Today I came as close to completely screwing up my entire trip as you possible can. I made the most incredible travel blunder I’ve ever made. Luckily, thanks to a deep (very deep!) breath and a cool head I resolved the near catastrophe. And only because I did something remarkably smart last week.
You remember my friend Mike La Sota had to bail on this trip at the last second? Well, when I travel with a friend to a remote foreign country I make sure we each have copies of each others essential documents. In the case of Sudan, there are several and it took my friends at Tourette Fishing months to organize them. They consist of an invitation letter to Sudan and a hard to get one time entry VISA.
Before Mike cancelled I had his and my documents packed in my carryon and a back up set in the luggage. When Mike cancelled it sent my head spinning. You can only imagine planning such a trip for months with a close friend and then they must cancel less than a week out. So while frazzled, I took his papers out – that’s what I thought anyhow.
When I got to the airport here in Dubai this morning and arrived at the flydubai counter, I proudly handed the desk my passport, my Yellow Fever vaccine card, my invitation to Sudan letter and last, the copy of my Sudan VISA. The attendant tapped away on the computer going through the paperwork. When he got to the VISA he asked, who is Mike La Sota? I HAD MIKES VISA! Mine must be sitting by my desk in my house in Victor, Idaho!
Pure terror swept through my body. My knees went weak. I snatched the VISA copy and sure enough, I saw Mikes name. Okay I thought, I had my back up. I dug into my luggage and pulled out my backup set of papers. My hands were shaking. There was the VISA. I handed it over. Whew I thought to myself. But the attendant looked at me like my hair was on fire, “This is also Mikes. You as an American can not go to Sudan without a VISA”.
Being a somewhat normal human I started pleading that I had my VISA and a bunch of desperate useless blab. But I know that just because I know I have a VISA doesn’t mean anything. Without the VISA copy I was out – not going on the trip. But as I stared at my carryon I remembered, I put a Sudan file on a computer stick drive and my VISA should be there.
The flydubai attendant was good. I pulled out my drive and told him my VISA was there and he called for higher authorities. A manager came down and took me to his office. Just as I thought, my VISA was there and he printed the vital document and checked me in! Not only that, I’m a bit heavy in my luggage and he let me slide for next to nothing.
From the ultimate disaster to back on track!
Things look good now but I’m still not there yet. In fact, I’m at the gate here in Dubai with another hour before boarding. Interestingly, the neighboring gates are Kabul and the other Baghdad. Pretty cool eh? But then – where the hell am I going?
It’s a four hour flight to Port Sudan. Upon arrival I’ll have to produce all the paperwork again. Only then it will be official. The documents are glued to me.
No more news will mean I’m there and fishing tomorrow.
Day by day reports and photos to come upon return to civilization.
One more deep breath!