For the next two days I waited for the answer. Finally I got one – from the first secretary of the embassy. I spent half an hour, describing my situation. He responded in four words: “come see me tomorrow”. So I did. It was quite embarrassing. Why was it? Well because in 14 years of studying and practicing English I never ever faced a real African accent. The guy surely didn’t speak Russian. And his English was… Well… For me, barely intelligible. So the conversation went on like this: me speaking real slow classic British English – him saying something that my brain transcribed like “bwawawanana”.
And I had to ask him to repeat his words again and again, really freaking out as I was afraid he’ll be offended and refuse to help me. But we figured it out. We agreed that I’ll bring in the documents, but I’ll recall my passport to go on with other visa applications, and then bring it again in the small gap between August 13 and August 17 that I’ll have between my travels to get the visa printed.
The main issue was that I had to get 3 visas in two weeks. I already decided that I’ll pay double price for Ghana so that they issue my visa in 3 days instead of two weeks. Another fail of mine – that was the only visa that I could get right at the port. But I was so stressed, sleeping little, working much and having tons of stuff to get done that I totally forgot about it. I also wanted to apply for the SA visa first because I was afraid that they’ll ask me about the yellow fever vaccination if they see a Ghanian visa in my passport (Ghana is in the yellow fever belt, and SA requires proof of vaccination for the visa application if you enter the country from the yellow fever belt before SA). I wasn’t morally ready for the yellow fever shot. And I really wanted to plan two calm weeks in Bulgaria (sea, Mediterranean food, sleep – well, you know).
So, to bring my SA plan to life, I had to come next time with the tickets to Bulgaria. Haven’t even booked them then. And wasn’t even sure I could&should go. But the agreement with the SA embassy secretary was already in power. Generally, I wanted my visa done ASAP, so I told him I had the tickets. So I rushed to get the charter tickets. And that added up one more visa – because of Germany’s stupid inside rules. You can totally enter Bulgaria with a Schengen, but my Schengen starts in September…
Well, the next time I come to the embassy at the right time, with my pack of documents. And – oh man – wait for it. First the lady at the counter tells me that the first secretary hasn’t given her notice about me. And “you’re not my boss to tell me what to do”. Very well, says I, go ask him. “He’s at the meeting – and mind that we close at 12. Not sure he’ll be free earlier”. So what can I do – I sit and wait. It gets quite boring out there, so I start chatting with two other unfortunate applicants also waiting for the consulate – a girl whose flight is next week and a lady with a little girl in her arms. The girl looks sleepy – “she ate my friend’s heart pills yesterday… Had to call the emergency. She’s fine, but – you see”. I shudder and decide to keep my comments to myself. The lady lived in SA with her partner for over ten years, they had a baby, and then her passport expired and she had to get a new one. Instead of doing research and applying for a new one at the Russian embassy in SA, she came home to do it here. What lack of research does to us! Would’ve made my life easier to do all the research on time as well…
So her issue was – the embassy didn’t want to issue her a visa, because “even a child is not a proof if we’re not married”.
I sat there, listening, symphathizing and meditating. Finally the lady at the counter calls my name. Says that the secretary does remember about me. Takes my documents. Then brings them back. Both ladies (and the second lady’s man) look at me with that polite hatred in their eyes. It vanishes when the counter lady tells me my financial documents are wrong and I have to make new ones. I look at her with that polite hatred in my eyes and leave. I’ve already got two visas with the same goddamned financial documents…
Well, fuck that, thinks I. And I rush to the Ghanian embassy which is just a few blocks away, my pace powered with this reactive anger fuel.
