Monday, 9 June 2014

9th of June 2003, the day I arrived in Dublin.

Sometimes I wonder if luck exists. Sometimes I wonder if destiny exists. Sometimes I wonder if our path in life is shaped and we just need to follow. I never wondered, because I always knew, my life and future was not in Venezuela, and I would love to tell you how I ended up in beautiful Dublin.

I finished my last job in Venezuela as a co-ordinator/manager of an Italian Pastisserie. I started as “sales assistance”, but in a short time I made my way up. That was an opportunity after being unemployed for around 3 years and I needed to prove to my bosses I was – like L’Oreal would say “worth it”. Because of my enthusiasm, loyalty and dedication they offered me the position of coordinator/manager, therefore a pay rise came with the offer (this was a big deal for me because a pay rise meant like 20euro extra a month which was basically a bonus) but you know “every little helps”. So I set a goal and tried to pretend that extra cash didn’t exist and started saving it. I knew that this poor extra amount of income was not going to get me anywhere (our Venezuelan currency is very devalued, so getting an airplane ticket was very expensive).

I met someone who was also ambitious –  he had some financial resources, more than I had anyway, so I proposed him a “business plan”. The business consisted of buying and selling clothes. No stall or shop, we were just telling our friends and acquaintances we were selling clothes and they would buy, obviously if they liked what you were offering.  The purpose was to double or even tripled what we invested. In Venezuela, this is called “informal economy” and you get away with not paying taxes which is a huge advantage. We would by stock for 5 euro and we would sell it on for 10 or 15 euro. Sometimes, due to my cheeky business head, we would sell it for 20 euro. The profit sounds good, yes it was, but even so it was not enough to afford a plane ticket. Also, my intention was to leave Venezuela, at the latest the following year. Anyway, in the end I managed to nearly afford it, and my friend helped  with the rest.

In the meantime, when all this was happening I connected with people on the internet, I made a few “online friends” and told them about my ambitions, my dreams, intentions and my fears. One of the guys, whom I’m still in touch with and lives in England, put in my head the idea of coming to Ireland and seek for asylum. I did some research about this potential possibility and realised that I could have a case of discrimination and persecution for being a homosexual in Venezuela, given the circumstances I faced as a gay man.

I remember being at the travel agency purchasing my ticket to Dublin,  very excited, but scared at the same time because I was once deported from London, something that could happen again. These mixed feelings were hard to deal with, but there was no way I’d allow them to stop me and my ambition, so I organised all I had to do and set up my trip to Ireland.

Dublin here I come

I arrived in Dublin airport the 9th of June 2003, with my Venezuelan passport, very little money, a small suitcase with my clothes and a huge suitcase that contained a bundle of dreams and hopes. When I approached immigration my heart was pounding, I don’t know how I managed to maintain my composure myself and not to give away sings of my nervousness. I was asked the usual questions and I told them I was coming on holidays. I had a month plane ticket, the officer checked my documents and said “Welcome to Dublin” and stamped my passport for a 3 months stay.

As I am typing this, I am having those emotions again, you have no idea the sense of relief I had. Having got through customs was the beginning of my Irish dream come true. I remember waiting for my suitcase and screaming in my head “I got through, I got through, I got through” and that horrible deportation feeling was lifted from my shoulders.

13 years on, here I am, living in Dublin, Castleknock  Dublin 15.

The huge highlight of all this is that in the middle of my political transition - from Asylum seeker to Irish citizen - a year later after I arrived, I was in The George and I met my love, John Henry Compton, who became the man of “Marlife”. 

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