5th of September, 2003. 2 suitcases full of dreams, 2 more full of fears, my red guitar and Daniel, my younger brother, listening to his new CD, Meteora by Linkin Park. We departed from Quito airport and after transiting through Madrid, we landed in London one day later. The immigration officer showed us where to go for a medical screening. Back then I thought: ‘how kind they are, they are checking my lungs to see if I’m ok’. A few months later, I realised they were screening my chest to confirm I wasn’t a drug mule. Nice. I had to fill in a form where I was asked my weight in stones and my height in feet. I remember thinking: well, it depends on the size of the stones and the size of the foot. Or as my brother said: ‘what the foot?!’
The first British person I met was the driver who picked us up from the airport and was driving us to our English School in Swanage, Dorset in a van. There were 4 of us. Luis, from Ecuador too, and Mohammed, from Saudi Arabia. He became my first international friend. The driver was in his late 60s and didn’t talk to us for the whole 3 hour drive. He looked grumpy. I remember asking him something about the place we were going to and until now, I have no idea what his answer was. That was my first day in the UK. Today, 10 years later, is my last one. Although, I’ve been a bit of a nomad during the last 3 years, London has always been my base. From tomorrow, my base will be Quito, Ecuador.
During the last decade many many things have happened. The original goals for which we came were achieved and surpassed. Many of them evolved into something else. The first years were the most challenging. The early middle years were the most rewarding. The late middle ones were the most fun. The last one was the most intriguing.
A friend told me recently: ‘so… why are you leaving your life in London?’. That question made me realise how tricky words can be. The truth is I’m not leaving my life in London! I’m taking it with me! No doubt, London is one of the best cities in the world, its multiculturalism is inspiring, its night life and artistic-scene is admirable, its virtually endless offer of entertainment, food, shopping, fashion is addictive; its job possibilities are arguably attractive, its architecture, river, landmarks, museums, are beautiful and so on… but also, its dark side is easy to spot and I better not get into that right now.
However, the ‘best’ is a very subjective and changeable judgement. Certainly, I’ll miss London but the best is not always enough. I’m starting a new chapter and I’ll carry on living with the same intensity, passion and hope that this city has taught me. I’m starting a new chapter back in what once was my home and close to my family. I’m extremely happy for all the experiences that the UK has given to me, well maybe, not all of them…but extremely happy about having made all the friendships, all the memories, all the smiles and the tears. Many thanks to all of you, and hope to see you on the other side of the pond!