I hope everyone has had nice holidays or at least a break from the norm (in a nice way) for the end of the year 2017. For those who were familiar with the situation, I was unable to get my visa formalized into an extended presence in Italy and thus ended up running out days I could be physically present in the 26-country Schengen Area network. I had originally planned to go to Spain for the holiday break but needed to eat this expense of about $125USD to alternatively find a way out of Schengen as soon as the school term ended since my final permissible day was December 27th (January 2nd if they did not look and count the five days I was in Slovenia in August). A friend from the US I have known for many years who lives in Sevilla, Spain and runs a thriving yoga practice and education business, who I was originally going to Spain to see, quickly arranged a trip with another friend of hers (and now mine – a fearless woman from the American South by way of DC and Utah who knows how to pave her own way anywhere) to Rome and as soon as the courses I was teaching ended on December 22nd, I rushed home to pack to get out by the 23rd and take a train to Rome to see her. Leaving my coworker friends in Castelfranco Veneto, Italy along with the students may go down as the most difficult thing I have ever had to do because they are extremely valuable to me on a personality level as well as professionally, and the students are such a motivated and lively population. There was just nothing we could do because it takes some time to get the visa and it has to be done with presence in the US. However, seeing a friend I had not seen in person for six years was just the boost I needed and I was further able to see another friend I met earlier in the year in Ukraine in Trieste in my mad dash out of Schengen.
It was a very bizarre trip. A number of people working in the UN that I met through a friend indicated that it should be no problem to get my visa straightened out but then a few questions in and immediately their arguments would collapse. I had not been to Rome for almost 13 years so I did see it with fresh eyes and it is quite beautiful, albeit very expensive compared to where I have been living. I had hauled two large bags (what was meant to be a year’s worth of living material) across three trains getting there and for leaving Schengen, I opted on Croatia as an EU-member but non-Schengen member to get stamped out, and the affordable (62 euros or about $75) way out was by a 17-hour bus journey with a four hour layover in Trieste. As soon as I got ready to leave it started raining in Rome and rained everywhere I went til my arrival in Pula, Croatia. My shoes which had worn out fast, each formed a hole and got flooded – so I had wet feet for the entire journey. A nice break was meeting my friend from Naples (not pictured because I haven’t gotten permission yet for showing his 4-year-old daughter who accompanied) in Trieste where we had an elaborate sushi lunch.
I crossed the border without incident, though one of the other passengers was not so lucky. I did not overstay but I was still on edge because of the number of surprises that have unfolded. The final pictures above show the Christmas tree at the rainy border.
I arrived at the hostel and was greeted by the owner or manager but he has since taken off and I have not seen or heard anyone. He said that there are two other guests but I have not seen any sign of them. My dorm room is 15 euros a night ($18) and it is all to myself. I am here three nights to recover from everything.
Pula, Croatia is on the mysterious Istrian peninsula which has been occupied by many empires. The owner of the hostel said that a local tribe had originally defeated the Romans but when they were celebrating this they were attacked and lost control of everything. This city has been inhabited for 3,000 years and includes a major Roman arena which is probably the most famous attraction here. It is my understanding that to get residence here is quite straightforward and so I am here shopping that opportunity while I get busy deciding my next move. I love being in the classroom as much as I love tarot and selling things of a sustainable or ethical nature so I am willing to wait to have this be a factor in what I do. The food and liveliness here does not compare to what I experienced in Italy – though this is probably enhanced by how quickly it had to end.
I will soon be with you for 2018 predictions, the preview of which is here.