A long time ago, to develop your brain. What made you-, what made you study engineering and what made you change to a different career?
CG: I , uh, well, first let's-, I will tell you what made me change to a different career, what made me change was, uh, was that, uh, that I looked for something-, I did not know, when I was at school, I didn't know-, I didn't know what to study.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: So I got an encyclopedia and started \\ to do a search-. \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: -Different things to see, what the definition was-, what each career was all about. I got a book, I opened it, it said, "Engineering, the art of developing and solving the problems with the know-, the knowledge you already have." And I said, "Wow."
BV: [Laughs]
CG: That is, that is, to solve problems, I don't know what else, well, it gave some examples, hydraulic enginneering, uh, and I told my father, "Look, I like this one, this type of engineering," uh, and then, he, he knew an engineer, and-, and we got together, we drank some wine or something like that, at night, uh, to determine-, to talk about my studies, and that was a person who was in love with engineering, and he would talk about types of engineering. But he talked-, he talked to me about, I-, I was going to study industrial engineering, and this man was a civil engineer.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: A civil engineer develops, well, projects but, it also deal with problems-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -Well, he talks to me about a part of the water inside a dam, or a bridge, about things of this sort. And I, I was between a career that-, that is industrial engineering that is a type of administrative area with a concentration in economics.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And that it has a lot to do with-, with-, with finances, and statistics, those things, and that is something I don't really like. I understand it, I can-, I can handle it but-, but-, but I don't like. uh, and I said, "No, I will not study something that has nothing to do with mathematics," but that's when I-, I would say that when I was at school, when I am out of school I will go-, because your school is-, is a world, it's a complete world, and I-, I lived in it until I was told, "You've got to choose a career, you've got to decide." Well, of course, I chose engineering and the first day, I find out that, calculus, physics I, that I, I've always liked, because physics, uh, tells you who things work.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: I also like Biology because it tells me how animals function, and the-, the living things, the ( ) and everything. I have always liked to know and discover, how things work and the reason of things. Yesterday I was talking with a girlfriend and I told her, "I came to this world to know and to discover. If I was a discoverer, I'd be happy." [Laughs]
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ Yes. [Laughs] \\ because it is-, it is knowledge, knowledge, knowledge, but I don't know what to do with that knowledge, but it is knowledge, knowledge, and knowledge.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: To discover about everything, everything, how things work, why this-, this part relates to its, its whole.
BV: Hmmm.
CG: The relationship of an animal with, with, with its world, with its spiderweb if it was a spider, or a bug in a house, or about all those things.
BV: Hmm.
CG: And this is the part that, that I want and that, that, I really like. Then I, I started to find out more about engineering, er, but I found, a completely different world, because I started to realize that it had a lot of statistics, a lot of, of, people very worried about money, about how to make money, about how to handle money and all this, and, it is practical [laughs], well, you canget many things with money but it is not, it is not, it is not my, my style.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Then I said to myself, "I will take all of the math courses," that is, Calculus I, Calculus II, uh, Differential Equations, Integrals, and Calculus III, up to there, I studied three-, four semesters, Calculus I, Calculus II, Calculus III, and Differential Equations. So, I did not pass Calculus I, uh, Calculus I for summer time. [Laughs]
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ I didn't pass Calculus II \\ I had to take it in the summer, and so.
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ I took every course twice. [Laughs] \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ [Laughs] \\ Physics was-, it was always fine. [Laughs]
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Physics was always fine. Physics was the subject that scared everybody, but I always did fine, I learned how the-, and I got to a university. ( ) And one day-, I had a friend who, who, uh, had gone to school with me and who was studying, uh, industrial design at the university, and I talked with him, and I stayed, I didn't-, I didn't go back-. \\ [Laughs] \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ -[Laughs] \\ I-, I made all of the necessary changes, and-, that I had to do, and I began studying industrial design.
BV: What made-, what made you change?
CG: Uh, the-, what to do with a career-?
