Yovanka Sanchez – Part I

YOVANKA SANCHEZ

A true storyteller and citizen of the world shares her life in two parts. 

Few experience the whirlwind existence of military brats or the children of diplomats—in the case of Yovanka Sanchez the latter was the case—the world was her oyster and she took full advantage of the opportunities presented. 

Yovanka was born in Guatemala. Her father and mother worked in the Mexican Embassy (Fernando the Cultural attaché, Angela an administrative assistant). 

“My father was eighteen years older than my mother, but he was smitten by her youthful beauty and charm. To put the extent of his passion in context, you must understand, he planned on never getting married, although he was a complete romantic. Papa was so immersed in his intellectual world, that no woman could compete with the “letters” of his poems and books but he ultimately fell head-over-heels for my mother, impossible not to…” 

The pair went to Mexico to get married before returning to their posts in Guatemala where Yovanka was born shortly thereafter (her sister, Monika, was also born in Guatemala a year later). Since they had spent their honeymoon in Yugoslavia and at the time President Tito’s wife was named Yovanka, they wanted to name their first daughter after her since it is here where she was procreated. 

“Despite being born in Guatemala I was a citizen of Mexico, that’s the way it works with the children of diplomats, but I have really always consider myself a citizen of the world.” 

Once Yovanka was born, Angela took a leave of absence and became a fulltime wife and mother. 

“When I was two-years old my father was transferred to Rome. We lived there for the following seven-years. Italian was my first language! Although my parents made sure we spoke Spanish at home”. 

Yovanka was enrolled in a Catholic school run by nuns. Her existence was one of warmth, culture and steeped with the romantic vibes of “The City of Love.” 

“My father was really quite the Renaissance Man. He was an artist and a scholar. He enriched us with not only with the European culture and history, but he paraded us all over the continent—my father was our greatest teacher and guide!” 

Despite the European eland tendered the youth, Yovanka was actually something of a tomboy. She was rough and ready, fearless and free. 

“I felt empowered; I had the spirit and confidence of an explorer.” 

Seven years later another transfer (which came with a promotion), found the family moving to Tijuana, Mexico 

Mexico provided a wonderful homecoming and reconnection with Yovanka’s true roots. My father came from a big family and his father was the ultimate Macho Patriarch. He’d fought honorably in the Mexican Revolution and ran his family with an iron, but loving-fist. 

“That said, for a child such as my father—one enamored with arts and literature and poetry, the Mexican machismo expected had to be carefully developed and refined.” 

{Writer’s Note: Fernando is currently recognized throughout the world as one of Mexico’s most celebrated writers and poets.} 

I believe I had an advantage over the other children, including my young family members. You see, the European experience had developed in me an independent spirit that is not found or encouraged in Mexican kids. At the time they were taught to be more subservient to their elders, especially the girls, who it is demanded of to be refrained in their actions and opinions—that was most certainly not me!

“When we moved I recall my mother telling me I had to leave my toys and obviously, my friends as well. But that mini-trauma was nothing compared to the excitement of a new world and the abundance of family!” 

“Mexico also allowed me the opportunity to become fluent, in what in fact, was my native tongue. Spanish”. 

When they first arrived, the family moved in to Yovanka’s grandfather’s palatial hacienda. Her cousin Marco Regil was also living in the home with his mother and two brothers. Marco quickly became the “brother” Yovanka never had! 

{Writer’s Note: According to Wikipedia, today Marco is a television personality, public speaker and activist. As the host of the Spanish versions of Family Feud, The Price is Right, and Mexico’s hit show, Generation Gap (Recuerda y Gana), Regil is a constant fixture in Latin households.} 

“I was such a playful girl—I was always goofing around and playing silly tricks on my grandfather. Eventually we moved into a home of our own—still in Tijuana. 

“I believe I had an advantage over the other children, including my young family members. You see, the European experience had developed in me an independent spirit that is not found or encouraged in Mexican kids. At the time they were taught to be more subservient to their elders, especially the girls, who it is demanded of to be refrained in their actions and opinions—that was most certainly not me!” 

As a result, Yovanka became something of a leader, her story telling sessions became highly applauded by her cousins who wer

e Yovanka’s biggest audience. 

“I got into it. I didn’t just tell a story, I incorporated sound effects and plenty of actions with my hands, recreating amazing an imaginary universes —they were full performances really.” 

