Translation takes their makers to fresh imaginary worlds with each new commission. It can also lead them to places they don’t know in the real world and lead to unanticipated changes of direction in their lives and art. This essay explores the routes via which one translator, myself, moved from working with two literary exiles, Spaniard Juan Goytisolo and Uruguyan Juan Carlos Onetti, to translating Cuban and Catalan writers. Becoming a full-time literary translator assumes a pro-active, hands-on attitude to projects but is also driven by politics and imaginative literary connections. Each re-writing of another writer forms part of an apprenticeship in which the translator enters another style in one language he then refashions in English. It is an accumulation of literary linguistic experience galvanised by contact with the historical contexts informing each style, in this case travel to Marrakesh, Montevideo, Havana and Barcelona.