Venezuelan Refugees – a ray of light

In a humanitarian gesture, Colombia is giving citizenship to more than 24,000 babies of Venezuelan refugees born in the country, who would otherwise be undocumented. “To those who want to use xenophobia for political goals, we take the path of fraternity,” said  President Iván Duque.  This in spite of the strain on the country’s resources.

 

Fleeing food shortages, blackouts and hyperinflation caused by Venezuela’s catastrophic economic collapse.

Nearly 4 million Venezuelans have fled economic and political turmoil in their country. Americans hear more about the refugee crisis at the US-Mexican border, but thousands cross the Venezuelan-Colombian border every day. They flee food shortages, blackouts and hyperinflation caused by the country’s catastrophic economic collapse.

This picture below is from a Cornish family’s year long sojourn in Colombia where many Venezuelans have found refuge.  Some enterprising soul has found a way to make a peso.….. making them into purses and wallets to sell!

“With inflation running at over 1,000,000%  Venezuelan bank notes are worthless….. Sad, but resourceful.”  See their blog : https://brierleysouthamericanadventure.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/visits-and-venezuelans/comment-page-1/?unapproved=145&moderation-hash=6be59317727dd3e01958da9fc25a4543#comment-145

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Black History Month: A starter reading list

Black History Month began in 1926 as a way for remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It still pays tribute to those who struggle(d) against unfairness and adversity. It is celebrated in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. February was chosen as the birthday month of two men who greatly influenced the black American population, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Also in February, 1870 black citizens were granted the right to vote (at least legally) in the US; in February 1909 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded and Rosa Parks was also born in February (1913). For more information go to https://asalh.org/


Below is a short list of some books by or about people of African descent that I have enjoyed. They reflect multiple themes and genres and are in no particular order.

41SKsBaGXRL._SX301_BO1,204,203,200_I know Why the Caged Bird Sings –  
a wondrous memoir by Maya Angelou  

 

Dreams from my Father:

A story of race and inheritance by Barack Obama

 

 

AmericanMarriage     An American Marriage by Tayari Jones –the sad tale of a black man sent to prison and of lives ripped apart

 

I loved this book

The Help by Kathryn Stockett shopping-1

(and the movie too) set in Mississippi in the 1960’s

ThingsFallApart      Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe – great literature about pre-colonial life in Nigeria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ColorPurple             The Color Purple by Alice Walker – a very moving novel set the 1930’s

 

Hidden_Figures_book_cover      Hidden Figures by Lee Shetterly– about four black women and the space race (and yes – also a good movie!).

 

On My To Read LIST:

414JfiBCutL Becoming – a memoir by the inspirational Michelle Obama (on most every one’s list!)

 

frederick-douglass-9781416590316_lg    Frederick Douglass by David Blight, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

Contra Costa County Libraries also has a list of recommendations along the lines of Black Migrations: go to https://guides.ccclib.org/blackhistorymonth
There are so many more. Please add your own favorites in the comments below for others to enjoy.

My Year in Books 2018 (Part II)

Last week I reviewed four entertaining novels: The Hummingbird’s Daughter, Secrets of a Charmed Life, Honolulu and A Dog’s Purpose. Below I include some more worthy books with brief descriptions.

I’m not a big reader of nonfiction and have been disappointed in some of those with high reviews (but that’s just me). One worth mentioning however is Thailand in Perspective by James King. King is an entertaining writer who lives in Thailand and has written a trilogy of these books including: 15 weeks (Vol. 1 – free on Kindle) and Driving Thailand (Vol.2). I’ve never been there, but his writing makes me want to go. Even if you are not planning a visit this is good travel-armchair reading.

Other Novels I enjoyed last year are:

Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks –a compelling story about a missionary’s daughter and a Native American student at Harvard – one constrained by his skin the other by her sex. Moving and at times triumphant; set in mid 1600’s.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

A charming and wise little fable. A shepherd boy travels through Spain and northern Africa in search of treasure and finds simple truths.

Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah – written in present tense, about a dysfunctional family, and in past tense is the haunting saga of WWII Leningrad. Two sisters come to understand their dynamics in a satisfying conclusion.

