Monday, 31 March 2008

No More Drama - er, when?

I am in visa hell once again.

I'm sure I don't need to summarise all my travel disasters for you again, but if you want a refresher course, all my travel-related posts are listed under Travel Traumas on the right of this page.

Anyway. This time I have just discovered I can't go on our planned trip to Germany in July. We've been planning two holidays this year - one to Spain in August, which will be our longest and most expensive trip, and then a shorter 5 day trip to Germany in July to attend the Full Moon Festival - possibly the best trance party on the planet. Most of you are by now aware of my love for trance parties, and this one is so big, so major, that last year's trip to Portugal just pales in comparison. We first started talking about going a month or so ago, and we planned to book our flights in May.

But guess what, once again I will have to pull out in yet another bad episode of deja vu, while everyone else gets ready for the party of a lifetime. Why? This is all a snowball effect of losing my passport. I came back into the UK with a full passport, but you might remember from this post that I still needed to get my UK visa re-issued once over here. As I am South African and our passports are equivalent in value to the Zim Dollar, I need a visa everytime I want to visit a different country. I have yet to apply for my UK visa re-issue, as I am travelling up to Scotland with my company this weekend and I need my passport to do so (Scotland is part of Great Britain and my UK visa allows me free access to all GB territories, so I therefore do not need to show proof of a visa when travelling to those places - I just need my passport for identification purposes).

So my plan was to come back from Scotland and straight away post off my application, and have my passport complete with UK visa back by end of June at the latest. I would then apply for my German Schengen visa 2 weeks before our trip. Today I started filling out all the application forms and checking that I have all the necessary documents. Then I saw this on the front page of the German Embassy website: You must have a passport with one blank page and residence permit for the UK, both valid for at least three months longer than the expiry date of the visa.

This is a problem, as my UK visa runs out in August this year. Which means that if I tried to apply for a Schengen visa using my UK re-issue visa as proof of my right to be here, they will deny my request based on the fact that at the time of application, I would have less then three months left on that visa.

So the logical solution is to renew my UK visa, right? After all, I am eligible to stay here - in fact, my next visa will give me indefinite leave to remain aka permanent residence, which means I will never again have to apply to stay in the UK until the day I decide to apply for citizenship, if we get that far. My current visa expires on 10 August. But the British Home Office, being the most fastidious of Immigration Authorities, has rules in place that only let you apply for a new settlement visa a maximum of 28 days before the expiration date of your current one. In other words, the earliest I can apply for my new UK visa is 14 July. We are supposed to fly on 16 July. I was planning on paying for the Same Day Service for my UK visa anyway, which costs £500 but has the advantage of being ready almost instantly. So I'd have that in place. But I would then have one day to organise a Schengen visa, and usually Schengens take between 2 and 7 days. Even if they told me it was possible to get it on the same day, unless it was a guaranteed thing - which it never is - I couldn't afford to spend all that money booking flights and whatnot, only to have my visa delayed and not be able to go.

So there you have it - for the third time in less than a year, I am facing missing out on a trip that I desperately want to make, while everyone else will probably go ahead without me anyway. I don't say that with bitterness, because hey, I'm a realist and past experience has told me that at the end of the day, people will do whatever they want to do and whatever makes them happy, and unless you're terminally ill or about to die and they are guilted into staying behind, they're going - end of story. The exception this time is Shoes. Last time with Turkey, I was big enough to let him go. I then proceeded to have a complete meltdown when he was gone, as how was I to really know how crap it was going to be to get left behind? This time I was prepared to put my foot down and start World War III over it if I had to, but it turns out I needn't have worried. He's not going without me. Ok, so I did have to ask him - he didn't offer - and there's was an infitesmal pause before he said no, and he certainly didn't sound very happy about it. But I think he realised I was stretched to breaking point last time... in fact, that I am still a bit fragile from all this drama, and my first instinct when I made this fabulous discovery today was to burst into tears. I probably would have; in fact, I VERY nearly did when I was speaking to Shoes on the phone, but I'm at work and I really don't dig crying in front of colleagues, so I managed to hold it in.

