Becoming best friends with someone who couldn’t understand a word I said


Most of us have best friends, and each story is unique. Mine started when I was six.

It was my first day in Australia, a new, strange country where I couldn’t communicate with people yet because I couldn’t speak the language. It was my first experience with jetlag – me and my mum eating spaghetti at 4 am because of the time difference. Jane, five at the time, lived in the house behind mine. My stepdad and the neighbours surrounding our house got along pretty well, and he let her know that my mum and I were moving to Australia from Chile.

On our second day, Jane’s dad approaches the fence and talks to my stepdad. He tells him that his daughter wants to spend time with me. My stepdad told me, and I was hesitant. I couldn’t communicate with her, plus she had two large labradors. Throughout my whole childhood, I was terrified of dogs because of an incident with three Huskies who excitedly jumped on me as a baby.

After some convincing, I went over to her house and met the dogs. They were friendly, but I was still scared. That whole day consisted of us trying to talk through hand signals and playing in her cubby house. From that day, our friendship never stopped.

We experienced everything together – concerts, our first boyfriends, me learning English, our dogs passing away, high school and everything in between.

I asked Jane what she thought about our experience as best friends through the majority of our lives. She told me some of her “best memories” happened with me.

“Valeria and I grew up together and have experienced the good, the bad and the embarrassing,” she said. “She knows literally everything about me and my life and still loves me”

She has helped me in so many aspects of my life, even buying a Dora kids kitchen set to learn each other’s words.

Being best friends from two different cultures, we learned plenty from each other. She loves Chilean caramel ‘manjar’ and makes it at her own house. I love the pies her dad makes, something I had never eaten until coming to Australia. Pies aren’t a thing in Chile.

My life would not be the same without Jane. She made me motivated to learn English when I arrived so we could actually talk. I know my life would be very different if we had never crossed paths. It has been nearly 12 years, with a lifetime to go.

All photos courtesy Valeria Martinez

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