I was sitting in my Caracas hotel room the night before I was due to fly to Suriname, finding out more about the capital Paramaribo on Wikitravel, when I discovered that as a British citizen I was supposed to have a visa. I did a bit of hunting around to check this wasn’t old news and for a brief moment was delighted to discover that in mid-November they had introduced a tourist card you can get at the airport. Sadly whilst this is available to citizens of the USA, France and Holland amongst others, it was not going to save me.
I did a bit of desperate hunting around for alternatives but the key problem was that to get to the town I wanted to visit next, in northern Brazil, I would still have to either change planes in Paramaribo or go all the way south to Sao Paulo. I decided to try to get the airline to allow me to take just the first of my two flights the next day, to Trinidad, and sort myself out there. I was still nervous about Venezuela and wanted to be somewhere safer.
Well, to my surprise, it all worked out remarkably well: a very helpful man at Caracas airport moved my second flight forward by two days and retagged my luggage so it wouldn’t go all the way without me; two lovely men at Trinidad airport tourist office found me a great place to stay in Port of Spain and the address of the Suriname embassy; a delightful lady at the embassy (who was thrilled to find she has the same birthday as me) gave me a form and the address of Suriname airways’ office that afternoon and when they opened for business next morning, a visa in an hour and a half, including the trip to the bank to pay the fee.
Additionally two policemen helped me find the street on the map for the airways office and they changed the date of my ticket out of Suriname. Computer problems did mean that it took them two hours, but I had my Kindle to read and they gave me a cup of tea and profuse apologies.
Admittedly it cost to change my tickets and my new flight from Trinidad departed four hours late, meaning we landed at 2.30am local time. But on the whole I think I got away quite lightly. I have of course checked the entry requirement for all the other countries I will be visiting but suspect my ‘just in time’ approach to planning is set to continue. Certainly my state of what I like to call travel zen meant that I barely felt worried at all. Things do generally work out alright.
I also had a nice couple of days in Trinidad, where they drive on the left, speak English and sell Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers in the shops; all pleasant reminders of home.