Dubrovnik, Croatia, November 2023
The autumn/pre-Christmas holidays in Europe are amazing. After an amazing day in Lisbon, I am now in Croatia's Dubrovnik. I will be exploring the city and its surroundings, but also will have two short day trips. One to Bosnia and Herzegovina's Mostar and then along the Adriatic coast of northern Montenegro.
I shall soon prepare the pictures' galleries.
In the meanwhile, greeting you all wherever you may be in the world.
A flag of Croatia
It is already nearly 4 months here in Venezuela and it is time for my first holidays. On Saturday, I am setting off for 2 weeks in Europe. I will spend a week in Croatia and the other week in Portugal.
It will be my first time in Croatia, and when there, I will be exploring Dubrovnik and its surroundings (with a possible trip to Montenegro or/and Bosnia and Herzegovina).
When in Portugal, I will be visiting my favourite people and places!
My feet are itching and I am so very much looking forward to travel.
Nowy Sacz, Poland, November 2015
I have just come back from an amazing work trip to Apure State, where I had a chance to visit some of the humanitarian projects that my organisation is co-funding. I enjoyed having a chance to learn a bit more of our partners' work and what they try doing to help people getting access to basic health services. The visit made me realise how much more work there is in front of all of us, but also gave me a great motivational boost which I needed and help me stay focused on advocating for more similar projects to be implemented in other parts of the country. In case, you would like to have a look at some of the images from the trip, please feel free checking the gallery at this link (bottom of the page).
I am back to Caracas just in time to put myself at the sentimental mood. It is All Saints' Day today, which is, by far, my most favourite festival we celebrate in Poland. Obviously, All Saints' Day coincides with Halloween, but the celebrations in Poland are very different and have little to do with Halloween in other parts of the world (with noble exceptions of some countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and to some extent, Mexico which celebrates a similar Día de Los Muertos).
I always get sentimental on 1st November, even if I am far away from home. The holiday is about being together with the loved ones so that we all can remember people that are important to us, but have already left us. Actually, it is a very happy day… I find it happy and optimistic, despite considerations of death and passing and a fact that people become quitter and are in pensive mood. We all go to cemeteries where we celebrate life. We decorate all graves with candles and flowers. The cemeteries actually become welcoming and are oddly attractive… filled with thousands of flowers, candles and decorations. I guess, this video (in English language) may give you an idea why the festival has become the highlight of the year for me and on importance of All Saints' Day in Poland altogether.
All Saints' Day is also important to me, as it proceeds my own birthday on 2nd November. I love the whole idea of becoming sentimental on 1st November and then celebrating quietly my own life a day later. Perhaps it is the cemeteries and the character of the festival that makes me want to celebrate my own birth anniversary quietly. I nearly never throw parties, I do not like them on my birthday. However, I enjoy quiet moments on the day, reflecting on good things happening around me. This year seems to follow the pattern, even if I am far away from home. I am gearing up to have a good and nice day tomorrow, contemplating 51 years on the planet.
Alcobaca, Portugal, August 2021
What a wonderful irony!
Some years back, I applied to become a naturalised citizen of Portugal. I really love the country and wanted to have the official ties to it by having her nationality, since it became my second home in Europe, after buying our house in Obidos. However, I also need to admit that my decision of wanting to naturalise was my fear of the (still) present Government of Poland, which came to power in 2015.
And now, on 17th October 2023, the very day when the Polish Voting Commission announced results of the parliamentary elections confirming that the very government I disapprove so vividly would not be able to form a parliamentary majority (thus would lose the power in Poland), I received the confirmation that my application to become a naturalised citizen of Portugal is approved.
I am now becoming a dual Portuguese-Polish citizen.
I am overjoyed!
Centre of Colonia Tovar, Venezuela, October 2023
Last weekend was great. I finally managed to leave Caracas. Together with Leo (my colleague/assistant here in Venezuela), we went to explore the place called Colonia Tovar, a small village, tucked in the valleys of the mountains, some 80 km west from the capital.
I loved the village a lot. Okay, it seems to be more German than the actual villages in southern Germany (as commented by my German friends, who saw the pictures from the trip), but I found it very charming and relaxing. I especially liked the nature though. Dramatic colours, amazing views, breathtaking vegetation. Really loved it. I also enjoyed observing how much Leo seemed to have enjoyed the trip as well. It was his first time to see the place, and he appreciated it very much, also because, he has not had chance to travel around his country a lot. I am already planning my next visit there!
The coming weekend will be less fun, I am afraid. We are having parliamentary elections in Poland and it will be observing it with lots of anxiety. I will actually have a chance to vote as well (on Saturday), but the exit polls will only be available on Sunday evening (Sunday afternoon Venezuela time). The available polls are not too optimistic, so I am actually preparing for a disappointment.
The last week of October, I will be travelling to southern Venezuela for work. I will be visiting some of the humanitarian projects that my organisation is supporting in Apure State. I have not been to the field for a while and I am very excited to go, also to get a bit of a boost and remind myself why we do this work. When you stay in offices for too long, you tend to lose touch with reality. I am therefore trying to make sure to get out of my comfortable bubble as much as I can.
Finally, at the end of November, I will be travelling to Europe. I am fixing my tickets already. The plan is to do my Portugal home visit, but also travel to Dubrovnik in Croatia. I have not been to Croatia yet, so very excited by the prospects. If I actually manage to get there, as planned, Croatia will become my 27th country I will have visited in the EU, thus completing the aim to travel to all member states of the European Union 💪🏽.
