South America called…finally. I think I day dreamed of walking in the Amazon forests as Ms Bhati talked of rainforests in the geography class ages ago. As long back as 2006 I had started talking to travel agencies for quotes and realized I needed to have a separate ‘SA Fund!’ It was ****** expensive…but then that’s me…I always seem to like the most expensive product on the shelf.
The dinner in Devonport, New Zealand comes back. On the 1st day of our trip as we discussed travelling to South America the following year we nearly got ourselves a companion – the waiter wanted to accompany us after listing to our excited chatter!
Getting the required visas – South Africa, Brazil, Peru, and Argentina was a marathon by itself. A teaser to what was in store for us. Many visas – much confusion! Change of the application city for Bangalore wanderers, form needing refilling in black ink as I had filled it in blue! Some surprises too – one day I get an email that my (MY!!!!) Peru visa was rejected because they wanted original bank statements! Later I realized it was not rejected, but they just declined to accept the form. I thought printouts with signature and bank seal were treated as originals everywhere. What the heck? I was just wondering how to get 4 more copies from ICICI (what a nightmare that was gonna be), when I was informed that the WOW office had resent my passport with another bunch and it worked!!!Talk about weirdness!
Then South African airways decided to change the schedule and wanted us to leave one day earlier. In hindsight this worked better for us – not only did we get a break after an 8 hrs flight instead of traveling continuously for over 20 hrs but were also able to check out Jo’burg with the cost of one night hotel in Jo'burg, airport transfers, breakfast, and visa charges being borne by the airline!!!
The final straw was when on 5th afternoon I got call – the South African consulate didn’t quite like my photograph (JERKS!). Some white shirt on white background nonsense. They needed spectacles – it was a white PRINTED shirt! Courier new photographs was what I was instructed. 7th and 8th were holidays at the mumbai consulate on account of Holi, 9th night we were travelling – this was NOT going to work. Luckily it struck me that I had a soft copy of another snap, which I sent and requested them to take prints of in Mumbai itself and resubmit the forms. What a restless night that!!! I even contemplated staying in the airport for that one day and night
What a relief when we finally had our passports with all the visas stamped. And off we were to South America via Jo’burg.