Arriving to Tocumen International Airport, Panama, September 2021
My trip to Europe has come to its end and I am now in a full working mood: energised and working out pans for weeks to come, despite suffering from the jet lag!
The scanning of my professional emails yesterday made it clear that COVID has taken a major toll on lives of vulnerable communities across South America, causing sever food insecurity, loss of income, contributing to localised conflicts, depriving people from mobility (just to name a few of the concerning headlines). This translates into humanitarian sufferings of many literally in all of the countries of Latin America, but it is Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Chile and indeed Venezuela that keep on appearing in my 'list to do' issues. In addition, we are still extremely busy with the response to the earthquake in Haiti and worried about the hurricane season that is ongoing in the Caribbean Sea.
In view of all of what is happening, I am trying to prioritise my projects and field visit missions. As it seems initially, I would be trying to visit Chile (migration crisis), Brazil (COVID related projects) and Argentina (support of the indigenous communities) sooner rather than later.
As things become clearer, I will surely be updating you on how things develop soon!
Lublin, Poland, September 2021
I should have expected it from the beginning… My holiday, both in Portugal and Poland turned out to be really busy. Busy however, does not mean to be stressful or unpleasant; on a contrary: I have had a wonderful time, full of laughter, meeting new people, emotions, and discovering new places.
First of all, I should report that I was successful in dealing with my Portuguese permanent residency. The interview with the immigration officer in Cascais was rather a pleasant experience, and resulted with granting of the document specifying that I am now entitled to live and reside in Portugal indefinitely, as long as I keep returning to the country at least once every 2 years. Soon after, I also received my first Portuguese identity card! As you can guess, I am really happy! Now, I can start preparing for applying for my Portuguese nationality as well - the process that I can begin with in February 2022.
While in Obidos, I was very lucky to receive some friends who live in Cascais, and also friends from Brussels (including my friend (and colleague), who works with me in ECHO). We were very lucky to be able to enjoy good weather, which definitely helped our good mood, wonderful conversations, and a feeling of happiness! My time in Portugal, once again, reaffirmed to me my love for that country (see pictures from my Portugal part of the holiday here).
After nearly 3 weeks in Obidos, I started my second part of the break in Poland. Soon after arriving to my native Nowy Sacz, together with Mum, we decided to travel north to the Polish Lake District called 'Mazury'. We stayed in the nice spa, in the forest, and we had a great time, having massages, swimming, enjoying jacuzzi, walking in the forest, cycling and then taking a boat trip in lakes and canals around Ostroda.
My report would not be complete without mentioning my visit to the 'Centre for Foreigners' in Bezwola in eastern part of Poland. You might be interested to know that some of my Afghan colleagues from my organisation, who has worked in the office of Kabul got evacuated to Poland (offer of the Polish Government) and got resettled in Bezwola Centre (around a week ago) for the time when their asylum applications are being considered (a process that should take another 3 - 4 months). Two families were brought to Poland (8 people altogether), and as soon as I heard about their stay in the country, I decided to go and visit them. As Bezwola is quite far away from Nowy Sacz (around 5 hours drive), I needed to plan for a night somewhere on the way, and in this way I also ended up in the City of Lublin, near to the border with Belarus and Ukraine.
The trip was amazing. Meeting my Afghan colleagues, somehow a bit scared and confused in their new situation was very emotional. I was so very pleased to have visited them! Also, I enjoyed meeting a young Afghan student of the University of Warsaw, who kindly agreed to help me translate to my colleagues and his Ukrainian friend, who decided to join us in Lublin for a splendid evening together. Absolutely delightful time with them and discovering charms of the city, which I visited for the first time.
Now, until Thursday (my time of return to Panama), I am in Nowy Sacz, where I am meeting my family and friends, and spending time with Mum, who is spoiling me with food, and caring for me! It is great to be at home and I am enjoying every moment of it (here are some pictures from my Poland's part of the trip: will be updated until 24th September, the time of my departure from the country).
Nazare, Portugal, August 2021
I am enjoying the late summer in Portugal immensely. It is such a nice country and welcoming place, and I feel so privileged to be able to call it home!
Today is my first day of holidays, and I will be able to get out a bit more and visit some new places, which I may not know yet. I am very lucky, as despite travelling to Portugal from Americas (2 weeks ago), I was exempted from the undergoing the quarantine, due to my up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination status. That meant that I was able to enjoy the daily pleasures of Portuguese life, outside of working time, including weekends, which has been brilliant.
This weekend I am spending with friends north of Obidos, in a town called Figueira da Foz. It is a city on the coast, popular with beach-lovers and very near to the magnificent city of Coimbra. It should be lots of fun to visit some of the surroundings and enjoy the company of friends.
Next week, on Monday, I will be visiting the Immigration Services of Portugal to deal with my permanent residency status. I am a bit nervous of the prospect… I just dislike dealing with immigration, but then I am also hopeful that the process of getting my permits should be smooth, and I would soon be getting my papers sorted for a longer period of time. Keep your fingers crossed! I shall certainly let you know the outcomes of it all!