Rzeszow, Poland, April 2022
October 2023 has arrived this weekend. I am fearing it is going to be an exciting month, and not necessarily in a good way.
We are starting off with the parliamentary elections in Slovakia. The first results and political predictions are not very encouraging, as far as I am concerned. Populism seems to have won hearts of many Slovaks, and obviously that worries me.
Then Poland's elections are approaching too. In two weeks we will be voting. I am worried of the results. I am expecting the results to be devastating for the situation in the country and Europe with underlying divisions in the society to be more visible than ever. Anti-migrant sentiments and overall xenophobia scare me but are sadly becoming the main stream ideology in Poland these days.
The politics is not everything in life, but is its part that has a huge impact on our lives, so somehow, I feel uneasy, even if I want to distract my mind from following what is happening back home.
On a positive note, I should be travelling to southern Venezuela for work at the end of the months, and this makes me very happy. I am also arranging my holidays, which I should be taking in November. Although nothing is written in stone yet, I may be going to Portugal and Croatia this time around.
Streets of Caracas, Venezuela, September 2023
Here comes the latest newsletter, I have sent out to my friends:
Finally, I am getting in touch. I am aware that the letter is long overdue, but better late than never!
I am writing to you from Caracas. It is difficult to believe, but I have already been here for over the month. Settling into a new place, and learning about your new job makes time fly so fast that it is nearly scary.
I am very happy in Venezuela. When I reflect on my experiences in this country, I can’t think of anything else but my sensation, when I got to Sudan/South Sudan for the first time in my life. It is love at the first sight. People are so warm and friendly here. Yes, it is also a beautiful country with amazing nature (mountains, sea, deserts, waterfalls, colourful birds, amazing animals), fascinating architecture, cultural opportunities, but it is Venezuelan people that make the trick for me and make me like this place so very much. Of course, life in here is challenging for most. The crisis is real and at times brutal. After all, there is a reason, why we work here, but I am not going to write about this today, as I prefer to show you a face of Venezuela that is happy, vibrant, youthful, and unbelievably friendly. You should all consider visiting me here! I have a large place to live, and I am sure that I will be able to accommodate you, when you come! In any case, if you are interested, you can peep into my ’Settling in Venezuela’ gallery, should you wish so: https://photos.app.goo.gl/63SrcghpMoC2bzZv6. If all goes as anticipated, I should be here for next 4 year, so there is a bit of time to plan the visits!
My summer, the time before arriving to Venezuela was very special too. I spent some wonderful time with my mother. We enjoyed moving around Poland, and we also went to Madagascar for a week. The trip to Nosy Be (in Madagascar) was amazing for so many reasons. What I particularly liked about it is a fact that it was Mum’s first time in Africa. Madagascar did not disappoint us, and I think made Mum really impressed on so many levels. After initial shocks of differences between her own environment and what she saw on the island (which I loved noticing), she fully and bravely embraced her opportunity to get to know a new place that is so exotic, beautiful and friendly. So we spent time on exploring nature, but also local markets, villages, and made friends with local residents, who also invited us to their homes and introduced us to their families. I think we both liked the trip a lot, and I am already looking forward to more trips with her. Mum is a great travel companion! Again if you wish to peep in to our trip to Madagascar, here is a link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/GNEHaZZCkyGdYNaw5. Also here is a list of links to other albums from recent trips (including holidays in Poland and the farewell in Panama): https://www.romanmajcher.eu/blog-2/files/a84015e1320a5f0da8209020fe166e01-100.html.
And for those interested, I should report that Tahir is doing great in Canada. Just this morning, I come across the old correspondence just to get reminded that 7 years ago, we started the process for his resettlement to Toronto (with some amazing Canadian friends), that I know Tahir for 10 years, and that he has already lived in Canada for nearly 5 years. I think he has done an amazing work in Canada. He has created an independent and happy life, travelled a bit (including visiting me in Poland and Panama), and more importantly starting his own family too! And while, it is Tahir that has responsibility for his life, and seems to be doing well in this regards, I will always cherish all of you, who helped so immensely to give Tahir a push to have better opportunities. I will never stop being grateful for this. THANK YOU.
Voila… I will stop now, but look forward to hearing from you whenever you can.
Miss you all. Sending love,
Office of the Delegation of the EU, Caracas, Venezuela, August 2023
However unbelievable it sounds, three weeks have already passed in Caracas. It feels like, I just arrived yesterday, as everything is still new, largely undiscovered and very exciting.
My first weeks have been filled with arranging my life here in the city and getting familiarised with my new work. Employing my assistant (Leo is an amazing person), shopping for some essentials for my flat, walking in my neighbourhood (so I get to know it well), visiting local bars , but also carrying out countless meetings to learn about my work, and work of the partners that we work with. Soon, I should be able to start travelling out of Caracas too, so that I actually understand a bit better the realities of life of people that we try supporting and serving.
I really, really like Caracas and her people. It is a lively and exciting city full of culture, dance and colour. The nature around is breathtaking and most importantly, I find the people very hospitable. I feel lucky to be able to spend here a part of my life!
Ah… today, there will be my welcoming party, arranged by the colleagues from the EU Delegation. Need to have my hair combed so I look dashing