I have just returned from a 2-month trip overseas where I spent time in the UK, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Egypt and Jordan. The itinerary was intense (hence the lack of blog posts over the last few weeks) but there were many miracles along the way. Today’s blog is about an Austrian miracle with a South American flavour.
In 2010, when I was still working full-time for English in Action in Europe, I met hundreds of English teachers in the schools I visited and some I hit it off with better than others. Dagmar taught English in a grammar school about 45 minutes west of Vienna. She and I had an instant rapport. She always allowed plenty of time for my marketing visits so that we could have a personal chat as well as talk shop.
One Sunday evening in July 2012, I had spent the weekend with friends in London and was on the train back home to Canterbury. I saw someone I recognised on the train. It was Dagmar! Unbeknownst to me, she had registered for a summer course at Canterbury University and was in town for a couple of weeks. I invited her for a PR cream tea at Tiny Tims in Canterbury – a beautiful mediaeval tea shop with ghosts on the top floor.
We sealed our friendship over the cream tea and the next time I visited her in Austria, she supported my new author status and bought a copy of my first book: Down, Dirty and Divine: a spiritual ride through London’s underground
Dagmar told me she would be getting married and, shortly thereafter, leave for a two-year teaching post with her new husband at the German School in Lima, Peru. She kindly invited me to come and stay with her and her husband. I was thrilled. Lima was on my bucket list but Peru was not on the divine agenda – not at that time anyway.
Later that year (2013), I moved to Vienna so that I would not have to spend so much time flying back and forth between the UK and Austria. Most of my friends there were ex-pats and towards the end of 2013, I met a woman from El-Salvador called Carmen.
She had studied in the USA and spoke fluent English. Her family in El-Salvador owned a large coffee plantation. Carmen’s vision was to import and sell coffee in Vienna and be able to share the profits with the workers and their families on the plantation.
After I quit my job with English in Action in August 2015 and moved back home to S. Africa, I still returned to Europe once per year to do a short freelance contract. I often stayed with Carmen and her family in the west of Vienna. I even met her mother who owns the coffee plantation in El Salvador and who visits her daughter and her grandchildren once per year. During her 2018 visit, Carmen’s mother went to a Coffee Expo in Vienna and picked up the business cards for 3 x local coffee roasters. Carmen introduced herself to the one who lived the closest and they went into partnership together: she provides the beans from El-Salvador, he roasts them and she packages them and sells them. You can read more about her direct trade business here. https://zalvera.com/
Sadly, I lost touch with Dagmar. After she moved to Peru, my emails to her old address kept bouncing back. But on this last marketing trip to Austria in May 2019, I was thinking about her very strongly and wondering how I could get in contact with her again….
I happened to be staying with Carmen one Friday night in May 2019 when she got a call from her roasting partner to remind her to meet him the next day at the Meidlinger Markt in Vienna to promote their coffee. She was going to leave early on Saturday morning and take the bus and then the underground. As I woke up the next morning, my inner voice said “Offer Carmen a ride. She has too much stuff to carry on public transport.” Carmen was relieved. We set off for the market. When we got there, her partner, Juergen, had begun setting up and Paul, the coffee shop owner, already had customers in his shop.
“How did Juergen get into the coffee business?” I asked Carmen. “Oh, he spent two years in Peru while his wife was teaching at the German School and he learned a lot about coffee. When they came back to Vienna, they had a baby and Juergen needed to find work he could do from home while his wife went back to school and he started a coffee roasting business.”
The connection was uncanny.
“Was his wife an English teacher?” I asked
“Yes,” said Carmen. “She speaks really good English.”
“Is her name Dagmar?” I asked
“Yes” said Carmen.
Wahoo!!! I had found Dagmar. We told Juergen. He took a picture of himself and me together and sent it to his wife. Dagmar was out shopping with their son Paul. She could not believe it! The next time I was in Vienna, I went over to visit Dagmar, met her little boy and then she and I caught up on the lost years – over a cup of coffee!
Appreciating the miracle of global communication via technology.
Author of “The Sex Goddess: Debunking the Mythology of God & Sex”
“The Miracles of Earth are the Laws of Heaven” – Johann Richter