Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

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

5 thoughts on “Dude, Where’s My Brazilian Visa?

  1. Stephanie, it is not that I agree with everything the Brazilian Consulate does, but do you know we brazilians have to face the same process in order to get an american tourist visa? Do you know we are charged the same 100 bucks for the american tourist visa? That’s why we charge you guys the same amount. Do you know we spend more than 3 hours in the Sao Paulo American Consulate in order to get the visa? So, it is the same process my dear…

    Now, the problem is: Brazil needs much more American tourists eager to spend their dollars in Brazil than America needs Brazilian tourists. Should they facilitate the visa process? Yes, I think so.

  2. Patricia-
    So great to hear your response! You know, the more I talk to people about my experience, the more I learn that it is in retaliation to something that we (U.S) did first. Why am I not surprised? So I apologize on behalf of our government making it annoying for us to enjoy each others’ countries!! Three hours? How awful!!

  3. I’m chiming in a little late to second what Patricia said. Brazil is one country that is retaliating specifically for the USVISIT program that fingerprints visitors to the US from “certain countries.” Since 9/11, people attempting to visit the US are required to pass additional security screenings and a personal interview in order to obtain a visa. The process has gotten very expensive, and the time frame is sometimes on the order of several months.
    I used to work in the arts, and this has severely affected foreign artists who might travel to the US to perform. Delays often resulted in cancelled performance dates, and the uncertainty of the whole process has led many US venues to stop booking such performers. We are hearing less music from abroad than we used to.
    While stepped up security and screenings might be deemed necessary in these days, there has been a high price to pay.

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