Posts Tagged ‘passport’

Living abroad: is it worth it?

When I first set out over 6 years ago, I would have said, “Yes, absolultely.”

This may be a bit dark and introspective, but if you have been thinking about moving abroad, please do read it and try to absorb what I say.

I was so hungry to get out of Homelandistan that I was blinded by the adventure, blind to the long-term consequences, blind to the difficulty and stumbling blocks, not just those newbies run into but those that continue to plague seasoned pros.

Maybe age changes things, maybe experience changes things, maybe wisdom changes things. At least your perspectives change. After a good heart-to-heart with BeelzeBob, who is also planning on returning to Homelandistan, as well as an excellent long conversation with SwingdanceBob in Uruguay, I think I have a good deal of it figured out, and this here is an effort to not only get my own thoughts in order but to share with others in the hopes that you may avoid the pitfalls.

SwingdanceBob was upset when I started this blog: “Everyone who starts a blog on Uruguay ends up leaving.” I called bullshit on that at the time, but SwingdanceBob was right.

It’s not just BeelzeBob pulling the ripcord. CaliforniaBob, DiverBob, ExFedBob, MexicanBob, BrazilianBob, GermanBob, and I am definitely forgetting a few other Bobs, have left already or are getting ready to leave Uruguay for greener pastures, most of them on their ways back to their Homelandistans. There are a few holdouts, but the numbers are dwindling. The Sociedad Southrun board which once thrived is now a mere husk of its former self with little, if any, activity. There are new arrivals but not nearly the way it was 6 years ago when the “first wave” seemed to be hitting (which also held, in my opinion, the best of the best and most adventurous souls that could be found).

Moving abroad will change you. It will stress you to your breaking point, test your resolve, change your opinions of people and places and things in deep, fundamental ways. It will change you as a person. I am not the same person I was a year ago, not the same person I was 5 years ago. And as you change, you likely will come to a point where you no longer want to deal with the pitfalls of living abroad and crave the simplicity and familiarity of your particular Homelandistan, despite its warts and its wrinkles. It sucks, for sure, but everywhere else sucks worse.

Perhaps, like me, you were so hungry to leave Homelandistan that you failed to cultivate or maintain friendships there, and when you return you find yourself a stranger in a strange land, with nobody to call, no shoulders to cry on, no moral support, etc. You will distance yourself from your family. They think you are crazy anyways for wanting to move abroad but once you actually take the step, it’s like a cutoff in their minds. You’re out of sight, out of mind. These are just a couple of the major pitfalls that nobody ever tells you about when they regale you with tales of the sugarplum fairies dancing on the other side of the border.

Moving abroad will stress and most likely destroy your spousal relationship as well. Call me a naysayer, but even if all things are going generally well for both parties, your paths and motivations for living abroad will eventually diverge, and the atmosphere will become toxic as those paths tug you apart. Once again, nobody tells you this stuff when you are signing up. It’s happened to countless relationships I have watched, and it happened to mine despite leaving the dark realm of Uruguay for the promised land of Chile. ExWifeBob and I have no ill will towards each other, and I still have great relations with her family, but time and stress have set us in opposite directions.

Probably the only relationships that will survive life abroad are those where the assignment is temporary. The having of the things, and the building of the nest, and the maintenance of owning an empire spread among many foreign lands are just a few aspects of what drives the couple in different paths. Not to mention those with children. Even the staunchest couples I have seen where both arrive with stars in their eyes and everything in alignment, I’ve watched the spark wither and die countless times. It’s not just Uruguay, it’s everywhere. Maybe there is something to settling down at home and having a simple life; it never sounds like it will suit me but then I look at the disaster trail behind me and wonder why I just didn’t plug myself back into the matrix.

When I set about my great South American adventure, I spoke a handful of horrible Spanish. Dunked into the flow of things, I had to swim or sink, and now after 6 years of it, I am pretty well fluent in the language. Learning this skill is one thing I do not regret, but listen to me please when I say this: It does not make things much easier. Anyone ought to think it should, but it doesn’t work that way. You will understand every word that is written or said, but you still will not understand the lack of logic behind you not being able to get done what needs to get done. And it will not stop the culture from ripping you off and raping you every time you take your eye off of it. Scumbags are scumbags because they lie, in any language.

