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  • Writer's picturePru Warren

Off We (Sort of) Go!

I wrote this on Oct. 10:

Journey with me, my friend, through the tangled maze of bureaucracy! Here's the deal:

I'm supposed to begin the Lindblad/Nat Geo cruise to Patagonia and Antarctica on Nov. 4. The nation of Chile has been frowning over this (and, to be fair, over ALL cruise ships leaving for Antartica) because who wants a bunch of Americans--a percentage of whom are determined to avoid vaccines--stomping around their nation lugging large parkas, wondering where to get the best empanadas, and possibly sneezing on the locals, right?

So on Oct. 1, Chile laid out its invitation mat. All Antarctic passengers expecting to leave from (or return to) Chile needed to apply for a "mobility pass." What's that, you ask? It's a form that requires passengers to fill in all the regular passport info plus all the vaccination info--what kind, what date, what batch, how many, where you got it. I fill it out and then Chile verifies my information with the US State Department (for the passport stuff) and the CDC (for the COVID vaccination stuff).

Pretty sure the State Department has people sitting around waiting for nations to ask if an American is really an American (they've all got their suit jackets draped over the backs of their chairs and are discussing where to go to lunch in my imagination), but does the CDC really have someone to verify that I got my second dose in Tyson's Corner? In my mind, the CDC is staffed by Dr. Fauci (too busy reassuring the nation's various talk show hosts that the vaccines ARE a good idea) and then lots of biology majors who look startled and alarmed every time that damned phone rings again.

Never mind; let's assume the CDC is up for a sudden barrage of questions in Spanish. Chile, in a hopeful attempt to ensure that the information is current, says that I can't apply for my mobility pass until I'm within 45 days of my trip. Since my boat pushes back from the dock on Nov. 4, we're good there. Proceed, señor, with your paperwork.

However, Chile asks for 30 WORKING days to process the application. Thirty working days from Oct. 1 (when they issued the requirement) is Nov. 11--seven days AFTER my ship sets sail. And I didn't get my application in until Oct. 2.

So here I am. Just waiting. The cruise is on--but it's anyone's guess as to whether I will be onboard when they depart.

And--I'm afraid to ask--what about Argentina? The cruise leaves from Chile, but it gets back to Argentina. Is Argentina likely to accept Chile's mobility pass, or are they more inclined to ask for some requirements of their own? Will I be circling offshore while dock masters in Ushuaia wave us off? Not yet, gringos. Get back. Wait until the paperwork comes through.

Ah, the splendid tranquility of an Antarctic expedition!

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