A lot can be said about Europe, and this time, the debate about who stays in the EU and who leaves. Britain will be holding a referendum, which will determine their fate. But you cannot miss the immigration issue, the big topic that has put everyone on an alert. This is the time that member countries have tried to undo the NO-boarder policy. And for me, this might not be the best time to visit this land of milk, honey and the sunny side up. First you have to go through a lot of scrutiny, as for me, my visa was denied until I had to appeal. Then you are on the watch, every step, when you arrive until the day you leave.
This did not dampen my spirit. I traveled to Barcelona to attend the JandBeyond conference, one of Joomla World Event. And when we landed and had disembarked, I was pulled aside by a Spanish Police, who expected me to respond to questions asked in Spanish. On learning that I couldn’t speak Spanish, he pulled me aside for a while. I can not blame him though, I was the only black person on the plane that had arrived from Istanbul, Turkey.
The best story is that I had a wonderful time in Barcelona, meeting my fellow Joomlars, I networked and had fun during my stay there. Jab16 was a great conference for me, it was the first time I was attending a Jab conference and I was not disappointed. After the conference, it was my birthday, and Rowan Hoskyns-Abrahall picked me from the hotel for a city tour with Alison Meeks. We visited the dead, who rested on the hill facing the sea. Later that day she made dinner for all. Cliff Pfeifer, George Wilson and David Steadson were in the house and when Rowan brought the cake, with candles waiting for me to make a wish. David was singing in Swedish while George was taking the video. This was one of my most treasured moment. The following day we went on a tour that ended at Makamaka Beach Burger Cafe for lunch and later I took my train to Perpignan, France.
Christine and Hagen Graf had booked my train to France and after driving 2000 Km from Germany, they arrived in good time to pick me. I was expected, and that felt good, I remember Christine’s first words after we had hugged was that she hoped I drink bubble water-carbonated water to be precise. Off course I did not forget Hagen picking me from the train station, and we drove 35km to Fitou enjoying the view of the Mediterranean, the lake and the hills where electricity is harvested.
I was at home in Fitou, I must say I have met very few people as kind as my hosts Hagen and Christine. They have a passion for improving old houses and giving them a new look, and all this they do with their hands. When Hagen talks about this, he says that they are preparing for their retirement, which might be true, but for me, I understand passion when I see one. I had my own apartment, the bed was big enough for my and my pillow, with a nicely decorated bedside lamp and side table. My bedroom was upstairs, the ground floors was filled with Kitchen machinery I never used a dinning table that I placed my key every time I was home and a sitting room that I sat in less than two minutes everyday.
Breakfast was served 8:30am every day except the day I was departing, then we had do earn our lunch, Hagen was demolishing the basement of my apartment to fit in a garage. We called that the demo day, and earned strawberries and Yogurt for lunch. We had to dump the waste some 5 km away, this is Europe, you just don’t put shit everywhere. This was my personal time with Hagen, we talked like real men, about real stuff. After a days work we were happy at the dinner table with candle light, Christine would prepare a meal and served, Hagen worked on the wine department, and kept our glasses half full, I was the handy man, the person who did not have a job description but still worked on something. Then we talked and laughed into the dark.
We jumped to the garden many times, through something that looked like a window but served as a door. One day while I was at the garden, Christine said “David can you please close the window for me” and I had to ask, whether it was a window or a door. I also picked strawberries from the garden, the day Jörg came and we went with him to buy Oysters and something I can’t remember. We also went to the lake so that he could show me how Oysters are kept. I tried my hand on dinner that day, with off course the help of Christine. And it was candles, wine and Oysters.
The following morning Jörg left for Switzerland early in the morning. The story was that he was wearing a camping light on his head, he did not want to switch on the light and wake Christine up, the story was funny. And that same day I earned my off day, 50 Euros and we went out for lunch. That afternoon we had a wonderful moment with Christine, walking around and testing wine. Then we finally arrived at the mayor’s office and bought some post cards. Later that day when I asked Hagen to sign them for me, he complained about the quality, opening his Flicker, he showed me with pictures he had taken himself, how beautiful Fitou is and kept complaining about the Mayor’s post cards.
During the neighbors party, there was food and drinks surrounded by people, some were crazy and others where just having a good time. Then there was loud music that went on the whole night and Christine could not sleep. The following morning, Hagen being a good husband tried to console her with words of encouragement, and it worked. The day before my travel was the family day out, there was no work. In the posh car we drove to Perpignan, walked around the market, ate chocolate and bought chicken for lunch. We later went to the beach and while we were walking this couple kissed by the sea for 15 minutes.
When my travel date arrived, I had wine from Fitou in my bag. Hagen drove me to the airport-in Barcelona. He had to pay for all the tolls. I remember telling him that I have seen him touch his wallet more that he touched his phone. But despite being stopped after entering Spain, we were still in high spirits when we arrived at the airport and Hagen after checking me in had to do the return home alone. I can see Christine welcoming him home when he arrived, that’s how she is. Hagen says that “when I met her, my life changed completely. Now am happy” But that change came with him having to eat more salad. For me, I was lucky, every morning she prepared my sunny side up, but she told me I should not eat eggs everyday.
I have since returned home and to be honest, eggs are now unthinkable luxury. All I can say is Europe was good to me, not the continent but the people, and I will forever be thankful for the wonderful moments I had in Fitou.