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Episode 80: Extrañamente idénticas (Strangely Identical)

By Duolingo on Thu 11 Mar 2021

When a family friend told Dolores Fernández that she’d seen her on television, Dolores was sure there must be a mistake. But then Dolores saw the program for herself…and there she was. Except Dolores had never been on television. So who was this mystery woman?

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Transcript

Martina: In May of 2010, Dolores Sosa Fernández went to the courthouse in Neuquén, a city in central Argentina. She was there to support a friend, whose husband had been killed during a robbery. The crime had turned into a very public court case.

Dolores: Había muchas cámaras de televisión porque el caso fue muy conocido en nuestra ciudad. Yo llegué muy temprano a la protesta para pedir justicia. Esa tarde, antes de escuchar la sentencia, una amiga de mi hija, que también estaba en la protesta, vino a hablar conmigo.

Martina: Dolores is a teacher, and at first, she thought her daughter’s friend needed help with her homework. But then the girl told Dolores that she had seen her on television that very morning.

Dolores: Yo le dije: “Sí, seguramente me filmaron esta mañana. Había muchas cámaras de televisión”. Ella me respondió: “No. Yo te vi en una entrevista que te hicieron en el canal Crónica Televisión”.

Martina: Crónica is a very popular TV channel in Argentina that covers crime. But Dolores had no memory of talking to Crónica during the trial. Her daughter’s friend must have been confused. Maybe it was someone who looked like her.

Dolores: Pero esa misma noche la amiga de mi hija llamó a mi casa y me dijo que la persona en la televisión era idéntica a mí. En ese momento yo reaccioné y pensé: “Yo he estado buscando a una hermana que nunca conocí”. No sabía si ella estaba viva, no sabía si algún día nos íbamos a conocer.

Martina: Dolores’s mind started to race. She wondered if the woman was the long lost family member she had been searching for. She decided to turn on the TV, in case the channel rebroadcast the segment.

Dolores: Pasé muchas horas frente al televisor sin moverme. Mi marido y mis hijos se fueron a dormir y yo me quedé sola. A la una de la mañana comenzó un segmento sobre una protesta de vecinos en Moreno, un pueblo a más de mil kilómetros de mi casa.

Martina: The segment was about a crime that had taken place in the city. The reporter talked first to the director of a school, then a janitor and a neighbor. Then, all of a sudden…

Dolores: De repente, vi la pantalla y… ¡era yo!… pero no era yo.

Martina: Bienvenidos and welcome to the Duolingo Spanish Podcast. I’m Martina Castro. Every episode, we bring you fascinating true stories, to help you improve your Spanish listening, and gain new perspectives on the world.

The storyteller will be using intermediate Spanish and I’ll be chiming in for context in English. If you miss something, you can always skip back and listen again. We also offer full transcripts at podcast.duolingo.com.

Martina: When Dolores was a kid, in the 1960s, she lived in Córdoba, a large city in central Argentina. One day, when she was waiting for her mom to pick her up at school, something caught her attention.

Dolores: Mientras esperaba a mi madre en la escuela, yo veía a los padres de mis compañeros. Ellos eran mucho más jóvenes que los míos y eso me llamó la atención. ¿Por qué mis padres eran tan mayores?

Martina: When Dolores was born, her dad, Arturo, was 43 and her mom, Elvira, was 40. When Dolores asked her parents about their age, her mom told her that there are some things you just don’t talk about.

Dolores: Eso fue muy extraño y sus explicaciones no fueron suficientes para mí.

Martina: Dolores suspected that she might have been adopted…but her parents always denied it. She graduated from university with a degree in Spanish literature and history. And then, at 24, she moved to Neuquén, a thousand miles away from Córdoba, for a job.

Dolores: Mientras trabajaba como profesora, conocí a Javier, mi futuro marido. Cuando nos vimos por primera vez en una de nuestras primeras citas, yo le dije: “Creo que no soy la hija biológica de mis padres. Creo que soy adoptada”. Javier fue uno de los primeros en escuchar mis dudas.

Martina: Despite those doubts, or dudas, Javier told her that was impossible: why would her parents lie? Surely they were being truthful. And while the doubts didn’t go away, Dolores soon had other things to occupy her mind. In August of 1990, she had a son, Rodrigo, and in April of 1992, she had a daughter, María Lis.

Dolores: Cuando nació mi segunda hija, María Lis, todos decían que era idéntica a mi mamá, Elvira. Mi marido me dijo: “¿Cómo vas a ser adoptada si tu hija es igual a ella?”. Pero eso no me convenció. Yo le dije que seguía pensando que era adoptada. Después de ese día, no volví a hablar de eso con nadie.

