Archive for June, 2013

Visa Stories: South Africa

Posted by Arlo on Jun 7, 2013 under Postcard Valet, Travel

Awhile back, I sat down to write about all our border crossings.  Almost without fail, each one had it’s own drama to deal with.  I never did get through writing them all, but I mined this one from that pile of first drafts.

Visa stamps

We almost ran into serious trouble trying to get into South Africa.  It started at our embarkation point, Ezeiza, Buenos Aires’ international airport.

We were checking out bags to Cape Town, when the person behind the Malaysian Airlines counter asked us if he could see our visas.  No, we told him, we were planning to get them when we arrived at the South African immigrations.

He began to grill us for information.

Did we have return tickets?
No, we were planning to continue our travels through Africa.

How were we planning to leave the country? Did we have plane or bus tickets?
No, we didn’t know how long we’d be staying and figured it would be impossible to buy South African bus tickets from Argentina, anyway.

He sighed and said he wasn’t sure he could let us on the flight.  “South Africa is very strict with their entrance requirements,” he said. “Very strict.”

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Posted by Arlo on Jun 3, 2013 under Travel

Still busy moving into the new place and haven’t yet had time to work on any travel-related stuff.  Thought I’d post a story I wrote some time ago, about spiders in Australia.  It was originally written with a different audience in mind, but rather than spend time editing it for the blog, I’ve decided to simply post it with that caveat.

It was the second night after we had moved into our new, one-bedroom apartment.  We were in Highgate Hill, a couple miles outside the center of Brisbane.  Very suburban, but with just enough trees and parks around that it still seemed a little wild.  You would see possums running along the telephone wires at night, bush turkeys digging around in our neighbor’s yards during the day.

The previous tenant didn’t leave us a very clean apartment.  We scrubbed the hell out of it the day we moved in, but I can’t say I was terribly surprised to see a huge cockroach in the kitchen that first night.  We resolved to clean behind the appliances and buy a bunch of roach traps in the morning.

Oksana, having scored a Work and Holiday Visa, was by that time employed.  On the night of “The Arachnid Incident,” she’d gone to bed around 10-ish.  I had decided I would take a shower first before turning in, myself.

Our bathroom – or rooms, rather – were split in two (which is not uncommon in Australian households.)  There was a tiny, rectangular room with just a toilet and enough room for the door to full swing inwards.  Adjacent in the hallway was another door into the shower room, where we also had our sink, mirror, and laundry apparatus.

I needed to use the bathroom first, but since I was going to take a shower anyway, I went ahead and stripped off my clothes and left them in the hallway. (We had a dirty clothes basket in the bedroom, but I didn’t want to disturb Oksana.)  I went into the bathroom, closed the door, and sat down to do my business.  I couldn’t tell you how long I was in there.  It could have been awhile. I had my iPhone with me.

So I’m just sitting there, you know? Sort of leaning over, looking at the iPhone in my hand, when something pushes its way under the door.  It was big – easily as big as my hand, though its legs were nowhere near as thick as my fingers.  Hairier than my knuckles, though, I can tell you that.  The worst thing, by far, was how fast it moved.  Once it unfurled its legs from under the door, that fucker moved!  Skitter-skitter-stop.  Skitter-stop.

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