I started traveling when I was very young yet, it took me a while to realize how hard it is for people like me to do so. If you are a citizen of Mozambique, like me, or most other non-western country, getting a visa is one of the key hurdles you will face when attempting to discover this planet.
I’ve grown accustomed to the process of getting a visa, and I’m even ok with the thought “I wish to enter somebody’s home therefore, I have to abide by their terms to do so”. Yet even after all these years, this process still makes me feel like an unwanted guest and a bit worn out:
- flight tickets and hotels that you have to book before your application is accepted;
- income statements that show you have X amount of money for each day abroad;
- education certificates and employment contracts that show that you have an occupation on your place of residence;
- an interview with officers to confirm everything checks out;
- official invitation for the event you are attending;
- non-refundable fees and hours spent in queues;
- the anxiety that comes from wishing your visa application is successful;
- the anxiety when the border official takes 15+ minutes to review your passport.
I know a handful of people that limit their visits to certain countries strictly to business trips because they wish to avoid the stress that this process causes.
But to be honest, I am an anomaly, at least I get to travel. I have the good fortune of even getting visa applications accepted, and having the possibility to live abroad. Most people don’t, some of them living in dire conditions. Traveling the world is a pleasure that is only available to the elites of the world. Our privilege comes from our passport, our skills or our wealth. Occasionally I wonder if we are living inside the script of District 9 and Elysium.
I used to be bothered about these things. Today I’m not. Today, I refuse to allow a random coincidence – where I was born – to dictate my happiness. Today, technology gives me the ability to learn, to express myself, and to be in contact with people I care about, wherever. Today that is all that matters.
Not everyone has this privilege, but technology is helping to narrow the gap of access to education, health and tools world-wide, and that gives me hope. Hope for a better world, for a better humanity.