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -That is, you start to develop, not only the-, uh, when one studies, industrial design o-, uh, one learns how to think \\ how to solve-. \\
BV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CG: -Problems.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Uh, there are tools, uh, like drawing, physics, that help you, but you're your, your-, what you do, it is, it is to think about how to solve problems. That's what I was looking for and, that was what I found, uh, some definitions used in industrial engineering, such as how to manufacture objects and products, the products-, well, for example, the, the, design of products-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -I will go back to start from there, these products, uh, there are two kinds, objects and services.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: I design how it works, uh, for example, the services in a bank, that can be designed by an industrial designer-.
BV: Oh.
CG: -Uh, uh, but it is not very usual, not, not very usual. And with objects. And with objects we start how to, to, to study three main parts. The first, uh, part, had to-, it has to do with its shape, but-, uh, besides its shape, objects have other values.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Uh, these values-, these three main values are, the aesthetic value-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -The practical value, and the, uh, the semiotic value. Semiotic is what tells you what an object is. If I see a Ferrari, that is different to an Escarabajo-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -A Volkswagen car.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Uh, it depends on the color, uh, which tells me different things, the color-, then I-, I can, guess, or-, or-, somehow deduct, how is the person who drives it, the Ferrari, and who is the person who drives the other one.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: So, those \\ those-. \\
BV: \\ Ah, that's interesting. \\
CG: -It is the opposite, right?
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Uh, for me to-, uh, uh, develop that concept I have to first know the, the person and then develop the product. It's like, like going from, from the end to the beginning-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -And one more time \\ the opposite way. \\
BV: \\ Uh-huh. \\ [Laughs]
CG: [Laughs] Uh, that is the semiotic part-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -What tells you-, uh, also, it is a sign value and an exchange value, a exchange value, people have, they have-, they develop some kind of a relationship with objects, one-, one-, uh, what do you call that? The person either want or don't want the object and that has a val-, and he assigns a value to it-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -A value, a use value, and that means the way the person uses it, and an exchange value, which is, uh, how willing the person is to give, or to exchange the object for something else.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: If it is, for example, a razor, it has a value of, of, of exchange value absolutely minimal because you-, if you did not like it, you throw it away, and, and you get another one.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: But if it is a, a, a portrait, a portrait of your grandfather, or, or, or an object you got with a lot of effort, then its exchange value is very high.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Then the va-, those are objects that you will not sell in a yard sale.
BV: Uh-huh. [Laughs]
CG: [Laughs] Then, uh, that is a va-, well, the simiotic part. The part, the functional value is, the one that tells how it functions, to function for what it was made for.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: The car has to \\ walk-. \\
BV: \\ To walk. \\ [Laughs]
CG: -That is, to run.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: And the aesthetic part has to do with the relationships to its shape, shapes in the space-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -It's like, me, like me, uh, how I do-, calculate the values in an empty space, in a full space, diagonally, horizontally, and, well, a whole amount of basic design concepts that, that one can study.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Then, that's from my previous career that I started before. And, then I-, I studied dentistry and one says, "Listen, but-" \\ "-how come?"- \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: "-This has nothing to do with-", but it really does, because-, in dentistry one makes an object called prosthesis-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -And that is an object. And because it is an object, it has the same values.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Aesthetic values, practical and functional values.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: It is aesthetic because, if the fabricated teeth do not look nice, people will notice, or they will say, "Hey, what's wrong?"
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Unless the person wants to, to be different, that is, to have their own, well, their own aesthetics-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -It has functional value because if you are eating something hard and it \\ it breaks down-. \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: -Or something like that-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -It has to function. And, practical value, I already talked about that. Simio- [laughs] it is simiotic since, uh, for people it is very important to have teeth. If, if a person does not have teeth, uh, he feels, uh, at least in Colombia, he feels inferior than the rest, uh, he will not talk if, if, if he doesn't have teeth-. \\
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -That he does not like, when he smiles or closes his mouth or, or, or something like that.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Then, that part is as important as the social part, since, it is the aesthetic part that you handle.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And, uh, I wanted, to study something that had to do with jew-, jewelry, and, uh, uh, indentistry you work with metals, precious metals, which are metals of a much higher value, of higher value and they are more expensive-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -Uh, than metals that, are used to fabricate jewerly. They are-, uh, well, I didn't work with titanium but I-, I worked with some combinations that had to do with platinum, gold, and silver and copper, well, I studied the-, uh, this part of metals, I studied, the different, different metals, the properties they gave to the combinations, that would work for, for-, and how they would work in the mouth of the patients.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Then, it is a, a, a, a whole study about all this. But I was more interested in that than in teeth, uh, because they are-, uh, I learned to polish metals, to combine metals and to, and to fabricate jewerly.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And I, and, and, I have made some, some jewerly, with, uh, with silver, especially because I like it a lot, I like it more than the rest of the metals.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: It is easier to melt silver than, than glass and other things.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: \\ ( ) \\
BV: \\ I think you have the soul of an artist.\\
CG: Me? Yes. \\ [Laughs] \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: Yes, but, I ha-, I do many things very well, but I don't know what to do for a living.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: I am trying to figure it out. Now I am looking for something. No- \\ but I have a-. \\
BV: \\ Did you practice it? \\
CG: Uh?