South America, all of it, is the way it is for a reason. It is not for lack of foreign influence, it is not for lack of access to people or services or things. It is the way it is because of stubborn culture, ingrained (encouraged!) ignorance, and government interference with any and all things wonderful and efficient. When you get drafted for your adventure, you will show up thinking that there is opportunity at every turn, and why the hell hasn’t anyone done this yet? The simple answer: they have, and they failed miserably, not due to lack of trying but due to the locals mandating their failure. Every bright idea you have in South America is just the dying ember of someone else’s broken dream, and once you start digging you will find the buried bones of all those old ideas under the foundation of everything. No, you will not get ahead by holding the torch of reason high for all to see. That will just make it easier for them to come after you with their pitchforks and tear you down. The torch of reason makes them angry, actually. Like kicking a bee hive. Reason and logic are the Frankenstein Monster of South America.

So you left Homelandistan because you felt you didn’t belong. Now you are leaving SouthAmeristan because you don’t belong, and when you return to Homelandistan, you still find you do not belong because your old friends and family have stayed the same, and have not evolved to match you, you are extra alien, and nothing fits into place. The locals are ignorant and just as lacking as before, maybe even moreso. Because you are a citizen of the world, you are now triple-homeless. What to do? I don’t know the answer. Maybe I’ll go back to being a boat hippie. Maybe I’ll be so enamored with Asia (leaving tomorrow) that I’ll just repeat the same idiot behavior and head straight into the local Expat Draft Office…

As fucked up as it is, Homelandistan is still home, we have to face that. As much as I hate Big Brother, I love Big Brother. I am Winston Smith. This painful reality is sinking in. I struggle a great deal with the moral implications of this, because I find supporting the empire to be morally revolting, what with the rampant killing of foreigners, locals, and policesurveillancestateification of everything.

Some say hunker down and fight the system, some say walk away, some say quietly prepare for the worst… what do you do when all the trends point to shit? Can you do more for you and yours by staying in a place where you can be most efficient, most successful, and most able to make quick changes if things get ugly? Can you do more by bowing out and not feeding the beast? I certainly can’t do enough by being in South America. But I am starting to feel like I need to be where I can do the best for myself, because that is the best for the rest, my tide will lift all the boats, and I can only do that if I settle back in Homelandistan for a while, keep my head down, minimize my taxes as much as I can, all while eyeing the exit.

What I do know, and one thing BeelzeBob mentioned to me while discussing this matter, and another thing that nobody tells you when you sign up, is that we end up having more in common with our expat friends than anyone else anymore, and we have to stick together despite how far apart we are. It’s a strange patchwork adopted family.

So, living abroad, is it worth it, now? No.

I’m poorer for it, poorer in friends and family, lacking a true home, and I have passed up countless opportunities over the years chasing after bullshit in the third world. Sure I learned a foreign language in several local dialects but I could have done that for a few hours a week in a community college. Yes, a few investments in the third world panned out nicely but nowhere near what I could have made, had I simply stayed home. And had I not incurred the expenses of living in pricy places abroad, getting ripped off by locals, etc, I could have just bought a second passport. As it stands the Uruguay passport is still a “who-knows?” situation after another year of pestering and trying and, literally, 12+ kilograms of papers submitted. Yes, I weighed them.

I could have also gotten and maintained my foreign residencies and still lived in Homelandistan, vacationing once in a while in those places instead of living there. That would have been smarter. Even though I have no passports to these places, I can still head back to them and stay as long as I want if need be. That’s a pretty good plan B, your choice of 3 countries not to mention their trade partners.

Do I regret it? To be honest, sometimes yes, sometimes no. I am a firm believer that you should regret things you haven’t done, not ones you have, but then what grand things could I have done had I stayed? There have been lots of things I have wanted to do, which I couldn’t because I was stuck chasing papers in some asshole bureaucrat’s office, doing some moron’s job for them, or generally herding cats in the third world.

As I write this, I am getting my bags packed to travel Asia for 6 weeks, and I found out last night that the guy I trusted to finish the renovations on my apartment in Santiago has not shown up for a couple of weeks and I am probably going to return “home” to the same half-finished wreck of a place I left two months ago. What a nice thing to think about while you’re trying to relax on the other side of the earth… where you will be on a boat with no internet and no telephone for another 3 weeks…

My advice: stay put, keep your powder dry, cultivate your friendships, build your adopted family. Work hard in your Homelandistan where you know the lay of the land and the locals are less likely to fuck you, live within or below your means, save aggressively, but be ready to hit the road if you absolutely have to. Learn to sail and navigate, and you can go anywhere in the world. Just don’t give up your homeland opportunities at the expense of that shiny El Dorado hiding just behind the next hill.