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman – Enjoy the plot and the writing, full of symbolism – look for the flowers, birds and all the “opposites.” The story, set in St. Thomas, is about artist Pissarro’s extraordinary family life.

shopping

A Gentleman in Moscow – To be honest I had trouble getting through this highly acclaimed book. Amor Towles’ fans will be appalled I know, but here’s why: it is long with no page-turning plot. That said, Towles is a literary writer and I appreciated the fine writing about post-revolutionary Russia.

51oop9-0vkl._ac_us327_ql65_

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland. Unusual story about strangers who band together, to escape the Black Plague wreaking havoc in a bleak, muddy landscape. The pilgrims have been compared to the Canterbury Tales, also set in the14thcentury, each has a secret. Slow but worthwhile with a surprise ending.

51Ix-oAS0zL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett is also good. A novel about two families and how each member’s life is changed by an affair between two of the parents. Bel Canto is still my favorite Patchett book.

potw_paper_phone.png


A Piece of the World
by Christina Baker Kline, based on the real story of Christina Olson and Andrew Wyeth . I think those interested in art will like it. Orphan Train is my favorite book by her, but many would disagree with me.

Have you read any of these books?  Do you have others to recommend?

From Rainy UK to Chile

I discovered ExPat Magazine interviews expats just like I do – so … “Meet Nina, serial expat who been living out of a suitcase since she was 18. With a background in luxury travel, she was thrilled at the opportunity to move to one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Chile.” She says the weather in the capitol, Santiago, is fabulous!

worldtravel guide

photo from worldtravelguide.net

 

Chile occupies a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean so the climate ranges from dry desert, Mediterranean, to snow capped peaks and glaciers. The arid Atacama Desert in northern Chile is famous for beautiful green rocks full of copper. The population and agricultural resources are concentrated in the central area with its mild Mediterranean climate. Southern Chile is scenic with forests, volcanoes and lakes and the coast is a labyrinth of fjords, peninsulas, and islands.

Nina was interviewed on her experiences and answers practical questions on expat life in Santiago and beyond:

“My name’s Nina, and I’m from the UK. I moved to Chile with my family in January 2018.”

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photo: Expat.com

 

“Prior to this, my husband was working in Nigeria, and the original plan was to meet up there. However I was pregnant, and with two kids already we weren’t sure our situation in Nigeria was going to work for us, so we switched to Chile. Right now I’m blogging and enjoying getting to know this fabulous country. My background is public relations for luxury brands and I’m working as a freelance writer and blogger.”

See the interview and check out the expat blog (full of practical tips about living abroad): https://www.expat.com/en/expat-mag/2318-a-british-expat-in-chili.html

 

 

Centennial of World War I 1914-1918 – Effects on Personal Lives

This does not fall under the usual themes for this blog but, I’m writing to honor those who fought in WWI because this year marks the 100th anniversary of the end. All wars are horrible, but what brought it to life for me were the highly acclaimed Australian movie Gallipoli (back in the 1980’s), the novel Birdsong and discovering my own grandfather’s brother had been killed in France shortly after his 19th birthday.

clipping Earl died WWI

 

 

 

My great uncle Earl – one of the millions of young men who never got to marry or enjoy his youth – or the life he should have had. He left no direct descendants – he has only us to preserve his memory. (Wouldn’t he be surprised to know people would be reading about him 100 yrs. later?) I might have met him in my own youth if he’d lived.

Many puzzle still as to why all the  world’s great economic powers were drawn into this war over an assassination. But the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was just the trigger. Once the Austro- Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, the international alliances (pledged to defend each other) fell into place like a line of dominos.

Once I happened by chance, to be walking through the countryside near the German-French border and I noticed a long, straight ditch that was grown over and partially filled in. With a jolt I realized it was a World War I trench.  On that spot, and in the whole area, so many young men died on both sides.  I will never forget the eerie sensation – more disconcerting than any other grave site – it was hallowed ground.  It began to thunder and I could almost imagine the fear of hearing the shells overhead.

 

canadian-soldiers-going-over-trench

Canadian soldiers going over a trench.

 

Sebastian Faulks’ novel, Birdsong, introduced me to a wonderful writer – and the incalculable suffering during WW I. It starts out with a love story in Amiens, France where Stephen, the English protagonist, will return to fight – and a surreal existence in the trenches. From there we see lives ruined even among the survivors.

