Friday, November 14, 2008

Traveling Documents

Back in 2003 my husband and I traveled to Scotland. We both had to renew our passports since we hadn't traveled out of the country since we came home in 1990 from Papua New Guinea. At the time I was a little surprised at the fact that post 9/11 we wouldn't need a 'travel visa.'

You can bet I need a travel visa for my trip to Mauritania. Not only do I need a travel visa but I had to submit a bank statement, a letter from my brother, two additional passport type photos, my 'yellow fever vaccination document' along with the usual suspect - my passport.

Yesterday I mailed these documents to an agency that promises to 'hand deliver my visa application to the Mauritanian embassy.' Really? Hand deliver?

Completing the visa application in 'duplicate' proved to be, well, time consuming. The website for the processing agency, the one that is promising to hand walk my application packet to the Mauritanian embassy, was easy to follow. They had a link to the 'visa application' which turned out to be a pdf document that still had a date of August 7, 2003 permanently affixed to the sheet. It appeared to be a copy of an image that someone had uploaded to the website. The writing was 'condensed.' And although it was condensed room for writing in your personal information was...well, it was condensed too!

One evening this week I spent two hours trying to complete the visa application by hand. When I went to print them from my computer I accidently chose the number 6 as the number of copies requested. Didn't think I'd need more than two. How wrong I was!

I'd get the entire sheet complete and I'd write in something incorrect. I'd start over again. 5 times. Finally, on the last sheet I was satisfied with the quality of the document. I gathered the materials on my list and put them in a file folder. I needed to make a copy of the application, because they directions indicated I needed two copies.

Traveling to work the next morning was very wet. Carefully I tucked the file folder under my arm and engaged the use of my rather large umbrella. Through the monsoon I carefully walked through the parking lot and up to the door of my building. As I opened the door and began to remove the fullness of my umbrella a gosh of water splashed my face and water poured onto my file folder. Once inside I saw the damage: my visa application was soaked.

During my lunch hour I realized that I had a solution. My work computer has the Adobe Writer program that allows me to edit pdf documents. Utilizing the 'typewriter' function within 5 minutes I had a beautiful document to present the the agency, in duplicate!

By my calculations my packet should be ready for the agency to 'hand walk' on Monday. Another promise the agency has made is that the whole process will take 5 business days. I have paid for FedEx to 'next day air' my completed documents back to me. So in all reality I should have my approval to travel to Mauritania in two weeks. I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Jere your post made me laugh. third world countries are so funny...maddening at times but funny all the same. My aunt and uncle were just here on a visit and I told them you were going to Mauritania to visit your brother. Their comment was, well there isn't tons to see in Mauritania but if anyone will show Jere a great time it will be her brother. Sounds like a fun guys! miss you friends