I love travelling, being able to go to foreign countries, getting to know the people, the culture and being a cosmopolitian, that’s what fulfills your life, makes you an experienced and open-minded individual. Though I haven’t travelled a lot yet, I do have some places on my agenda. I would love to be in Israel, Marocco, New Zealand, Australia and almost all the Latin American, African and Asian countries. I am thankful that life is a long journey and there is enough time to be in all of these wonderful places, discover the world and be, just be and nothing else. So, this is my dreamy, romantic head having a certain kind of opinion about the wonderful world around me, feeling free to explore, be restless, wanting and demanding and having a free spirit.
But I do know, I did not always think like this about travelling. It was not always something completely normal to travel. When I was small I lived in a third world country, with almost no perspective for the talented youth, due to the economic and political instability. I would sometimes hear my older cousins, uncles, aunts and their friends talk about wanting to go abroad and study and live there. I did not understand it back then. I was happy with my imaginary friend I had, and I had accepted the monsoon weather, the smog, the floodings, the curfews, the trash mountains in the middle of the city, the stray dogs, the begging children and the uncontrollable traffic jams. To me everything was completely normal. I only wished for my family to be together and nothing else really mattered. I used to live with my grandparents, my aunt, uncles and my mom in the same house and I loved this huge family we had. It did not occur to me that this was not a normal situation for everyone. You see, we were a normal middle-class family and my family could afford to send me to school and I knew some other families did not send their children to school. Going to school meant paying the tution fees. But for some reason the schools demanded extortionate tution fees and if your family did not have enough money, it wasn’t certain, if you could go to a school. I, therefore was one of the lucky ones, living in a nice house with electricity, water supply and an acceptable sanitary area. The first time I started feeling the pains of being born in a third world country was when my mom decided to go to a foreign country to work there, so that she could send me to good private school. My mom was the center of my world and I did not want her leave, but I had no saying in anything anyway. I was born in a patriarchic country to a single, teenage mom. Due to this circumstance, we still lived with her parents and siblings. Now I was lucky the parents of my mom were a bit more tolerant than the other parents I came to know when my brain started understanding things, but I still had some limitations in my life. I remember my aunt, who really loved me not sending me to other children’s house to play, as she was afraid, their parents would start asking me questions about my father. I remember my grandmother not taking me to some family events, as she wanted to avoid the questionings and the weird stares of the relatives. But I had even arranged myself with this situation, I loved staying at home, playing with my imaginary friend, reading lots of books and I had a wild fantasy, so I was never alone. The only times I felt alone was when I had the report cards distribution day, and all the proud parents came to praise and support their children at school and I was sometimes brought to this event by one of my teenage uncles, who were mostly into flirting with the beautiful sisters of one of the students. I didn’t care though, I was somehow a good student, I mostly had the best grades and I got awarded for this, which meant I got some further books I could read and I loved it.
Life drastically changed when my aunt married and left our house. She was the one mostly taking care of me when my mom went abroad and now she was away. The thing is, parenting was considered to be the job of the women back then and my aunt loved me as her own, so she took care of me, but now she wasn’t there anymore. My grandma was too much of a free spirit and she didn’t really look after me. But she didn’t look after me because she was a bad woman, she didn’t because she thought I could look after myself, as it was expected from little girls to run the household, like my mom and aunt did and like my grandma had done when she was younger. But I was a very weak child, very skinny, I would faint everytime I cried and I got sick all the time.
Hence, my mom sent me to a private boarding school with a specialised staff taking care of the children and offering guidance and help in school matters. This didn’t work out very well either. I was mostly sick at the boarding school, I could hardly attend any classes. I am not sure but I guess I was suffering under a kind of hospitalism. I missed my mom so much during these days that I even forgot to eat properly, so it was obvious that I was never really getting better. My aunt couldn’t bear this so she and her husband took me in. And I am so thankful they did, I had a better life after that, I gained weight and the best thing was getting to grow up with my cousins. Later my aunt told me, my mom had been trying to get me to Europe, where she was working and living and it hadn’t been an easy task. Remember I mentioned my birth country being patriarchic, they wouldn’t let me to my mother without my father’s permission and him signing some documents. I never cared about my father and this did not hurt me because I had no idea of a father. I knew what a mother meant but what a father meant wasn’t obvious to me. So I never asked about him.
I don’t know how they did it but after some years, I was finally reunited with my mom. Living with my mom was like a dream come true. I had always wanted it and I felt like I was living a fairy tale. But even living in Europe I could sometimes feel the pains of being born in a third world country. My mom was doing well, so we could afford to go on holidays. My mom being proud of her heritage kept her passport and had a life long visa, and the same with me. Life seemed much more easy-going until we once decided to go to Mexico with some of her friends. While going on a holiday sounded great, preparing to go on a holiday at times felt like a sisyphean task. We had to go to the Mexican embassy to get a visa, which was fine. Once we were in Mexico though, things looked a bit different. At the airport they had a different kind of controlling mechanism for people without a passport from one of the privileged countries. While her friends got through the controls without any trouble, we had to join a different queue and I somehow felt as if we were being treated as second-class citizens. The airport controls asked us all kinds of questions for hours and acted as if it wouldn’t make any sense for us to go on holiday, as we were from a poor country. After hours of answering questions and checking our luggage, they finally let us into their country, where we just intended to be on holiday. I did not ask my mom many questions about this inicident but after that she applied for the European passport for her, as well as for me. Giving up the passport of my birth country was like letting go of a part of my heritage, but I can’t imagine how my mom must have felt.
Today I can travel wherever I want and whenever I want, if I just have the money of course. But I know that travelling is a privilege for a few with the right passport. I have heard of the stories of the embassies denying to give you a visa to more privileged countries, I have heard of the stories of the embassies treating the visa applicants as if they were of no worth. I have seen and experienced the situations at the airports and I have come to experience the different kind of treatment you receive in the airports and embassies, just because you own a passport with a different colour. Maybe I am too simple-minded but I do not get why people assume you of being a better person just because the colour of your passport changed.
#travel #passport #heritage #world #people #privileges