The likelihood that right now there is a Galego within 50 metres or so from you, is high.

Hai un Galego na Lua, There is a Galego on the moon  refers to the fact that Galegos are everywhere.  Manuel from Fawlty Towers wasn’t really from Barcelona, he was actually from Santiago da Compostela.

Wiki says in around 1850 a mini ice age descended on Galicia, resulting in bankrupted farms  and furthermore economic downturn brought about mass emigration.

Not an entirely reassuring read considering current winter seems to be never-ending.

Galegos ended up in Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela among other South American countries. Later they also moved to European countries.

Because of this,  everyone in the village has either family living abroad, or they have done a stint at working abroad themselves,  some only went for a few years, others stayed away much longer.

Quite a lot of people  from this area went to Switzerland.

And some came back Switzerfied.

I’m not very good with the Switzerfied ones, although, as with all creatures alike, there are gradations. There are the Lesser Switzerfied and the Greater Switzerfied ones.

The Lesser Switzerfieds will make the odd comment about how in Switzerland there are laws people adhere to and how childcare in general is better organised.  The Greater Switzerfied are the ones who consider themselves superior to the Ones that were Left behind. They dress differently, they talk differently and they even hold their heads slightly different, probably caused by years of attempting to make themselves look larger among the in general taller Swiss.

Villager L is Lesser Switzerfied.  Him and his wife have got another house in town nearby and only come here during the weekend.  He calls me Maria and I call him Jose, we have a chat and a laugh and he doesn’t get angry with me when my poultry ends up in his veggieplot. But he is the only one in the entire village who always and forever has  something bad to say about someone.  Villager J, he claims, nicks tools. Villager T’s granddaughter, he predicted,  will end up pregnant before she is 16.  Enraged Enrique is mentally disturbed. According to him, they’re all a bit backward. I myself get along fine with Villager L, needless to say, I am weary of him. And god knows what he tells others about me behind my back.

It is the Greater Switzerfied ones which I tend to avoid like the plague, the village equivalent of “When I was in Vietnam..” When I was in Switzerland…

The Greater Switzerfied might not convey their sense of superiority to other Galegos, they do to me. Especially in the beginning. Galicia is backward. In Switzerland everything is a lot better than Galicia. These peasants. Pah. What do they know.  They pretty much stop doing that when they realise I don’t feel the same way as they do.

I feel insulted by those words. Personally.

The ones who were left behind are far from country bumpkins who have never seen anything else. Lots of them have seen it all, in different ways.  They’ve had to dig the earth and feed their families when there was nothing.

I find it great to listen to stories from the Lesser Switzerfied, how they had to communicate with hands and feet in cultures different from theirs. How they worked in cigarette factories and seen with their own eyes what went into fags.   But however much Villager M and I laugh about the fact she worked in a sex toy factory putting vibrators together, I prefer the stories from the ones that were left behind.

…And we used to gather with the cows and sit underneath that rock, sheltering against the rain. The parties we used to have here Chica,  Manuel would sing and people would come here from the other villages and we’d laugh and we danced. …Those were the times…

15 thoughts on “Emigration

  1. Makes me feel proud to have grown up on a farm in tiny, rural Western Nebraska, USA. We’re not as urbane and sophisticated as those city folks but we have a certain work ethic and loyalty to our family and community they’ll never understand.

    • You should feel proud indeed! There is a type of community sense here which is unusual, even for this area, I’ve been told. I’m very lucky that they’ve welcomed me into it, so to say, even though villager J tells me often ”seriously Chica, if you’d behaved badly here we’d have made your life hell..” (ehehehe)

  2. Very insightful and funny – LOL… the greater Switzerfied and the lesser Switzerfied… how funny we are as humans. Reminds me of a Swiss joke and other stories I’ve heard of Switzerland (how my friend was fined $100 for not sorting her trash into recyclables and trash properly and how the Swiss searched through her garbage to find out who did it).

    • Glad you liked it Courtney…I am learning things myself when writing these posts, I didn’t really know about the big wave of emigration in 1850! And LOL LOL about the trash…

  3. This issue strangely seems universal with globalisation. I actually identify more with the Greater Switzerfied, mostly because I am experiencing the feeling of being in a hometown where my soul doesn’t quite feel at home.

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