BV: Did you practice dentistry?
CG: Yes, yes, I worked during, for-, well, that career, uh, industrial design in Colombia is not very well recognized-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -Because the industries either copy the designs, which is cheaper for them, or they-, they buy the designs in, in, in other places.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: But it is a design that, that, is something that I think is not right because, what can make the difference, when we are already living in a world, uh, in a global country, where we are not one country, now I am selling my products in my lo-, local market to a absolutely global market-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -That is, the, the object you are buying has to have an aesthetic value or a different value. If I buy the design and I copy it, well, the object is not, is not acquiring that value, that difference that can give me, uh, that it could be the reason of, uh, of my success.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: I know that, for example, uh, the brand name Phillips, from Holland, I believe-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -They have a building where 400 designers work and, it is the, that is, where the percentage of employees, there are more designers than anywhere else.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And, and they are always doing product research-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -On brand names, which are, which are top sellers.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Then if, if, if you want to create a top seller, you have to do ( ) of the product, but for that, well \\ ( )-. \\
BV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CG: -And sometimes people want to see how much money they can immediately get-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -Then, uh, ( ) I was in the-, in the-, on top of a mountain when I decided to study this career. [Laughs]
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ [Laughs] \\ I went camping, uh, reading the newspaper which mentioned that my-, at the university, there was this option, and my father who is a dentist told me that, that he always had told me to study odontology, because he wanted me to, and then I told him, "No, look daddy, there is this other option," and he told me, "Well, I will pay the tuition fees, don't worry about anything." And I told him, "OK."
BV: OK. \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ [Laughs] \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ Yes. \\ Yes, and, that's how it was, well, I was, kind of lost, I could not find my-, and, er, I began to study this, I studied part-time and then I-, after that, I began to study Taekwondo at the university-.
BV: The what?
CG: -Taekwondo.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Uh, the, the \\ one you do when-. \\
BV: \\ Oh, yes, yes. Uh-huh. \\
CG: Uh, I participated in a Taekwondo competition and I was sub-champion of the district, yellow belt, it goes from yellow to green, green belts are the ones that fight.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And, well, I practiced it for a year, and then I quit-.
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ It was the challenge \\ that the university gave me, right? \\
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: I-, I discovered a new change thanks to a-, a woman teacher who I met, who I met, and that time was like a-, a new transtition, a new, change. And, before I left the university, I found a job at the school and worked in a lab, where there were very, very sophisticated machines.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And I left school, uh, and I was taking a course about woods, about, about how to work with wood-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -Which I have always liked and I had the opportunity to do it, so I did it. Hmmm, I found, uh, I had to call someone, my-, my brother got me a contact to, to study with a person who worked in the dental lab and, I, uh, I made a a mistake, I forgot his name, I lost it, I looked for the phone book and called the wrong place.
BV: Uh-huh. [Laughs]
CG: I told him, "Look, I am this person who, such and such," right? All that long talk.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And, well, "That's me, I want you to hire me, my sister sent me." "Oh, and who is your sister?" he said.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: He had been one of my sister's teachers.
BV: Oh.
CG: "I am interested, come and talk." So I took my resume and we talked and the man was happy with me and I worked with him and then I found out that I was working in one of the best labs in Colombia.
BV: Wow.
