I didn’t have the next destination after living almost three months in North Macedonia. So, when I received Ida’s call, I said yes immediately.

“Benjamin, I will take a month off during the summer. Do you want to meet me in Montenegro?”

So I packed my stuff and took a bus from Skopje to Podgorica. I wasn’t super comfortable, but it was decent. While travelling, we had to wake up twice in the middle of the night; the first was to cross the border to Kosovo and the other to enter Montenegro.

This time I travelled solo since Martin stayed in North Macedonia. He wanted to get a visa to Toma to visit his mom in Canada, but the guy didn’t even have a passport. So he stayed there, helping Toma with everything.

Ida’s message came a few days after receiving an email from James Punjabi. He told me that Jessica needed urgent help. He said that she was in Lebanon, left alone.


“Thanks for reaching out, Mr. Punjabi,

Even though I had an adorable relationship with Jessica, I don’t know why I am the only one that can help her. Why don’t you call the police if you are constantly updated with information about her?

I hope Jessica can find what she was looking for in her chosen path.

Yours sincerely,

Benjamin Gunst”

I didn’t receive any reply so far. So I continued with my life as if nothing had happened.

I went to the airport the next night to wait for Ida. She took a Scandinavian Airlines six-hour flight from Aarhus to Podgorica, making me rethink how big Europe is. Her cousin Mariana gave her a ride to the airport and sent me a bottle of Spanish wine with her. I smiled when I saw it. It was the same Tempranillo we drank last year at Ida’s place.

“How is Mariana?”

“She is in loved,” Ida replied, “It seems that they decided to form a triad.”

“Weren’t they before?”

“They were. But not romantically. After a couple of years, Mariana and Kristina also decided to establish a relationship.”

“Wow! That’s amazing! After all the recent seatback the world has experienced with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the United States Supreme Court derogating progressive laws, it is good to hear that love is something that is still moving forward.”

“That’s why I am here, Prince Charming.”

I couldn’t close my mouth for an hour because the smile Ida put in my face was impossible to remove.

We stayed in an aparthotel complex closed to Novi Grad in the City Centre to take advantage of the size of the city. We visited most of the tourist attractions while walking around.

On the second day, we had breakfast in a café nearby and told her about James Punjabi’s last email.

“I think you should go to the police. The whole communication with that guy doesn’t make any sense.”

“I know, but this doesn’t feel legit. I think Pietro is probably trying to scam me because he is jealous. It doesn’t make sense that he writes me every once in a while.”

“You have a point.”

In the meantime, we continue enjoying Montenegro and ourselves.

North Macedonia has changed me a lot. I have to say that I didn’t expect this country to be so marvellous.

We have spent around two months in North Macedonia. Since Martin lost his passport, we agreed to be a long season here. The first thing we did was look for ways to integrate with the community. That’s how we ended up in The Men Movement Foundation.

While looking for Toma with Ardita, we visited a community in Skopje where some posters were looking for people to join The Men Movement Foundation. I contacted the number without knowing what that was about. They didn’t even have any information on Google.

The next day they invited me to a meeting. The team was composed of 10 Macedonian guys whose partners had suffered some kind of harassment only for being women. Since it was a sharing circle, we were invited to share any experience we felt we wanted. Nikol and Gregor told the group’s story and how they came up with the idea while Martin and I listened carefully. They decided to do an English session that day so we could participate. I felt pressure to share anything because they were trying to communicate in a language they weren’t fluent.

At the start, I didn’t know what to share. I wanted to talk about Pietro and Jessica, but I preferred sharing something different since this case had reared its head again (James Punjabi attempted to communicate with me). So I gained confidence and narrated the events of my mom and dad and the challenges of growing up with separated parents. Three guys came to hug me and then sent support to my mom.

Then Martin raised his hand and told the story of his mom and Toma. When he told the story, a guy in the corner started crying. It was a guy around 50 years old, with a long beard and green eyes. After Martin finished his story, he stood up and walked to hug Martin.

I could acknowledge by watching Martin’s face that he didn’t want to take this too seriously because the guy was speechless, crying without saying a word.

Nikol brought him a glass of water, and when he finished, he could speak.

“Martin, I am Toma. Your mom’s Toma.”

I adverted strange reactions while Martin shared his story with everyone. Gregor and Nikol’s heads seemed like they were in a tennis match, moving between Martin’s speech and Toma’s reaction.

I decided to join the Men Movement Foundation while staying in North Macedonia, not only because of Toma but because I believe Men have to understand that women are equal to us.

Our first two days in Skopje were fantastic. Excellent food, good bars and cafes to work. We even got to know Ardita, a private investigator lady who was the sister of the girl sitting next to us on the bus.

However, any plan to enjoy the country and the city halted when we realized Martin had lost his Canadian Passport.

