It was a short ride today on mostly pleasant rural roads through Mazara di Vallo to Biscone, another campground on the coast. Sicily has had many cultural influences over the centuries, and the urban design and food of its western cities exhibit a noticeable Middle Eastern flavor. There are many narrow streets and alleys and one popular dish is seafood couscous.
While walking along the shore, after making camp, I met two young guy in their early twenties from Eritrea, a country bordering Ethiopia. They had arrived in Italy via Libya just a week prior and wouldn't exactly say if they had come on visas. Their plan was to eventually get to Germany. It was 30 years ago that my friend Paul and I first went to Japan. I had sold my car and arrived in Japan with a one way ticket and $500 dollars; Paul not much more. After moving to Sapporo, our money was gone. We shared a beer with our last few yen and were then sleeping in the youth hostel storage room as we couldn't pay our bill. We ended up borrowing a bit of money for food from an American guy, picked up jobs teaching kids English, enrolled in university there, found an apartment, girlfriends, and had an unforgettable year.
How will it go for those two African boys? To say Paul and I made something out of nothing in a new land and draw too many parallels would be a stretch. Though we had almost no money and no local language skills, unlike those lads we both had university degrees, spoke the global lingua franca and were Caucasian men. With a little nudge here and there, doors opens for us. In broken English the Eritrean guys told me how the police beat them in Libya. They will likely face many more hardships and barriers to social acceptance, let alone inclusion, wherever they try to settle and make a go of it. At least for now, in Sicily, they just looked happy to take a dip in the Mediterranean. After a different kind of journey, me too.