Friends of mine finally got their Uruguayan passports. Well, I should say, “Friends (plural) of mine finally got their passport (singular).”

They are a married couple, and the wife was denied because she did not have her own separate bank account with records going back the requisite 3 years. The husband did get his, but what good is it if UY is splitting up expat couples 50/50? How counterintuitive can they possibly make it?

Citizenship, with a heaping side of Fuck You.

Just imagine how much the rules will change in the next 3 years. Ahhhhh, government customer-service in Uruguay. It gives me such warm, fond memories.

She writes, “For me, the whole horror of it all continues… Just be advised that the rules changed in mid stream and I now need additional papers that were not required before.  Women should note that you need your own title to your bank account or some similar group membership in which you can show specific dates of membership for the full 3 years required.  Joint membership does not cover it.”

They wear their smiley faces but their body language is not in sync with smiley faces, and the thoughts behind their eyes are compatible with neither smiley faces nor their body language. They are like Mormons or Canadians; they smile too much and stare through you with their x-ray vision instead of making eye contact.

In short, it’s f’ing creepy.

They come outside and politely inform the people standing in a loose-knit semiorderly mob to go and please stand in the official cues designated at the right. You know that if people even lagged a moment the guy would not hesitate to put on his ugly face and mow us down with machine gun fire.

I am standing in the non-visa line, and ItchyTriggerFingerBob asks me if I am American. Yes, I say. Come on in, he says, and waves me in VIP style. VIP entrance to the TSA-like screening chamber. VIP feeling crushed instantly.

You cannot take your stuff in with you, other than a wallet and any papers you might have. Cel phones are a no-no.

On the forms I am filling out for these new passport pages, there are required fields for this-and-that, and WindowLady asks me why I didn’t fill in the space for WifeBob’s phone number. We need this filled in, or it’s off to the gas chambers for you. It’s in my cel phone, I tell her, and you forbid that. So make something up because it’s just as good as my senile memory. Some fine print somewhere says I’ll be prosecuted for perjury or somesuch if I fail to report information 100% accurate. Ah well, it was a good run.

They also need WifeBob’s Social Security Number, which is hell-if-I-know. WindowLady seems surprised that I fail to give a shit about memorizing WifeBob’s SS number. “I would have been able to call her, but…”

No smile. Not funny, apparently. To her.

Add that one to the perjury list. Don’t you people have that in your magical database? Oh, yes, they do. Why is it on the form then? Oh, yeah, the perjury bait. Hmm…

So then WindowLady tries talking us into getting new passports. You can save money if you don’t need them in the next few weeks, just go ahead and order new ones, and they come with 52 pages. That way you don’t need to bother with new pages in your old passports. Well, I don’t want to be microchipped, thank you. Not that I am not already in umpteen databases as a bastion of misanthropic, anarchistic sarcasm. But leave me this one tiny splinter of choice and freedom, please.

“I like my old passport and I want to keep using it.” WindowLady thinks it is odd. There is probably a new database entry in the troublemaker file after that. This one resists the chip. Winston Smith will make me an unperson soon.

She also seems surprised that we are residents, have been for some time, and we never registered ourselves. “Why haven’t you registered with us?”

None of the responses my brain comes up with will end without me being taken into custody, so I shrug and say nothing.

I am informed to come back after 11, so I come back at 12:30. Consular section is now closed. For siesta. You have got to be f’ing kidding me. This is American soil, and you dare defile it with the brainrot concept of siesta??? “Come back at 2, they will be open again.”

So I go outside and take a nap for an hour and a half. Perfect day for a nap.

New lines. New scary guy with itchy trigger finger. Same smiley faces but this time more intense. The security people are so tightly wound, it’s disturbing. I wonder what being on a hair trigger while trying to maintain a happy public face does to the psyche over long periods of time. Each one has his own strict protocol and he’s watching all his buddies for the littlest twitch of strange behavior, lest he be some sort of terrorist-in-disguise. They are positively schizophrenic and the vibe is totally not groovy.

