Face-to-face with a government bureaucrat

Have just finished reading up on friends’ travels through places tropic populated with elephants and water buffaloes and have to say: Glad I’m not there.

Her hubby had to run back to Canada to deal with errant tenants, leaving the wife in a village hut with a sheet for a door. She was recovering from Dengue fever, which made her feel as though her bones were broken.

I suppose it’s part of the adventure, but if Dave left me in a remote village with cantankerous ungulates and a fabric lock-less door, heck would follow.

But she is having fun, if catching tropical diseases can be called that, and good for her.

Me, I’m still comfy in my home with plenty of solid doors, but not for long.

The trip to the Swiss Consulate was a disappointment.

The traffic into Vancouver was non-existent and we virtually whisked our way down to Canada Place on the shores of the Burrard Inlet. We found the Consulate with only a little fuss, were admitted immediately and met with a polite and exceedingly helpful bureaucrat who in under 15 minutes gave Dave his visa and said I could get through the border without trouble and finish up my visa application while in Switzerland.

“It will take about a week,” she said.

This ruins everything.

I’ve set my expectation-o-meter to “appalled” and having reality smack my worldview around requires that I get a new attitude. Matters worsened on the ferry ride home when we ran into friends returning from holiday and passed the 90-minute journey over coffee discussing how their car got broken into while on their week away. I loved this story. It was proof that travel is annoying.

The car-break-in, however, was interrupted by security and so the car was undamaged and nothing was stolen. More proof that I am wrong that travel is just asking for trouble.

This has put me in a dour mood, but things are looking up: It appears that the amount of stuff I need to pack will exceed the space available in our suitcases, thanks to the airline’s recent baggage allowance changes.

Ah, something to be miserable about … that’s the stuff.

Paperwork: The price of travel

We don’t have criminal records, parasites, psychotic disorders or flesh-eating disease and so our expectations on processing visas is that things will go smoothly. This is not the case.

A complicating factor is the nine-hour time difference between Europe and Canada’s west coast so we can really only communicate ‘real-time’ between midnight and 7 a.m.  We are over 40 years of age, therefore the concept of being awake at these times is unthinkable, if not impossible.

Hence, instead of emailing back and forth to settle visa-application difficulties within the space of an hour, emails dribble across the ocean at the rate of one a day, and sometimes only one a week, depending on the workload and motivational level of several bureaucrats. In other words, we are in purgatory – neither heaven or hell, but somewhere worse: Limbo.

This is made more fun by the fact that we don’t speak German/French/Italian/PigLatin and their English is somewhat off. I don’t want to criticize their English overly much because it is roughly 5,007,813,492 times better than my French.

We also learned while living in Spain that one culture’s idea of expediency is not necessarily shared by another’s. This time, however, we’re dealing with the land of clock-makers and given that they are the arbiters of punctuality (ie. clock/watch-makers), we expected a little better. The jury is still out on whether this is the case.

Here is what the process looks like so far.

Monday – Dave to bureaucrat: Who applies for the visa? Do I or do you?

Friday – Bureaucrat to Dave: I don’t know.

Monday – Dave: Can you find out?

Saturday morning – Bureaucrat: I’m very busy.

Monday – Dave:  I just checked the  government website. It looks as though we both can, but if I do, it will take over four months, but if you do it, it will take two weeks.

Wednesday – Bureaucrat:  Okay, I’ll do it as soon as I get back from vacation.

By this time three weeks have passed and we have achieved exactly nothing except to perhaps annoy a bureaucrat or two.

This has gone on roughly for three months now and Dave is mightily annoyed that he has to keep pushing.  I, however, worked in a newsroom and dealt with the Canadian/British Columbia governments for years and so expect precisely nothing to make sense, therefore my mood is unaffected.

Last month, we learned our papers were approved in Europe, however, the  Consulate in Vancouver cannot stamp our passports because they must wait for the overseas authorities to send them our file – this is done electronically, not by donkey-and-rowboat, but you would never know it. More than three weeks have passed and the file remains in Europe, probably dining on  chocolates and pastries.

Finally, today Dave learned that the reason the bureaucrats-in-Europe have not sent the file to their bureaucrats-in-Canada is that “no one has requested it.” True. It would seem to us that the very fact of applying for a visa is intrinsically linked to the concept of asking for said visa, but these bureaucrats are precise if nothing else and having done everything else to give us a visa, they are now waiting for us to “ask for it.”

And so we have. In theory we could be only a week away from departure.

In the meantime, I’ve posted the best sugarless frosting recipe ever. Check it out https://hobonotes.com/dining-recipes/