First Listen: “Timestorm”

Welcome, welcome to the very first First Listen review here on ADR. Timestorm has been on my radar since I heard about it during my interview with Dania Ramos. I felt that it was about time to share my thoughts on Timestorm.

Black background with Timestorm in all capitals written across the top. Below is a helicopter. A relief of a lightenbolt is coming down the middle where two kids are standing holding hands. There is grass and plants on with side of them. With the CM in a split circle in the corner.
Timestorm (Credit: Hispanic Legacy Printmaking Studio)

In the twenty-first century, Alexa and Beni navigate middle school, friendship, and home life while keeping their time-traveling pursuits secret. When a natural disaster devastates islands across the Caribbean, the twin’s come to understand just what’s at stake for their ancestral home. As Puerto Rico faces an uncertain future, Alexa and Beni do all they can to witness, find, and remember its past.

Timestorm is an audio fiction podcast, created by Dania Ramos and engineered by Michael Aquino, following twelve-year-old twins Alexa and Beni Ventura as they witness moments from their culture’s past. It is a very different time travel story than what I am used to since the twins’ goal is, as their distant cousin Lt. Horacio Mendez(Louis Vetter) tells Alexa and Beni in the very beginning, “It’s not about changing history. The mission is to witness, find, and remember history.” This is extremely important for members of marginalized communities who have had their culture and history altered by colonization.

Alexa and Beni, voiced by Leilany Figueroa and Claudio Venancio, are each their own person while demonstrating a typical twin sibling relationship, for instance, Alexa loves biographies, where Beni loves comic books, a fact that comes into play in their missions themselves. One of the major issues that the twins face early in this story is the fate of their family in Puerto Rico. Timestorm begins twelve days after Hurricane Irma, a category five hurricane, skimmed the island, leaving large parts of the northeastern section without electricity. The characters don’t know it at this point, but the oncoming Hurricane Maria will devastate the people of Puerto Rico.

The twins are dealing with normal teenage angst in addition to worrying about their friends and family in Puerto Rico, so when they are sucked through the timestorm, it is understandable that they have completely different reactions. Alexa is of the opinion that she has enough to deal with and that it has to be a bad dream. Beni, on the other hand, sees the timestorm as a chance to escape his problems. He won’t be seen as “Weirdito” as his bullies like to call him. It isn’t until Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico that they grab onto the only hope they have, the timestorm. Even though they were told that they couldn’t change history, they can’t help but hope that there must be some sort of loophole that will allow them to warn the people of Puerto Rico.

Timestorm doesn’t alienate adult listening to the podcast either. Listeners witness how Alexa and Beni’s mother Clara (Jennica Carmona) deals, emotionally and practically, with her parents deciding to stay in Puerto Rico, despite her pleading with them to come to stay with them or to go to a shelter as the hurricane gets closer to the island. Ramos writing coupled with Carmona’s performance makes it easier for listeners to feel that fear and hopelessness as Clara is unable to do anything but watch the news and make phone calls.” These are all enhanced by the news stations informing Clara and the listener about the damages done to Puerto Rico. Even if the devastation brought on by Hurricane Maria didn’t affect the listener personally, Ramos writing coupled with Carmona’s performance allows listeners to step into the shoes of someone who was directly affected by the storm. It leaves us all wishing that the timestorm actually existed and allowed us to do something.

Timestorm tackles two issues simultaneously: the reclaiming of culture and history of minorities, by minorities, and the emotional devastation that natural disasters leave behind. In many ways, these two huge issues all revolve around one thing: the destruction of memory. Because that’s what history is, a collection of memories. It isn’t only the actual item or place that has the significance, but the memories attached to it. When those places and items are destroyed, we can only rely on memory, and unfortunately, those aren’t as easily passed down through time, especially not when the holders of memory are killed or oppressed into silence. So much is lost over time, too, to more natural destructive forces. Timestorm is giving the listeners a chance to not just learn about history, but experience it. I think it’s going to be very interesting to see how Timestorm is able to deal with the twins learning the true history of Puerto Rico and dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Based on the previous work from Cocotazo Media, their variety podcast Cocotazo Audio Theatre, I expect that they are going to tell a truly incredible story

An embed to RadioPublic’s direct link for episode 1: “The Storm Part 1” of Timestorm, which you can also find here.

You can find Timestorm online at Find them on Twitter at @CocotazoMedia. Don’t forget to subscribe and listen to Timestorm wherever you listen to podcasts.

Puerto Rico suffered a lot last year, and they didn’t get the help they needed. If you are able to donate supplies, time, or money, please think about helping the people of Puerto Rico. Keep in mind that this was from Hurricane Maria, and a new hurricane season begins in June. So If you have the ability, Cocotazo has a list of ways to donate on their website

I would also like to give a very special thanks to Elena Fernández Collins for helping me make sense of my ramblings. She is a very good egg and you should go subscribe to her newsletter and site, which can be found here.

Featured image credit: Riccardo Chiarini