I'm just really disappointed. It's beyond ridiculous now, wouldn't you agree? Ok so it happened once, fine. And then it nearly happened again, and despite the fact that I eventually ended up going to CT, that was the most traumatic time of all. So, hey, that's enough shit for one person to deal with in 6 months, right? But no, apparently not. Third time unlucky. I'm just wandering how many more times I'm going to have one of these posts to write. How many more times am I going to be "Poor Lopz", while everyone else feels bad for a couple of days and then gets over it and goes away on an awesome holiday? What the hell is the point of living in this shit hole if I can't travel, seriously.

If I was signing an anonymous letter to a magazine column right now, I'd sign it Gutted, Gatvol and Had Just About Enough. And please pass the brandy.


sweets said...

wow! i can't believe this! this sucks BIG TIME!!!!!!!


poor you (((hugs)))
and good for shoes for staying!

Lopz said...

I think he realised that this time, there might have been a break up in the works if he didn't! I'm kind of over it now... disappointed, sure, but I was expecting something like this to happen. Oh well. Maybe this shit will work out just as I leave London for good - knowing my luck!

The Chronicles of a Fashionista in PDX said...

I hear you... I can't leave the States for a while because my life (well, my passport and naturalization certificate proving I'm a citizen) was stolen last year! :'( I've turned in the paperwork, etc, but the agency is taking their sweet ass time to process it. However, they were quick enough to cash my check of $380 processing fee. So I'm now stuck in this country for another year or so.... I so want to see Europe, too...

I'm glad Shoes is staying for you, though! :) My ex would have never done that :(

KaB said...

Ah pooh...just think...if & when you do get your permanent residence you get to travel, right? Or have I lost the plot?!?

Soz though, is a bit of a kak seems that dear old Murphy is perched well & truly on your shoulder when it comes to travelling!

I've been invited to Portugal sometime in July by my aunt but not sure if I can go because of low cash! I've got an EU passport but not enough you're not the only one with shitty travelling problems :)

Lopz said...

@pdx - the red tape of immigration never frikkin ends! Good luck, I hope yours goes quicker than mine. At least you're home tho.. I'm only able to live in London because I know I can leave periodically, and it's very hard not to panic when you get stuck here!

@KaB - no such luck babe, perm residence doesn't help one bit with travelling. It's all down to what passport you hold, and if you hold only a South African, you might as well resign yourself to a life of no-can-do's. Count yourself VERY lucky that you have an EU passport.

You may have cash flow issues, but trust me, everyone in London does, it's par for the course. Having cash flow issues AND an SA passport definitely wins the Most Unlucky Award! :-(

angel said...

omw... there are few things i hate more than haivng to cancel or change MY plans because of outside influence...
i feel your pain!

Brian said...

I've just found this post now, so sorry that my comment is late.

number one, our passport is better than most countries in the world. I'm not talking about the BEST countries so lets not compare ourselves to America or England. South africa is not on the same level, no matter how much we moan about it. However its alot better off on a passport level alone than all african countries and most asian countries and the south american countries. So if you think that we have issues, feel sorry for the 30+ billion people i just mentioned...

number two, why are you making such a big deal of it? oh boo hoo, you missed a trance party, it'll be there next year. Why not do something special with 'shoes' since he obviously cares enough not to want to do something without you. Or you could keep moaning about things and maybe he should break up with you. How pathetic is it that you would break up with someone because they go away without you? I'm sure he would do the same had you gone without him? right?

Lopz said...

@Brian - wow, I don't know who pissed on your battery today, but can I just say it's kind of sad that you have all this spite stored up for a random stranger whose blog you just happened to stumble across?

First of all, in case you haven't noticed, this post was not about comparing my situation to that of many other less fortunate people in the world. It was about me and how I felt at the time. My blog, my right - and I do not need to justify my feelings to you, nor write about these "30+ billion people [you] just mentioned" just because you think I should.