Martina: Fifteen years passed. Dolores was busy, taking care of her two children and teaching. Then one day, in Neuquén, she ran into the daughter of one of her cousins on the street — someone she hadn’t seen in years. They went to grab a coffee together.

Dolores: En medio de la conversación, la hija de mi prima paró y me dijo que todos en la familia sabían que yo era adoptada, que era un secreto a voces.

Martina: Dolores was speechless. Of course she had had her suspicions. But her mom had already passed, and she hadn’t spoken about this in years. She hadn’t even mentioned it to her own children.

Dolores: Yo tenía casi cincuenta años de edad y tomé la decisión de descubrir cuál era mi verdadero origen. Era hora de saber toda la verdad y no iba a parar hasta lograr mi objetivo.

Martina: Dolores left the coffee shop in a hurry and went to find her birth certificate. She knew exactly where it was: in a desk drawer, along with her husband’s and children’s. When she compared hers with theirs, she discovered something she had never noticed before.

Dolores: En la de mi marido había una madre y un padre. Sin embargo, en la mía había una madre, un padre y tres tíos que daban “fe de la legitimidad del acto”.

Martina: Dar fe de la legitimidad del acto, to attest to the legitimacy of the deed. Dolores had no idea what that meant. She read the names of the three uncles who had signed the documents. Only one of them was still alive, and he was very old. But Dolores called him up.

Dolores: Cuando mi tío respondió el teléfono y yo le dije quién era, no fue necesario decir nada más. Él se puso a llorar y me respondió: “Yo sabía que este momento iba a llegar”.

Martina: Her uncle told her what he knew. That she was adopted and that her parents had gone to get her from a house in the countryside near Córdoba — close to where she grew up and where most of her family still lived. But that wasn’t all. Between sobs, her uncle also told her another important detail.

Dolores: Mi tío me dijo que cuando me adoptaron, yo no estaba sola, que había otra bebé. Es decir, yo tenía una hermana... mi gemela.

Martina: Dolores was stunned. Not only was she adopted…she also had a twin sister. Una hermana gemela.

Dolores: En ese momento… colapsé. Me puse a llorar. Sentía dolor y desesperación. ¿Por qué mi familia no me había dicho nada? Viví una mezcla de sensaciones. Fue algo muy extraño y difícil de explicar, pero me sentía incompleta.

Martina: On January 21, 2008, Dolores got on a bus, or a micro, as they say in Argentina, for the 13-hour trip to Córdoba. Four days had passed since her uncle’s confession.

Dolores: Yo no podía perder más tiempo. No sabía qué iba a hacer en Córdoba para poder encontrar a mi hermana y ni siquiera sabía por dónde comenzar.

Martina: As soon as she arrived in Córdoba, Dolores went to the city clerk’s office with her birth certificate.

Dolores: La jefa del registro civil y yo estudiamos en la misma escuela, así que le pregunté si podía buscar en los registros algo sobre mi hermana. Estuve allí dos horas, pero no encontraron nada.

Martina: The next day, Dolores went to a hospital near her childhood home.

Dolores: Yo imaginé que había nacido ahí, así que pregunté si había registros. Buscaron, pero no encontraron ninguna información sobre mi hermana.

Martina: Dolores was in Córdoba for two weeks. She knocked on the doors of neighbors, distant relatives, uncles, cousins, friends. She went to all the businesses that had been around since her childhood. But no one knew anything about her supposed sister.

Dolores: Ya no sabía dónde más buscar ni a quién preguntarle. Estaba muy frustrada porque sentía que no podía hacer nada más. Entonces decidí regresar a Neuquén.

Martina: Dolores went home, but she didn’t give up: she thought all the time about finding her sister. Until that day in May 2010, when she got the phone call from her daughter’s friend, and wound up seeing someone who looked just like her on television.

Dolores: Esta mujer tenía los ojos marrones e idénticos a los míos. La forma de la cara era igual, ¡hasta la nariz! Lo primero que me llamó la atención fueron sus manos. Las movía igual que yo. Cuando la escuché hablar, ¡no lo podía creer! Era el mismo tono de voz que el mío. No solo era mi hermana, ¡era mi hermana gemela!

Martina: Her husband and kids managed to take a video of the television screen just as the interview was wrapping up. But the piece never mentioned the name of the woman who had been interviewed. The next day, Dolores showed the video to some friends, hoping someone would see something in it that would help her track the woman down.

Dolores: Una amiga se dio cuenta de algo: detrás de la mujer había una iglesia. Entonces dije: “¡Tengo que encontrar esa iglesia!”.

