CALOUNDRA grandmother Eufrasia Gagliardo recently realised a lifelong dream of becoming an author and launched her debut book ‘Living on the Pearl of the Red Sea: The Unique People of Massawa’.
The book is a collection of true short stories that gives readers a glimpse into life in this iconic part of the world throughout the 1940s and 50s.
Eufrasia moved to the Sunshine Coast in the 1980s with her husband Gianni and three children where she became a teacher and helped to establish their longstanding family business, Mar Gra. Family and business demands have kept Eufrasia busy, but she decided last year that the time was right for her to finally write the book she had always felt a calling to create.
Nestled on an inlet of the Red Sea lies Massawa, an important port city in Eritrea steeped in a colourful history that has inspired a sense of mystery.
Eufrasia’s childhood home was a fantastical place with a backdrop featuring the impressive architecture of Massawa and Taulud that spoke volumes about its less than idyllic history, with a mash of Egyptian, Ottoman, Turkish, Arabic and Italian buildings.
The colour palette of the buildings was predominantly white, giving it a distinct Mediterranean feel, and the colonial embellishments added to the buildings over the years gave them a unique flavour that Massawa became renowned for.
But it was the people Eufrasia encountered that she has carried with her in her heart ever since she left the city in her twenties.
The unique people, like the Mother Teresa of Eritrea, the oyster man, the lady who was cursed and the leprosy crusaders, entered Eufrasia’s life at pivotal moments and shaped her world view.
Reading their stories will not only transport you back in time and make you laugh, cry and inspire soul-searching questions, but will give you a heart-warming reminder of how simple life used to be.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster, writing this book,” Eufrasia said.
“My memories were very strong for some of the people and others were entering my dreams as I began to concentrate on my book.
“They would appear and say, ‘Don’t forget about me! Write about me!’ It has been wonderful to share their stories.”
Eufrasia’s book is available on Amazon and also from The BookShop at Caloundra located on Bulcock Street.