CG: Then I worked there for a year, uh, I worked and learned. At the beginning he said, "Everything you learned at the university, forget it. \\ Here, you will start from zero." \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: Then, I learned all this new, this new way of being, and I worked there for a year and, I was, I was working with different types of plastics which are, uh, resins, uh, I was working with metals, with, uh, with some machines, the last generation, German ones, because Colombia is in a middle point, it can get American and European technologies.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: That's an advantage.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Uh, then, well, I know more about both technologies, and, uh, I also worked, I was beginning to work with porcelain, they are, other-.
BV: Hmmm.
CG: -Other, other things that I wanted to learn about-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -How to use glass to make some parts of the teeth. And, I made nice things, I made nice things. Then, when I decided to come to the United States, I mean, but in my mind, I always thought of designing.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And I came here to get a masters degree that will, that will take some years, in industrial design, and now, I already know which university to go to, but that is only a possibility, well, if this doesn't work, I will go to Italy, to continue, uh, my masters, which is almost the same one.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Uh, but, and when I decided to come here, I talked with my boss and he told me, "Well, that's fine, fine," he, he gave me all of the recommendation letters and I came here to do some-, and at the same time I was teaching at the university, uh, wooden furniture design, because I already had the knowledge.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And that's. And, that is my life.
BV: [Laughs] \\ Did you get tired already? \\
CG: \\ No. \\
BV: [Laughs] \\
CG: [Laughs] Well, that's the, the [laughs]-.
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CG: \\ -What [laughs] \\ what I am. It is interes-, when I was thinking, I, I came here thinking about what I could talk about, and I said, "Well, I have to talk about myself, well, that's what \\ what-." \\
BV: \\ Of course. \\
CG: -"I know the most of \\ it is-." \\
BV: \\ And about your contact-. \\
CG: \\ -It's me. \\
BV: \\ -With nature? \\ How did it all start?
CG: Oh, that started, uh, thank God [laughs]-.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: -Thank God, uh, my aunt married a person by the name of Edgar Sanchez, who studied in a school with the name of Gimnasio Moderno, in Bogota.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And this school, uh, started a do a revolution, in 1914, it was founded, with the purpose of giving a change to the Colombian education.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: And it was very important for [interruption]. Yes. START OF CD 2, TRACK 1
BV: OK, this is tape number two, recording Carlos Gongora on the 25th of July of 2002. Betty Valladares, recording. ( ) So, your uncle. [Laughs]
CG: Well, I, I, he studied, uh, in this school where, whose founder was uh, Agustere, where I am going, I have to imagine where I am going.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: [Laughs] So I arrive, well, I know that after, after, after this one it's Sharon, and then this other avenue, and this other-.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: -And such. And, uh, I relate them. This one is at ( ) so many degrees in reference to this other, and such. But the thing I find the most interesting of all is that the north of Charlotte is not exactly matches the north, the north.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: If I see a map, the lines on the maps, the, the lines that, that, that make up the coordinates, the vertical lines point to the north, that is, they go north-south.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Charlotte is rotated about 45-degrees and the north part-.
BV: Hmmm.
CG: -It does not point to the north, but to \\ the northeast. \\
BV: \\ The northeast \\ Oh, that's interesting.
CG: And the south part points to, to, that one.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: [Laughs] I cannot understand it because, in many cities, uh, in the world, the streets are oriented according to the cardinal points.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Downtown Charlotte, which I imagine was the first thing that was built, is rotated 45 degrees. That I cannot, I cannot-, I have to do a search about it.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: I need to know about its history, I mean, and what were the plans of Charlotte's urban development-.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: -So I can, I can understand more about the relationships, but, well, once you know that.
BV: Perhaps knowing, knowing that it is rotated, that probably would indicate that there is no plan at all. [Laughs]
CG: [Laughs] Oh.
BV: Perhaps there is no plan at all. [Laughs]
CG: That's it.
BV: [Laughs]
CG: Well, that's \\ very strange, very strange, since I was used to live in a city where things are planned, uh, we already know that in 2005 a road will be built in front of my house. \\
BV: \\ [Laughs] \\ Uh-huh.
CG: It is, it is a rural road.
BV: Hmm.
CG: I know that an, an avenue will be there and, that, and that it will be built in a so many years.
BV: Hmmm.
CG: Then, well, I don't know. Of course, uh, El Valle de los Frailejones.
BV: Uh-huh.
CG: Frailej
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