 

In spite of the horrors, it is a magnificent book.  After years on the bombed out fields destroyed of all vegetation, Stephen marvels  to hear the songs of birds again, when the war is finally over.  I also don’t normally read books about war with many battle scenes, but once I started reading this one, I couldn’t put it down.

Constant fear, noise, mud, barbed wire, cold with no end in sight was the daily fare for men who lived in the damp trenches, which occasionally flooded. Men died on the battlefield but many, who would have lived with modern medicine, died of their wounds from delayed treatment and gangrene.  After a year or more, the men felt forgotten and sacrificed; enlisted men hardly ever got much leave (although officially they were due a week every four months). They were in bitter despair at best, crazed at worse. Almost all entered an altered mental state of numbness.

Gallipoli, a narrow peninsula in northwestern Turkey was the site of the disastrous defeat of the allies, due to poor planning, leadership and insufficient artillery.

owen.cholerton.oghttp://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/the-gallipoli-campaign/introduction

The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand, where many felt the ANZAC soldiers had been used as “cannon fodder.”  Allegiance to the British Empire was now questioned –- this occurred in Canada as well.   Most of the surviving soldiers were then sent to the nightmare in France.

jacka_artv00026_lge

Aussie recruiting poster needs no comment.

 

 

Another recruiting poster showed  a man in uniform with a beauty on  either arm.  Thus were patriotic    young men lured into the war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living in New Zealand in the 1980’s made me aware of the part the “colonials” played. I learned that 40% of the New Zealand troops were wounded and 19% never came home. The experience of Premier Seddon’s three sons was typical: Richard was killed in France; Thomas decorated for bravery, returned and became a Member of Parliament; the  Stuart spent the rest of his life in psychiatric care as a result of the trauma.  20% of the  men had serious health or mental problems and many more “could not or would not relate their experiences – it was so hellish in relation to civilian life they could not explain it.”

Driving through the country, one is struck by hundreds of war memorials, found in towns small and large they reflect the communal grieving and the profound effect these casualties had.

Dedication_of_National_War_Memorial_Carillon,_Wellington

Dedication of National War Memorial Carillon, Wellington, New Zealand 1932

 

Inglewood war-memorial

 

The USA entered the war in 1917, when spies discovered a message from Germany to the Mexican government, promising them Texas and New Mexico if they sided with Germany in the war. When the Americans arrived they brought fresh hope to the allied troops. In France they were welcomed with open arms; too young to drink at home they developed a taste for French wine, while the French developed a taste for jazz, thanks to the African-American troops.

Unclesamby cafepress

This is the original Uncle Sam recruiting poster. (Cafepress.org)

 

(If you’ve been following me for a time this post may look familiar. I am republishing for the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI for Veterans Day)

In Flanders Fields (excerpt)
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

                   In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,                                                                          between the crosses row on row….
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields…(where poppies grow).

Have books, movies or some personal experience made a war seem more real than the history books to you?

 

 

The Classroom of Diversity: Expat File #19

My expat guest this week is Tanya Crossman an Australian who lives in Beijing, China. Tanya has written an interesting book about the impact, positive and negative, on children growing up overseas. Here she tells us a bit about her experiences as an expat.

wombat

8 year-old Tanya holding a baby wombat in Australia.

I spent most of my childhood as a local in Australia, and most of my adulthood as an expatriate in China (with time in the US and Cambodia along the way). I recently spent three years in Australia, riding the insane wave that is repatriation after 11 years away. Then I married an American TCK* and moved back to Beijing.                                                                   (TCK = Third Culture Kid, a term applied to children raised outside their passport countries. First Culture refers to countries in which a child has legal standing (passport country); Second Culture refers to any culture the child meaningfully interacts with through residence or heritage; the Third Culture refers to their shared childhood experiences of growing up in between countries and cultures.)

Now I’m experiencing life as a strange mixture of foreign and familiar, while rediscovering what I love about this city.   Somewhere in the middle, I began mentoring teenage and young adult TCKs. Ten years later I wrote a book explaining the impact of an international childhood, and how TCKs feel about their lives. My main focus now is equipping carers of TCKs (parents and teachers, in particular) to better support the young people they work with.

