Decided it was time for a new gripe. Mine is about visas and the process of getting them. Here I am 9 days before departure, waiting for the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya to afix its stamp of approval to my passport and mail it back. I sent it by express mail [return by same] to Washington over a month ago and am still waiting for its return. I called after two weeks to inquire about its status, waited on the line (long distance) for twenty minutes while some clerk shuffled papers and finally told me there was a problem with the payment. It seems I had endorsed the money order (checks won't do) to the Republic of Kenya
instead of the required Embassy of the Republic of Kenya
. Fine. I run to the post office cut a new money order for $50 (what happens to the first one?) and send it by overnight express ($14) the next day. Still no visa or passport. The worst thing is I still have to send it to the Brazilian consulate to get their visa. For that one I may have to use a courier service or fly to LA for a day and walk it through in person.
The whole visa thing is very political. Some countries have reciprical agreements negating the requirement, while residents of other countries are charged exorbitant fees. When you consider the economic benefits to be gained by having tourists come and provide foreign currency, it doesn't make sense to put up barriers. If it's a matter of greasing a few palms, why can't they just collect their fees
at the borders without making travellers jump through all kinds of hoops?
I'm just very frustrated after spending another hour on hold trying to get through to the Kenyan visa office (which is only open 9:30-13:00 EST) and not getting anywhere. It's enough to make me consider blowing off the whole trip.