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FBR On the Skids

In short, it’s all because of Bulgaria. 

 For every country we’ve gone through, FBR has needed visas.  Until Bulgaria, we got the visas without much hassle.  The Turkish visa we bought right at the airport.  It only took up a quarter of a page in our passport. 

As Americans, Andrew, Pete and I don’t even need visas to go to Bulgaria.  In fact, we will travel visa-free for the rest of the projected trip…if the trip continues, that is.  Nakia, as a Bahamian, needs a visa for Bulgaria and the rest of the countries we want to travel through. 

So far she has spent more than two weeks trying to get a Bulgarian visa.  She spent one day at the Bulgarian consulate in Istanbul.  The next day she returned earlier with my mom and spent the whole day there.  She couldn’t even get into the building.

That same night, she and Pete and Drew returned to the Bulgarian embassy, sleeping pads in hand.  They camped out on the street.  When they arrived at 12:30am, twenty-some people had already formed a line.  They spent a long night on the street next to a busy road amongst a growing crowd of would-be transitors through Bulgaria.  When the consulate opened nine hours after they queued for it, the guards didn’t let anyone in.  By 12:00pm (when the gate closes), not even twenty people had been admitted.  Peter and Nakia forced their way to the front of the line.  Nakia demanded her money back.  The guard let her in and she managed to apply for a visa. 

 Seven days later she learned her visa was denied just before having the door slammed in her face. 

In the meantime, I had started biking with my mom towards Edirne, Turkey.  She visited with the Bulgarian vice consul at the consulate there, Georgı Vodenski.  He seeemed pleasant and said Nakia’s initial denial was due to a misunderstanding.  He promised he would issue Nakia a visa in one day as soon as she arrived.  I informed the rest of FBR, and they rushed to Edirne from Istanbul.

 My mom and I, eager to see more country and meet my sister and friend in Bulgaria, continued across the border.

When Nakia arrived at the Bulgarian consulate in Edirne today, Mr. Vodenski reversed himself.  He refused to issue a visa to her, claiming he had forgotten she first needed a visa for a country beyond Bulgaria. 

Nakia has 10 days left on her Turkish visa.  It’s unclear whether we can extend it or not.  Obtaining a visa for Western European countries like Greece for people from small countries like the Bahamas is infamously difficult. 

Just as we were getting back together, FBR might have to split up again - this time for good.

Visas and regulatory red tape might be necessary.  It’s unfortunate that they now threaten to derail our mission of understanding the world better and grass roots peace spreading.  It’s also unfortunate that they’ve done so through Bulgarian consular officials who, saving my mother’s single apparently pleasant conversation in Mr. Vodenski, have treated us in an uncommonly adversarial manner.

In the battle of bureaucracy and good will, it looks like bureaucracy is delivering the death blows.  So it goes.

We’re all brain storming solutions.  As I write this I’m tired and stressed, even though I haven’t been involved in the visa shenanigans lately.  Perhaps things aren’t as bleak as I’m making them out to be.  We’ll keep you updated.  In the meantime, let us know if you have any high-level contacts in the Bulgarian government.

11 Responses to “FBR On the Skids”

  1. Jo & Dean Says:

    Hi Jim and Netzy,
    We are sorry to hear about the visa problems. Hopefully your will be on your way soon.
    Enjoy the time you have together and drink more Turkish coffee!
    Good luck
    Dean and Jo

  2. Sandy Says:

    Jim, the group has certainly had to endure some trials on this journey, while other experiences have brought elation.

    In this weeks mail, Peter got an envelope from “Maryknoll Father’s and Brother’s” in New York. It contained 6 copies of their July/August Revista Maryknoll magazine…the bilingual edition. Why would they send so many copies…..ohhhh, there must be an article about Fueled By Rice! And indeed there is! You attended a Maryknoll mass in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in February, and they took the FBR story and gave you a 5 page spread in this edition, complete with group pictures (minus Adam, plus Yusuke Hasegawa), travel pictures, and a map of your route.

    Most of the article is in Spanish with a few blocks of English, but it is enough to get the drift of who and what your group is all about. What a neat advertisement for your trek! I’m waiting to hear from Peter as to whether all of you got copies of this magazine or if each of you are to get one of these. Keep me posted, please.


  3. Tracy Says:

    Jim, sorry to hear about the visa problem. Ten days, you can figure out a better solution besides getting a Bulgarian visa. Maybe Nakia can fly out Turkey to a third country? Or check out the train ticket from Istanbul to other big cities, then the visa issue might not be that complicated if Nakia only travels through Bulgaria. Just be patient and have faith!
    I will keep this in my prayer.

  4. netzy Says:

    Everyone - I have emailed George…. and ccd it to the group. I am hoping that something happens with this episode. Another alternative may be to go back to Istanbul, get a visa for Greece and continue on with the european visa and totally skip Bulgaria… will keep you all posted. So sorry I have not written - it is 113 in the shade here, trying to buy two more bikes and outfit them and of course no one takes a taxi around here. THanks heavens I have put my foot down and am staying in a hostel… yeah - water and a shower - what pleasures… take care everyone and keep praying…

  5. Michael Durfey Says:

    Sorry to hear about the visa trouble. How about taking a boat to a visa friendly country? It would seem that there are plenty of boats to be chartered in Istanbul, and it could be another interesting adventure.
    Good luck what ever happens,
    Mike, the gray

  6. cassie Says:

    Do not believe that “In the battle of bureaucracy and good will, it looks like bureaucracy is delivering the death blows” ! Maybe this is just an opportunity to REALLY demonstrate good will. It’s easy to be full of good will when everyone around you reflects the same spirit, quite another thing when you are bombarded with red tape and random rules. I know it’s easy for me to say all this while I am in Montana,with few people around me and where a 2 minute line in the grocery store seems like a hassle. Hope this doesn’t sound preachy. Thank you for actively promoting world understanding while I stay snug in my comfort zone.

  7. Lollie Eidsness Says:

    Hi Jim, I am enjoying reading your blog. I wish I could be there with you. I am glad your mom, sister and Jay are with you now. Hope the visa issues get resolved and you can continue as a group. Be safe and have fun. Your trip is amazing!! Lollie Eidsness

  8. Jason Gorny Says:

    there should be more blogs like this one that way the internet would be better

  9. Javan Says:

    If she was not born in Ireland and she didn’t get citizenship for her ciredhln, then I think the chain was broken. You can try, but it sounds to me like you would have to go back to great grandparents born in Ireland and that would not qualify.

  10. Bennie Rubloff Says:

    post 5 Gyres Introduces Legislation With NY Attorney General To Ban The Microbead appeared first on 5 Gyres Understanding Plastic Pollution Through Exploration, Education,

  11. Purvis Says:

    hi bill, my wife grandma was irish but was born in east psataikn. im not sure if she was ever registered as irish citizen? can she claim irish heritage through her grandma if she was a register citizen?

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