By Marcelo del Pozo

It’s five o’clock in the morning and I find myself in a place and situation that I’m sure I shouldn’t be in, much less taking pictures.

Jose Manuel Abel, his wife Olive and their two children, Claudia, 13, and Jose Manuel, 16, were crying and hugging one another as they didn’t know when would be the next time they would see each other.


Abel, from southern Spain, is one of a growing number of Spaniards moving to Germany for work after failing to find a job at home. He has to leave his wife and children behind for the time being, but sees no other choice. Abel, who used to work as a salesman during Spain’s boom years, selling insurance, books, water filters and vending machines, has been unemployed for more than two years. With about one in four people jobless, he sees few prospects working at home and has taken a job in Munich working in the kitchen of a Spanish restaurant owned by a Spanish-German friend.

The family have already lost the home they bought in 1999 because they couldn’t keep up with the mortgage payments. Abel’s hopes of starting a new life in Germany are high: after all, his parents emigrated to Frankfurt at the start of the 1960s when he was two and they lived there until he was seven. History is repeating itself as Abel arrives in Munich with 250 euros in his pocket. One day he wants to find a job for his wife and take his family there.

I feel like mourning, embracing and encouraging them as they say their farewells but I stay on the sidelines. This is not my story. Many emotions and feelings were on display next to me. I said a few encouraging words, we got into a car and the adventure began. We didn’t talk again during the hour-long journey to the airport.