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Memories of an emigrant

On a day like today, 31 years ago, I had to emigrate.

With a suitcase full of dreams and hopes, a guitar, my poncho, and a hat, I took a plane from the Aeroflot airline to the city of Brussels in Belgium, to start a new, as yet unknown life. My new and challenging life as a foreigner! At this moment, with memories flooding back, many feelings overwhelm me. My career in computer science temporarily stored in a manila folder.

Emigrating is not synonymous with wealth, good life, and a good job. Leaving your beloved homeland, the land where you were born and raised, to settle in another country is synonymous with struggle, hard work, sacrifices, loneliness, courage, survival, illegality, hunger, cold, and tears that freeze your soul. Many times enduring discrimination, injustice, humiliation, and contempt. Just to name a few difficulties.

In the same way, it also means giving up many things and sacrifices to attain a better quality of life and give your children a decent future, with proper education and a solid foundation for their personal and professional development.

To people who have never left their land and dare to criticize or think that living in another country automatically gives you excellent quality of life, I will tell you they are wrong; it is a daring and risky adventure. It takes courage, self-confidence, and faith in God (or the deity you believe in), to overcome the fear, anguish, and hopelessness that is so very present many a time.

Those of us who dared to upend our roots have to leave our friends, family, our customs, and identities to find a better future within decency and ethical values.

The price to pay is very high. Living far away from your loved ones is a constant pain in the heart, and the saddest thing is that in many cases, we may not see them again in life, not even to say goodbye, as happened with my dear father. He was my guide, who instilled in me the fundamental moral values needed to face life in all its diversity, with its beautiful and ugly sides, but always with head held high, honest, and ethical principles as a flag.

I ventured as a street musician with an old guitar, a faded poncho, and a borrowed hat. I emigrated due to the enormous crisis of that time. I never wanted to leave my Peru, but the rampant inflation and the opportunities to forge a stable future were holding me back. I spent almost three long years on the streets of various countries in Europe. Illegal, uninsured, without stable residence, I even had to face an unfair extradition process in the Netherlands. Thanks to a good lawyer, we were able to prove my innocence. But all that is in the past now. Since 1993 I have been working in computer science again. As always happens, the demanding tests that life gives you, make you stronger, better, and more mature.

Like me, many compatriots have had to emigrate, not being able to face the galloping crisis, basically caused by the terrible corruption that has plagued my country for decades and is so rampant in much of the state apparatus. That is why I invite you to reflect: let's open our eyes, let's analyze a little, let's investigate, and try to choose honest rulers. Once and for all, we could eradicate corruption and move forward to a beautiful country called Peru. And thereby give our young people a better future, so that emigration is no longer seen as the only alternative to have a decent existence.

Every June 8, I wake up with mixed feelings, . The first reaction at dawn on this very special day is that I feel my hair stand on end because I remember exactly how it was, boarding the plane that brought me to Europe. But moments later, looking around me, I find that all that hardship and sacrifice was not in vain. Of course, the struggle never ends, there is still a long way to go, but I think I am moving forward with good winds and in the right direction. I will keep walking; maybe we will meet somewhere on the road.

We are a big and beautiful country;
We are "marinera", "tondero", "huayno", "la danza de las tijeras (dance of the scissors)", "la diablada"; we are guitar and cajon;
We are the potato, wheat, corn, quinoa, kiwicha; we are sugar cane;
We are oil, gold, silver, coal, and mines;
We are pisco, wine, and rum;
We are "cebiche", "papa a la huancaína", "rocoto relleno", "seco de chavelo" and "juanes" with their "tacacho and cecina";
We are vizcacha, alpaca, the condor, the llama, the puma;
We are "Huascarán", "El Misti", "Macchu-Picchu", "Aconcagua"; we are mountain range;
We are "Laguna de Pacca", "Yanganuco", "Titicaca lake", Pacific Ocean;
We are "Pueblo Jóven", "Barrio (a neighborhood"), an alley, a mud house, and a mat; we are bricks;
We are "Chimú", "Paracas", "Tiahuanaco", "Chavín", "Caral", "Mochica", "Vicus", "Wari"; we are pre-Incas and Incas;

I was born in places like "Chepén", "Andahuaylas", "Yurimaguas", "Chumbivilcas", "Lima";
I am from "Paita", "Morropón", "Ica", "Parcona", "Puno", "Paucarcolla", "Abancay", "Chazuta", "Chipurana";
I am from the Coast, Sierra, and the Jungle;

I am Peruvian until death; it is time to UNITE, to give our children and future generations a homeland and a decent place to live, long live Peru!                     

 eRocha, Jun'20


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