Thursday 29 July 2010

If I'm quiet, they'll never know

I don’t recommend going to countries which require a Visa.
Just stay where you are, it’s much easier.
You may live in a dump. So paint the walls.
You may have no job prospects. Adapt your goals.
You may just live somewhere cold and miserable. Buy a coat.
Seriously, I don’t know how my fiancé had the patience to move to the UK in the first place.
I don’t know how he can still be such a happy person after half a lifetime of filling forms.
I waited four hours for my Visa to stay in Colombia and that was just the start of the fun.
Afterwards I was told I had 15 days to register it.
The Visa costing $160 was worthless if I didn’t.
I went to register it but I was told I couldn’t unless I had a foreigners’ ID card, which would cost another $60.
“I’m only staying three months,” I said. “Do I really have to?”
“Yes,” the woman said and gave me a strip of paper with everything I needed, including photocopies of my passport, photos, a document proving my blood group and so on.
I already had a pile of photos left over from applying for the Visa but they had been taken on a white background.
The ID card required photos with a blue background.
Because anything related to getting a Visa has to be annoying. It’s the law.
I don’t carry a document with my blood group around with me, so after getting the photos I went off to a clinic to have some blood extracted.
I passed the test with an A-
To be fair, what I had to do was easy compared to what a Colombian has to do to stay in the UK, since all Colombians are supposedly drug dealers.
But still, after the tedium of another long wait in the security office, I decided to reward myself with a manicure.
Manicures cost about 3 pounds here so you have to do them.
I chatted to my manicurist about my trip to get my documents.
“You shouldn’t be too trust worthy, there are bad people out there.”
“I only walked five minutes down the road,” I said.
“Still, you have to be careful.”
“It’s hard to know which parts are safe.”
“Nowhere is safe.”
“Don’t say that or I’ll never go outside!”
I think she thought that would be for the best. I, on the hand, was bored of being scared.
“Are you saying it’s unsafe because I look like a tourist? Or is it unsafe for everyone?”
“Because you look like a tourist,” she said.
“Ah…” I felt hopeful, “so what can I do to look more Colombian? Should I dye my hair darker?”
“No, it’s the way you talk.”
“What if I don’t say anything?”
“Then you could pass as a Colombian.”
Well I haven’t paid all this money to stay here and be quiet, so I’ll just have to accept I’m a tourist.
Goodbye, I’m off to fetch my flip flops.

1 comment:

Nicola Hulks said...

Ha ha, brilliant. I know your pain. When I was in Zambia I had a similar experience. Sat on the Post office floor for four hours to get some forms sorted which was clearly routine as the rest of the town just came in and plopped themselves down too! Ah fun times!