Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Stupid visas

I thought that last week was the worst. Little did I know what was coming... The worst day(s) of my life my Sunday 27th September. And to a lesser lever, the following Monday, although it turned out to be way better than I expected. And I was expecting the worst!

Saturday night. I barely slept due to the fact that I was really nervous and I had to print the boarding pass for the flight to Guatemala. The boarding pass was only available 24hr before the flight. The flight was at 19:15 Mexican time. Sunday's 2:15. Finally managed to download the stupid PDF. I tried to sleep a bit longer with little to no success.

Now I have to find a locutorio (internet café) to print the stupid piece of paper. Note that I had to be at airport no later than 11, which is the time that most locutorios open on Sundays. I began to panic. I bitchslapped myself (mentally)  and went to have breakfast. There, while drinking coffee I remembered that there is a hostel not far from where I was. I used to send them guests when I was working at Makuto. I decided to go and ask if I could print the boarding passes there. The receptionist, a cool Colombian guy agreed to it. One thing was out of the way.

Boarding passes out of the way, onto the next worry: leave Spain. With that out of the way I only had a 10 hr. flight, 2 hr. layover, 1,5 hr. flight and I would be hugging my mum. Everything would have been over by 20:30 Guatemalan time.

But Mexican immigration had other plans for me...

Rewind a couple of weeks. I'm in Madrid. Applying for the Mexican visa. They told me that I had to go to the Mexican embassy in Portugal because my passport was stolen in Portugal. They could not accept the police document in Portuguese. They told me about another option: if you only take a connecting flight and spend less than 24 hr. inside the airport, you don't need a visa because it's only transit.

Now fast forward to Sunday's flight. After 10 hr. inside a Boeing 747 I finally landed in cloudy Cancún. Two hours later I had a plane that would take me home. As I said before, Mexican immigration had other plans for me. The immigration officer looked at my passport. I told him that the embassy said that I don't need a visa if it's only transit. The look on his face was telling me that things were going from bad to worse. I went to an office. I told the embassy story. They said that they couldn't take me to the terminal. Exactly the opposite of what the embassy people told me a few weeks prior. I start to get nervous. I start breathing heavily. I control myself to not have break down and have a panic attack. Success. Policeman took me to an office, maybe 3x3 meters, no windows, just a desk and two chairs, a light on the ceiling. Very sketchy. He asked me again the same questions. The he asked me how much money I had. Later I realized that if I've had enough money, I could've bought my way out of the airport. But I realized this hours later. He left the office and I stayed there for what it feels like 3 hours. I was a nervous wreck. I don't know really, maybe 15 minutes later he came back to the room and said "there is no point of you being here, let's go back to the office outside". I don't know, they saw that I was not well and changed they're approach, began to treat me like a person and not like a common criminal. They talked to some people from the airline but they didn't want to "risk" taking me to the other terminal as the ticket could be fake and it would be their responsibility if they don't let me board the plane.

I was told at the embassy that a policeman would escort me all the time. I don't care I said to myself, as long as make it to the plane. Even if this means being treated like a criminal and maybe even humiliated as this would happen in front of the entire terminal. My goal is to get on that fucking plane.

Boarding time was 19:45. A few minutes before, the policeman told me "I got bad new for you, we are sending you back to Spain". My legs couldn't support me anymore, my world collapsed... "When is the next flight" I asked, "who will feed me?". He told me that airline will "take care" of me as I was their responsibility, after all, it was their fault to let me board the plane without the "appropriate" visas. "When is the next flight leaving?". By this time I've already lost the flight to Guatemala City. "You leave in 20 minutes, airline people will pick you up and take you to the plane". My world collapsed once more.

It has been a dream or fantasy of mine to fly for free. I finally managed to do it but I was going to wrong direction. What is going on? I was being deported from a Latin American country back to Europe? Am I in some kind of parallel universe? I mean, I've heard or read on the news of people being deported from the States back to Latin America. People being deported from Europe back to Latin America, Africa, the Middle East. But for fuck's sake, I was being flown back to Europe!!!???

