Venezuela

Inseparable no more: Fab four branch out

When the Martinez quadruplets moved to Pinecrest from Venezuela about six years ago, they didn't stress about making friends. They already had three: each other.

"We never had to worry about fitting in, " Naidu said.

The foursome has been inseparable since they were born on Oct. 6, 1988. They hug, kiss and hold hands all the time. That's how it's always been -- until now.

Ricardo, Oscar, Naidu and Narubi Martinez recently graduated from Palmer Trinity School in Palmetto Bay. Come August, they'll be going off to three different out-of-town colleges. Only Oscar and Naidu will stay together, at Georgia Tech.

While the quadruplets have managed to avoid thinking about the separation, the somewhat-unsettling reality has sunk in with their parents who are faced with being empty-nesters when their children leave all at once.

Their mother Maigualida Martinez said quadruplets make most experiences more intense.

"They all started walking at the same time . . . Now all of them are going to college at once, " she said. "That's life."

The quadruplets were about to turn 12 when they migrated here with their parents -- Freddy Martinez, a financial advisor, and Maigualida, a marriage and family therapist.

Freddy said he asked his employer at the time, Merrill Lynch, to let him transfer here because he was scared of losing his job with the deteriorating state of Venezuela and wanted to ensure his children had a stable life, full of opportunities.

"For me, what was important was their future, " he said.

The foursome barely spoke English when they got here. Now, one of them, Ricardo, is even thinking about studying creative writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.

On graduation day, Ricardo recited a speech he wrote for his classmates.

The quadruplets are 18. They were born in two minutes, within 30 seconds of each other. They complete each other's sentences. Sometimes, they say, they even think alike.

Meet the foursome, by order of birth, and as described by each other and their parents:

Oscar is pragmatic and laid-back, yet shows a stubborn streak. He's intelligent and a skilled craftsman. He's considering engineering.

Ricardo is the more outgoing one. He's a bundle of energy, fun to be around and creative, though oftentimes a bit insecure about his accent.

Naidu is friendly and determined, but quite motherly at times. Her artistic talent is what sets her apart. Her paintings, spitting images of nature, hang around the house.

Narubi is the quiet, cheerful one. A humanitarian. Though somewhat shy, she can be assertive and rather perceptive. She chose to attend the University of South Florida in Tampa so she's only a five-hour drive away from Oscar and Naidu.

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