Red tape sucks.
And it sucks even more when you are pitted against time.
I’ve had to deal with lots of sticky pieces of red tape all week this week with the Brazilian consulate, and all for a holiday that I very much wanted to take but really couldn’t afford. And now it looks like I might get my warped wish to stay in Sydney for work reasons after all. With a departure date on Sunday, my stress levels are singing that horrid little ditty “The Only Way Is Up”.
Months and months ago, my dear friends Julie and Anthony announced their wedding plans – in Brazil. I had known about this for some time and had been trying my best to save and get my butt to the wedding; after all, how many times have I ever been or will I ever be invited to my mates’ wedding, in Brazil?
So a plan was hatched – but with Christmas and birthdays and a bunch of bills in between, it was hard, very hard. And my nest egg was not getting any bigger.
The official wedding invitation arrived in the post earlier this year, and after weeks of scrimping and saving, I was still a long way off. I hummed and harred for the longest time, before more or less making up my mind to forego this once in a lifetime opportunity. Never again will my mates get married in Brazil, so it was with a heavy heart that I made the decision to tell them – well, Julie anyway.
As I was about to write my very sad email to Julie informing her of my decision, a knight in shining armour rode into view. Adrian, a good mate, generously offered to privately and quietly fund my entire expedition. The offer, like the wedding, was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and had an effect on me that not much else on Earth would – it rendered me completely speechless.
The deal Adrian offered was to pay for everything now, and for me to repay him in amounts that I could afford in a time period of between now and forever. My mind boggled with the offer – I’d spent many nights dreaming about it, lapping it up, wanting to jump at the chance, and thanking my lucky stars I had such a good friend who was willing to do something so extraordinary and generous for me. But after much deliberation, it was an offer I really could not accept.
I was preparing to decline Adrian’s offer when I receive an email from Julie. So it came to light that she was aware of Adrian’s offer, reminded me how lucky I was to have good and generous friends and asked me to consider accepting the offer so I could share in her special day.
Adrian quickly followed with an email of his own, apologising profusely for discussing our private and quiet potential arrangement with Julie, and again asking me to consider accepting his offer.
What more did a girl with a rubber arm need to get to Brazil, you ask?
A fucking visa, that’s what.
After more emails to Julie and Adrian, and checking and rechecking my finances, I went forth and purchased a return ticket to Brazil – 10 glorious days for the bargain basement price of $3,300. I went about getting travel insurance and vaccinations (who’d have thought 4 little jabs in the arm would cost me $400??), and finally, a visa to enter Brazil for my holiday.
Here’s where my nightmare begins. After filling out the application form, getting passport photos taken and purchasing a $90 Money Order, I forwarded enough information for identity theft to my travel agents to take care of the visa application, naively thinking my application would be approved without fuss. I’d never had any problems with previous visa applications for any other countries, so I thought this would be a walk in the park.
Yeah … wrong.
My visa application was initially rejected – the Brazilian government refused to believe I was travelling to their country for recreational purposes – they were of the mindset that I was there to do business, and should have applied for a business visa. Oh, but of course I’m there to work – I’m there to check on the live organ trade scheme I set up via the internet and to attend the big drug cartel meeting in São Paolo. Jeepers.
My travel agent rang in a state of panic, which fuelled my already high stress levels, and left me in tears by the time I got off the phone to dummy up a letter on company letterhead to state that I was travelling to Brazil for a holiday.
The application was then resubmitted with this dummy letter and some other doctored documentation, and I was told to wait and see.
That was Monday. It’s now Wednesday night and I am still waiting for some positive news.
The good news is that the Brazilian consulate was more than happy to accept my $90 – they rubbed their hands with glee and banked the money immediately, but they are still making up their mind as to whether to allow me into their country to spend my hard earned cash.
The speculations and scenarios I’ve been given as to why my application was initially rejected are quite interesting:
* I may have the same name as someone else who has tried to pull a swiftie on the Brazilian government.
* My Australian nationality may have led to the Brazilian government to force me to jump through hoops, in the same way the Australian government makes Brazilian visitors jump through hoops and produce reams of paperwork before they are allowed into our country.
* My application may have landed on the desk of someone who was having a bad day and decided to take it out on me.
* The Brazilian government does not want my tourist dollars.
Cross your fingers, kids. After everything that’s been said and done, I need to get to Brazil, legally. Here’s hoping the Brazilians sort their shit out and grant me a visa.