As this title implies, I have some big news… I am flying to Lagos on Thursday!
The audience gasps and cringes in dismay.
I know, I know, it’s not the most glamorous of destinations, but I have a good reason or two, so bear with me. First of all, Casey is in Lagos, and I would like to see him. The second reason is more intricate. I’ll give you a little background first.
Spain is a member of the Schengen Area which is comprised of “26 European countries that have abolished passport and any other type of border control at their common borders, also referred to as internal borders. It mostly functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy” (Wikipedia). This means that I can travel to any of these 26 countries as often as I like and most likely only show my passport once the first time I land. Then I can travel freely to the other countries just like we travel freely to different states in the US. Now this sounds nice in theory, but a problem arises because US citizens are only allowed to stay in the Schengen Area without a visa for three months out of every six months (90 days out of every 180 days). I don’t have to stay three months consecutively; it just refers to the total time. If I want to stay longer, then I need to get a visa. Make sense so far?
I arrived at the end of September, so that means that I have to leave at the end of December. After I leave, I will not be allowed back to any of the Schengen countries until March. I’ve already been here for 44 days, and I don’t have a visa, so I have to plan ahead and count my days to make sure that I don’t overstay in Spain. Why would I overstay you ask? I will tell you.
First off, Casey and I are hoping that he will be upgraded to captain before March! *crosses fingers* Arik Air finally got a third Q400 airplane (yay!) so he might actually have a chance of being upgraded now. When he does get upgraded, he has to go to simulator training for at least two weeks. That training will most likely be done in Sweden so, of course, I REALLY want to go too! Unfortunately, Sweden is also a Schengen country, so that means that if I spend 90 days in Spain right now, I won’t be allowed into Sweden until after March. This is where planning ahead comes into play. I need to leave Spain for two weeks now in order to save those days and use them later in Sweden.
You may be saying that this is complex! I agree! It would be nice if I could just hop over to France or Italy and schmooze there for two weeks and then come back to Spain, but that is not possible. It is also extremely difficult to get an extension visa. There are work visas, student visas, and residency visas, but I can’t find any information on just getting an extension to stay here. It’s really quite a mystery. There are only a few European countries who are not part of the Schengen Area, so my options are limited. I’m sure from your perspective, I should go anywhere but Lagos, but it is what it is. I don’t really want to travel to another country by myself right now, which was one option. At least Casey is in Lagos and I’m very familiar with Lagos. I only had a few choices for where to go, and we decided that this is the best route. I always have an extensive pro&con list in my head, so I hope you can understand that this is probably the best idea, even if it doesn’t sound like it.
So that’s the news! On Thursday, I will fly directly from Valencia to Casablanca, Morocco! That sounds fun in itself, per se. (Mainly just saying that I’m going to Morocco sounds fun, even if it’s just for a few hours.) I have a long layover at the airport, but then another direct flight to Lagos. I’ll spend almost two weeks there, and then Casey and I will fly back to Valencia together on November 20th, which incidentally is his birthday. We’ll probably spend most of our time in Spain between November 20th – December 20th, but maybe we’ll travel somewhere else during that time to add extra days to my Sweden reserve. At that point, it will be the end of December, and we’ll go to Lagos together for a month. That’s the tentative schedule for now.
I hope all of this made sense. It’s a lot of new information that is confusing because you have to add up days and make sure which countries are eligible and which are not. Sigh. But I think it will be ok. I hope you do too! Let me know if you have any questions. I will keep you updated of my whereabouts as well :)
UPDATE: I just read some great news on the U.S. Passports and International Travel website. “The CDC Level 2 Travel Alert for Nigeria was removed because Nigeria has been declared Ebola free.” This update was posted on October 24th, 2014. Hopefully Nigeria will keep this up! And let’s hope that the other countries can have the same good news in the near future.