Beware the Brazilian consulate! I samba-ed into one the other day to apply for a visa (to Brazil- who knew?) expecting all the usual questions- have you ever tried one of our waxes? do you have proof of thong ownership? …etc. But sitting across the bulletproof glass from me was a young, utterly humorless Brazilian woman who peered at my application, verifying this point, challenging that point. Was this for Brazil or Baghdad? I was confused.

And where was her feathered headress? I tried to picture her and her severe colleagues at Carnival- would they be riding along on a puffy beaurocratic float throwing official forms out to the crowd?

Now we all know that this is just a little extortion dance- they want to raise money so they charge an entry fee, and who wouldn’t want a ticket to the show in Brazil? I’m totally fine with the concept. So why not just charge us a little tax at the Rio airport? Bleary-eyed people coming off planes are only too happy to chalk over some bucks for an ‘entry tax.’

The fact that they won’t let you on a Brazilian-bound plane without a visa is just silly. The fact that it is now Monday and my flight to Brazil leaves on Friday is now worrisome.

I was not coping very well in this governmental Copacabana. The woman across the glass now asks me for my airline itinerary. I have no airline itinerary with me. I wonder aloud if this was stipulated on their website.

She snarls, “Do you know how to read English?”

How do you say charming in Porgtuguese? At this point I’m not so sure I even want to go to Brazil anymore. But maybe you do. And of course I do, too. So to protect you from gleeful hassle and torment, here is my Brazilian visa checklist for you. Garlic and a wooden stake are optional:

1- $100. Yes, it’s quite a hefty little fee, and in San Francisco, at least, it can only be paid with a USPS money order, which must be obtained elsewhere. Oh hoops, jump through them and love it!

2- a local address in Brazil. Make sure your tour operator gives you one or that you have one. They don’t really want you to wing it.

3- a copy of your airline itinerary with your name on it.

4- eye of newt and wool of bat

5- a large newspaper to hide behind in case an ex-lover (it ended badly) walks through the door and you both have to sit there awkwardly in the tiny room pretending not to see each other as you wait and wait and wait for your number to be called. True story. emoticon