Independent and FREE - 2021 Best Online Publication

Tales from Africa: cultural melting pot inspires author

Independent and FREE – 2021 Best Online Publication (Qld Country Press)

Tales from Africa: cultural melting pot inspires author

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Tales from Africa: cultural melting pot inspires Caloundra author's debut book

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An Eritrean port city, steeped in colourful history, has inspired a sense of mystery.

Nestled on an inlet of the Red Sea, Massawa was the playground for Caloundra grandmother, Eufrasia Gagliardo, who realised a lifelong dream of becoming an author by launching her debut book.

Living on the Pearl of the Red Sea: The Unique People of Massawa is a collection of true short stories that gives readers a glimpse into life in this iconic part of the world during the 1940s and 50s.

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 20s.

Massawa has a distinct Mediterranean feel. Picture: Shutterstock.

Eufrasia moved to the Sunshine Coast in the 1980s with her husband Gianni and three children. 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.

Living on the Red Sea Pearl pays homage to the cultural melting pot that saw Italians, Greeks, Muslims, French, English, Sudanese, Eritreans Arabs, Dankalis, British Indians, Abyssinians and other Red Sea peoples all living together in harmony.

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.

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Reading their stories should transport readers back in time and make them laugh, cry and inspire soul-searching questions, and will give them a heart-warming reminder of how simple life used to be.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster, writing this book,” Eufrasia said.

Eufrasia Gagliardo with copies of her book.

“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.”

With a life that has seen her travel around the world, Eufrasia has not ruled out more books that document her experiences and connect readers to people from the many different cultures and backgrounds she has met and learned from during her lifetime.

Living on the Pearl of the Red Sea is available on Amazon and also from The Bookshop at Caloundra on Bulcock Street.