Third time on board a B747. This time instead of Economy Class I flew Business Class. At least I was coming back in style. I was utterly exhausted. I barely slept the night before not say during the flight to Mexico. The seats in Business Class had more space. It took one hour less to fly back to Madrid.

The anxiety kicked in again. What was I going to tell border police. I left Spain the day before and less than 24hr. I was back? "I forgot my laptop" was not going to work. My mind started to fuck me up once more. I began to think that I was not going to be let into Spain again. That they were going to send me back to Mexico. Mexico won't let me in again and they were going to send me back to Spain. And so on. And so on. I would be stuck in international travel limbo. Or, I would be thrown in jail without the possibility to tell anyone about my well being. I was supposed to be in Guatemala but I was back in Spain.

Finally my turn to go to passport control came up. Gave my passport. "Motive of the visit, holidays?", I answered that yes, it was holidays. I was not thinking clearly. He noted the stamp of the day's before date. I explained the situation. The policeman looked at me and said what it would translated into "what a chore" but colloquially would mean something like "tough shit" while he was stamping my passport. I was in! They fucking let me back into Spain!

It was rough. It's something that I would like to never repeat. Ever. It's actually the fourth time that I was held in a sketchy room for questioning: first time was leaving, yes, leaving Bulgaria. But after an hour I made into Turkey. The second time was in Slovenia. I even felt that my life was in danger as the policeman had his hand on his pistol, yet I made into Slovenia after two hours. The third time is utterly ridiculous and stupid. I almost never made it into Nicaragua... yes, you read it right: Nicaragua!!! Their argument? I could stay there indefinitely. Yeah, right. I'm going to stay in a country with a shittier economy than my own. Sorry if any Nicaraguan is reading this but that how things are. And now at Cancun Airport.

While staying at my friend's flat here in Madrid, I learnt that a good friend of ours had it much rougher than I did. He was deported back to Asia after spending 6+ weeks in an Eastern European jail. Compared to that my experience was a walk in the park, and it was still tough. I am grateful that none of that happened to me.

Maybe some of you will never understand this kind of incident because you were lucky enough to have been born in a country with a good passport. I'm not complaining. Maybe a little. It's just how things are.

I know that someday I will laugh about this. It's not today.

But to put the cherry on top. I still need to apply for the stupid Mexican Visa. Why? Because I will come back to Europe and where is the cheapest place to fly from? You guessed it right: Cancún. FML.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The longest week...

Never in my life have I been so stressed out. I think the last time a week went by this slow was when I was 10 and it was before Christmas because I wanted to open the presents. When I woke up on Tuesday, I thought it was Thursday for fuck's sake!

I have been under a lot of stress lately due to the fact that I'm coming back home and I don't know what to expect. Last three times was not as good as I expected. This time tho, it looks promising.

I have a lot of shit going through my head right now. Like I said in the previous post, I was supposed to be México right not. But I'm not. I'm not even going! For fuck's sake, why everything is going wrong? It's been wall after wall after wall. But I managed to tear down those fucking wall with the help of my friends. 

Tonight is my last night in Graná. I feel weird. I cannot believe that I'm actually leaving. I know I said this before: "I'm leaving", but this time is for real. Last year I went to Lithuania, Europe. In march I went to Portugal, next door neighbor. This time tho, I would take me 12 fucking hours of flying! 

Part of me wants to stay, but I have to go back. I need to go back. I want to go back. I will for sure have cultural shock (written about this a few years ago, I tried to find the link but I couldn't). Anyways, in the wise words of Mr. Bob Marley: "everything's gonna be alright". I know so.

