More about that in my biography but the pronunciation of our last name will haunt us for all our lives!
Here’s what often happens to us when per example Courier comes;
Me: Yes yes, it’s ok
Me: PONJEE, P-O-N …
Me: Yes ok
C: Ah great… it was not so difficult I supposed!
In Italy I ended up at the fruit and vegetable market where after 2 years I started my own company exporting Italian fruit and vegetables to several countries in Europe, but mainly to Germany.
I knew Germany like the back of my hand because I have been to most of the major markets to acquire customers.
It was nice to work with German customers, even though they won the final at the World Cup in 1974 against us Dutch! Pffffff!
Later I also imported organic bananas from the Dominican Republic and Ecuador and came into contact with the Fair Trade projects with organic bananas.
In the meantime I opened an Italian women’s clothing store in the Netherlands and a little later started selling ceramic knives in Lombardy.
The international trade made me travel a lot and so I was able to see many beautiful places in (Northern) Italy and other countries all across the world. I have been able to visit every region in Italy and enjoy the beautiful old-fashioned villages and enjoy the “Italian cuisine” presented in thousands of different ways supplemented by excellent wines.
In every region one can grow wine, which means that Italy is one of the few countries in the world that has a perfect grape climate.
The islands such as Sicily, Sardegna, Elba and Ischia are worth visiting and to enjoy and relax
I visited my suppliers all across Italy. For the apples I went to Trentino and Merano. The tomatoes came from Veneto, the radicchio from Chioggia and for fruits such as plums, peaches, pears, kiwis I visited Emilia Romagna. Escarole came from Abruzzo, parsley from Puglia, cherries from the Rutigliano area, Gallatin potatoes and organic oranges from Mrs. Monica in Sicily. Pacchino tomatoes, oranges, mandarins and a variety of other citrus fruits from Calabria. I sourced strawberries from Battipaglia and onions, spring onions, frisee and cauliflower from Eboli. In Latina I found kohlrabi, radishes, turnips and got my hands on Tuscan spinach and dill and wild arugula from Liguria and Kiwi’s from Piemonte. Sardinia in Pula provided the costuluto tomatoes and Lombardy provided vegetables in general.
The first grape harvests begin in Sicily, followed by Puglia. Italy has TOP GRADE production of fruit and vegetables. The earth, the sun, the water and the perfect climate form the basis for and guarantee of an excellent product. I feel privileged that I was able to take so many journeys in the last 14 years in this beautiful country.
I was invited to work for the Ministry of Agriculture in Tunisia. It was a pleasant and interesting trip and I visited several companies producing fruit, vegetables and fish. In the evening two women sat at the table, one woman with a headscarf and the other woman, also religious, but did not wear a headscarf and they both went to the same university. It can be that easy! Those days were pleasant and easygoing.
In Turkey I visited Istanbul, a city that never sleeps. I had a wonderful experience visiting the Bazar and the Blue Mosque. In the Mosque there was not a fly in sight, so I asked the imam how that was possible? The man told me that the white of an ostrich egg is mixed into the paint. As having flies at home, I tried this by repainting the ceiling. Maybe I misunderstood, I have never had so many flies!
After travelling from Istanbul to Antalya, I travelled to Mersin, a large port that supplies food to the Middle East.
In Spagna in Barcelona I visited the wholesale markets for fruit and vegetables and I enjoyed the beautiful and quiet city of Johan Cruyff.
In the meantime also my brother Martin has nice stories to tell me after visiting Japan several times a year and Cina for buy ‘bonsaii’.