On Monday morning, as I settled into a taxi at Charles De Gaulle Airport in France, I received a text message from Capago Visa Application Centre in Cape Town confirming my visa was ready for collection. Odd! Since that’s the same document which got me onto an AirFrance flight and through border control in the first place.
Well, if you want to hear a story of note on how I broke the system, switch off your phone, make a cup of tea and pull up a chair. This is a good one.
It all started on Friday 9 February when my visa application at Capago was denied as my passport boasted a two-month expiration date post my holiday. Law requires three. Go to home affairs, they said. It will only take five days, they said. Yeah, right!
So my downward spiral of frustration and exhaustion commenced bearing in mind it has been 782 days since I was separated from my job and my computer. At the time, I was producing a fashion show for a client, launching an e-commerce site with them, attending SA Menswear Fashion Week and everything else one does in life.
Contending with seven hours of Home Affairs bureaucracy and queues which were light years long was not on my agenda – but one does what one must for Paris. Ten working day, they said.
Hmmm, here’s the catch. My flight – already booked and paid for – was scheduled to leave in nine working days, and 48 hours of that was assigned to a visa application. We needed more than crossed fingers.
Tears, people. Tears!
I cried after every daily check-in with Home Affairs. Oh, they knew exactly where in the system my application was. It. Just. Wasn’t. With. Me!
Buckets of tears fell.
On Thursday 22 February I received my passport and literally ran on water to Capago to plead my case for expediency. They accepted my visa application but couldn’t guarantee I would be successful.
So what’s a woman to do when not hearing what she wants? Head higher up the food chain, of course, directly to the French Ambassador. I called, every hour on the hour. Poor embassy staff eventually stayed after hours and approved my visa on the afternoon of Friday 24 Feb, if only to get rid of me. And that’s how I landed up on my flight to Paris at midnight on Sunday night.
I landed on Monday 26 Feb physically and emotionally exhausted and got conned good and solid by a bastard but a very cute taxi driver who took me on a scenic route to Saint-Germain des Pres via the Champs Elysees. But that’s a story for another bottle of wine. For now, one question remains unanswered.
What document was delivered to Capago Visa Application Centre on Monday morning at the same time as I arrived in Paris?
Anyhoo, I’m here now, freezing in sub-zero temperatures but it is Paris, my heart’s home.
Bon soiree, mes amis.
love & light
PS: If I were to accept an Oscar for my leading role in this drama, my gratitude would go out to my mom, The Chosen One, my sister Tess, Nicci Kruger, Kim Risi and Kirsty Da costa. They were my wings when I was too tired to fly.