At the second security checkpoint a woman guard who I have not seen before asks me if I was there earlier. “Yes,” I say. “Why?” she asks. “Here to pick up my passports.” Creepy…

“Go ahead,” she directs. I go to the heavy inner blast door which takes about all my ogre strength to pull open, and it won’t open. In a nervous tone, she tells me, “You can’t go in there yet, it’s been locked by a Marine.”

Then why did you tell me to go ahead? Is there some weird protocol I am supposed to know about Marines and their door-locking habits? Is there some Jar-head with veins popping out of his neck all freaked out because I tried to enter the door he locked? Why even mention Marines? Why tell me to try to open a locked door? I am confused, and she looks nervous now. Great.

Do they do this little psychological thriller crap to people to see if they suddenly break out in a cold sweat, shout Allah Akhbar, and pull the ripcord that reveals their dynamite vest so that all present have an opportunity to scream for a scant few seconds before the thing blows? It’s like they have been thinking about it so much for so long that they actually want it to happen, so that they can relax knowing that their mental preparations weren’t a waste. Like sugarplums dancing in their heads, they have visions of wild-eyed Arabs shaking AK-47s in upraised arms, standing atop a hill of skulls and shouting Lakalakalaka! Derka Derka! and they can’t wait to mow them all down with shock, awe, and hellfire. If only the bastards would show up…

BZZZZT the door unlatches and I can now go through. I go back in and WindowLady gives me the obesely modified passports. Quick and efficient, and now $164 in the hole (fees they don’t advertise on the consular website. And they supply a phone number that dials in to a constant busy signal, so you can call in for information about it and not get any).

I wasted no time leaving; I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

In order to obtain ones’ passport, one must first get a “Certificado de Buena Conducta” (good conduct certificate, or police record).

According to this source, “prostitutes are not issued certificates of good conduct even if they are no longer working as prostitutes, and despite the fact that prostitution is legal in Uruguay.”

As a result, prostitutes in Uruguay cannot get passports.

Maybe that’s a good thing for the rest of the world. If hookers here treat their work the way most Uruguayos treat their work, I’d probably be so turned off by the transaction that I’d never touch poontang ever, ever again.

Thanks to SwingDanceBob for this little gem of wholesomeness.

Since our not-wonderful experience with the judge, I have been having horrid dreams and angry fixations when I am awake.

The dream is a recurring one, and happens several times per night. We are on a boat, sailing somewhere mid-ocean, and things slowly start going wrong. Mechanical failures happen and the boat begins taking on water. Conditions are not bad on the sea, but the dire situation with a sinking boat is not good, and there is no help to be found. Despite all the technical and mechanical knowhow and raw brute force salty pirate stuff, the boat continues to fall apart and sink, literally dissolving in the water. Why didn’t we know the boat was water-soluble? Why were we not informed?

Somehow I run to shore and now I am in the neighborhood where I grew up. It is night and nobody is around, yet for some reason I am compelled to hide beneath the evergreen tree next to the Bradford’s house in the cul-de-sac near Mom’s place. As I am waiting under the tree for whatever-it-is to pass so I don’t need to hide, I notice spiderwebs. The silky funnel kind. Everywhere. Now I am not an arachnophobe when I am awake but for some reason these spider webs scare me. The more I look around, the more I see them, and it seems the more the tree is absolutely infested with these funnel web spider nests. Now spiders start to come out of them, and I have to cower beneath the tree to avoid getting spiders and webs on me. I start to crawl out from under the tree but more spiders and webs block the way. And as I turn, what was once a clear pathway out from under the tree is now blocked by more and more spiders. I am trapped. They are not attacking me but I need to get away from them. As I squirm through ever-tightening spider web gunk and bat spiders out of my way, I make my way more out from under the tree. Once I get out, I see that the entire lawn is covered with more of these spider nests, and they are spreading all over the neighborhood.

The past few days I have had this grinding obsession in my head to take revenge, but against who? Against what? You cannot fight an ideology. Discussing the situation with a few people, it has come to my opinion that the lack of initiative by bureaucrats, workers, and everyone in Uruguay in general, is spreading…

A friend of mine was in O’Hare airport when President Obama’s election victory was announced. Suddenly all the cops, security guards, gate agents, any worker of any kind who was black, stopped working. Sure, let them celebrate for a few minutes if they are happy, but the work stoppage wasn’t just a short celebratory hurrah. It lasted for a long time. The airport came to a grinding halt. What, now that you have a black president, you don’t have to work anymore? Off came the uniforms, on went the Obama shirts. Workplace etiquette was thrown out the window.