Second, it's just a trance party - have you read my other posts over the last year? If you had, you'd see that this post is not just about missing a trance party. It is about constant disappointment and bad luck with my travels. No, I'm not the unluckiest person in the world, and there are many more people out there with bigger problems, but once again you are missing the point - this is MY blog, it is about ME, and I am free to write about what I want from whichever point of view I choose.

As for what you said about my boyfriend and I, I will not dignify that with a comment. Let me just say that I find it disturbing that you make these unfounded assumptions about us without knowing us at all.

Next time you decide to spew garbage in my comment section, please do me a favour: check your facts, ask questions to make sure you are right before you start insulting randomly and remember the golden rule of diary blogging - the blog is a space on which the blogger expresses his or her own opinions and tells stories. If you don't like what you're reading, stop reading.

Trust me, I won't be losing any sleep.

Brian said...

yes and the comments section is MY space to express MY opinions on your blog.

all I'm trying to tell you is that you could try see the lighter side of life and stop moaning.

I decided to read some of your other blogs myself and I've lived in england as well, so I know where you're coming from.

The thing is this, English people moan worse than South Africans... and it drags you down, I remember myself falling into the same trap; it's not nice, but it need not be that way.

ENJOY the rest of your time there! Might as well make the most of where ever you are! :)

Lopz said...

Yes it is, and you will notice I do not restrict or edit comments.

Still, I do not take well to people I don't know at all making ridiculous and unkind criticisms - would you? Calling me "pathetic" and suggesting I would break up with my boyfriend over a holiday is not only unkind, it is also very rude. You presume to know what I would do in a particular situation, and you presume to know something about my relationship, while the fact is you do not know anything about either aspect of my life. In other words, you presume to know me, and you do not.

You should also know that a person expressing feelings of anger, disappointment or hurt does not constitute moaning. It constitutes just that - expressing. If I am having a tough time and want to write about it on my blog, who are you to be derogatory about that?

If you did know me, you would know I am a happy person who enjoys life very much. You'd also find I am very open with people, and you would know if I was very happy because I would share my joy with you, same as if I was going through a tough time, I would share my struggles.

If that makes me pathetic and a moaner, well, each to his own opinion, but I don't understand yours.

I have not fallen into any trap, as you suggest. I merely use my writing as a way to work things out in my head and a way to get out my feelings so I can get over things.

So thanks for the last sentiment, I do enjoy London very much and plan to continue to do so.

And feel free to comment again, but next time you do so, it would be far nicer for both of us if you commented on the situation, rather than making your attack personal.

Brian said...

Lopz said...

I think he realised that this time, there might have been a break up in the works if he didn't!

If I'm not mistaken you said that, not me. I was not going on about nothing as you try and make out.

Lopz said...

With an exclamation mark. Meant to denote wry humour. If I was serious about possibly breaking off an 8 year relationship over a botched holiday, I would have treated that subject with the gravity it deserved, and not used an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence.

I appreciate that you cannot hear tone of voice or see the expressions of the writer. Therefore you should take the whole text into account when making a judgment. Even if you still do not get a clear picture, as you obviously didn't, think to yourself: how surreal is this situation? Is it possible she is really so shallow a human being? You think, perhaps.

So maybe ask her if she was serious about that comment before insulting her. Because I don't personally know anyone like that, and I would therefore have to accept there may an alternative way of reading that.

No writer wants to add "Jokes!" everytime they are sarcastic/kidding/being silly. Nor should we have to.

I could say: I am so mad, I want to fucking kill him.

Would you then really think I am a murderer waiting for an opportunity?

Brian said...

Well I'm glad to hear that you're not as shallow as I thought, because I was quite disappointed/upset that a person could be like that.

Sorry for insulting you as you are obviously not part of that group of pathetic people who would actually do something like that.

Lopz said...

Apology accepted.

And for what it's worth, I think if someone had to say they were breaking up with their partner for a reason like that, it would probably be the straw that broke the camel's back over a multitude of other problems which had stretched them to breaking point.

But let's just be grateful it is not us in that position.

Enjoy the read, hope you learnt something about me!