That is the short explanation of my expatriate experience. The long story is, well, much longer. Today I’m meditating on my first year in China, and how that set me up for all that was to come. Living overseas during my twenties had a huge impact on my life’s direction – sending me places I could never have imagined.

At the Great Wall of China

This happened in large part because of the incredible diversity of people I met and befriended. I had a reasonably multi-cultural group of friends growing up in Australia, and I spent two years attending high school in the US. Yet I had never spent time with such varied groups of people – people from different countries, cultures, languages, current socio-economic positions and backgrounds, and separate assumptions about the world.

Living in Beijing I met people from literally all over the world. Even my Chinese friends came from all over the country. My friends included exchange students, post-grads, teachers, business people, musicians, diplomats, doctors, asylum seekers, pastors, and more. They came from a vast range of social and educational backgrounds and incomes. Some were barely scraping by, others had money to burn.

large group

A diverse group of friends, from six continents: Australia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Guyana, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Nigeria, Portugal, Romania, Sierra Leone, Singapore, UK, and USA.

 

Sometimes I was the odd one out – the only one of a different nationality, the only one who didn’t speak the main language around the table, the only one without disposable income, the only one with any income, the one with either the most liberal or the most conservative views. Other times I was in the majority – whether of ethnicity, language, values, or income. The extraordinary diversity among the people I met and shared life with affected me in many ways. The ethnic nuances and contrasts challenged my ideas about the world – what is right, desirable, and permissible.

Diversity of Beauty
Diversity changed my understanding of beauty – and my self-perception. It became very clear to me that beauty standards are utterly arbitrary – there is no one way to be beautiful. It seems like a simple thing, but I had never seen it so clearly demonstrated in practice.

In Beijing I had girlfriends from literally six continents with all different skin colours, hair colours, body shapes, and attitudes. They also grew up absorbing beauty standards very dissimilar to my own. It was literally impossible for us all to be ‘right’ about what was truly beautiful. Hearing those unconsciously accepted ‘truths’ from their lips made me more conscious of the ‘truths’ I had learned to speak over myself. Not only that, but I looked at these women who I knew were truly beautiful and realized that there was no common pool of features they all had – beauty had to be something less concrete than that. Beauty had to be something far less exclusive than any of us inherently believed when we looked in the mirror.

Diversity of Values
Diversity challenged my values. It led me to consciously examine beliefs I’d taken for granted. I suspect this happens to many people in their twenties anyway – when you move outside your family, your local circles, you are bound to run into people with at least slightly different values. In Beijing, the divergence was amazing.

FB_IMG_1521601241915

At the ancient Temple of Heaven in Beijing

 Around almost every table were people with vastly different views and values on just about everything. I saw people discuss (and argue) their differences of opinion in disparate ways. Most importantly, I saw my own values critiqued. I began to see how my actions might appear from the outside. I began to recognize blind spots in Australian culture, and flaws in my personal approach to life.

There were also friends who lived out virtues I theoretically appreciated, but hadn’t seen so well practiced before. People who were relentlessly joyful, kind, or gracious. People who skillfully balanced both ambition and generosity, both achievement and humility. Watching and listening and considering differences in the way people chose to act and interact with each other was a valuable education.

Diversity of Lifestyles

I came to Beijing with a one year study program, fully intending that a year later I would return to Australia and find a graduate position in some sort of multinational company. My view of what was possible was quite narrow. Diversity changed my ideas about what I could do with my life – and how I could live it.

Surrounded by people who had chosen very different paths, I realized other directions were possible. They might not have seemed possible in Australia – perhaps they really would not have been possible to me there – but living somewhere else, other options seemed open to me.

I didn’t work out immediately what I wanted to do, but I found in myself a longing to see what else was out there. That feeling was enough to prompt me to extend my stay in Beijing and see what would happen.

     The rest, as they say, is history.

Tanya’s book is called “Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century.”   It explores the impact international life has on the children  – while they live overseas, when they return, and as they mature into adults. This “Third Culture” is described through the personal stories of hundreds of individuals.  It is sold both as paperback and ebook by most online booksellers. (Misunderstood can be found on Amazon; see her website for other venues.) Tanya can often be found online, usually on facebookinstagram, or  twitter and occasionally at her website.

Many thanks to Tanya for sharing her adventures and insights. Don’t be shy – share your own in the comments below!

