Have You Experienced Being a Total Stranger? (Sad Recollection in Connection to Miss World 2011)

a writing by Elizabeth Padillo Olesen

That was the day I waited for which I prepared myself for a number of days. First, I made my first visit to a hairdresser in Denmark. Then I bought new shoes, new gown and new jacket, just for that great day when I would like to see my daughter on the scene for the Miss World Final on November 6, 2011 in London. I was very much keen to look nice and beautiful on that special day. I accepted the slogan that once in a while a woman should pamper herself by good things to let her look much nicer and more beautiful.

And the day, for me and my whole family to travel to London, came. I had to say goodbye to my colleagues and friends who also were much excited to learn the would-be result of our family trip. We had all tickets and passports on our hand. My husband secured our boarding passes from the Ryan Airlines’ home page. We were all seven in the family, hoping to sit together on the airplane, talking about our reserved hotel in London and special places we could possibly see and visit.

Our luggage and handbags were checked. Then it was my turn to hand in my ticket, a Philippine passport and a Danish card of permission for permanent stay in the country. The personnel at the desk shook his head. He made a call to reconfirm his fear. Then he nodded, and told us that I could not be allowed to board the plane because I did not have visa to UK. I thought he was joking. I said that nobody mentioned about visa need to UK. I had been recently to Germany and Sweden and there was no demand for visa, I insisted.

We tried to call the British Embassy in Denmark. But it was evening of Friday. The Embassy was closed. My two girls started crying. How on earth it could happen that they would be allowed to fly without their own mother! And how about their own sister who was expecting us all in London?

I brushed out the tears from my eyes, still convinced that there should be a way out. I tried to convince the person in-charge that our intention was just to attend the Miss World Contest on that Sunday, November 6. I said that my daughter was representing Denmark in the contest. The man looked at me and said, “ I am sorry. I understand but if we should let you board on the plane, we would be fined 20,000 kroner .” I would have argued more, to insist that I have lived in Denmark for 16 years, that I have worked here through all the years.

But my shock helped me gave up the urge to argue for my case. Instead, I began blaming myself. How could I be so stupid without inquiring about necessary documents! How could I be so naïve to take things for granted!

I had to support my children who felt more paralysed by the ordeal. I had to assure them that I should find a way. I asked them to take care of themselves and that they should move ahead so they could catch up their flight. I called my best friend by phone, telling about what happened. She immediately assured to pick me up from the airport. And that Friday evening my family, bearing their Danish passports, made their flight to London without me, while I had to return to an empty house alone in three days!

I spent the whole Saturday calling for any possible help, searching through the net on how to secure an emergency visa to UK or how to get there by boat? I felt tired with my own search. And finally, I accepted that I did not have many hours before the contest should begin. I had to accept my failure to be with my daughter on her final day in London.

I would never forget that night at Billund Aiport, where I experienced as total stranger and therefore should not cross the border.

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