I am an Ezidi originally from a village nearby Dersim. It’s a place in eastern Turkey or Kurdistan, depending on how you see it politically. I’m a high school drop out. You know, where we are from education is not good. You gotta make your own future.
First, I moved to Istanbul and stayed there two for years, and from there I moved to Germany and worked in constructions. In Berlin, I knew a few people from my old village who helped me during my first months. But they were not my immediate family. I built stuff. And then I brought my brother to Europe. Now I have residence permit both from Spain and Germany.
I owe so much to Germany. German civilization, you know, they take care of their people. They give you opportunities there. You have rights. But I left Germany for Spain because of “Klima” — there is no sun and after a certain point, it gets to you. And German paperwork stresses you out. When I stopped working in constructions, I opened a Kebab restaurant and I hired people to work for me. You cannot imagine the number of letters German authorities sent me. They filled my mailbox and when more letters couldn’t fit in, dropped more letters to my neighbor’s mailbox. They go through your tax forms, social security papers of every hire, every little detail. And if they find a small thing missing, they point it at you and ask you to declare. This kind of structured thing stresses me. I get that it is German people’s way of loving their country, keeping it clean and tidy. Caring that things go the right way. But at the end of the day, I’m Kurdish you know, too much structure doesn’t work well in me. I want my freedom.
So after five years in Germany, I went to visit a friend, also an Ezidi Kurd who was settled in Alicante. You cannot compare Alicante from the late 90s with Alicante today. Murcia, Alicante, Benidorm, Torrevieja. All those places are ruined after the financial crisis. They still haven’t recovered. But the late 90s were the good days in southern Spain.
After vacationing for a week in Alicante, I went back to Germany and said to my friends that I was moving to Spain. Everybody was shocked. What do you mean? You don’t know Spanish, they said. I said so what, I didn’t know German when I came here either. Not knowing things will not stop me.
In Spain, the problem was not the language because sooner or later, I learned what I could. But Spaniards are so Arabic, they don’t even know it. They trick you just to get your money. When I was in the process of searching for a property to start my Kebab Restaurant in Alicante, what I found was, in principle, ready with a license to serve as a restaurant and everything. But the owner still forced me to hire his engineer nephew, pay him 3,000 EUR, and have him make a project for me when it wasn’t even a requirement. Spaniards see that you are coming from a northern European country, you are trusting and everything. They abuse you. They take your money and abuse you as much as possible. You look at their faces and see how they are dressed, and you say to yourself that it is not possible. They are Europeans. But hell they do it.
When you have a Kebab restaurant, the most important thing is that you have good ventilation. The restaurant I bought in Alicante seemed to have one, you know, with a big ventilation pipe. You look at it and you are impressed. But only after you start using it do you realize that it is a fake ventilator. There is nothing in it. It has no outlet. The whole thing is fake. Imagine, the owner built that just to fake it so that they can sell me the place for a higher price… I knew a Spanish guy from Berlin who helped me find that place. He and the seller itself were both involved in tricking me.
After the crisis hit the hardest to Alicante, or more broadly to the Valencia region, I moved my business to Catalonia. People here don’t like tourists but frankly, I don’t get it. What is in Catalonia if tourists don’t bring money? There are companies out there but they are German, Nordic. If they moved, there would be nothing. Personally, I prefer serving tourists than locals. When locals come here to have coffee, they act as though they own you. But when a German, a British comes here, they respect you, they respect your place, and even if they don’t like your dish too much, they show that they appreciate the effort you put in serving them. From Catalans, you don’t get that.
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Ezidis (Kurmanji: Êzîdî), are a mostly Kurmanji-speaking religious minority indigenous to a region of northern Mesopotamia (northern Iraq, northern Syria, and southeastern Turkey) who are strictly endogamous. Some of them identify themselves as ethnic Kurds but most of them identify themselves as a distinct ethno-religious group.