I'm sitting in the living room/dining room/kitchen. Liter of Alhambra. Trying not to cry. Failed. Trying to come up with some sane words. I have a lot of feelings right now. Words seem to be not enough express what I'm feeling right now. Another glass of beer. Vodka Juniors in the background, always. I still fantasize being in their concert in Portugal. Never going to happen unless I go to Greece. Fuck, I love their music! They are really dedicated to their music: they just released a triple album (45 songs) and they made the album available free online! Respect! Maybe I should get another liter. No, maybe not.

A couple of years ago I discovered that I write less crap when I'm drinking. I don't think is working today. My mind drifts away. I start doing other stuff, pour myself another glass of Alhambra. Try to write some more.

I should be already in Latin America but I'm not. I'm going back in two days. I know everything will work out. I need to find a job. I need to put my mind to work. Everybody else seem to do so well doing that but me, shite. I always have a tough time doing that. A few years ago someone suggested to plant some flowers. I don't have a garden back home.

Don't know what else to write. I have a lot in my head but I cannot put it into words. It's not the first time this has happened. I should pack. Maybe I'm being paranoid but I should really pack so tomorrow I can just wake up and go to Madrid. I need to print the boarding pass. I have to print the boarding pass. I cannot afford to miss that stupid flight. Stupid visas. Stupid borders.

What am I going to do the first days in Guatemala? I have no fucking clue. Catch up with mum obviously but aside from that I don't know. Being by myself is what kills me. And to top that, I arrive on a Sunday evening, the worst day possible I think., Everybody has to work the next day. We'll see (Russian accent).

I think I'm starting to write bullshit. Not that I didn't write that before but now it's coming out in bigger quantities. Maybe I should stop.  A liter a post, not bad I would say. I've done everything I need to get done this morning. I still need to pack but I did laundry this morning but by now it should be dry. I have to pack.

Don't know. Maybe expect the next contact from the other side? Maybe I will come up with some more crap before crossing the pond.

I'm going to have one last beer at Hamelin tonight with lovely people. That's nice.

One good thing tho. I am going to meet some of my good friends in Guatemala...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A lot going on lately

As some of may know, I'm about to go back home. It's been a while therefore I have a lot of things going on my head. A lot. 

I don't think I have been this nervous or anxious or stressed before. I had to take care of a lot of shit. I was supposed to fly on the 10th of this month but I had to change the flight. Twice. I was supposed to be in Mexico with someone I love. I told her I would take care of her, specially when she needed me and I my stupid job got in the way. I let her down. I tried my best to be with her in the distance, I swear I tried.

A couple of years ago I made the promise to keep out personal stuff from the blog. I tried but I was going through some rough time at the time. Writing help me vent what I'm feeling at the moment, which is a log. While writing the blog back in 2012 I was listening to Vodka Juniors (some of you might know that it's my favourite band). Now I'm listening to their new triple album.

I still can't believe that I'm going home. I will be able to hug my mum for the first time in three years. I don't know how things are back home. I'm not the kind of person that look at the news online. Although this year I made an exception as I was following the election process and... well, no comments. I didn't vote, I get no opinion.

There is so much stuff I would like to write inside my head that I don't know what else to write. 

At the moment I'm in Granada where is still warm and sunny. I'm going to rainy season in Guatemala. Luckily one month left of that. Most of my friends that used to live here are gone. But I'm staying with one of my best friends and that is nice. This past few weeks I was also lucky to meet new people, the sad part is that I met just before I'm leaving.

I already started the job hunt in Guatemala, Mexico and Panama. 

Holy fuck, I feel the same pressure on my chest I felt exactly three fucking years ago. Breath in. Breath out. Hahahaha. I am actually behaving exactly like I did three years ago. And there were also a few time zones in between. Not hahaha. But is changing. Right fucking now! I'm going out for a walk.

I'm going to see my mum, my brothers, my nieces, my nephews, my family, my friends.  I'm actually already invited to my high school class reunion, a stag party and a bottle of Argentinian wine. Last time I was back I only met a handful of my friends. I hope this will be different. I really hope so.

