Words: Neyda De Arcos
I have to admit I was terrified when the plane landed. I looked at Oliver like a scared deer and he looked back at me, squeezed my hand, and said: “It’s okay, you are safe now”.
I had just left my books, my studies, my family, my country, and my life behind. I was excited, afraid, happy, and sad, all at the same time.
I looked out of the window.
I saw a sea of meadows and fields with different shades of green. I saw houses and trees.
It was September 2017. With my heart beating madly I started my new life in a new country by the side of the man I love.
A new beginning
I introduced myself gently to this city. I opened my heart and I told my story. That’s how you start a friendship, with honesty and vulnerability.
I fell in love with Portsmouth and its buildings; the streets, the food, the beach, the people and the forests.
I shared my music and my language with the city, because I carry with me all the colours of Venezuela and Spain: my dad was Spanish and my mum is Venezuelan.
And the city opened its arms to me with laughter and said: “Tell me more”, and invited me for a pint of beer and fish & chips, and told me to come on Sunday, so we can have a roast dinner.
That’s how our relationship started.
Six months later
I have found a beautiful life here. I consider myself very lucky.
I’m surrounded by incredible people and the city has become a good friend.
Some days are better than others: sometimes melancholy wins, but England comforts me with a splendid sunset and a cup of tea. But it’s not easy.
I left Venezuela because I wanted a future, so I could help my family to have one too.
My country is falling apart due to a terrible crisis that is killing people every day: there are no medicines, food is extremely expensive, and inflation is around 13,000%.
When you move to a different country, everything is new: the taste of water, the weather, the food, the language, the people; everything.
You will need to take any job you can to support yourself, pay the bills, get a phone and contract so that you can talk with your family back home.
You will need to grow a thick skin for many reasons along with the constant question of your broken heart: “Will I ever see my family again?”
Crossing oceans takes courage and a lot of strength, but we do it because we want a life that we can’t have in our own country, through no fault of our own.
That’s why I’m so grateful: I’m painting a new chapter of my life, not with the colours of fear, but with the colours of hope and opportunity.
Thank you England for showing me new colours, and thank you for accepting mine.