No stress like visa stress

Before you pack your bags, buy the ticket, have the farewell party, you need The Visa. Getting the American Visa feels like doing your matric exams over again, without studying.

Here's the game: convince the visa people that you really need/want to visit the land of the free, but really need/want to come back to South Africa again. So you take every piece of paper you can find to convince them: Lease agreement, invitation letters, love letters, bank statements, emails, marriage certificates, urine samples. Then you make your way to the USA Consulate, corner Sandton drive and Rivonia road. You can't park there, so you risk your life running across Sandton Drive in peak traffic, with reams of paper, high heels and take away coffee.

Once there you get harassed by puffed up security, searched endlessly by more security, ushered into queues, stamped and asked to take a ticket. And then you wait. You anxiously listen to electronic American voices calling out numbers at random. "Ticket number 139 now served at window 4". You watch the other waiters, speculating who are going to Disney world, who are first timers, and who are terrorist. The pudgy girl with the dirty feet gets denied. She was definitely a terrorist.

And finally we get called to the dreaded window 5. The biracial American bureaucrat peers at us over his black rimmed glasses. "Your right thumb print please ma'am". Jaco (oh yes, he is the darling husband and the cause of the great trek to Dayton Ohio) gets asked various questions and answers every one using the word democracy at least thrice. American man never looks at me. Or asks me why I am there. I don't get to respond that marriage is important and that America is filled with cultural gems I need to see.

Your visas have been approved. Thank you.


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