“I could write a whole novel about my life, I just need to find a publisher (laughs)! I had a very, very hard childhood. I grew up in a village in Colombia with my mother, my stepfather and my four sisters. We had a field where we grew everything: coffee, corn, bananas, tomatoes… It was a beautiful place with a river running through the fields. But we had to work from 7 in the morning to 5 in the evening since we were little. We didn’t go to school much. And if we refused to work, my stepfather would beat us. He was very violent and abused us all verbally and physically. He didn’t rape me, but he used to rape my younger sisters, his own daughters. In fact, we didn’t have a childhood because we lived with a constant fear of him.
When I was 16 I had my first child. But the father was also macho and violent. And when I gave birth, my parents took the child, telling me I was too young. After that I left home and didn’t see anyone for five years. I lived on odd jobs in cafes. And in the following years I had three children from two other fathers. These two were also very violent. After a while, as I couldn’t stand the violence any more, I started drinking. Then I said to myself: if I become an alcoholic, I will get cirrhosis and die, and what will happen to my children? So I stopped drinking and ended the last relationship after 14 years of violence. In my life, all my love affairs have been fatal to me…
Finally, I decided to leave Colombia, and at 40 I arrived in Spain with my youngest daughter. For several years I worked with elderly people. I loved it because I have a great love for the elderly! I worked non-stop but I only earned 600€ per month. This barely allowed me to support my mother, my children and myself. The last person I looked after had Alzheimer’s. I had a lot of affection for her, I considered her as my own family. Then there was the economic crisis in Spain. Within 15 days her children decided to put her in a home, and I was left with nothing. I was very attached to this lady and I fell into depression. I could have found another person, but I was hurt. I didn’t want to do this job anymore.
Then a friend who worked here in Pâquis told me about prostitution. Out of economic necessity, to support my children, I decided to try it. I arrived here 8 years ago. It was a brutal change. I started on the street and I was very nervous. When the customers came near me I started to cry. I couldn’t work at all. After three months I went back to Spain and I didn’t want to come back. But reality caught up with me; without working I couldn’t get by. So I came back and spent a year in Les Pâquis working on the street. The conditions are difficult there. You have to share a place with other girls who have their own habits and culture. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t take drugs. So it was complicated.
Now I have my own flat, I work here on my own and I feel much more comfortable. What matters to me is mental and emotional peace. I work legally, all the neighbours know what I do and they are very respectful. But this work is still very much frowned upon, and when people around me ask me what I do, I say that I do housework. I don’t like lying, inside I feel it’s bad. But I have to, otherwise they will criticise me. My children have known everything from the start. I could never lie to them, we have a great complicity. They tell me: “We respect you, there is nothing wrong with what you do. You have been both a mother and a father to us.”
The most difficult thing is to open the door without knowing what will happen. But I’ve never had a bad experience. Because I am very clear with my services: this I do, this I don’t. And for me it’s very important to do things from the heart. If a client pays for 30 minutes, after 30 minutes I don’t say to him: come on, it’s over! No, I want him to be satisfied. One day a client showed me that my profile on the escort website had the most stars. I am one of the best escorts in Geneva (laughs)! I have clients from all social classes: bankers, lawyers, house painters, doctors… But you know, clients don’t come only for sex. Many people suffer from loneliness or depression and they are looking for some human warmth.
Once, a client told me, crying: “At home we have everything we need, but we don’t make love with my wife anymore. I didn’t want to come here, but I have no other option.” He was suffering a lot. This is the reality. And it’s hard to see a man crying. I try to console him with my heart. In a way, we prostitutes are doing a service. And some clients even give me flowers or chocolates to thank me! I’ve also made some good connections. I have a regular client who has problems in his life, and he comes to me for support. During the pandemic I couldn’t work and it was very difficult financially. And he in turn helped me a lot. He gave me money and sometimes he even brought me groceries. You see, it’s not just about sex.
The most important thing for me is my children. I have fought a lot all my life for them. And I am satisfied with this job because I can help my family to get by. I earn 2 or 3 times more here than in Spain. In my life I have only known violent men, now I am doing this job, and I still don’t have much for myself, but I keep fighting. For them. In spite of all this suffering, I am here and I am well in my head. I thank God for giving me the strength to endure so much. Some people become harder and more closed with time. But not me. Over time my heart has grown bigger. I like to help people. Money comes and goes, friendships come and go. But developing your own human qualities is the most important thing.
Now I have to start thinking about myself a bit too. Until now I have only thought about others, and I have not enjoyed life. Here it’s only work, work. You have to be there all the time, available in case a client calls. I spend my life alone, I have dinner alone, even on December 31st or on my birthday. I miss my family, I miss the human warmth. My children are more and more stable now, so after this year I’m thinking of quitting. I would like to go back to Spain. I love this country, I feel good there and I can be happy with little money. I don’t want to be a burden on my children. If I have a small house, potatoes and rice, that’s enough for me! I can go to the beach, the swimming pool and visit friends. I’ll finally be able to enjoy life, you know?”
Published as part of the mini-series “90’000 things in my head“, produced in partnership with Aspasie. | Translated from Spanish.