Listen: Eritrea, China China, Amman discussed on Everywhere
"Met you on a plane heading to Amman and I thought chatting to you and I'll do something to sleep which you refused but we ended up being friends anyway and spent the most magical time in Amman and now we are fast friends and I've met your kids and I'm so grateful that will friends because you are one of the smartest people I've ever met and I feel privileged to be in your realm so thankful being in studio with me today and Ella snapping peacefully in your arms. It's amazing to be here. I mean considering the people I've sat next to. This was like the winning lottery ticket I felt the same and when you walk down the aisle and plunked yourself next to me I had that split second of Oh I was hoping the seat next to me would stay free but then you started and you launched into this conversation snick zero notion of smoke. It was right to the essence like let's not waste time. We only have a twelve hour flight ahead of us and we needed to say on that flight. I was getting up to work and you were presenting to some and Sea Directive Board so the thing goners talking was you mentioned Eritrea to me and you had been stationed working for the UN INARA trailer for two years almost and we got talking about this incredible country so perhaps start with telling me how it happened and how you found yourself in this magical place which I don't think a lot of people know about it is a magical place. I was only there for one year that would have gladly stayed longer accept except that I had my husband and my kids and San Francisco and the commute between Esmeralda and the bay area of California is a tricky one and I would have otherwise loved stay. It's a place that I always had a craving to go see when I was at university my roommate across the corridor launched an era traer independent support organization and we were sending all sorts of things to every tray of because they had just become independent independent and it was this huge deal and then I nearly had a chance to go earlier in my career but couldn't and so it was like this issue. I needed it to scratch. I had this curiosity for this place that continue to be so mysterious and so when I got the chance to go a second time. I just knew this is it. This is actually experience. I wanted to have and it's one that I'm waiting to leave my husband and kids for I want to go to Atreya. I went to see it. I went to work there so you flew in and you arrive and what is it. What is this country which is in the home Africa non on the hot list of anyone travelling that was amazing part about it. Because how many places do you go to WHO in today's globalised world where we have so much information about everything you have Google maps and you can see everything and sort of form an opinion but about area I barely any opinion at all except a few books that I've read and a few things that I'd heard from friends and colleagues at work so so I came with this completely blank slate and a lot of expectations little bit of trepidation going completely into the unknown and there was something about just landing their member being picked up at the airport and some people came to greet me and I felt this affinity. It's kind of hard to you describe but I think that happens to all of us. You know there are places where you instantly somehow feel more at home than in others and I can't quite describe it but it's a feeling that sort sort of grew quite quickly and it just made me feel a lot more at home than I had any right of feeding because it was pretty alien in some ways ways but they'd put me up in this sort of one big hotel in town and I decided the next day that I'm going to go explore and so no I went off with my sneakers on this dusty track and someone had said Oh you out just follow this road and you'll find the cathedral of course I didn't find the CATHEDRA and I walked for ages and I was getting really thirsty and I realized I had no nut fight in have the local currency and it's really quite tricky to change knock 'cause you're only allowed to change it in certain government locations locations and so I realized I had no no Naka no WTA no working phone and I was traipsing along on this beautiful sunny day and and then this little group of kids picked me up and they said China China because that's what they call fairness. I don't think I look particularly Asian but all I could hear with China China. You lost and I said Yeah I think China's lost and the like what you want to go see and I said cathedral and they say we take you it was the band of little kids and they had this sort of dried in Jeddah which is the staple in their pockets and they were trying to give me bits of Jeddah because they're very hospitable. Airtran said he wanted to make sure I wasn't about to Keel over from starvation and then they took me to the cathedral and they said here's here's cathedral here's cathedral and I was suddenly in the middle of esmerelda which honestly looks as though you've traveled in time to the nineteen fifty S. I don't think it has changed very much there. Are these Italian buildings. There's a stone cathedral this wide avenue with Palm Trees Bougainvillea everywhere because the Italians brought a lot of that. There's a lot of local Eritrean masonry that's kind of blended in and then you see these so gentlemen working with their Borsalino hats and their coats that are far too big for them and and you have quite italianate names and you have these Ancien in cause and it really feels like you've come back in time it felt so magical and so I was standing in front of this cathedral looking it down at the nineteen fifties cityscape. You know it's a small sleepy town smart with this little group of kids who are kind of waiting for me to take in the the beauty of their cathedral and then. I wanted to thank them for having gone out of their way to didn't want them to get in trouble and I said. Can I buy you a little pastry. 'cause I'd heard that there was some fantastic pastry in us. Modern you know old Sicilian cookies that they stopped making insistently decades ago but old grandmother still make them smarter and they said yes sure so we went to the little pastry shop and I'd managed by that point to change a few Nakba. I had no idea exactly how many but I figured a few pastries so we're probably be okay they said no you by yourself pastries but we we don't want any math what you mean your kids of course you won't pastries and they said no and there was something that then got to learn quite quickly in Eritrea this pride this self reliance you don't just take what's given to you feel like you have to deserve it and they somehow felt that they didn't. I need to be rewarded and coming from the states or from northern Europe where everybody has such a built-in expectation to be rewarded for anything this was like and I had to literally stand there on the street corner and negotiate with them these five six seven year olds please will you accept a pastry and by the way just the fact that with English I could negotiate with them already. Does your loved about this country. I think they spoke English well enough to be involved in this conversation with this random person sort of picked up so I kind of economic pretty good negotiator but I did have patch approach on those kids and in the end the best I could get out of them. was there agreement that the youngest in the group. I was allowed to buy a pastry full not the others just just a baby and this happened day to depending how you count. I derived the night before and that's sort of what set me up for my year. They're the experience. It's a beautiful beautiful listen. If only we could apply that lesson in Western civilization. Do you think we calm Africa the West. It's like thing being from South Africa like people call US Western and I'm like well. Eritrea feels very eastern to me at the same time very European. It's been such a melting pot of cultures and I think that's why I also felt that affinity. They identify with a lot of different cultures so it makes it easier for you identify with them but says a good question. I wouldn't know at corollary trae at the West. There's no McDonald's. There's no three G. There's no diet coke. I would not call it the West. Let's talk about the food because I know that I've never woken up and been like conway to train every culture you could possibly imagine in my city. I don't know of the Eritrean in restaurant. I'm sure it's here and I will find it and we will go there but it's not something I think many people know about a retrained food at least in a motto."