Wednesday, November 20, 2013

US Visa Application: Freedom meets Frustration

Dear friends,
You know me by now, I am not the person to complain or cry about things. Circumstances happen, you check, verify, take a decision and hope for the best (much like when they forecast a strong storm and you happen to become in the middel of that…).
Before I get all my US friends upset, in this post, I am not bashing the USA, nor the American Lifestyle ( some people we meet are outspoken and rather anti american, not me).
So, when Frits and Reinhilde mentioned to us back in Curacao, that if and when we are planning of passing by Puerto Rico (and the USVI),  we were going to need a US Visa.
For a moment I thought I just could get a so called ESTA visa thingy (having a Dutch passport), but… that is not going to happen… Since we are not arriving in the US (yes, Puerto Rico does make part of it) by approved and certified carrier (ie, airline or cruise ship), we both have to apply for the visa.

Now, for those of you who don’t know about this red tape, I suggest you look up a site of the US gov for visa aplications (there are a few) and just for laughs and giggles, try to fill out the online form… Unreal, the questions asked… (Are you member of a terrorist group?… Or how about this one: Have you ever tortured a person?…) Seriously… the nerve to ask this.. I mean I haven’t but am almost certain “they” can’t say the same… Anyhow, I will bite my tongue, count to 10 and get the application form out, but….It realy made me thinking about this issue.. I even had a good exchange of posts on the cruisersforum about this toppic. (
And I know why it makes me upset… Freedom…. One of the great features of living aboard a sailboat is that you take your own decision, where to go, what to do, how to it etc. and handle the consequences of your choice. In practically all countries we have been to  so far, not one single time this visa/passport/custom red tape was an issue. Sometimes you meet crancky Custom and Immigration staff, or you have to wait a long time, yes, but never was i asked if I had tortured person. You fill out the paper work, in some occasions pay whatever landing fee, and you are on your way..Easy going.
So, why is it that the US makes such a fuzz about all of this. ? I can’t get my head wrapped around this. What is it that they fear?
(Yeah, I hear you all saying abt 9/11 and all that, but let us not go there right now, that is a whole other story..if you ask me..)Why cant it be just like in say Martinique (=France) or Bonaire (=Holland)… The vast majority of visitors come in peace, eager to learn about a new country, pick up some local culture, and spend some money and of they go again. Nobody talks about terrorists, tortures and so on and soforth.
You are a criminal, terrorist and potentially dangerous untill proven otherwise… I guess that is how it is looked upon. Well, we most likely need to anchor out in some ports and bays in Puerto Rico, but even then, we still need to go through all these hoops, and I dont like it, but have to do it.. (oh, and yes, did you know that you will have to pay $$$ money for all of this, and eventually have an interview, during which the interviewer may and will decide if you are qualified or not to get the visa. They will tell you on the spot, if you continue to be classified as a potential danger, you will not get the visa. Period. You will never know why, they wont tell you, oh and ofcourse no refund of the money either). It is not of this world. So, yes I am frustrated by this: It goes against my sense of liberty, justice and freedom.

Some people tell me, that you need play along and all will be alright and you get your visa, however, this is one of the few toppics that gets me upset, because IT IS NOT NORMAL nor LOGICAL. This is not how it should work (check out most other countries in the free world), So, I cannot be compliant with something that is just not right/normal, and just because it comes from the USA, it doesnt make it right. We are not even intending to actualy go on land in Puerto Rico (as it is all such a difficult task) so why can’t we just anchor out in some bays, rest a little, wait for some good breeze and of we go…
So, there you have it… Dora will have to travel to Sao Paulo, in Brazil for her interview.. I will have to travel to Curacao (as in Aruba they dont deal with this kind of thing). We will first wait and see if Dora gets hers (if she does, I will be on my way to Curacao… and if she doesn’t, well then I don’t need to go anyway..).
We are interested to learn your opinion on this.
In the meantime, chilling out in Aruba…
Stay cool

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