Sunday, August 24, 2008

Where is my Visa?

To visit Kuwait you need to have a visa. A visa is permission to enter the country for a specific amount of time. Visas typically need to be arranged ahead of time. However, Americans can get a visit visa after landing so it is very easy to do.

An easier way is to have the visas processed ahead of time and have a customs guide. I had a visa prepared weeks in advance, so no more work was needed. The rest of the family needed a visit visa. KCIC prepared a visit visa in advance for everyone and arranged for a customs guide. The customs guide met us at the airport gate and directed us to customs. He then went to the visa desk to pick up our prepared visas.

We hit a snag because Dante's visa was missing. Luckily I had a copy printed out of the visa; the company emailed copies ahead of time. The guide took the copy and then went through customs to the Mariott desk. The desk outside had the visa after all. The guide brought it back through customs and we went on our merry way. It is fascinating that an employee of a private company can have the security clearance to walk back and forth through customs.

Once we had the visa, we gave all of our passports and visas to the customs guide who handed it to the customs official to be stamped. After all 5 passports and visas were stamped, the papers were handed back to me and we proceeded to get our luggage.

I decided to get a porter with a big trolley to get our luggage. We had 10 large checked bags and 5 heavy carry-ons and there was no way we are getting out of there without help. It wasn't too bad as it only cost $6 to get the luggage to the hotel shuttle. The porter also helped put the bags through the x-ray machine as you need to xray all the bags before leaving the customs area.

Afterwards we had no troubles getting the bags to the shuttle, but it was difficult getting all the bags in the car. You see, this was not a large bus, but an SUV that seated 5. I sat in the front passenger seat and the rest of the family squeezed in the back.

Once we sat down, I took another inventory of our visas. I accounted for all the visas save one--Deanna's. I got out of the car and looked on the ground and I found nothing. I looked in the airport and I found nothing. I asked the hotel rep at the airport if he had seen anything, but he had not. He told me not too worry as her passport is already stamped and she is in the country. He was correct that there was nothing to worry about today, but at some point there would be a problem. In Kuwait you cannot leave the country without the visa.

There was nothing I could do at that point so we left for the hotel. We arrived in our room and slept a good deal. The flight arrived at 10pm and after customs and checking in we did not get into the room until nearly midnight so everyone was tired.

Deanna and I slept well until Talyn started making noise in the middle of the night. He did not sleep long before jet lag struck and he was wide awake. Apparently he was up for awhile before he was making noise. He said he spent quite a bit of time looking out the window. He was quite happy because he found a pizza hut. The words were in Arabic, but the logo was unmistakeable. Deanna lied down with him until he fell asleep.

I let them sleep until almost 10 then we had breakfast. We could not tarry too long as we had to check out by noon. After breakfast, we packed up again with all 15 bags and headed down to the front of the hotel where a couple of the people were waiting to whisk us to a short-term apartment.

As for the visa, it finally showed up. Someone came across it and passed it on to the hotel. It was waiting there when KCIC called around looking for it. At the moment, I have all the visas and everything necessary to get us settled here in Kuwait City.

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