miércoles, 6 de julio de 2011

Macedonia experience

I was eager to visit Macedonia ever since I read the book Alexander, written by Valerio Massimo, not to mention my mother is also fond of him and this beautiful land. That’s why when I was told I was being invited to the annual meeting of SPARK to be hold on Ohrid, Macedonia, I got so excited – that I could not hide it – and I even organized some few days before the meeting to go with Arjan to enjoy together of this promising land of lakes, mountains, abundant and delicious food, and kind people. Our dream begun last Friday evening when we flew to Zurich – there is no direct flight to Macedonia at an affordable price -. We spent the night there and took the plane to Skopje early in Saturday. We were landing at Skopje at 9. There was still a sweet and nice dream. But then, suddenly, I was awoken up by the border officer telling me that I was not allowed to enter their territory because I didn’t have a Schengen visa, and my long residence permit for the EU was not enough. For the first time in my life I was rejected at a border, it was like dropping from my happy European cloud to the cold reality of my Colombian nationality.
I am a Colombian citizen and I’m proud of it, I’m happy to be born in the beautiful land of two oceans and three set of the biggest mountains in earth. But undeniably, the European citizenship gives loads of privileges. I could not believe I was witnessing my own devolution in the same plane that took me there while the officer was telling to my husband he could enter and stay. Do not they understand the meaning of family? Do they don’t get the idea of traveling together and be together in the prosperity and adversity? It was like being the main character of a movie, a sad one. An illogical one.
A national of a third country with a Schengen visa for three months can enter Macedonia, but someone with a long residence permit card cannot. I’ve never heard such absurd regulation.
Letting aside the whole waiting, traveling and realization that I was indeed sent back to Amsterdam, it was a holistic experience. Not only because I realized once more the limitless love and support of my husband, but also because I could feel and almost touch the bond that I have with my colleagues at SPARK. They fully supported me and even offer me the hope to make it still working. We tried, but then I soon realized I was not ready to embark in another long and stressful visa process application. As a Colombian national and a travel-lover, visas are a permanent part of my daily life, that’s why I felt so frustrated I didn’t even think about it when I was happily planning my trip to Macedonia. In my defense, I had strong reasons to believe it was not necessary, and also because following common sense and a systematic interpretation of the rules I actually didn’t need it. I’m convinced of that.
I’m sorry because I’ll miss to see all my colleagues, to miss the landscape that for now I’m only allowed to see in google images, and also because I’ll miss to see a good friend there. Arjan will not enjoy the food, the weather and the hiking there, but instead we are having a lovely time at home with family and also new friends.

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