You’re going to get your cut from Obama’s Stash? Obama Money?

The same thing is happening here. Since Mujica, the Tupamaros, and the other Frentistas have been in power for 8 years, the people just don’t feel like they need to work. And, indeed, they don’t. ChefBob, who works at a local restaurant, earns a local salary. Because of his children, he is “entitled” to a certain amount of government benefits. If he doesn’t work, that is. ChefBob did the math, and figured out that he would make more money sucking the tit of the state than keeping his job. Fortunately he earns off-the-books tips, and the restaurant pays him more than his on-the-books salary in order for both to save on taxes. Most employees have similar arrangements. Uruguay runs on Mujica’s Stash. Mujica Money.

The rule of law has been eroded down and now judges rule by subjective means. The punishment for criminal acts has been reduced by Mujica and friends, and gee, who’da thunk it, crime is on a rampage. Uruguay has become a Banana Republic, as GermanBob is fond of saying.

And, if they are turning away creative, intelligent people with means, their fate is sealed. The next step is to hang the iron curtain. Uruguay already has that, in a way, with their xenophobic attitudes and self-imposed embargo on the rest of the world. No, they certainly do not like change or difference, but they are going to need it, and they are going to get it good and hard in a way they cannot control or forsee if they continue down the road they are going in.

Uruguay has made it abundantly clear to us that we cannot become citizens as productive, independent people.

We met with a judge today at the Electoral Court, which deals with citizenship requests. We were accompanied by a representative from our lawyer’s firm. He arrived late, with no papers from our file, did not brief us on what was going to happen, left us hanging high and dry at the interview, and then offered no suggestions or solutions after the unmitigated disaster which unfolded. I’ll get into all that in detail.

The meeting with the judge started off pleasant enough. She was smiling and friendly. She asked us a few questions about our income and what we do, which we answered honestly. It was never about amounts, only where it comes from and how it works. I receive mine from royalties on art and books, and residual website subscription revenues. WifeBob recently sold her business so she is an official bum until she figures out her next gig.

The fact that my income is globalized and not Uruguay-centric bothered the judge and pretty much disqualified us right there. She was further bothered that I sell to the whole world at large, that I am the boss, and that I don’t answer to anyone as an employee. “You don’t have a studio here in Uruguay? You don’t work for anyone here?” she asked. No, you see, I don’t need to. We have this thing called the Internet. And I’ve been pulling residual income from it since 1994. That was 18 years ago. This is 2012.

“You don’t have a job here in Uruguay?”

“No.” A Uruguayan job would net me $100 per week, which is less than the $500 per month amount you require of your foreign residents. Why would I take a HUGE pay cut and then break the requirements? People like me do not work for other people. Other people work for people like me. Where do you think jobs come from? Of course I am not saying this to her, or I’d have Vince and Vinny throwing me out on the sidewalk. But damn it would feel good.

“Well, some people are not as fortunate as you.” SHE actually says this. I swallow my fury and think: Then maybe they should try harder! I did. And here we are. The internet lets you do this sort of thing. Don’t you want wealth and intelligence in your country?

“Do you have a bank account here?” she asks. Yes. “Well, that won’t help.” Then why did you ask?

I say: “We have records of deposits, withdrawals, bank wires which had to originate here and be initiated personally.”

“No, that won’t help.” (which we would later find is total BS, because other offices who conduct these interviews have this specifically on their checklist of things to prove “habitual residency”)

I say: “We own property, which we have not rented because we have been living in it. We recently built a house. We have every receipt of our bills which I have paid for years.”

“Yes, but you can get anyone to do that for you. You don’t have to be here for that. People like you have the luxury of being able to get people to do things for you.” Yeah. Isn’t that what you are looking for? People to employ your entire culture as underlings? Make up your fucking mind.

Which reminds me that I have years of legal paperwork, all taken care of via power-of-attorney, for the mired disaster that was my attempt to import a motorcycle. It’s been locked up in an Aduanas warehouse for 2 years now. But that doesn’t count, because I was employing an attorney to deal with it in my stead because I had better things to do. Adding to the economy, while adding to the economy. That’s bad here, apparently. That paperwork won’t count either.

“I have a truck, and insurance, receipts for gas…”

“No.” As if I would buy a truck at twice the world market price in order to pay someone to burn fuel with it at $7 per gallon… in addition to tolls…

“We have BPS receipts for payment on rural land.” Nope, not good enough.

