So I’ve left my husband… behind. For two months, to be exact.
I’ve taken a seasonal job working in a shop on Main Street in Bar Harbor, Maine, just next to Acadia National Park – one of the most beautiful parks in the United States.
For those of you who know me, you’ll understand my predicament – I can’t work in South Africa. I don’t have a work visa, just a relative’s visa, which only allows me to ‘visit my husband’. A bit of a depressing situation for someone with a Masters degree in Global Policy Studies focused on conflict and development.
Getting a work permit in South Africa is not easy. To get a permit, you have to have a job offer. Most companies will only offer you a job if you have a permit. So there’s that, confusing, inverted, backwards situation. There are special considerations for ‘Critical Skills’, which allows certain people to apply for a work permit based on their experience, education, or certifications. So if you’re an astronaut, physicist, sheep shearer (really), or doctor, you can get a visa. With a Masters focused on development, I don’t qualify for a critical skills visa. Because of course South Africa doesn’t need any help there (*sarcasm*).
So what does someone without a work permit do in South Africa? I am a freelance writer and editor, as you may know from my website. I run my own business – which I’m allowed to do on my current visa – most of which is done online. I write my blog posts when I have free time, and I spend a lot of time exploring. In the last six months, Ricky and I have been abroad to the USA, Botswana, London, France, Iceland, and, within South Africa, to the Drakensberg, Durban, Cape Town, Kruger, Pilanesberg, and around Johannesburg.
Some of the local fauna
We spend a lot of time traveling, but eventually Ricky has to be back in the office and I need to find a way to fund these expeditions. So I’ve decided to come back to America for a few months, to work a seasonal job here in Bar Harbor. It’s just as much about making a bit of cash as it is about feeling useful 40 hours a week. While freelancing affords me flexibility, I’m not always busy, and too much idle time is frustrating.
For the next 8 weeks I’m based here. Two miles from the entrance to Acadia National Park, located mostly on Mt Desert (pronounced dessert) Island, it is surrounded by water and perched on forested, rocky hills that are called mountains (the tallest is just 1,530 feet or 466 metres). There are over 120 miles of trails and 60 miles of carriage roads, providing endless opportunities for hiking, biking and driving. I didn’t bring a car, so I’m spending my time on a second-hand Raleigh hybrid bike and on foot. There’s so much to see, and I’m so grateful to have a patient and understanding husband who encouraged me to travel and work on my own. Here’s to the next adventure!