 

Spanish Refugees from Franco’s War (excerpts from Christian Zozaya’s draft memoir, Culture Shock)

This is the last segment I have of Christian Zozaya’s memoir stretching from the Spanish civil War through WWII and his childhood (and adulthood) in South America.  Here is a brief recap for those of you joining us late: Born in Madrid, six-year-old Christian was evacuated to Barcelona with his family because of Franco’s War. As German troops marched into Austria, Mussolini increased bombing of the Spanish coast and Barcelona became as dangerous as Madrid, thus it was decided to send little Christian to boarding school in England. He was thrust alone into another culture and had to quickly learn English to communicate. The situation in Spain became so dire that his entire family had to escape over the Pyrenees and into France with only the clothes on their backs and whatever they could carry. His parents became separated and more hardships ensued, but strangers helped them and friends loaned them money so they could reunite with Christian now age 8. This is where we left off in his story.

I had not spoken Spanish since the previous September except for the brief visit by my parents in October and I had forgotten how to speak the language. Fortunately I could still understand Spanish, but my answers at first were limited to Si and No.

 Eventually all my family managed to cross the puddle…my grandparents and my uncle and aunt boarded a ship and went to Mexico. Dad chose to go to Colombia (where) two of his former students, Colombians, procured a contract for him with the Ministerio de Trabajo, Higiene y Previsión Social.

margaret johnson_04

(wikipedia.org)

We boarded the ship on May 11th and departed for Colombia. Molly gave me a book  “Great Sea Stories of All Nations”  that I still have it in my library. The M/S Margaret Johnson was a mixed cargo and passenger ship with capacity for sixty passengers and “all modern conveniences” such as electric fans and running water in the cabins. All the passengers were Spanish Republican refugees.

We made land on May 28th at a town called Puerto Colombia… the main port for Colombia since 1893. We stayed in Puerto Colombia a few days until the next riverboat was due to depart (from) Barranquilla on the shore of the Magdalena River. A railway ran between Puerto Colombia and Barranquilla  and we

www.tramz (1)

(www.tramz)

went to Barranquilla the day before the boat was to leave. We boarded the S.S. Pichincha, a stern wheeler with four decks. The main deck was reserved for the cargo; the second deck held the third class cabins, the second class cabins were on the third deck and the first class cabins were on the fourth (upper) deck. The pilot house stood in front of the first class cabins and there was a small cannon mounted on its roof.

The cargo on this trip was about twenty head of cattle so when Father bought the tickets he asked for the first class deck. The man who was selling the tickets asked him if he wanted a cabin. It seems that if you bought the ticket for just the deck that’s where you slept. Father bought the tickets for the cabin as well.

Example of a sternwheeler (notice rear of riverboat). Photo wikipedia.

Example of a sternwheeler (notice rear of riverboat). Photo wikipedia.

The trip up the Magdalena River to Puerto Salgar took eight days. The new experience started when we went down to the dining room for lunch. Hanging large on the back wall of the room was a sign.

SE RUEGA A NUESTRA DISTINGUIDA CLIENTELA

NO DISPARAR ARMAS DE FUEGO

EN EL COMEDOR

 In other words if you are going to shoot somebody please don’t spoil our dinner, do it outside on deck.

The diet was unusual for our European tastes. The first course of the meal was not a bowl of soup but a glass of pawpaw juice and then followed a soup like we had never had before. It was known as “mazamorra” and it had ingredients such as yucca and corn that had never formed part of our diets. After a more or less normal main course we had guava preserve for dessert.

During the afternoon the ship’s “orchestra” assembled on the deck in order to entertain us. This ensemble consisted of people who couldn’t afford the fare to so they agreed to pay by playing in the “orchestra” for as long as they were aboard. The group consisted of five people and they only had two songs in common; one was the “Guabina Chiquinquireña” – I forget what the other one was. They all wanted to go to Bogotá which meant that we listened alternately to the two songs for every afternoon of the eight days that the trip took.

