Saturday, November 05, 2011


There are always complications. Always. Travel is like and accelerated version of life and most of your time is actually spent overcoming complications with bursts of tremendous joy and wonder mixed in.
Ok, that's my philosophical thought for the day. There are indeed complications but for the moment they don't actually have much to do with me. I have been busy the last few days helping with moving over here as Kees, Savannah, Kees' mom and my parents are all moving into a bigger place so they can be together or at least have a central base instead of being scattered all over the place. My first thought is that this will probably lead to all sorts of domestic disasters as it is the equivalent of having something like 3 1/2 generations living in there instead of 2, with Kees' mom being the same age as my grandmother and Kees of a closer age to my parents than to Savannah's age. I've declined the invitation to live with them full time at the moment, but for reasons I'll get into a bit later.
The first complication in this plan is that not all of my parents came back. Just over a week ago I drove over to the Weeze airport (just across the German border) to pick mom and dad up after their flight over from the UK where they had been on a couple day stopover to give dad his first look-see of the country.
So there I was, waiting in this little airport after a 2 hr drive to get there barely on time to pick them up and I see dad come out of arrivals escorted by airport security. Eh?!?!?! Mom popped out a second later dragging her bag and rolling her eyes. She broke away long enough to come over and tell me that dad had been flagged in the computer and wasn't being allowed to enter. She then got yelled at and disappeared into an office and I was left to wait and wonder.
45 minutes later and the news had not improved. Mom finally returned to say she had to book a return flight back to Vancouver for dad because they couldn't let him in and there was no way to resolve the issue as it was an alert put out by the Dutch, not the Germans saying don't let him into the Schengen area (which is the border-free countries of western Europe mostly, though expanding east). So he was held there for a few hours waiting for the next flight back to the UK where he was again interrogated (unnecessarily, as the UK is not part of Schengen and they really can't justify not letting him in) before being let go to get to his next flight back to Vancouver.
There is of course a reasonable explanation for this and it's not terribly surprising. The parents were busted back in July when they left from Amsterdam to head home for the wedding. They had overstayed in the Schengen zone and were reprimanded when they left. Apparently dad's name got into the computer and onto the no entry list. Technically we are only allowed to enter the entire Schengen zone visa free for 3 months at a time, followed by a 3 month departure before returning. But it's actually 3 months total within a 6 month period. Anyway, I've looked into it off and on for years and generally there is not even a solid consensus on how exactly to interpret the rules, or how penalties/punishments are enforced. Most visitors have no idea the rules and accidently overstay all the time. Immigration generally doesn't check in detail your dates if you are from a non-European Western country anyway.
So they were busted, and now dad is busted and was told to take up the issue with Dutch Immigration to see what the deal is. Penalties vary. So anyway, mom is here and moved into the new place and dad is currently in the Seattle area working on the company plans. The company plans are moving forward anyway and things are so far looking pretty good. We haven't actually set anything up yet though since it was supposed to be his thing and he's not here. So we're waiting on a response but getting everything ready and coming up with backup plans also.
There is a bit of a deadline of organizing stuff because my help runs out soon also.
My 3 months will be up soon in Europe, so I have to leave and fortunately I've been offered very interesting plans (which I then let get out of control as usual) for what to do next. One of the things I did during my side trip to Antwerp was also go to Brussels and get a visa for Chad. I will go down there to assist James (aka firework James that we met in Cairo in Jan 2009) in making a documentary about the country while he's checking out some stuff for NGO work. Or something like that. For me it pretty much went like this:
James: "Hey Ammon, want to go to Chad with me?"
Ammon: "Yep, when?
James: "December for a month, I'll be, blah blah blah........"
Meanwhile I was already making plans for what else to do while I'm down there ;) I've since decided to stay in Chad for a month with James, then have an additional month in the region then fly to Ethiopia. I'm on Ethiopian airlines anyway so I've arranged an additional month stopover there as well, thus putting in my mandatory 3 month leave before going back to Europe. Don't ask me what I'm doing after that as I'm still working on a few more ideas and I have to figure out this Africa thing. It will be exciting. Guaranteed. So don't lose all faith in the blog stories just yet...


At 5:28 PM , Blogger The Bear said...

Hey Ammon,
It is never dull for you guys....well except the Australia thingy. Back here we sold our house and are moving....again ( #20 in the past 29 years.) So life is entertaining again. Sorry to hear your Pop got stuffed like that. But your plans sound interesting. Areyou planning to go to the Church where they say the Ark of the Covenant is? I heard Ethiopia has the larest green houses in the world now. Go figure, they starve but produce flowers qand stuff in green houses.
Well take care, and keep posting, I'm still reading.

Big Bear Hugs
THe Bear


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