Then we go to the information that will trump anything: “We have immigration records and passport stamps that place us here.”

And then the kick to the nuts: Not good enough. WHAT?!?!?!

“You need to prove that you have been living here.” What? We have been. We have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars here, renovated houses, built new houses, I built a boat in my garage last winter…

“You should have paid taxes on your boat, then you would have a record,” she says. I about blew my fucking lid but I kept it swallowed down enough to not become redfaced and scary.

“So there is nothing we can do?” we ask, completely depressed and dejected.

“Have you been to the hospital?” she asks. No. We are in good health. “No insurance?” No. I have only had to go to the doctor once for a general checkup, done a few labs myself (because I’m smart and keep tabs on things) and paid all out-of-pocket.

Well, that won’t work for you either then.

“Well then what *can* we do?” we asked her, out of ideas.

“Join a club. Then come back in 3 years.”

…pardon me but what the f’ing FF FFFFFF? All this complete distrust in 100% verifiable legitimate records, and joining a club will trump it all? We can join a club and then never show up. What good is that?????

In the end, what went down is that because we have the ability to freely come and go, and the wealth to hire underlings to do our bidding, we cannot possibly prove in any way, shape, or form, that we really live here. Had we been pobrecitos sucking the state’s tit for welfare money, or minimum wage drones, we’d be in like flint.

Join a club. Fuck you. No, really. FUCK YOU.

So we left. Lawyer-boy offers no help and no solutions, looks me straight in the eye, and says:

“I think it is hopeless.”

Then has the gall to tell me, “Email me about what happened today and I’ll see if I can figure any other ways.” What? Me email you? If I have to keep tabs on my own shit, and work for YOU, then YOU need to be paying ME, bitch. How about YOU go do YOUR job, and find a way to fix this disaster.

I told him some very frank things, about the firm and its mishandling of things in the past. When we first applied for residency, our file was trashed because of a typo in the forms which they should have caught but didn’t, which held our file back, which made it take 18 months instead of 6. Then we were held back at the end while Migraciones tried to extort us for extra fees and “backtaxes” which weren’t on the agenda nor list of requirements when we applied.

Then as soon as we received our legal residency, I inquired SPECIFICALLY about this sort of thing (see Exhibit A)

THEN, had they been keeping track of our file, they SHOULD have contacted us 18 months ago when we turned out to be eligible (3 years from application of permanent residency) instead of the 3 years from receipt of legal residency which is the “other official answer”. And THEN they should have revisited this little gem below, and gotten our shit rolling so that we would already be 18 months toward getting our passport for the second fucking time, which would have made the whole situation slightly less painful.

Let me offer a key piece of evidence from the past…

Exhibit A:

30 April, 2009 (when we received our legal residency status)

Lawyer wrote:
So, when the time comes, we´ll review your situation with you, to see what elements you need to add, to prove “habitual residence” which is what the Constitution requires to grant citizenship.

I wrote:
This sounds somewhat scary– 3 to 4 years from now is no time to find out that we should have been saving some asinine slips of paper, should have made sure to get something registered, stamped, etc. I want to know NOW what I need to be doing NOW, in order to be able to prove my habitual residence when the time comes to do it, not to collect things at the last minute only to find out that I should have done it years ago. If they can be “added” to “prove habitual residence” then let’s bloody add them and start a paper trail that the gnocchis can go after with their precious rubber stamps.

Our goal is to become passport-holding citizens.

===end of Exhibit A.

If that’s not irony, I don’t know what is. I never received a response. Surprise surprise.

I’m twisting the huge fucking knife in my back.

Now I am fantasizing about selling everything here (to the Argies!) in order to fund the construction of an unstoppable death machine which I will steamroll through the capital, blasting it into a smoldering wasteland of rubble and corpses.

The final word: what we are left with here is that we are now more confused after going to the interview with the judge than before we arrived. We don’t know what they want, and it seems that they do not know either. What we DO know is that they do not want wealthy, independent, productive people with the means to make things happen.

So many times I would have thrown in the towel and gone back to greener pastures if it were not for that light at the end of the tunnel which was the second passport. I have thrown away opportunity after opportunity whiling away the time in this communist backwater battling bureaucrats when I could have been building even more businesses and employing even more people, adding even more value to the world and innovating and creating even more new technologies.

We have wasted 4 years of our life chasing a lie.