Posted by: Jean-Paul Behrens | September 24, 2009

Forgivness for not posting!!

I apologize for not writing anything for over two weeks, but just after purchasing the ticket to Lebanon I did the math and found out that there was a big possibility of me not being able to travel. I was so stressed that writing was the last thing on my mind. I short story is in order to explain my situation. =)

The problem was that if I followed normal visa processing trials (10 working days), time wouldn’t allow me to have the Dubai residence visa back in time for my trip here. And if I didn’t then I was not going to be able to leave Dubai because I couldn’t get back in!! That and the fact that my passport was locked up in the lower right drawer of the visa officer’s desk at AUD…

I have a passionate affair with last minute errands.

The big deal was that Dubai visa processing requires a blood test… to make sure you don’t go around infecting people with malicious diseases. Understandable I guess. By the time I realized this it was too late. So as soon as I got notice I flashed to the nearest government-run hospital for blood tests. I wish I could say it was as easy as that, but the story is just beginning.

Aside from the long lines, I had no idea what to do there. I tried to talk to the people at the counters but always got the same answer: “nomba” “nomba” “nomba” [number]. So I befriended a guard there and he told me to go talk to the manager, Yussef. He could help me out with the nomba. Thing is, Yussef was nowhere to be found! So I broke my way into a back office where people seemed to be relaxing on their job and explained my situation to them. One guy was nice enough to inform me, finally, that computer systems were down, no one was getting nombas, and they could do nothing about it! I was doomed because I needed those blood tests by 2 o’clock that day. It was around noon.

Crushed, I headed towards a taxi and was about to get in just before my friend guard pulled me and took me to a friend of his. She wasn’t too cheerful to help me out but I think I charmed her a little bit with my Arabic skills: Keefak? Ismi Jean Paul, masmakee? Min ayna Venezuelee. She probably just found me amusing haha. Well, in the end I did my blood tests but I had to wait 24 hours for results.

Not good. Not good at all… Again, time was running out and all I could do was pray for everything to work out.
 
Next day, with results in hand I went to the visa officer and gave him what he needed with a big smile: infectious-disease-free blood results, 3 passport pictures, 2 copies of provisional visa and passport. His answer: “4 days.” I only had 3 before the flight left! “Come back in 2 days. Maybe you get it. If no surprise in administration office.” By that time I had skipped 4 classes and spent around $300 in taxi and blood test fees. How was I to find comfort in those words?! That wiped the smile right off my face. Only thing I had left on my side now was faith.

Two days later I’m the first one in his office. “Visa not ready. Come back tomorrow.”  Impossible! I didn’t have the time. “Come back at 1pm” (Ramadan hours are from 11am – 2pm). So I get there at 1, literally my LAST chance at getting my passport back…….. Voila!! There it was all red and golden shinny =).

A little confusing I know, but that is how it all went. And the rest is history!! At last I was able to go to Lebanon with my friends.

A valuable lesson must be learnt here. Anywhere you plan to travel ALWAYS make sure you have your visas figured out. Not a big issue if you have an American passport, but a big one if you have another like a Venezuelan one. Some countries are really stubborn about this, unlike Lebanon!! Hahaha when I passed through passport control the officer asked me:

“No visa?”

Umm no, I think I get it here?

(flips pages around) “Welcome to Lebanon”

Haha if only it were like that always… The reason I did not write during my stay in Lebanon was that there was no accessible free internet. I would have had to bring my laptop to a Burger King and use it there. Too much of a hassle.

But now I’m back in Dubai! And I will keep you updated. Later tonight I will try to post an entry about Lebanon with pictures =D.

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