Throughout my time living in Usiacurí I have met many people. Some collaborated with me on projects; some were students, while others just knew me as the sweaty foreigner who passed by their houses everyday. There were only a handful of people who became genuine friends of mine – and Jaime was one of them.
Jaime Dario Zapateiro Mizuno, comes from a classic lineage of Usiacureños, including Japanese ancestry from his grandparents who settled in Usiacurí almost a century ago. Jaime was raised in Usiacurí, educated in Barranquilla, and worked a variety of jobs. He received a doctorate from UniNorte (which is considered one of the more prestige universities on the Caribbean Coast), worked as a math tutor, a baritone choir singer, and even knows some binary code from when he was an analog computer chip manufacturer. The Jaime I know now is a 67-year-old, grandfather and campesino. Regardless of his age he still expresses curiosity, craftiness, and manages to be conventional in the 21st century.
Our friendship started off very casual and informal, but over time our conversations began to get personal and off-color. He would ask questions regarding U.S. culture, smart phone notifications he doesn’t understand, and my dating life. In contrast, I looked to him for eccentric wisdom and guidance. Our short run-ins turned into evening talks and afternoon plans. I found myself going over to his house, fixing nutritious meals for the two of us, and seeing his personal projects, like homemade mamón wine, hot sauce, and bow ‘n arrow set. Although the age range between us may seem unorthodox by our town’s onlookers, Jaime is someone I am grateful to have met, and glad to have in my life.