OK - so I need to make a confession.
After three years of travelling in Latin America to various conferences, classes and meetings in quite a range of countries, you'd have thought I'd have the knack of entering foreign countries down by now.
Well, as yesterday's events prove, not so much.
I'm preparing for my final trip, there are about 5 hours left before I head to the airport for an overnight flight to Santiago Chile and then onto São Paulo in Brasil. I'm checking the status of my visa for Chile (which you get at the airport on the way in - like every other country I have visited - except the US) and I wonder what the situation is in Brasil. So I check.
At this point, things start to turn bad.
Multiple websites say that Australians need a visa to enter Brasil - tourist or business. That's OK - I'll do the paperwork at the airport, pay my money and it'll be fine.
Ummm - no.
There is a complicated process that you need to follow and it take 5-7 days!
So I start making some calls. First to the Australian embassy in Brasil - yes, that is true, no exceptions.
Then to the Brasilian Embassy in Mexico - nobody answers the phone until 12:50pm and their office closes for the day at 1pm.
Finally, I call the Brasilian Embassy in Santiago - because in a stroke of genius I think I could have an 'amazing race' moment. Get off the plane in Santiago - dash into the embassy in the city - get my visa (which they will issue instantly out of deep mercy and compassion) - dash back to the airport and get on the connecting flight to São Paulo.
All a great plan - except they don't make exceptions.
So I can't go. Really frustrated and feeling dopey that I didn't think of it before.
As a result I've had to cancel and re-book flights to Chile (leaving tonight and at some expense to the management - sorry).
I guess the only good thing is that I realised while I was at home and could easily make phone calls (very cheaply thanks to skype), rearrange flights etc. The other option might have been that I got deported! (Now that would have made for a good story)
But - I'm looking forward to a great week of teaching, networking and promoting MOCLAM in Chile.
Moral of the story: Don't assume everything will work like it has in other places!