Denied Entry—Or How an Expired Tourist Visa Got Me Deported


Okay, it wasn’t technically deportation, but I wasn’t allowed into Spain.

In 2009, I was blissfully unaware of all things Schengen. I came over to Spain in September to work a campus organization at the University of Salamanca. Before coming over, my then-future employers had advised me not to worry about a visa, as it “had never been a problem before.”

Famous last words.

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Words You Didn’t Need to Know…Until You Did

I was reading Danielle’s blog (note to self: add to blogroll) and she mentioned how you learn certain words only when you need them?

You know how you also learn lots of Portuguese words when you need them? Like how you learn that sink is pia when it breaks, or that you need to say estou rouca when you’ve lost your voice…

Estou ronca = Estoy ronca = I’m hoarse

Her post, while not focused on the topic, resonated with me because it’s spot on! I got to thinking about what words and phrases I learned in the heat of the moment because I needed them, not because I was in the learning mood. Thus, I made you a handy dandy list! Who doesn’t love lists?

¿Dónde está la embajada? One time, back in 2008, I went to Barcelona. It was a fun trip, don’t get me wrong, but while there, my traveling companion decided to take a photo. With his tripod. Thus, I set my purse down, inside his backpack. I was carrying my passport? (Yes, yes I know – I also want to slap my 2008 self silly.) They took it. The purse, not the backpack. Of course. Luckily, there was no money / credit cards in there. But when you’re traveling around Europe, your passport comes in pretty handy, especially when you don’t have a NIE. Being the “estudiante de español” that I was, I didn’t know how to say embassy. Thank goodness for guide books. Thank goodness for nice taxi drivers.Right before the passport was taken. Also, not coincidentally, the last photo taken.

Estoy constipada / resfriada. The first time I got sick in a foreign country, I had to go to the school doctor. Luckily, I had my directora with me to help me. I learned something, though – constipado/a does not mean what you think. It’s what you say when you’re all stuffed up. So when your intercambio tells you he’s constipado, do not giggle. You’ll have to explain yourself.

Household vocabulary. When I first got to Spain, I had no idea how to say the following: doorknob, light bulb, faucet, shower head, drain, handle, hanger, comforter, blinds, and many more. Just, ya know, your basic vocabulary when talking to your doorman (which we had at our residence). I mean, I did know how to say some things, don’t get me wrong. Those things included: door, sheets, bed, shower, sink, toilet, floor, etc. However, when your light bulb needs change you can’t just keep repeating “light…light” to the confused maintenance man.

Te quiero. I don’t want to get all sappy on you, I swear. But I used to really not get the whole te quiero/te amo thing. Like, when do you use each one and why? Can you say “I love pizza?” in Spanish? (Yes, you just say “Me encanta la pizza.”) I didn’t like saying what I saw as “I want you” to mean “I love you.” However, with time, I came to understand and appreciate the Spanish way of saying I love you. While it is a phrase I would only utter to one person (guess!), it has been most useful to me.

Gratuitous photo of my favorite person. Oh, and me.

What are some words/phrases you learned in the heat of the moment?


Kaley Detained

I’ll try not to be terribly cliché here, but you know that saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”? (Of course you do.) Well, life definitely handed me some lemons, but lemonade just ain’t gonna cut it here, folks. I’m making margaritas because I. need. a. drink.

I had it all in Spain: job prospects, a temporary place to live, an amazing boyfriend, and then I just go and throw it away. Oops, I mean the Spanish government did that for me. Or rather, my former bosses. But I digress. Upon attempting to enter the glorious country known as España to the locals, the passport control officer looked at me strangely. “You live in Salamanca?” he asked me, only in Spanish. (You see, I’m translating. Aren’t I nice?) “Yes,” I answered – honestly. It turns out that I no longer did, according to them, anyway. I’m making light of a scary situation, but keep in mind that I am a 23 year-old girl who just wanted to see her boyfriend – a boyfriend who was waiting at the gate with her favorite cookies in his pocket. That kind of boyfriend. Sigh.

Oh, sorry, this isn’t a sappy love letter. Back to business. So yes, I was detained for 1.5 days, kept in some underground bunker with my fellow detainees. Now, I wasn’t eager to make friends with any of them, but even if I had wanted to, it would have been rather impossible, seeing as they all seemed to speak Portuguese. One guy only “spoke” Arabic and English. I put spoke in quotes because I asked him simple questions and he stared at me blankly as though I were speaking, hmmm, Mandarin Chinese. Nevertheless, I used my time well there, speaking on the phone with M (my lovely Spanish novio) for several hours, stealing my own cell phone from my confiscated carry on luggage they were keeping in a separate room, eating disgusting airline food, and working as a translator. Yes, you read that right. I was working for them, though I’m still waiting on my check. Spanish police usually (okay, never) know how to speak more than a few words of English (hail to the queen!). To give you an example, while M and I were on the phone, he asked me if, in the U.S., police also were the type who “don’t like to study.” Personally, I hate stereotyping, so of course I quickly answered YES. It made me feel so much better to say these terrible, awful, no good mean things to my boyfriend, who of course was nodding at my every word. At least I assume he was nodding – he better have been! M, are you reading this? Call me later. We gotta talk.

Oh yes, back to translating. Well, I translated from Spanish into English for the Arabic guy who barely spoke English. Complicated enough for ya? No? Sorry, I got nothing. After my translation of the phrase, “Your flight leaves tomorrow at 4,” the guard asked me what, exactly, tomorrow meant, proving that Spanish police hate studying. You see, it is generally a requirement that all children study English from an early age. Tomorrow is generally a word one would know even if one’s skills are limited to the most basic.

However, my favorite part of the whole experience was how most people (except the guards) seemed to think it was very, very strange that I was there. The Nicaraguan sisters questioned me intensely as to exactly why the Spanish police wouldn’t let an American in…I explained to them my evil intentions of seeing the boy with whom I was in love, and they asked if he wouldn’t help me. If only they knew how M was calling every person he had ever met since the age of 2, then they would understand. The flight crew on my way home laughed and laughed, telling me I’d soon be back. My lawyer advised me to lose my passport so I could get back sooner. Everyone, it seemed, thought I should be allowed in, except the law. The law is cruel and unforgiving and hates love. It has never had a girlfriend, so it’s understandable. We need to get it laid. (I kid, I kid.)

So, as for now, I’m in good old Crawtucky, Indiana, applying to be a substitute teacher and spending my time on Skype. Skype is a wonderful tool and I wish to personally kiss the feet of the person who invented it. I take that back, actually, as I have this fear that, somewhere, the inventor is actually reading this (highly unlikely, but possible) and will soon be calling me up. I wish to avoid such situations. It’s only prudent. I ask only that you continue reading and that you do not tell me if you feel asleep reading this post. I’m sensitive.