Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy towel day!

If you have come looking for the answer to life, universe and everything else... I just gotta tell you the answer is 42.
If you have come looking for answers to Australian life might be a little different. (But the answer might be 42 as well, he he)
Anyway, today is the towel day, annual celebration of towels in tribute to Douglas Adams and his “Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy” (which have become on my favourite books).
It seems there are tons more fans out there including Google, HP and other huge brands.
So long and thanks for all the fish.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

On March 19, 2009 (the day when my visa was granted) my wife sent an email to IOM requesting information and prices related to airplane tickets... And you might ask... IOM what the hell is that?

The IOM is the International Organisation for Migration, responsible for gathering information related to migrants and how to help them. The very same day we got answer to some of our questioning but, didn’t have any price nor confirmation related to anyway airfare reservation. Basically we didn’t had anything but a “When and where do you want to fly? And could I have your passports and grant letters?

Anyhow, those things were sent right away hoping to get a really good discount. Meanwhile looking at some web sites such as Orbitz, Expedia, and Farecase live I notice airfares from Caracas to Sydney (flying Caracas, Santiago de Chile or Argentina, Sydney) were around the US$ 1,800 (flying with Aerolineas Argentinas) to US$ 2,600 (flying with Lan Chile) each ticket, economic class every single day of July and some of August. We expected to be some value, but not really that high since July – September is low season in Australia.

Flying through the U.S would be cheaper than those prices but my wife doesn’t have U.S Visa and going to the yank embassy sure isn’t pleasant. So at the moment, that isn’t an option.
Four weeks later, we get an email from the IOM (yeah, it was too much time for our taste…) saying there is not even a single spot for us in a plane during July… They took the free good will to reserve us a spot in August first week and we had to pay the tickets before 2nd of July, at the awesome and very low price of US$ 1,200 each flying with Lan Chile up to Santiago de Chile and Qantas from there on.

Here comes the first handy tip:

You will need 4 to 6 months ahead of schedule to even think of doing anything with the IOM. They are highly demanded and vacancy isn’t available all the time within the next 4 months. By the way, I should remark they asked for my grant number… so, don’t bother if you don’t have your papers yet.

We replied to that email saying we loved the date, and the price, and in the upcoming weeks we wanted to gather the money to go and pay for it; it seems that email was lost somewhere between my email server (Google Mail - GMail) and theirs email server, but the truth is, two weeks afterwards, I receive a not nice news, my airfare reservation with Lan Chile and Qantas was cancelled due the time between the information sent and the “lack” of confirmation….

So, here is the first “not to do” tip or second tip.

Do not confirm with an email. Calls are cheap and there is no way to miss it unless you can’t contact the person.

After a couple of minutes, Mariana (the gentle IOM representative) told us to wait a bit more, to send one more time those emails with copy to her email address and she was going to do everything in her will and power to get us back the reservation. Thankfully for us, it was early this month and the august booking wasn’t lost and replaced by any other aspirant, so all we have to do was go and pay with a check management or certified check.

Here comes the third handy tip.

Prior ordering the check, ask for IOM’s identification number and proper name to be printed on the check. Here in Venezuela exist bunches of restrictions when issuing those type of payments and the bank’s branch office manager will going to request it from you.
Finally, I head up to the IOM offices in “La Castellana” (here in Caracas) with almost no clue where the offices is and it was a hell of a midday walk. The address here in Caracas is “Residence Ana Luisa, Transversal Av. between Mohedano and Eugenio Mendoza Av. La Castellana” (here is the map to get there from the subway station).

For those living in Venezuela and willing to buy their tickets with the IOM I can tell you, is not nearby the subway station and the residence name is almost hidden (that’s why I pinpoint it on maps).

Here comes the fourth and fifth handy tip (only if you are in Venezuela).

Nobody knows the Transversal St, don’t bother to ask. All you need to do is walk (or drive) to the Mohedano Av. And head up four to five blocks then right... you should be able to see at the right side a sign saying the name of the street named “Transversal”, turn right, third house from the corner. Green and black from, the other near house is named “Emma”. If you want to walk or drive the Eugenio Mendoza Av is kind of the same thing... Turn left instead three blocks after the McDonalds.

The residence is four town houses... All of them named “Ana Luisa” but in the door bell button there is a nearly visible sticker (top left button) saying “OIM” (Spanish spelling for IOM). Once pressed it will be matter of seconds to pay and go wait your e-ticket.

Well... That’s all for now.
Cheers and till next time.

Vaccines ready.

I just had post this earlier, but rushing around to get the money, get things done before departing and working is kind of a pain at the moment :P

Anyway, shortly after getting the grant, my wife and I went to the sanity department to get shotted with the yellow fever vaccine and it was pretty much easy. Well, to be honest I was the only one receiving shots cause my wife had to donate blood to my godmother, meanwhile I got a very sore arm for a couple of days; not because of the yellow fever, I got 4 other shots (those were the just in case... you never know...)

So what? What’s the point with this post? Oh, you got to remember to get this vaccine 40 days prior travelling, got it remembered today be the airfare seller by saying “if you do not have the yellow card (the international vaccine history card) you will have to wait in quarantine in Auckland, New Zealand till Oz is pretty much sure you don’t have it, ok?”

Even though I got shotted, my history board isn’t yellow... So I have to go back to sanity dept and ask for the international one, already called and is pretty much simple, all you got to do is take your white card, go to sanity dept and ask for the international card, within some minutes you will be done and ready. Here in Venezuela is pretty much common not provide the yellow card when you get any vaccine, so they are used to being called and asked for the same thing.

Cheers and till next post.