“I was a bit of a hippy, I wanted to discover the world and I had a lot of hope in this way of life, based on tolerance, freedom and all that. So I left university in Mexico, and with Pierpaolo, a Swiss friend, we hitchhiked to Guatemala. We joined a street performance group, I juggled with fire, and then we went around with a hat. We really lived from day to day in a small house on a hill, without electricity or hot water. We cooked with fire, we used candles for light, a quite rough but very creative life.
Then Pier went back to Geneva and I fell in love with Fabian, another Swiss member of the group. My Swiss karma (laughs)! Together we travelled for 2.5 years with our little show and selling handcrafts before joining the national circus school in Brazil. I was also partly disappointed by this world. I found rivalries, jealousies, we also shut ourselves in, like a kind of clan and we become intolerant like everyone else. In the end I met the best people outside this world, really simple people who opened the doors of their homes to us.
When I got back to Mexico, I saw Pier again and I got pregnant with him. A real Mexican telenovela (laughs)! And that’s how I came to Switzerland at 23. My arrival in Geneva was very hard. It was autumn but it felt like winter. I hardly knew anyone and the people seemed cold to me. I said to myself: what am I doing here? And soon we got separated. At first I thought: I’m going to leave with my daughter, you’ll never see her again! You hurt me, you’ll pay for it! The Mexican way!
I realised how selfish I was being with my daughter and the great bond she had with her dad. And he told me: you can live your own life and I’ll always be there. I trusted him and little by little we turned it into a friendship and everything fell into place naturally. We decided to continue to live together, and the three of us have been living together for 19 years now! He’s a wonderful person, everything is so fluid and harmonious, we’re very lucky. And the story doesn’t end there… Five years ago, we got back together with Fabian! A real telenovela (laughs)!
During the difficult period I met Marcella, my associate, with whom I developed a very deep relationship. She introduced me to a lot of people, and little by little I started to make a home in Geneva. After a few years, we came up with the idea of doing a bulk grocery shop because we love eating and talking to people. But an old-fashioned grocery shop, with old furniture, old jars, full of plants and life. Neither of us is a minimalist, our homes are the same as the shop!
We started and everything went really fast until we opened in 2015. Now all sorts of people come in, chat, share their joys and sorrows. You almost can’t find that anymore! We’ve made a lot of connections, and that’s what we were looking for too. It’s like travelling, it makes me grow a lot. We’re also very grateful for the welcome from our neighbours and other shopkeepers. We are there for each other, it’s really cool. I tell myself every day that I’ve found exactly what I need to do, and I hope we’ll be here for a long time!”
* Meet Mariana and Marcella in their grocery store Nature en Vrac, Place des Grottes 1, 1201 Genève *
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