The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogotá

6

This is Jorge

1

Jorge is a 26-year-old pipe designer at an engineering firm in Bogotá. A coworker told him that she had seen someone who looked exactly like him at a butcher shop. Jorge was surprised. He has a twin brother, but they are fraternal twins.


This is William. He looks just like Jorge.

2William grew up in a remote farm in Santander. He works as a manager at a butcher shop in Bogotá and is friends with Jorge’s coworker’s friend. Jorge’s coworker showed him pictures of William on Facebook. As Jorge was going through William’s pictures, he noticed yet another familiar face. He saw a man who looked like his brother, Carlos.

 

William (left) and Jorge (right) meet for the first time

3

Their similar looks are not a coincidence. After meeting each other, they realized that they are identical twins who were accidentally switched at birth with another set of identical twins.

 

Carlos (left) and Wilbur (right)

4Carlos (L) and Jorge grew up as brothers in Bogotá. He works as an accountant. Wilbur (R) and William grew up together in a remote village in rural Santander. He works in the butcher shop with William.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that Wilbur’s (R) hands are bigger and more swollen from working in the butcher shop and hacking sugar cane with machetes as a child. Carlos’s (L) hands, on the other hand, are perfectly manicured, like that of many young urban professionals. You’ll also notice that Carlos (L) is slightly taller than Wilbur (R), thanks to the better nutrition he received growing up in the city.

 

Jorge (left) and William (right)

5

Had they not been switched at birth, William (R) the butcher would have grown up going to school in Bogotá, instead of working in rural farm fields.

William worked hard to try to get out of his disadvantaged position. When he was in the military, he won an award that would have guaranteed him a scholarship to petty-officer training. However, he later found out that the scholarship required the equivalent of a high school diploma, something he did not have.

William’s parents took him out of school when he was 12. The closest high school was a five-hour walk away, so the family would need money to house him and pay for uniforms/entrance fees/etc. They would also have lost a source of labor for their farm.

 

Carlos in Santande

6Carlos the accountant would have grown up in this house, in a remote village in Santander.


The four brothers in Santander

7(From left) Wilber the butcher, Carlos the accountant, William the butcher, and Jorge the engineer. Jorge and Carlos grew up in a poor/lower middle-class family in the city, whereas William and Wilber grew up in a poor family in the country. It’s incredible how their careers have been shaped by where they grew up.

 
 

William and Wilber’s parents, Carmelo and Ana, at their home in Santander

8Carmelo and Ana are Wilber and Carlos’s birth parents. William and Wilber grew up in this house. It has no toilet, no drywall, no paint, just wooden sides, and a wood-­burning stove with a pipe jutting out of the roof.

 

The four brothers in Bogotá

9

(From left) Jorge, William, Carlos, and Wilbur.

All these photos were taken by Stefan Ruiz for The New York Times. To learn more about their story, go to http://nyti.ms/1eKL9oA. Summary adapted from Imgur user Skydiver.

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