Well how does one go about travelling to the lush pastures and golden beaches of Angola then ? The answer is, with some difficulty, although obviously not as difficult to get into as, lets say North Korea, but awkward enough without becoming too much of a Drama Queen.
First you need to apply for an STV.....pay attention at the back, its a V, not a D......that may come later, but its not relevant to this story. A Short Term Visa, when issued from your local
friendly Embassy or Consul, allows you 72 hours from the time of issue, to get your Butt into the Country. 73 hours, and wahaay its jackpot time and you get a fine, the size of which very much depends on how well the Immigration Officers Date progressed the previous night. If you are really unlucky you could also face deportation on the next Plane to....well anywhere really, as long as its not Angola. Deportation can then begin to get really interesting if they fly you into another Country for which you have no Visa for (which is likely), as then the whole Immigration process is repeated in a rather Catch 22'esque manner with local added tweaks which invariably require money heading in the opposite direction to which you want it to go.
However, if only an STV was as easy to obtain as described above. Now you have to factor in the Individual Embassies and Consuls continually changing requirements for what they perceive they need from you; so as to give you in return, a valid 72 hour Visa. The first couple of times for all of us it was quite simple, too simple in fact. You supplied by Post a completed application form, a copy of your Yellow fever certificate, a letter of invitation (dont ask), and some Money, and then Bob's your Uncle an STV would appear in your passport about a week later, nicely timed to coincide with your pre booked flight to Luanda.
Then, the Angolan Embassy in Paris wanted fingerprints from our Colleagues across the Channel. Fair dues we Brits all smugly thought, they are French after all, so probably deserve the added inconvenience of turning up at the Embassy in their break, rather than using a postal application.
Anyway, next it was the Scandahooligans turn; they were all asked to attend the Embassy in person each time they wanted a visa on their way to Angola, a slight complication being that the only Angolan Embassy able to pass out these visas was in Copenhagen, which was all very useful for our predominantly Norwegian crew! However, this system is not quite as efficient (!) as you would expect, as so far they have been delayed for various amounts of time for the last 3 crew changes for a) The Person who stamps the Visa went on holiday with the Stamp (It must be a serious relationship?), b) They ran out of paper for the Visa printer (I kid you not), which gave a 3 day delay, and finally c) They decided to take a long unannounced weekends holiday (probably with the Stamp), so shut the Visa section down until the following Monday, by which time, the Guys should have been on the Boat.
We Brits are still smiling kind of smugly....for now, but rumours are rife that not to be outdone, the London Embassy is currently cooking up some devilish scheme of their own, so as to make our lives a little more awkward in the future...watch this space.
Now where was I ? ah, the Photo.....this was taken one very early morning last year in August, while the Vessel I was on, was seeking shelter from the inclement North Sea weather. We were in the Moray Firth, about 10 miles along the coast from Fraserburgh. The colours you see here, are what I saw, there has been no colour boosting of any description, it was just a magnificently menacing rolling sky, with a Seagull flying very conveniently through the picture, a question of being in the right place at the right time, but isn't that what a lot of Photography is about....timing ?
Till the next time...