Ghanian embassy in Moscow is a very funny place. I have a feeling that a maximum amount of people working there does not exceed ten. At least, the guy who serves as a guard and a secretary also checks the documents like all these counter ladies in other embassies. He starts asking real stupid questions. My sharp answers may have got me into trouble in many cases, but this one turned to be the right one to be sharp. The guy stopped asking stupid questions, gave my documents to the plump embassy official and told me to wait. “Wait for what?!” – asked I, surprised. “For the visa decision to be made” – says he. I chuckle, mask it as a cough, get myself some water and take a seat. Ten minutes. I plug in my earphones. Twenty. I put my feet on the nearby table and wonder whether they’re trying to look more important making me wait. Thirty minutes. I start to silently hate them. Check my mail and my Facebook. Forty minutes. Fuck that, think I, and start eating one of the bananas I kept in my bag all that time, politely following the regular embassy rules. I was starving – didn’t have breakfast (can’t eat that early, especially when stressed) and felt totally sick and dizzy. Forty-five minutes. I start another banana. Well, halfway through the second banana, the plump embassy guy shows up and without further comments says “Money” in Russian. I stare at him in pure shock. What?? “Money”, – says he impatiently. Some still functioning part of my brain figures out he’s asking for the visa fee. I take out my 5000-rubles bill (the visa is 2400). He looks at it and says “Friday”. It was Monday. I’m like “What?!!” “Friday, money”, – says he. I’m ready to cry. Does he mean I have to come on Friday with my 5000-rubles bill? Or apply on Friday? Or… “Change, no” – he finally explains. Oh god. That. I promise him to change the bill and rush out. There are no shops around, nothing – just a hotel across the street. Not hoping for much, I go there. But the hotel ladies were so nice and changed my freaking bill right away. I run back. Give the embassy guy the money. “Friday”, – says he. I fucking give up. “WHAT FRIDAY”?! Well, I was saved by an African lady who translated for me. He meant I’ll have to collect my passport on Friday. “But it’s a 3-day express visa!” – moan I. “The consulate said Friday” – translates the lady. With the remainings of my self-control I bid them farewell and go to work. On my way it appeared to me that they didn’t even give me a receipt…
On Wednesday I got my yellow fever shot. I was freaking out so damn much – knowing about all these possible bad reactions of the organism, as the vaccine is live. And I had egg white allergy my entire life, but the recent test showed that I have it no more. Hooray? Wasn’t so sure. Who the hell knows how my body will react on a vaccine made using egg components?! A day of taking allergy pills before the vaccination date, a pill on the morning, a pill after… I really panicked, no bullshit. While I was walking to the vaccination center, while I was sitting in line. And only in the doctor’s cabinet I started to calm down – as it was too late to panic anyway. Minding my super-low pain tolerance – that was the best shot I ever got. Didn’t feel anything. And no side effects at all. Uff.
Ghana. I decided to use maths again. Not expecting much, I called the embassy on Thursday morning – to find out that my visa was ready. Hallelujah, thought I. No curses remained in my head. I went there, collected my passport and hurried to the Bulgarian visa center. They told me the visa might be ready by Wednesday. Left all my money there – the insurance, the service fee, the visa fee… But it was a lucky day – my colleagues kept feeding me. I stayed alive. I love them.
The next day I got another surprise. Just out of curiosity – decided to check my visa status at the special website. And – what??!! “Your passport is ready to be collected”. Really? In one day? No, half a day?!
The Bulgarian embassy is three stops from our apartment, and my friend used to intern there. I am so going to bring them sweets and lots of love this week.
So, the fantastic job done by the Bulgarian consulate helped me save three days. I think, it’s like tenth Bulgarian visa in my passport;)
Okay, last stage. Today I went to the South African embassy, again. I came home late yesterday – at like 1 am – and was woken up by my mom’s alarm clock that she didn’t switch off correctly at 6:30 am. Couldn’t go back to sleep. Couldn’t really eat. Well, you can imagine my thoughts as I was approaching the embassy. I was ready to… But the lady at the stand smiled to me, said she remembered me, and took my documents without many further questions. I was done in ten minutes. I walked out. I inhaled the fresh morning air. I went to the nearby cafe – the one where I was talking to my best friend a few weeks ago – and got a delicious croissant with whipped cream and strawberries. Upon my return from Bulgaria I’ll come back to the SA embassy to get my visa printed.
Hell yeah, life is beautiful.