Empower Yourself. Empower Others.

Banned From Romania & Working in Sicily, Italy with Horses

Working Abroad in Sicily with Horses
“What do you mean I CAN’T GET ON THE PLANE?!” I asked, trying not to raise my voice at the teller in front of me. I couldn’t help it. I was on the brink of having a downright panic attack in the middle of the ticket counter at the airport.
Riding horses at a showjumping stables in italy
“Your passport is blocked from being able to enter the country of Romania,” the woman stated flatly. Her voice had absolutely no trace or hint of sympathy or empathy for my current situation. “You have been blacklisted from Romania.”

“I’m aware of that. I still am not allowed to enter that country for another two months…but why can’t I get on this plane? It’s only going to France. Look at my itinerary,” I stuffed my crinkled papers into her hands desperately. “See? I already booked a flight to take me from France to Italy. I’m not going anywhere near Romania!”

The lady scanned the papers uninterested. Without putting much effort in her decision she threw the papers back in my hands before adjusting her reading glasses on her face. With a bored look and a firm voice she said to me, “That doesn’t matter. You are not allowed to board this flight. If you want you can go home and re-book another flight, or you can cancel your flight to Romania via France and re-book another seat.”

“Ok, then I’ll cancel the small flight to Romania and keep my flight to Italy and France instead,” I tried to come to a term of agreement. Anything but not boarding my flight to Italy, where I was supposed to start work the next day.

“You can’t do that. If you wish to cancel your flight to Romania you have to cancel your flight to France, the fee for that is around half the price of the flight.”

“What?!”

“You purchased the flights as a package deal. You can’t cancel one flight from France to Romania without cancelling your flight from Los Angeles to France.”

“WHAT?!” I shrieked, my voice completely gone. I felt my heart begin racing as I struggled to come up with a plan. I was in Los Angeles, my mother’s house was near San Francisco. I couldn’t risk leaving the airport and not having a game plan of whether or not I would be turning around and flying back to my mother’s house or spending a fortune to pay for a flight I had already paid for. “How much is the flight to France?” I risked, not willing to head home to mom’s house just yet.

“The plane boards in two hours…” the lady began typing furiously on the keyboard in front of her. “The seat you already paid for is already assigned to someone else…and the only other available seat is not in the economy seating. The cost for your flight will come to around…3,000 dollars.”
I nearly choked. “Let me get this straight,” I sighed heavily, trying to comprehend the series of misfortunes that had been occurring recently in my life one after another. “I have to pay 500 USD to cancel my flight and then pay ANOTHER 3,000 Dollars to secure the seat THAT I ALREADY BOUGHT in order to catch my flight into Italy on time?”

“Yes,” she said flatly, completely fed-up with my crisis situation. “I recommend you go home and rebook another flight a month or two from now where the rates will be slightly cheaper.”
Riding horses in Italy
Knowing that I could not afford to be jobless and homeless, wandering the streets of Los Angeles for the upcoming two months, especially when I had a job in Italy waiting for me, I strained to pull out my credit card from my wallet. I cringed as I slid the small piece of plastic-slash-heart attack inducing death contraption over to the woman.

She slid the card, securing my seat on Air France (I hope I never fly through them again) and raising my unpaid bills and long overdue college debts another staggering 3,500 dollars. Plus interest.

This job in Italy better be worth it…I thought to myself as I made my way towards the security gate.


That's right. I had been BLACKLISTED FROM ROMANIA. And since the day it happened, I had agreed to accept a job long in the making. They had been asking for me to come since I had been in Egypt, in fact. It just so happened they needed a spot to fill, and I was banned from the only other country with a job offer. So I did the only foreseeable thing. I took the job in Italy on a temporary basis to fill the time I needed before my banishment was over. It seemed like a reasonable enough solution. But this newfound debt to my name, thanks to AirFrance, would mean I no longer had the luxury of going back to my old job in Romania. I needed to make some serious cash. And Romania wasn't paying the bills.

I spent two months working in Sicily. I had been hired solely to ride the Grand Prix Showjumping horses within the private stables. I had a small room to myself, overlooking the riding arena and the Mediterranean Sea. I had one half-day off a week (common in all equestrian jobs as someone has to feed the horses!) and I got to live in Italy. Sounds like heaven right?

flying lead changes in italy, sicily

Photo: Working on Flying Lead Changes

The work was long and hard, but on the plus size I lost 20 pounds in two weeks. I rode 8 horses EVERY DAY and I got super fit in a short amount of time. The horses were incredible to ride. As they were all Grand Prix Jumping horses (competing up to 1.65m) I felt honored to sit atop their backs. The down side to the job was that I worked for an Italian man with a temper, among other issues with the work that hadn't been fully delivered as promised. I realized very shortly I was in a dead end job. I left after two months and returned to Romania where I had another secret job lined up. Despite my hard times in Sicily, I had a lot of fun living in Italy and promised to return again under far less stressful circumstances.

View of Mainland Italy from Sicily, Messina

Lessons Learned:

1) Don't Get Blacklisted from a Country. It sucks.

2) It's impossible to fully know if a job you find online is going to be as promised, but in the end it is your decision to decide what your willing to tolerate and when it's best to simply walk away.

3) Things won't always be a sunshine Fairy Tale. Travel isn't about everything going the way you want it to. The important thing is how we handle the situations given to us and turn them into opportunities and learning experiences instead!

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