Saturday, 23 July 2011

The “E” word

I never thought I would be part of this big mass departure out of South Africa.  In fact, I remember that early in the previous decade, a colleague came to greet us.  He and his family were moving to Australia ....or somewhere.  I politely greeted him and wished him and his family well on their move and new ventures. I did not think much of it, but I do remember that I thought, let them go … it leaves more work opportunities for me and my family.  Naïve thinking ???
I never thought emigration is wrong, nor did I think it is right.  I just didn’t have an opinion about it.  If you want to do it, do it. If you want to stay, stay.
My deceased husband, Jan, always had this idea of moving or working somewhere else. He wanted to drive ice trucks in Canada/USA.  The next month he wanted to go work on an oil rig and other ideas including fishing in the icy northern seas.  Most of these types of adventure jobs can be seen on the Discovery Channel now.  Jan had an invisible adventure driven motor inside him and I am sure he would have made a huge success of any of these adventure jobs, but I felt he should be with his family. My opinion: his first priority should be with his wife and kids.
This in mind, Jan came home with a new idea… let’s move to Australia.  He can drive trucks through the outback.  After thinking about it for about a second I told him I do not want our kids to be without their grandparents.  As it was at that stage, we lived more than 500 km’s from our parents.  That was an 5+ hour’s drive or 40 minutes flight to see the grandchildren. How would they feel about an 8+ hours flight to see them?  It just did not feel right to me.
My opinion did not stop Jan from seeking to quench his adventure thirst and by the time he died in a car accident in 2005, he was busy researching several other ideas.
Soon after I met Sarel in 2006, I realized that his heart is also in some other country.  Not because he has an adventure seeking personality like Jan, but because he has had so much experience in other countries.  His mother is Dutch and Sarel has been exposed to Europe since childhood. As a Software Engineer he was sent to various countries for training or to do some other work. After University he went on a tour of Europe and in his career he’s been back to Europe several times.  Also been to USA, Russia, Mexico and several other countries for work and pleasure. He also lived and worked in London for a few months.
My international experience at the time I met Sarel was limited to Namibia.  Jan worked there as a Mechanic during the time they built the tar road in the Caprivi. I went to visit him for 3 weeks.  It was an awesome holiday, but, nothing different to South Africa. It was still the bushveld – just like we are used to in South Africa. Same culture, same lifestyle …. Nothing different.
In 2007 Sarel had to attend a training session in Greece and he organized for me to accompany him on the trip.  My first real “overseas” trip!!!
I was so not impressed with the Greek. We only had time to be in Athens and did not go to the islands, but in Athens, no sign of friendliness … Except in the tourist area, Plaka.  I think they were only friendly because they wanted our tourist money.  Athens reminded me of Cape Town … Table Mountain replaced with the Parthenon. But it was not a neat city. The gardens were not maintained, cars were not washed.  I did not like it.  The food were excellent though. I would love to go back one day … for the food and to experience the islands.
After Greece we went to London for a few days. This was a wonderful experience. The people were friendly and I enjoyed it.  We were lucky enough to get the best weather.  You know those 4 days of sunshine back in 2007, those were the 4 days we were in London J
We even visited friends of Sarel in the London Suburbs. I enjoyed seeing how people lived in London.  It really helps to see normality and not just to experience all the tourist things.
I thought it is not impossible to see me living in the UK.  But only for a while, maybe only for a couple of years.  Give the kids an opportunity to see Europe and then move back to South Africa.
That e-word, E-M-I-G-R-A-T-I-O-N … yes that one … I think not …. Not for me.  Let the others go ….
My roots are here in South Africa.
Or is it?

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