The stay in Mexico was short lived. It wasn’t long (no more than a-year), that Fernando relocated his family to Barcelona, Spain. Upgraded to General Counsel of Mexico—Yovanka, once again, thrived at the change of town. 

“Barcelona was glorious; the European vibe I’d grown up with was suddenly part of my existence again. Oh, I was still a tomboy. Quite the soccer player, a skateboard aficionado, and I was forever climbing trees. The other girls, my peers, were like—what?” 

Puberty staged its take-over of innocence while Yovanka was in Spain. Suddenly, disco parties and social mingling became de rigueur. However, channeling her story telling skills also morphed into her ability to put that expression into writing. 

Needless to say, the free-thinking, free-wheeling Yovanka adapted her own style—very much the bohemian—a blend of femme and funky cool. 

After four-years in Spain, the family moved to Miami (another transfer and promotion), Fernando was named Consul of Mexico. 

“This time the move presented challenges. I hardly spoke English and I was a tomboy. I found South Florida to be a bit shallow, very chi-chi. Faux femininity was all the rage and I wasn’t about to adapt.” 

So Yovanka sat alone at lunch. And to make matters worse, she brought her own lunch, a very Mediterranean collection of salads and fruit—she was indeed the outsider. 

But Yovanka refused to dummy-down. Her tough spirited constitution came with a rebellious attitude at home as well. 

“I simply couldn’t figure out how to fit in and frankly wasn’t about to accommodate the situation. So I threw myself into my comfort zone (excelling in sports—tennis and soccer). But I also drifted towards a rebellious crowd—I went from pink hair to purple hair and embraced the Punk world scene. And while self-expression was always encouraged in our home, I began to falter, my grades dropped, and I was cutting classes and hanging out with the wrong girls”. 

Editor’s Note:
La Mariposa Films

Angela took swift action. She promptly pulled Yovanka from the school and enrolled her in the private Immaculata-LaSalle High School in Miami. 

“I was enrolled at LaSalle as a sophomore and I cleaned up my act and myself, furthered my ambitions of athletics and suddenly found myself getting quite a lot of attention.” 

So much attention, that Yovanka caught the eye of a senor, hot-man-on-campus type—pretty good catch for a newbie sophomore. All of a sudden Yovanka was part of the “in-crowd.” 

“Despite my new found ‘glory’ I soon soured. I didn’t’ like the sports offerings, or the curriculum—I wanted change and my family agreed, enrolling me at Coral Gables High School. I thrived in the much more Americanized environment and excelled in sports, drama and writing. 

“I was a straight-A student and graduated on time with my friends. And yes, as the tough-cookie I was, I hoped for a reward!” 

Unfortunately, her boyfriend also expected something from Yovanka. 

“He wanted to get married. But I was not biting. In my mind, this was the beginning of self-exploration and freedom. I was finally in control of my own destiny.” 

And so Yovanka went to Fernando and Angela and asked that they send her to a year of travel in Europe, specifically Paris—she wanted to learn French, art and live feely. 

Needless to say, her folks, well aware of the pitfalls of puppy love, embraced the concept with checkbook open enthusiasm… 

END OF PART 1 

 

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Kent Wallace
Senior Correspondent at Latinarrific
Kent Wallace has worked in the mainstream media for over 30 years. He has been a journalist, publisher, performer, art critic and marketing strategist. He has written for such magazines as Esquire, Source, Ear, ArtSpeak and Notorious (to name a few).

Wallace was a contributing writer for “High on Rebellion: Inside the Underground at Max's Kansas City,” he co-authored and authored several published books.

Wallace has hosted radio shows on ESPN (Reno) and KPLY (Reno). Wallace has appeared on Montel, The Tyra Banks Show, The John Walsh Show and the Rikki Lake show. Wallace also served as a consultant on an HBO’s hit series.
Kent Wallace
Senior Correspondent
Kent Wallace has worked in the mainstream media for over 30 years. He has been a journalist, publisher, performer, art critic and marketing strategist. He has written for such magazines as Esquire, Source, Ear, ArtSpeak and Notorious (to name a few). Wallace was a contributing writer for “High on Rebellion: Inside the Underground at Max's Kansas City,” he co-authored and authored several published books. Wallace has hosted radio shows on ESPN (Reno) and KPLY (Reno). Wallace has appeared on Montel, The Tyra Banks Show, The John Walsh Show and the Rikki Lake show. Wallace also served as a consultant on an HBO’s hit series.

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