Martina: Dolores went to a friend who was a priest, to see if he recognized the church. He did. It was in Moreno, a town near Buenos Aires, a thousand miles from where Dolores lived. Together, they tracked down the phone number for the church, but Dolores was too nervous to call. So, she asked her husband to do it.

Dolores: El padre Ricardo respondió al teléfono. Mi marido le contó mi historia, pero él no le creyó. Le dijo: “Me tendrán que esperar porque mañana me voy de viaje y regreso la próxima semana”. Y mi marido respondió: “No hay problema, padre. Si pudimos esperar cincuenta años, podemos esperar una semana más”.

Martina: Ten days later, Father Ricardo called them back. Dolores picked up the phone.

Dolores: Cuando respondí al teléfono dije: “Hola, ¿quién habla?”. El padre Ricardo se sorprendió mucho y me dijo: “Tienes el mismo tono de voz que Mirta Santos”.

Martina: Was that her sister’s name? Mirta?

Dolores: El padre Ricardo no sabía si ella sabía que era adoptada y, por esa razón, quería tener cuidado. Él le dijo a una vecina del barrio: “Tienes que ir a casa de Mirta y hablar con ella para investigar si ella sabe si es adoptada o no”.

Martina: The neighbor went to Mirta’s house, took her hand and asked her to go on a walk. After a while, she told Mirta that a lot of people had seen her interview on TV…including someone very special. The neighbor was trying to proceed cautiously, but she quickly found out that her caution was unnecessary.

Dolores: Yo le pregunté: “¿Mi hermana? ¿Lo vio mi hermana?”.

Martina: That’s the voice of Mirta Santos, Dolores’s long-lost sister. From now on you’ll also be hearing from her. After her walk with the neighbor, Mirta immediately called the number that Dolores’s husband Javier had left with the priest. Javier picked up the phone.

Mirta: Yo dije: “Hola, es Mirta, la hermana de Dolores”. Javier no dijo nada por diez segundos. Solo habló para decirme esto: “Espera, voy a buscar a Dolores porque no estoy con ella”.

Martina: It was during the workday and Dolores was at school. Javier made a beeline for Dolores’s office. When he got there, he stood outside, gesturing wildly for Dolores to come out. When Dolores came to him, he blurted out: “It’s your sister!”

Dolores: Fui a una sala para estar sola, llamé al número y dije: “Hola, soy Dolores”.

Martina: On the other end of the line, Mirta answered:

Mirta: “Y yo soy Mirta. Creo que soy… tu hermana gemela”.

Martina: Dolores couldn’t stop crying tears of joy after speaking with her sister. Mirta also started crying as soon as they hung up. That week, they spoke every night on the phone.

Dolores: Mirta y yo teníamos mucho tiempo que recuperar. Hablábamos todos los días y decidimos vernos en su casa una semana después. Yo estaba muy nerviosa, no dormía por las noches.

Martina: On June 17, 2010, Dolores traveled to Moreno to meet her twin sister — two weeks after they first talked. This time though, she didn’t have patience for the bus. So she drove with her husband and kids.

Dolores: Yo estaba tranquila, pero cuando me dijeron que faltaban pocas horas para llegar a la casa de Mirta, empecé a temblar.

Martina: Temblar, or tremble. She was really anxious. In front of Mirta’s house, friends and neighbors had gathered in the street.

Mirta: Yo estaba muy nerviosa en mi casa mientras esperaba a mi hermana Dolores. Mi familia, amigos y vecinos querían estar conmigo porque estaban muy felices por mí.

Martina: As they got close to the address Mirta had given her, Dolores saw a woman standing in the middle of the street. She looked just like her.

Dolores: Ella tenía un pantalón gris y un suéter porque era invierno. Y yo ya había visto otras fotos de ella, así que estaba segura… ¡era Mirta! Empecé a llorar tanto que no podía ver bien.

Martina: After parking the car, Dolores opened the door and Mirta ran to hug her. They hugged for a long time.

Mirta: Dolores y yo nos abrazábamos. Después nos separábamos y nos mirábamos. Luego llorábamos y nos abrazábamos otra vez, y así estuvimos por mucho tiempo.

Martina: After they finally ended their embrace, they went into the house, where Mirta made tea. They sat down and tried to relax, but it was impossible. They both wanted to know everything about the other one, how they had lived their lives, what their childhoods were like, if they liked the same things. Mirta spoke first.

Mirta: Yo le dije a Dolores que mis padres eran mayores que los padres de mis amigos. Cuando yo nací, mi mamá, María Clara, tenía 39 años y mi papá, Jacinto, 43, y yo tenía un hermano 17 años mayor que yo.