We had to retire to our cabin when the sun set because the people who had paid to be on the first class deck, but had not paid for a cabin pulled out canvas cots, opened them, took off their clothes, put on their pajamas and went to sleep.

wikipedia.org

Rio Magdalena ending in Barranquilla

On the eighth day we arrived in Puerto Salgar and it was time to leave the ship and board a train. When somebody asked what the fare was the station master lined us all up pointed to each Spanish refugees with his forefinger as he counted us and pondered for a while. He hemmed and hawed and came up with a figure; the group tried to pay it proportionately to the size of each contingent. The train chugged up the slopes of the Cordillera Oriental until we reached Bogotá.

The President of Colombia was Eduardo Santos (1938 – 1942). He had been instrumental in allowing Spanish Republican refugees into the country against the opposition of several members of his Cabinet. Colombia received us with mixed feelings. The political world was divided into, the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Liberals liked us because to a greater or lesser degree we were from the political left, but disliked us because we came from Spain, the colonizing power. The conservatives disliked us because to a greater or lesser degree we were from the political left but liked us because we came from Spain. There was also the fear that the Spaniards would take jobs away from the Colombians.

My parents did not want me to forget the English that I had learned during my stay in England so they enrolled me in the Anglo-American School (attended by expats from all over Europe). Being taught in two languages was good for me. Leaving a class in say geography that was taught in English and ten minutes later receiving a class in Spanish forced me to switch not only languages but my whole train of thought …

On September 1st (1939) World War II began. It had been well rehearsed by Germany and Italy in my home country. (Meanwhile) Dad was working on the malaria campaign which meant that he had to travel through the lowlands of the country: Los Llanos, through which the best means of transportation was often by boat. Not a steamboat such as the Pichincha, but a dugout canoe fitted with an outboard motor.

DrZozaya on his way to work circa 1940.

Dr. .Carlos Zozaya on his way to work circa 1940. (Zozaya Collection)

 

To get where the boat was he had to fly by commercial airliner and very often all three of us went to see him off at the airport.

 

Mother and I see Dad off at Techo airport.

Mother and I see Dad off at Techo airport. (Zozaya collection)

Sometimes Dad had to go to very remote places where there were no commercial flights close to where he wanted to go. One of these was Leticia, a town situated where the borders of Colombia, Brazil and Peru meet. The area of course is called Las Tres Fronteras. The southern tip of Colombia is the only place where it reaches the Amazon River and Leticia is one of two major ports on the Amazon, the other being Manaos in Brazil.

The Colombian army had a base there and the place was reachable only by float plane. The planes approached the town by following the river, flying just over the tops of the trees. When they reached the clearing they dived down and straightened out just in time for the floats to touch the water. The city has an international airport now and there are three Colombian airlines as well as several international ones that reach the city but at the time that was all the transport available.

During one of Dad’s trips a soldier had an attack of appendicitis. There was no hospital but an army doctor decided to operate. The operating room was a mud brick shack with a dirt floor, open windows, and the operating table was a door resting on two wooden boxes with a mattress on top.

The spaces outside the windows were full of curious people looking in while the doctor operated and his assistant stood by with a tray full of instruments covered by a cloth with which he would occasionally shoo away the flies. The soldier did survive.

One of his trips to Leticia Dad was told that he could not return on the plane because one of the pontoons was leaking. Sure enough when the plane took off he saw that water was coming out of one. What annoyed him was that he was the only person who was asked to leave the plane. When he asked when the next plane was due he was told that he would have to wait for a week. Dad didn’t complain but he sent President Santos a telegram. The next day a tandem cockpit biplane arrived in Leticia. The weather was dreadful (but) Dad climbed in the plane and flew back to Bogotá.

www.skyfighters.be

This is what the biplane may have looked like. (www.skyfighters.be)

On another trip he met an itinerant salesman… another Spaniard who was selling hand-powered sewing machines to the women in the bush. How he carried the machines I do not know but he walked through the forest plying his trade. He told Dad that once he walked into a huge clearing and found a city in the middle of the jungle. The place had public transport and an opera house. The man had stumbled into Manaos.

This is the tale of Christian Zozaya’s disrupted early childhood as an expat. The Zozaya family later moved to Venezuela where Christian will eventually meet his wife and both become professors. But before that he will return to Europe and travel the continent. Thank you to Christian for letting us share these excerpts of your unusual life.

This memoir is so interesting we can only hope he decides to publish it so we may read it in its entirety.  (I am re-posting this  blog which was popular a few years ago – with minor edits.)  It seems to echo the experiences of refugees today.