The “boss” and I had to take a trip to the Mother City to visit the Uncle Sam consulate for visa reasons. So we decided to make a weekend of it.
On the Friday morning at approximately 07h00 we hopped into the brand new Hyundai and tootled off down the Garden route. It was going to be a slow, stop here, stop there trip as we only needed to be in Somerset West at 06h00, giving us 11 hours to get there. First stop Storms River and coffee. It had rained most of the way so the caffeine was welcome. Fuel consumption was a measly 6.6l per 100 km. I was beaming like a child in a toy store.
On the road again and the next stop was in Knysna. After a quick walk around the overpriced waterfront we headed for Thessens island. A first time visit to this commercial hub to visit my “daughter” at an exclusive furniture store. The “Boss” spied a lovely corner lounge suite. On closer inspection I nearly died. A cool R45 000.00. Yes, that is the right price. After a hasty exit and a few misty eyed goodbyes it was on the road again.
Kaaimans was graced with a photo shoot. Took photos of the Choo Choo tunnel, bridge etc and the “Boss” looking bored. Then off through the Kaaimans pass and a quick trip to Victoria Bay for another photo shoot. More photos of the Choo Choo tunnel from the other side and watched some surfers riding the right hand break.
The fill up point was Malgas, outside Swellendam where we discovered only 6.5l per 100 km consumption. A great lunch of snoek and chips under the belt and it was on the road again. Now for the scenic route. Hermanus, Bettys Bay and Gordons Bay. At this stage my Facebook profile read “and I thought PE was the windy city More like Cape town“. The wind was terrible.
“Be prepared”, the consulate website warned, “to prove employment with letters and payslips and bank statements. Be prepared to prove you want to come back to SA. Your interview is at 09h00 Monday morning. But be early so you can get through security. Be ready. Be prepared”.
So being the stickler for time (the “Boss” and my Swaer always say I have never been late for a thing in my life) we arrived at 08h30. Handed in our forms and passports and had fingerprints done electronically at 08h45 after 30 seconds at security and waiting in line for 10 minutes were asked to wait until we were called. At exactly 09h00 we were called.
Via a telephone and a 6 inch bullet proof glass we were asked exactly 5 questions:
- How long will you be visiting.
- Do you know anyone in the country,
- How long with your employer,
- What date are you going and
- Who does “the Boss” work for.
“Thank you, your passport with visas will be delivered in three days”.
WHAT? no interrogation face to face. No letters from employer, no explaining why you want to come back to SA. No bank statements needed. We felt cheated. We wanted to feel like we were going to be illegal immigrants. We had prepared so well for it. We walked away shaking our heads to the place we had parked the Hyundai two kilometers away. Yes you have to park miles away as you are not allowed to park near the consulate. What a waste of money and time. Seriously. What a sombre drive it was back to the “friendly city” Return trip 6.4l per 100 km in the “larney” Accent.
Author: Tim Emmerson
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