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As we looked at in our last post, Colombia is, from a tourism perspective anyway, ‘the country of the moment’. In the coming months and years it may be about to see unprecedented numbers visiting its shores as word has finally got out of the many natural beauties the place has to offer.

Benbulben, County Sligo, Ireland. From Tourism Ireland.

Beautiful Ireland: It’s not for everybody to see, though. (Photo from Facebook.)

What’s more, for now in any case, it’s rather simple for Western tourists to come here should they wish to. That is to say, there’s no tedious visa application needed if the purpose is solely tourism. Up to 90 days are granted on arrival, which can be extended by a further 90 if you feel the need (you just need to leave the country and come back in again in order to get that extension, something that is generally the case throughout Latin America).

Yet, this relatively relaxed approach is not reciprocated by all the countries who benefit from it here. The obvious one (and most popular for Colombians) is the United States of America. There’s nothing surprising in that, however. US immigration makes it difficult for citizens of most nations to enter its territory. And this is only set to get worse with President Donald J. Trump at the helm. (‘But Señor Trump, aren’t we all immigrants in a sense?’ For more on that topic, see Phantom freedom.)

Those insular, loopy Yanks aside, we Irish, for the nation of migrants that we are, don’t always return a country’s friendly gesture made towards us. Colombians, as well as Ecuadorians, Peruvians and Venezuelans to name just the Latin South American countries, need to apply in advance for a tourist visa to allow them visit our rain-sodden little island. This is in contrast to the Schengen Area of countries on the European mainland which allows Colombians, Peruvians and Venezuelans (but not Ecuadorians and Bolivians for some reason) visa-free access for a minimum of 90 days.

Now assuming, as it seems safe to do so, that visiting ‘the Emerald Isle’ isn’t exactly top priority for most citizens of these countries — the costs involved largely see to that — why do we make it difficult for the few who actually are willing to come? Talk about double standards. (It must be noted here that Ireland did submit a request to participate in Schengen in 2002. This was approved by the Council of the European Union but it has not yet, obviously enough, been put into effect; and the political desire to do so seems lacking right now.)

In such straightened times, you think we’d happily welcome anyone who’s willing to spend their hard-earned money visiting us, giving the economy a little boost in the process. Why be selective on where the paying tourists come from?

Selective, however, is what we are. We have our favourites, to hell with the rest. ‘The land of a thousand welcomes’, for those who fit the bill that is.
Facebook: Wrong Way Corrigan – The Blog & IQuiz “The Bogotá Pub Quiz”.

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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor Irlandés, quien ha estado viviendo en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y cultura, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-colombia-cast.

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    'Cry me a river?' 'Eh, no thanks'

    @wwaycorrigan [Listen to an audio version of this blog entry here.] In the 1972 classic, Godfather, there's an early scene where Don Corleone berates his godson, Johnny Fontaine, for crying because he didn't get a part in a movie. 'Godfather, I don't know what to do', a sobbing Fontaine mutters. Cue a slap in the face and a violent retort, 'You can act like a man', followed by a gentle mocking of his behaviour from the Don. [caption id="attachment_4643" align="aligncenter" width="347"]People who cry regularly get on Wrong Way's nerves. 'Let it all out ...' (Image from emojipedia.org.)[/caption] Crying times That scene is set in the late 1940s, a quite different world from that which we inhabit today, to state the obvious. These days, it's all about being in touch with one's emotions. It's OK to cry, whether you're a man, woman, child or however else you define yourself. Don't suppress your feelings, let it all out. I don't completely disagree with that approach. For one, for the most part, it's good to be honest about how you feel — at least if you're asked that is. What I don't like, what irritates me, is when the waterworks start, especially — although not exclusively — when it's men who are shedding the tears. This is where I side with Don Corleone. It's not that it makes me uncomfortable, it's more a case that I find it hard to take seriously men who cry with regularity. As for women, whether the tears are genuine or not, they often, um, precipitate a granting, justified or not, of whatever they may be looking for. I generally make an exception for death, but even in that there seem to be people who let flow more than really appears "necessary". (Perhaps we could introduce a tear scale. 'Careful now, you're close to your limit.') Bidding adieu to loved ones for an indefinite period of time is another "acceptable" tear-jerker. Alcohol-induced crying is also excepted, meaningless as it often is.

    'When the tears in others come they invoke a negative, cold reaction in me. Rather than wanting to help, I have a desire to walk away.'
    This aversion towards, bordering on utter contempt for crying has something to do with, it's safe to assume, my childhood. I was, after all, a serial crier into my mid-teens. Then, from about 15 onwards, I started to develop a strong dislike when seeing others well up for reasons that I would have considered rather inconsequential. During that time, no doubt having to deal with me, her last born, I recall my mother crying for what seemed like the merest of reasons. It used to get my blood up. Even if I'd been told it was all largely down to the menopause, it's unlikely I would have been sympathetic to her plight. Selfish teens, eh. Dry your eyes, mate This clearly left its mark. For in my current abode, the landlady, a nice woman I hasten to add, cries on an almost-daily basis. It's not only, as has happened a fair few times, a headache when she does it speaking directly to me about some grievance or another (these grievances have nothing to do with me, by the way!). It also irks me simply when I can just hear her sobbing away in her room. I know I should probably be a little more empathetic considering she suffers from depression, it's just when the tears in others come they invoke a negative, somewhat cold reaction in me. Rather than wanting to help I have a desire to walk away. It's not that I lack understanding. In fact, I'd wager I take the time to listen to and empathise with other people's gripes as much if not more so than the next person. I just wish they'd leave the crying out of it. The British-Irish band The Pogues sang in Streams of Whiskey, 'there's nothing ever gained by a wet thing called a tear'. That's not fully true, but I wish it was.   _______________________________________________________________ Listen to Wrong Way's Colombia Cast podcast here. Facebook: Wrong Way Corrigan — The Blog & IQuiz "The Bogotá Pub Quiz".

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  1. Colombia’s foreign press clampdown? | Blogs El Tiempo

    […] What’s more, officialdom here is fully within its rights to change the visa requirements as it sees fit. From an Irish perspective for one, it’s not like we have an open-door policy for the few Colombians who wish to make Ireland their home. […]

  2. Tedious is really the word. Find US$85 in pristine, picture-perfect bills first, not a single scratch on them or you will be turned back. Make an appointment with the Honorary Consulate, pay the fee but send all the (duly translated) supporting documents to Mexico, where the actual Embassy is. DHL of course, because 4-72 is the Bermuda Triangle. Check the list of processed applications every week (!) for 8 to 10 weeks – if approved, go to the Consulate *again* to have the sticker placed on your passport. Would love a proper Irish Consulate in Bogota at least…

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