Norway, my motherland, is not a member of the EU. So why the hell does it have to follow EU regulations? I have asked this of many people, and get the same EUsplanations about Schengen etc each time. Of course I know. But it still seems weird. And vexing.
And last week I had a reason again to curse the whole sorry setup which I hasten to add has allowed me to continue being a climatic refugee and now also an exile, by living in Spain. One day in June I woke with a start from a year long covid slumber, remembering that my passport was about to expire! Help! I called the Norwegian consulate, and was told I had to go in person to the embassy in Madrid. I ask you: Is that modern?
Yes, instead of sauntering round to the consulate here in Mallorca, 32 minutes' walk away, I had to go to an airport dripping with plague, sit on a full plane for more than an hour and navigate to another blood red airport (red is the colour of Spain in the high alert danger stakes), and check into a hotel riddled with disease in order to get to the embassy the next morning. But, as the embassy person said on the phone, sounding very proud of herself: Because of all the precautions they had taken, I didn't risk getting covid in the actual embassy. So, yay!
This wasn't the first time I had an embassy related vexation.
10 years ago I was living in Hong Kong which has a Norwegian consulate, and needed a new passport. Again I couldn't just go to the consulate or apply by post to the embassy in Beijing, no, I had to take a day off work, get a visa, travel two and a half hours by train to Guangzhou in mainland China, stay in a hotel, bla bla, all because as a non member of the EU, Norwegians have to get a special passport and use a special machine to take the photos, and Hong Kong wasn't deemed worthy of having this machine.
AND, and this was something I remember feeling particularly irked by at the time, I had to go to a photo shop and have photos taken anyway, in case the machine didn't work.
In the event, the machine did work, and instead of the rather fetching photos I had taken that morning (had to buy minimum 25, another economic setback) now, every time I look at my passport I see the kind of face and hair I have after walking to the consulate in 35 degrees celsius and 99% humidity, going up to the 18th floor to be told by surly staff that they couldn't take credit cards or Hong Kong dollars, only cash renminbi ("the people's currency") so I had to take the lift down and walk to the nearest cashpoint miles away, and back. I suppose the words "angry murderer" describe that Schengen mugshot best.
At least the staff in Madrid were less surly, and I could pay with my credit card, in fact I had to. But I tell you, if I caught covid in those damned airports or on the plane, I'm going to be so very very vexed.
Today's Cantonese word: 恐龍 Hong long - terrible dragon (dinosaur)
Learn Cantonese the natural way - from a Norwegian!