Sorry that from now there will be no photos. My phone was robbed in Portugal along with my SLR camera and I gave away the small digital. Eventually I will get either a smarthphone o camera although it's not my priority. My priority is to be with that someone I love. Not sorry if this sounds cheesy. But what the hell. It's what I'm feeling, It's what I'm writing. It's like my fingers are possessed. I can't stop writing! Words are coming out quite fast. Unlike in other occasions. I remember that once I wrote one line in two days. I did eventually write something on the third day.

I got to say "see you later" to many of my friends hitchhiking back from Lithuania as I have already set the goal to go back home before the end of the year. I still have a few days left, perhaps I get the chance to say it to a few more. The thing is that summer just finished so people is barely coming back from holidays.

Holidays. Some people have told me that my life is like a big holiday. Maybe it is. On holidays you are always happy. There has been times that I was definitely not.

I watch The Motorcycle Diaries last night. There was a quote from the scene in the mine that caught my attention:

- Buscan trabajo?
- No, no buscamos trabajo.
- Entonces, por qué viajan?
- Viajamos por viajar.
- Benditos sean

It's something like this:
- Are you looking for work?
- No, we are not looking for work.
- Then, why are you traveling?
- We travel just because.
- Bless you.

PS. I am looking for a job.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Let's call this an update...

First off, I apologize for being far from active this entire year. I practically haven't written anything this year. Only 6 posts so far this year. This is nothing compared to what I wrote in 2012 (61 posts).  Not an excuse but I think it was because eventho I still did small hitchhiking trips, it was mainly because I was living a "sedentary life". 

I will try to change that. I was told by someone that I should start writing traveling tips instead of just (crap) stories. Maybe I should. What should I write about? What to pack? Come on, you're not a 15 year old and besides, there are tons of packing tips on youtube. Well, I wrote about what I pack. So it's done. What else? Top 10 things to do in (insert name of the place here). Maybe My top 10 things to do in (insert name of the place here). Yeah, maybe that. Although it will probably will mostly (only) include pubs and cafés.

I have no idea what I wrote all that give the fact that I'm going to write about my times in Portugal... maybe my next post will be My top 10 places to drink and eat in Lagos? There is only one way to find out.

After getting back to the Iberian Peninsula from Lithuania, I came back to Granada (where I'm writing these words) and started immediately with the job hunt. Found a temporary one but it became clear that, let me put it this way, I'm not office material anymore. It was only part time but I was getting depressed. Took some days to get away from everything and did a small road trip along the Portuguese coast with my friend María. I did look for hostels in Lagos. I went to this hostel on the exit to Sagres, the name is Bura Surf House. I left my CV. Went back to Graná. Had an offer from a friend of mine: teaching English in Bilbao. I packed my shit and left to the Basque Country. Suddenly, an email... The hostel in Lagos sent me an email, they wanted to have a skype interview... Packed my shit again, made another quick stop in Madrid to go out for one with my friend Felix and moved to Lagos, Portugal!

I spent almost 6 months in the Algarve. The South and specially the West Coast of Portugal have impressive landscapes and cliffs. They have the "the end of the world", the "corner of Europe" (although the Westernmost point of mainland Europe is Cabo de Roca, near Sintra) and it's simply said: impressive!

I tried as much as possible to see the region. I remember that hitchhiking was easy in Portugal. It's not as easy as I thought it was. I did some small day trips, always hitchhiking. I visited Sagres, Aljezur, Portimão, Silves (during the annual medieval festival), Vila do Bispo and Luz.

But as all good things have to come to an end, I had to leave Lagos and went to Sintra and Lisboa for a few days before coming back to Spain to sort some shit out. Shit that I'm still trying to sort for fuck's sake!

I'm in Graná for a couple more weeks. I found a small job doing pub crawls in my friend's hostels. Nicely done: getting paid to get shitfaced... haven't done this since my time living in Kraków.