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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Place in the Sun

In the Netherlands, emigration is a hot-item. Many dream about it, only few do it. And that’s only good, if you realize that half of all emigrants return within ten years. Whatever, in the Netherlands there is a lot of understanding and admiration for emigrants. We experienced that to the fullest, he or she who emigrates is a star (for a short time).

But a real star doesn't stop there. He reports himself for the program 'I leave' (compare with the BBC program ‘a place in the sun’) of the Tros, because there you don't shine just for friends and family or the police officer that gives you a fine and confesses like a toddler that he 'too has plans to emigrate'. no there you will shine at least one night for a minimum of 1 million viewers.

The in general family minded French understand little to nothing about this migration trend: “mais votre famille alors?”, why leave the country where all of your family lives... incomprehensible, incomprehensible... migrating to have more space, what’s the point? The TV-show wouldn't catch on here, that much is clear. But sometimes I like to watch one of the transmissions, because in every man hides a disaster tourist.

In the last transmission we saw a family from Beverwijk that tried their luck in Tjechië. For their idyllic hovel where everything is as old as rotten for which they paid 'only 140.000 euro'. Well congratulations.. however one doesn't need to be a investigator to know that for this kind of farm in Tjechië not more than a tenth of that amount is being asked. Above all they didn’t speak one word Tjech and they were very surprised that in the little village no one spoke German or English. The major explicitly took out a dictionary and showed it to the family in front of the camera: 'Look this is a dictionary, and this is the language we speak'. Luckily for the family there was their saviour, prepared to help out for free - at no charge - to advise and translate and help out as a translator. Month's later when it became apparent that their translator had not warned them for the way to high a price, the reply of the mother was: “But well, we didn't we hire her for that". Hired? She did everything for free, didn’t she? No, there are some emigrants whom I cannot identify myself with.

But I must admit... if we had to do it again, we would do it differently. The first and worst error was to attract a third person into our quest, who in exchange claimed a saying about the house and above all thought my input was completely needless, after all a mere woman and therefore feeble minded. At a certain point I had enough and showed him kindly the way out.

Me: "Now you listen to me, I'm fed up being treated like a moron, so if you don't like it, you can go!"
He, meanwhile punching my nose with his finger: "and you, don't think you know it all!"

Yes, things could run like that, the viewers of the TV-program would have loved it. But well, I'm glad we could put him outside of our live and do this for out of reach of the camera's eye. We learned that it is not a problem to get a third party into the search as long as everything is clearly put down and there is a point to complain when you're not happy.

What leads me automatically to the next thing, and that is that I consented with a house that had one big insurmountable fault from the beginning: not the concrete wall of our neighbours, not the balcony that’s about to come apart, not the grouts between the bricks, no nothing like that. But the road so nearby in front of our house. Yes mom, in front of it!

During the week (workdays) the sound of specially the freighters is so loud that we decided not to stay here for ever. And that’s a coincidence, because just today there was an editorial in the newspaper about the prices for houses, especially old houses in France, will go down by as much as 18 %. Favourable for people that want to buy a house in France, but not so favourable for people that want to sell their house. So you can see where it leads to if you are too much in a hurry. But well for the moment, the house is my biggest hobby, so it isn't all that bad after all.

Whatever after a year and a half, I know the impact of migrating is enormous, much bigger than moving from one town to another. By realising your long held dream you all of a sudden grow up. It’s a giant leap in your way up the mountain. Ruud described it as follows: "We started here not from an ideal situation, far from that, but we have a vision in our mind, which only we can see. Before we lived in a world prefabricated, mainly made by others. Now we live in a world that we build up from the ground all by ourselves, that’s often very hard, but it is our world."

And I think that describes the essence of migration: to build your own world, like a child building a hut. It is a bunch of branches where wind and rain pass through, but it is your hut. That wish is so all consuming that you leave everything behind, the last glimpse of your house tears apart your hart, especially when your children are born there and grown. Terrible, it's terrible. It seams like a traumatic experience for every emigrant. But still you go because in life you must take steps that are not a logic continuation of those before, you have to make your way through bushes and shrubs, in stead of taking the next easy path. One responds to the primordial man in yourself, the nomad the explorer, what’s wrong with that. And that’s why I say, like all the other emigrants in the tv-show: "Sorry? Me? What for?, This is the best we ever did."

Why should I be sorry? I didn't do anything!

posted by Ruud at 12:00  |  send a comment

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