Saturday, August 27, 2011

Checking Out Our World

Written by Karen
Yosemite, California
As of July 15, 2011, according to the U.S. Department of State Diplomacy in Action webpage, there are 195 independent states worldwide.  I pulled the list today off the website, and starting marking the names of the countries that I had never heard of before. I was surprised at the number.  Starting in alphabetical order, they are:
Republic of Benin; Kingdom of Bhutan; Burkina Faso; Union of Comoros; Republic of Djibouti; Commonwealth of Dominica; State of Eritrea; Republic of The Gambia; Holy See; Republic of Kiribati; Kingdom of Lesotho; Republic of Mauritius; Republic of Nauru; Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis; Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste; and, Tuvalu. 

16 countries that I have never heard of, and that’s on top of those countries that I have heard of, but know little about. It dazzles the imagination to think about these unknown places.  Where are they?  I’ll have to look them up on Google Maps and then place them on our large wall world map.  Who lives there?  What are their lives like? 
All of the sixteen, except for the Kingdom of Bhutan, have diplomatic relations with the United States; all of the sixteen, except for Holy See, are members of the United Nations.  I’m not sure how that impacts any possible future visits, but it is interesting to consider.  
Lucerne, Switzerland
The list of countries that we would like to visit on our round-the-world trip keeps growing.  We think we have the first 90 days roughly sketched out: France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, and Sweden.  We have arranged to rent two apartments so far and will try and do the same in Poland and Sweden.  We have friends and family in Germany, Poland and Norway, and we are looking forward to spending time with all of them.  And, then, most surprisingly, we’ve run out of time to be on the European continent.  
Lac d'Annecy, France
Shocking.  We have run up against
the visitor time restrictions of the Schengen Agreement.  I wasn’t aware of this agreement; probably most folks aren’t.  But, then I suppose, why would anyone know about something as esoteric as the Schengen Agreement?  We don’t usually travel within Europe for longer than three months at a time.  But, indeed it does exist.  And, it’s a good thing we happened to just stumble across it.
The U.S. Department of State has a handy Schengen Fact Sheet available for reference.  In essence, here’s how the Schengen Agreement affects us.  We have to leave the group of countries who are a part of the Schengen Agreement after 90 continuous days within a six month period.   The twenty-five European countries are all listed on the Schengen Fact Sheet on the U.S. State Department’s website, but do include the seven that we are visiting.  
So, we will look ahead – probably to the east - after the first ninety days. We’ll have to loop back to visit Italy, Spain, Croatia, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and any others that we add to the list.  It’s weird to think that we are still some seven months away from our one-way flight to Paris, and we have already roughly sketched out the first three months....and are running out of time. 
Yosemite, California
But, maybe I’ll look a little deeper into the 16 countries that I have never heard of, or maybe look into other countries that are “off the beaten track”.  Or maybe take a train overland into India.  Or maybe we’ll just figure it out then.  Or maybe we’ll just get a residence visa somewhere.  Who knows.  We have some options. 195 different countries and some time to figure it all out.


David_SF said...

It will be fun to travel vicariously through the two of you,especially given your astute observations. It makes me want to hit the road, too, after a verrrrry long hiatus! :)

Observers of Life said...

Hey David - you never know. Stay tuned......! You might grab your backpack as well!