Multiculture, Profiles

Marta Yazbek: “I left my country by choice”

With a Lebanese surname, she was born in São Paulo, Brazil, but embarked years ago on an adventure that led her to live in Mexico, Spain and England.

 

Sonia Gumiel

 

Marta always liked England, although the grey weather bothered her and she thought she could never live in a continuous grey. However, something changed this belief five years ago when she moved to Bristol, where she still lives with her son and feels at home.

When she divorced her husband after years of travelling together, many asked her why she did not return to her homeland, for which Marta always had a simple answer: “I feel good here. I believe that life is the environment, the city and, above all, the attitude if you open your heart to things and respect different cultures. From there, everything flows in the right direction.”

An old tobacco factory is the meeting and leisure centre of many Bristolians. From here, Marta tells her immigration history, which began more than 15 years ago, resulting from what she describes as “immigrant blood”.  In her native Brazil, Marta met her ex-husband, a Mexican she married and with whom she organised the greatest trip of her life. They first lived in Mexico for a year, but then crossed the Atlantic to move to Europe.

At that time, her husband received a call to work in Spain in the hotel business and Marta travelled with him to settle on Spanish land.

Having moved there, they thought they would stay for a year, although in the end they remained there for 12 years and gained Spanish nationality.

According to Marta, these were Spain’s golden years, when Spaniards asked for a loan for their first home, a large car or a splendid holiday in paradisiacal places.

This booming Spain attracted thousands of South Americans who, like Marta, found work, but also instances of racism.

Marta maintains that everywhere there are people who sometimes do not understand or accept migration, but there are also wonderful people who empathise and help with these processes. It is thanks to such people that Marta has a second big family in Spain.

In that country – whose period of splendour saw a significant change – companies began to half their employee’s wages and there were even some who didn’t pay their employees. It was difficult for Marta and her partner to support themselves and at this point their son had already been born.

The new big opportunity that arose was in Bristol in the United Kingdom, where her ex-husband gained a new job, so they moved there to settle on English land indefinitely.

In her first year in Bristol, she devoted herself to her child, helping him adapt to school and studying English on her own.

In time, she started working in a supermarket as a cashier, although this only lasted for a month. After that, she began working in the hospitality industry, in a restaurant and in hospital catering. She also taught Spanish and collaborated with her ex-husband in a Mexican products business at the Bedminster and Saint Nicholas markets.

Bristol offers such a great variety of cultures, yet what Marta misses most is “spending time in my country, its food and my people”. However, she also notes: “I did not leave my country because it did not give me my golden opportunity. I left it by choice.”

(Translated by Sydney Sims – Email: sydneyebsims@gmail.com)  – Fotos: Pixabay

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