Martina: Mirta told Dolores that when she was 10, she became sure that she was adopted. And she confronted her mom.

Mirta: Un día le pregunté: “Mamá, ¿yo soy adoptada?”. Ella empezó a gritar y me dijo que estaba loca, que yo no era adoptada, pero yo siempre sospeché que ella no me decía la verdad.

Martina: Listening to Mirta, Dolores couldn’t believe the parallels with her own life.

Dolores: La historia de Mirta era igual a la mía. Las dos tuvimos sospechas desde pequeñas y nuestros padres nunca nos dijeron la verdad.

Martina: When she was 30, Mirta married a man named José, and at 34, she got pregnant.

Mirta: Cuando me fui a hacer la primera ecografía, no lo podía creer: ¡estaba embarazada de gemelas! El médico me preguntó si en mi familia había gemelos y le dije que creía que no. Cuando terminó el examen, fui a la casa de mi madre.

Martina: When Mirta asked her mom if they had any family history of twins, her mom told her that she thought a cousin had a twin.

Mirta: Yo insistí y le pregunté otra vez: “¿Me tienes que decir algo importante, mamá?”. Ella respondió que no.

Martina: But six years later, Mirta’s mom got sick.

Mirta: Yo estaba bañando a mi mamá porque ella no se podía bañar sola. Entonces, una vez más, insistí: “¿Me vas a decir la verdad? ¿Soy adoptada?”.

Martina: Finally, after 40 years, Mirta’s mom told her that yes, she was adopted. But that wasn’t all she said.

Mirta: Mi mamá me dijo que, cuando me adoptó, había otra bebé, mi hermana gemela. Yo no dije nada por un tiempo y me puse a llorar. Cuando Dolores descubrió que tenía una hermana gemela, decidió buscarme, pero yo no pude. Cada persona reacciona de forma diferente y yo no tuve esa fuerza.

Martina: The two sisters spent several weeks together, and then, when Dolores had to go home they continued talking every day. It’s now been over a decade since they first met, and they visit each other several times a year.

Dolores and Mirta are both still emotional when they tell their story. And they continue to be surprised by all their similarities…like when Mirta finishes Dolores’s sentences.

Dolores: Nuestra conexión crece día a día y aunque solo nos conocimos hace diez años, sentimos que somos...

Mirta and Dolores: …gemelas de toda la vida.

Martina: Dolores Sosa Fernández and Mirta Santos are both retired. Right now, they’re looking forward to seeing each other again in person, after eight months of not traveling because of the pandemic.

This story was produced by Tali Goldman, a journalist and writer based in Buenos Aires.

This is our last story of the season, but we will be back soon with more new episodes! In the meantime, we’d love to know what you thought of the stories we’ve brought to you so far! You can write us an email at podcast@duolingo.com and call and leave us a voicemail or audio message on WhatsApp, at +1-703-953-93-69. Don’t forget to say your name and where you’re from!

Here’s a message we recently got from Chimdi Ihezie in Los Angeles, California:

Chimdi Ihezie: I just finished listening to the “La Abuela Superstar” episode. I was moved to genuine tears, to start openly weeping at the moment where she found out that she had gotten a grammy. Such a beautiful story, such an affirming story about, you know, if your destiny and your love is to sing, nothing’s going to stop it from happening. Thank you all so much that was really really beautiful.

Martina: Thank you so much for listening, Chimdi!

If you liked this story, please share it! You can find the audio and a transcript of each episode at podcast.duolingo.com. You can also subscribe at Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening app, so you never miss an episode.

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The Duolingo Spanish Podcast is produced by Duolingo and Adonde Media.

Our producers this season were Tali Goldman, Lorena Galliot, Paige Sutherland, Antonio Diaz Oliva, and Grant Fuller. Our managing editor is David Alandete. Our senior editor Stephanie Joyce. Our production manager Román Frontini. Our assistant producer Caro Rolando. Mixing was done by Martín Pérez Roa and Andrés Fechtenholz. Our mastering engineer and sound designer is Antonio Romero. Our sound supervisor is Martin Cruz.

I'm your host and executive producer, Martina Castro, ¡gracias por escuchar!

Credits

This episode was produced by Duolingo and Adonde Media.

Script Writer: Tali Goldman
Executive Producer: Martina Castro
Narrators and Protagonists: Dolores Sosa Fernández & Mirta Santos
Script Editor & Managing Editor: David Alandete
Mixed by: Andrés Fechtenholz
Sound Design & Mastering Engineer: Antonio Romero
Production Manager: Román Frontini
Assistant Producer: Caro Rolando