September 15, 2019, 4:00 AM
September 15, 2019, 4:00 AM
He doesn’t remember well. He just says it was 2010, but he doesn’t know the month. Her fingers were running through the friend requests when she suddenly saw his. She hit the ‘confirm’ button. After a few days, the chat between the model Karina Nogales and the former Minister of Autonomies Hugo Siles began.
Seven months before the Miss Bolivian Tropic (in 2011) they saw each other. The burly man went to pick her up and took her to a cafe. She couldn’t contain herself and asked him, “Why did you send me a Facebook request?” “Because I saw you on TV and you caught my attention,” he replied. Perhaps the exotic beauty of the Afro-Bolivian mannequin had captured one of the strongest figures in the Bolivian government. The two of them woven such a thick conversation that she devoured two hours of that afternoon. They exchanged cell phone numbers, said goodbye, but not forever. It was just a start.
Karina and Hugo saw each other at all times, but without wanting to. “Wherever he went, he was, especially at electronic music parties,” says the girl. Many times they chatted. Many. He would tell her how her day had been and she would tease him to shake off the stress. Soon a natural and even secret complicity was born between them before the public eyes.
“People didn’t know we were ‘digital’ friends. Several times we even sat at the same table, but we didn’t speak to each other”, adds Karina. And she confesses that they came to discover the same taste for the voice of the Spanish Natalia Jiménez. Sometimes he was driving and in the middle of the ‘conversation’ she would throw at him: “Can I sing to you?” And the answer was obvious. “…is to kiss you every night. May your hands make me fall in love. And that ours grows more every day… ”, she could hear herself on the other side of the cell phone. And they both ended up singing. It was time for Karina and Hugo.
One day they went to the cinema. Another day they went to a cafe again. And the exits became habitual. They both enjoyed it. The two ended their relationships and coincidentally remained single. It was 2015 when everything escalated. Once they said goodbye, but Karina touched Hugo’s beard and their lips almost met in a kiss. They were electric seconds and she was left thinking. “Why is this happening?” she wondered herself. She already knew the answer.
Karina always kept busy. When she had the title of miss, Hugo gave her advice from her and even gave her a gift. She opened it and inside the paper was a book about the history of Santa Cruz. At first she did not understand the message and later she realized that what her friend wanted was for her to prepare herself intellectually to represent the region.
He didn’t go to his contest (in Greece), because he was denied a visa, but it didn’t matter. She followed her life as a mannequin, leader of her Valle Sánchez neighborhood, and founder of African Bolivian Women, an organization that defends and unites Afro-Bolivian women.
Hugo knew everything Karina did. And they also talked about politics. When the debate became heated due to some ideological differences, they preferred to keep quiet and today they avoid entering that world altogether. And the day came: Hugo stole a kiss.
There was no declaration of love. It was not necessary. They were lovers from the heart. No more was needed. They hugged. they caressed each other They held hands. “I didn’t want to put a label on what we had,” adds the brunette. At first they didn’t show up, but later, at parties, he would introduce her as Karina Nogales and give a very long explanation about her relationship. Later, he changed the script: “This is Karina, my girlfriend.” And point.
“I could be Karina with him and he, Hugo with me. I liked that. In his work he is serious, because that’s how it should be and people don’t think he’s funny, but he is. I annoy him all the time,” says the former beauty queen. Neither she nor he knew that her idyll would reach four years.
She asked him. And he made no secret of her age. She, 27. He, 51. Twenty-four years apart. They shrugged. Karina believes that age is just another number and what really matters are “feelings”. She never felt that this figure has influenced anything in the relationship. “People are used to looking from the outside in, but I like to look the other way around,” she says.
They get along well, but not everything is rosy. They have troubles like any couple and they know how to defuse them. He is not jealous and she is sometimes. “I try to make her have fun with me. I speak nonsense to him. He tells bad jokes, but he tells them. The issue is that it is ‘he’ with me. I talk to him about show business and he tells me playfully: ‘You and your trivialities’…”. They cook together. Once Hugo prepared a locro and it “turned out well”. Other times he cut a piece of meat, fried an egg and turned out a juicy steak or endlessly whipped up rice with shrimp. Hugo likes to eat salads and Karina likes Creole food. There were days when the model stayed chatting for hours with Hugo in her apartment and since she lived far away, she never came home. The same scene was repeated over and over again, and when she realized her clothes were taking up a full closet in Hugo’s house. Thus began the coexistence.
When Karina told her mother that she would live with her lover, she did not approve. But the ‘afro’ leader ended up convincing her of her. She told him that she had a “healthy” relationship and that it made her happy. Now both share the same intimate space.
Curiously they only have one apartment key. At first it caused a problem, but later they agreed. When the two are outside and one is going to arrive before the other, the key stays with the guard. And it got to a point where they were both so busy that one found the other sleeping. “We weren’t talking, even though we lived together,” Karina confessed. They discussed it and also reached an agreement. When they are in their intense days, they wake up to talk for a moment or have a kiss.
That time Hugo Siles resigned from the Ministry of Autonomy, Karina reveals that he was very “stressed out”. “He doesn’t like to go to the doctor, but he had to and they detected high blood pressure. I was his nurse, ”she says. Much later, Hugo became the head of the National Council for the Fight against Illicit Drug Trafficking (Conaltid).
Karina has not stopped her activities as a leader of Valle Sánchez. In the two years of her government, she has managed to get the municipality to fix the streets of her neighborhood and also install led luminaires. Soon, through a government program, the roads will be tiled. “I like politics. I think that the politician is born out of a necessity… ”, adds the woman, but she speaks carefully.
She loves being a free soul and perhaps that is why she remains cautious when it is her turn to talk about politics. “Maybe it will encourage me to apply for something a year later (for the subnational elections). But something national for me is very big, it requires preparation and I am not ready yet, ”she explains. She joins: “People make fun of the candidate, but it is difficult to be. You don’t think about the party, but about what you can do for your region”.
They have said it many times, but at stake. First Karina details: “We are living our present (with Hugo) and if we both want to, we will continue with our future.” Later, she improves the idea: “Yes, I would marry him, since I feel that we are imperfectly made for each other.”
Joking, she told him several times: “When I marry you… will it be with an African theme? And he looks at her and they laugh. His friends tell him that “they are just the same”, because they are both “unbearable”.
Travel? Yes together. They want to tour the US, Cuba and Cape Verde. But they do not rule out knowing more places in the world. That, for them, is very “fun”.
Karina confesses that she is very independent in her activities. “We are building our history together. When we fight, we both admit our mistakes. I try not to live under his shadow or he under mine, ”she argues. That has made the relationship flow. They are in contact all the time. When they decide, they eat a grilled pacú, Hugo’s temptation, or simply a majao or garlic shrimp.
Many times Karina had to go to La Paz for him. Now the trips have stopped. They feed her days of love. The model’s life has not changed and congratulations from her followers for her work abound on social networks. When she’s with him, she doesn’t think about the catwalks or the television. She is just Karina. She will want to be a mother one day, but she has not set a date. She is the mannequin that she falls in love with, sleeps and kisses with power.