Multiculture, Profiles

Arturo Naula: Fixing up cars around the world

He has travelled the world working in auto repair shops. After 15 years in Spain, his present is in London. His future, however, is in his native Ecuador, where the traditions that he so misses await his return.


ArturoNaula1 fOTO mARCOS oRTIZ
Arturo Naula. Photo by Marcos Ortiz

Marcos Ortiz F.


Whether in Ecuador, Spain, England, Holland or the US, Arturo Naula’s life has always been bound to fixing cars that are dented, have been in crashes, or have scratches in their paintwork. The 52 years old from Cuenca, one of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador, has managed to travel the world, always landing in a new repair shop.

“I left my country in ’99 because of the stagnant economy”, he recalls. With a ticket to Spain, Arturo wouldn’t see his wife or five children for some time, but as soon as he arrived in Madrid, luck was on his side. “I picked up the newspaper and called. I arrived on the 20 June, on the 21st I worked as a gardener, and on the 22nd I started working on cars”, he explains. The hard work would pay off. After six months, he managed to bring his wife over, and after two years, his five children joined them. “As a panel beater, I would take apart and straighten out dented cars. Those years were the best, up until 2009, there was money and a lot of work. I am very thankful to God”, he says.

The uninterrupted work allowed Arturo and his family to find the stability they needed. But in 2014, after more than 15 years in Spain, he decided to go back to Ecuador. “I returned with my wife and daughter with the idea of setting up an auto repair shop. Another daughter had already gone back and was studying medicine at university there”.

However, going back to his roots would take a long time. “I set up the workshop and I was there for a year and a half until my son called me. I had a granddaughter that was making her first communion in Spain”, he explains.

ArturoNaula1 fOTO mARCOS oRTIZ
Photo by Marcos Ortiz

Arturo packed his bags again and returned to Europe, but after a short time, he decided to move again, accompanied by his wife and youngest daughter, Cynthia.

“I got an itch to travel to the US, for the novelty. It’s a country where you can earn a lot more, but I didn’t like the lifestyle that much. I worked in New York for the three months that I had the visa, and then I went back to Spain”, he says.

Back in Madrid, the next destination was Amsterdam. “I worked there as well, but I didn’t like it because of the language”, he explains.

A friend of his daughter recommended trying his luck in England. This was how Arturo, Esther and Cinthya, “the three musketeers” as he calls them, arrived in London.

“I got hold of the Latino newspaper, called a Bolivian man and I went to work for him for three months. Then I went to work with another Bolivian with all the legal paperwork in place, in case of an accident”.

Even though he doesn’t speak English yet, Arturo gets by. “It’s complicated for me, I don’t know anything, but my daughter is 22, she’s young, so she is picking it up better”, he says with a smile.

Photo: Pixabay

While his wife works cleaning offices, Arturo is already thinking about what comes next. “My future is in Ecuador. We will only be here a few years. I want my daughter to focus, learn more responsibility, and then I want to go back. She has to make her life here, or wherever she wants”.

Despite making fried food and the traditional soup sancocho at the weekend with his wife, his native land still calls to him. “What I miss the most is the family. I’ve been out of the country 18 years and I don’t know my nieces, nephews or my sisters-in-law. I see them through a camera, but it’s not the same as getting together with everyone at New Year to make food and burn a paper doll, a lifelong tradition”.

Nonetheless, Arturo doesn’t complain: “I’m 52 and I have been travelling for almost half of my life. I am honest. I go to my country when I want, and I am happy”.

(Translated by Lucy Daghorn:

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