Friday, July 8, 2011

From Spain to UK via Eritrea...yes Eritrea

On the 4th of July we decided to leave Spain for a few days in London before heading home. We decided to fly Seville-London on EasyJet, one of a number of discount carriers that offer good prices between UK and the Continent. However, with EasyJet, everything is extra....baggage? Extra! Golf Clubs? Extra! Coffee? Extra!

If you can book well in advance, you can get some incredible deals...if you book a few days in advance, like we did, not such great deals...but lots of flights and fairly reliable service.

As we were checking in there were five very attractive young black girls, all wearing pink T-shirts indicating that they had been attending a 'hen party'. I must say, I was quite impressed that five girls would go to Seville from UK, just for a party. But that's the way it is in Europe...everywhere is quite close...Poland is two and a half hours away!

There is no assigned seating on the plane, and having wandered around the airport, we were amongst the last to get on. It turned out that the only remaining seat was in between these five ladies, and I apologized for taking it.

As often happens, we started to chat, and while I hadn't given much thought to these girls' backgrounds, as soon as I started to chat with two of them, I realized they weren't who I thought the might be, judging by their matching T-shirts and outward appearances.... if you know what I mean.

They immediately struck me as very sophisticated and worldly, and I soon discovered thatwhile some were born in UK, they were all professional women whose families had originally come from Eritrea. One was a doctor, one a lawyer, a pharmacist, a psychologist and a marketing manager. I told them I knew very little about their country, and they assured me I was not alone.

While I associate the country with the poverty of Africa, they surprised me by suggesting that they don't really think of themselves as Africans....given the longstanding association of their country with Italy. I did some research and in fact the country has had a very different history from some of the neighbouring countries. That being said, it has suffered in many ways, and I was particularly surprised to see that the country ranks 178 out of 178 when it comes to freedom of the press.

They encouraged me to visit their country.... assuring me that there was much more to it than the poverty and strife we often associate with nearby Somalia and Ethiopia...and I promised to consider a trip. The reality is that although I have now been to 73 countries in the world, I have never been anywhere in Africa....

The flight went very quickly. I was fascinated by the discussion, and promised to post my observations . One final comment...we got on to the topic of getting married, and how their families might react to them marrying men who were not from Eritrea. What would they think of one of them marrying a Jew I asked...

That would not be so replied. However, her parents would be quite upset if she was to marry a Nigerian!

All I could think of is that the world is not always how it appears to be! Best wishes to the young lady who's getting married....and to her four lovely friends.


Allison Stephens said...

In the UK, a large number of unemployed and underemployed people are seen among the British population. Pay is too good to be true. And hence many people select stagnation in career over spending a fortune in earning an MBA degree even though it might have meant a huge promotion but investing a huge amount of money on education especially when you have the responsibility of a family to cater to takes a lot of thinking and planning as well as guts.

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