This is what we did:

First, we contacted the General Consulate of Canada in Skopje. We reach this number 389 (2) 3225-630.

However, they work from 9:00 to 15:00 from Monday to Friday. If they don’t pick the phone up, you can collect call to Canada +1 613 996 8885.

After that, they will give you the option of an Emergency Passport or a traditional one. The difference is that Emergency passports reach faster but have to be used to travel back to Canada. We requested the traditional one.

You need to fill out a form available on the Government website. Some of the required information includes data of your former passport, a certification of Canadian Citizenship and a Canadian ID.

Martin showed a soft copy of his Canadian birth certificate for the Canadian Citizenship document proof. However, Canadian born abroad citizens can provide one of the following documents:

  • Certificate of registration of birth abroad
  • Certificate of naturalization
  • Certificate of retention of Canadian citizenship
  • Certificate of Canadian citizenship

Martin showed his valid driving license by Quebec for the document that supports identity. However, you can also present any Canadian Federal or Provincial ID or local ID from abroad that includes the following: Name, date of birth, photo and signature. 

Canadian authorities may enquire you about how you lost your document. My recommendation is to go with the local police officer first. Since we did this, we saved time in the explanation because the North Macedonian Police gave us a lost passport report. Canada takes the identification of its citizens seriously; furthermore, any reported lost passport will become invalid after being informed to the authorities.

The consulate informed us that it could take 20 business days to replace the document; however, Martin’s passport arrived earlier. I believe we were lucky. I had a few more calls with James Punjabi during that time and we even met Toma. I’ll share the whole story with you in the next few days.

Separating from Ida was more challenging than the last time. I tried not to commit to the next time, but it was impossible. 

“I’ll visit you in Denmark whenever I can go back to the Schengen area.” 

“I hope I can meet you before.”

That afternoon I met Martin again. If you are following my adventures recently, Martin is a Canadian guy that I met in a small aircraft while travelling to the Canadian Arctic Circle. Martin and I have kept in touch via Facebook and commenting on each other adventures.

The last time we met each other, we were in Greenland. He decided to go back to Canada in the boat with the crew while Jessica and I stayed in the frozen island country.

After going back to Canada, Martin went to Switzerland to manage some family business and then stayed in Spain for a few weeks. While in Spain, he decided to continue as a Digital Nomad for a few months in Europe while the Swiss “important family business” concluded. Since he didn’t want to spend all his Schengen Area days waiting for the “business to settle down,” he decided to tag along and explore with me for a few weeks.

Doves in North Macedonia

“Why do you want to go to North Macedonia?” I asked him.

“Long story short: My mom and dad divorced when I was five. It took my mom like two years to feel ok to start dating again. She met a lot of pricks after that until she met this guy Toma from Macedonia, who was “studying French” in Montréal. I said “studying” because he worked in a restaurant with a student visa and sent money home”.

“How did he get a student visa?” I asked, intrigued.

“Well, Toma really looked like a student. This was probably in 1998 and Toma was 19. My mom was 29”.

“Wow. No offence, but your mother was a cougar!”

“None taken. The thing is that after all these douchebags dating my mom for years, she met Toma and I saw her happy for the first time. They met in the restaurant he was working.”

“What happened with Toma? Is he your father-in-law now?”

“Ha, ha, ha! No! I wished! Toma was excellent with me and super supportive with mom. He also liked to talk about his country. That’s how I first hear about Macedonia (now North Macedonia) in my life. After two years with a student visa, Toma had to leave or get married to stay. He proposed to my mom, but she was not ready to marry a 21-year-old kid and face my grandparents. My mom just ditched him and she couldn’t recover for years.”

“Man, that should have been tough for your mother.”

“Indeed, she had to go to therapy to forgive herself. She was in love with Toma but was so afraid of the commitment because he was just a kid. She prioritized her social status over her quality of life.” 

“Did you see Toma again?”

“Never. The last time I saw him, he was kissing mom when I was a kid at the Dorval airport. Mom didn’t want to talk about him”.

“Man, your mother is still young; maybe they can meet now. Are you trying to be Cupid here?”

“I don’t have any expectations. Even though North Macedonia is a small country, it might be challenging to find a guy I know almost nothing about”.

By the time we were having this conversation, we were on a bus from Tirana to Skopje. We were speaking pleasantly in joual, while my brain felt it was resting for the first time. I didn’t have to make an effort to be understood.

When the conversation finished, a girl sitting behind us reached us in French talking super slowly:

“Excuse me, guys. I don’t know what language you speak, but it seems close to French. I am sorry, but I listened to your conversation.”

“You don’t have to worry. We understand French,” said Martin, interested in what the girl had to say, metropolising his accent the best he could.

“If you are looking for a guy in Macedonia, my sister is a private investigator. Maybe she can help you. She knows everyone there.”

Now North Macedonia seems the place to be!