img_5922Siika Ivanova

I left in 2009. Money problem, the usual reason. In Bulgaria we used to live in a village where life was hard, the transport was not well developed and the wages were low. The first thing I have noticed in Greece were the water barrels on top of all houses – that is how they heat water for bathing. They come out in my mind even now. These people always have hot water and the weather is really warm. A barrel like this sustains a household, some people have a few. I took the decision alone and I left alone. My family came with me only to the airport. (Laughter). No one from my family visited throughout my whole stay. My husband and my children stayed in Bulgaria. At first I started working in a tavern but I quit after 9 months. The money wasn’t enough and the payment was delayed and unfair. I found a better job, the same type but with better employers. I was doing everything – working in the kitchen, making coffees. The accommodation was arranged by the employer and this was very nice and convenient. My family in Bulgaria was also renting (and we still are). We used to talk on the phone. I have tried to use skype on my tablet but there was a problem with the sound and I started using a standard microphone. I was calling every day. This was the only thing I used to spend money on – everything else was covered. The first time I went I felt as if I was fallen from the sky – I didn’t speak the language, I was not familiar with the customs or the country. Of course it is tough to leave your family, however I had a positive frame of mind and a purpose – to earn money and to work so I did not allowed myself bad moods. I still remember how I packed my luggage as it was early in the morning. The travel did not bother me and it became even easier with the time. I used to come home every autumn and stay for a few months as the winter is not a busy season in a contrast with the dynamic summer. From all the people I missed the most the children, my grandchildren. I wasn’t happy in the beginning as I wasn’t paid well but after a while – I was. Not exactly happy but satisfied. There was a point. I had no expectations before I go, wasn’t trying to imagine it. The biggest difference is that in Greece is clean and tidy. There were flowers everywhere and this had a great impression on me. I remember how people are cleaning – whole brigades with bin bags, collecting leaves, rubbish and everything was clean. All my close people in Greece were living normally – we were talking to each other, we were never discouraged. I went there as I had an acquaintance who lived in Greece before and could help me to find a job. I wanted to take my husband but I couldn’t find him a job. In the village I lived there was no work for men. There was more for women (laughter). My daughter Elica refused to come, she never wanted to leave, she wants to live and work in Bulgaria. In Greece it was very impressive the care for the elderly – they are much appreciated. They have a special organization who brings them food and keeps them company. The aging people are never alone, which seems to be a big problem in Bulgaria. In Greece they never feel lonely, they have a lot of places where they can socialize – to get together, drink coffee, play chess and talk. The young people respect them, everybody respect them so they feel well. They are very religious people, they value their traditions and follow them. These people look very calm, life is somehow easier. I haven’t had any problems, only at the beginning with the work and the language but I was listening and remembering a lot. Especially on the second job as they had many regulars, I was communicating with them and asking many questions. Everyone was helping me, even my boss, they were teaching me new words, explaining to me. Of course in the beginning everybody are a bit more reserved, but once accepted they are very nice and inclusive. There weren’t any problems as I was helping. Now I don’t have any plans. I am waiting George (my husband) to stabilise and then I will think if I want to go again. I wish he could get better and I dream to take him there with me. To be together.