Monday, October 13, 2014

Sayonara to the nightmare visa consul


So yesterday afternoon, working in the office but still living a Travelife, I was taking a little breather when one of our Travelife contributing editors walks in.

He's very popular with everyone in the office, for one reason or another, and they all love hearing his crazy adventures whenever he pops up at the office.




I took one look at him and said with a smile: "So. You're back from the dead."

I've been away a lot since April and during this time, he also virtually disappeared from the face of the earth. I would just hear that he was in some remote or exotic place again, although he always sent in his stories very faithfully.

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"THE CONSUL FROM HELL IS GONE."

He just gave his usual grin when I said this. And in answer to my remark, but not quite, he asked me: "Do you know that the consul from hell is gone?"

I didn't even have to ask him which country he was talking about, regarding the consul, as I knew exactly who he meant. 

In fact, everyone in the know in this little town knows about this consul as the pretty scandalous stories about him have been passed around at cocktail parties and dinner parties in Manila.

TURNING DOWN WEALTHY TOURISTS
WHO COULD'VE HELPED HIS COUNTRY'S ECONOMY



His country is in dire economic straits. 

And, as it is pretty far and expensive to get to, it has remained largely a destination only for the wealthy or the adventurous. Most of the people who apply for tourist visas to this country are very rich, in very plain terms, because you need both a lot of time and money to get there.

However, quite strangely, this consul made it pretty hard for wealthy tourists to visit his country and spend thousands of dollars in hotels, restaurants and stores to help boost the local economy.

In fact, I got the feeling that the wealthier the visa applicant was, the harder this consul made the application process.


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THE RICHER THE APPLICANT,
THE HARDER IT BECAME

All my contributing editors went through this consul for tourist visas to visit his country at about the same time. I also have many friends who applied for visas with him. So the stories I heard were first-hand.

He made every person I know -- all prominent business persons with more than obvious vast financial resources -- submit a mountain of documents and visit him in his office for an interview, just to get a simple tourist visa.

And when they got to his embassy, he made each and every one of them wait, even if there was no visible line of applicants.

MANY PEOPLE WERE REJECTED.
INCLUDING DOCTORS, BUSINESSMEN, CHARITY WORKERS.



Many wealthy tourists who might have done their part to boost the ailing economy of the country of this visa consul were actually rejected for visas -- so they could not visit his country.

He even rejected the visa applications of well-known businessmen intending to visit as part of their cruise itineraries, doctors planning to attend medical conferences and charity workers who were being flown to his part of the world by the ambassador of a neighbouring country.

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"CRAZY. THAT MAN IS CRAZY."

The ambassador in question said to me: "Crazy. That man is crazy." 

The consul had rejected the visa applications of two aid charity workers who were part of this ambassador's delegation to that part of the world. They had wanted to visit their charity organisation main office in the country of this visa consul.  

Yes, this was what everyone said about the visa consul from hell.

A MAYOR'S PERMIT FOR A TOURIST APPLICATION



My personal interaction with him involved helping one of my friends try and get a tourist visa for himself and his mother to this country. The visa consul had asked this friend for every document under the sun, including a mayor's permit for the well-established company that he owns.

This friend, obviously with vast resources at his disposal, had also submitted a bank statement as part of the requirements.

The visa consul actually called up the bank to find out about the veracity of the document.

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WILL AN 80+ YEAR-OLD LADY
TAKE AWAY JOBS FROM THE UNEMPLOYED?

He also asked for proof of income from my friend's 80+ year-old mother.

I said, rather shocked: "She doesn't work anymore. But she can obviously pay for her travels, as you can see from her own bank statement."

And, with a sneer in his voice, he'd replied: "Yes, but I need proof of money regularly coming in. I need to know this mother will not overstay in my country and take away jobs from my unemployed countrymen."

We were talking on the phone and I swear I had to sit down when he told me this.

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THEY CAN BUY YOUR COUNTRY
IF THEY WANT TO

In fact, in my anger at such a ridiculous comment, I almost said to him: "It should be obvious from the bank statements they submitted that they can actually buy your country if they want to."

Yes, everything in the country of this visa consul is going for a song at the moment, because their currency is in free fall vs the US dollar and people are unloading assets because of economic woes. But I wisely held back, lest my friend not get his visa at all.

So the rich and famous who have applied for a visa to his country have all suffered under his hands.  But they've put up with this as they've all needed their visas.

WRONGING THE WRONG PERSON


But yesterday, I heard he was finally recalled back to his home country because he'd finally wronged the wrong person.

One of the wealthiest men in this part of the world had to get a visa to his country and he'd been given a very difficult time just like all the rich and powerful applicants before him.




However, in this case, this very rich man has business interests all over the world, including a very big business interest in the country in question.

So he basically had to get a visa to visit his business, among other things.

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DON'T MESS WITH THIS GUY...

This consul, perhaps seeing another multi-figure bank statement that had made him seethe with whatever demons he was wrestling with and taking out on others, demanded that this wealthy businessman show up in person at his little visa section office.

I don't know the rest of the details, except for the fact that this big businessman -- known for his temper and directness -- lost no time in calling his contacts in that country and basically giving all of them a piece of his mind.


SEE YOU IN 2015!

And now, after a few phone calls, the consul from hell is gone and I hope visa applications return to normal. This country could sure use a boost in their economy from tourists willing to spend there.

And that's why this country is finally getting into my travel plans for next year, as one of my 2015 adventures in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife. 






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