There are different ways to travel on my planet: one is through official channels, this is the most expeditious, the passport in this case is red, just by chance. Another is scientific or cultural exchanges. This is currently the most common way, given the great number of artists and scientists who travel, and the passport is blue. Another, the most hazardous, is the personal, the most difficult and expensive. Perhaps there is another but I swear I know nothing about it.

I want to talk to you about cultural exchange, because as an independent artist, this is the one I’ve used the most. For this, the first thing is to find an institution dedicated to art or related and get an invitation, addressed to you and sent to the agency that represents you, where it specifies that you are invited and they will assume all the cost incurred, including a round-trip ticket. So begins the journey.

On receipt of this letter of invitation you must go to the institution to which you belong to complete the rest of the requirements: The consent of the institution, accompanied by a passport (if you have a current one), photos, stamps, effective for the paperwork etcetera, and most effective, cash for what you need to do. Once approved, you will go to the next in the chain of command where you will also must be authorized by the director of that institution. If you are a plastic artist, or artisan-artist, you will also have to pass through the Ministry of Culture. Once you are found to be in conformance with them, you take your papers to Immigration which has the final word regarding whether or not you will fly. If you are accepted, your application will now take the same route, but in reverse. Once you’re back to where it all started, they will contact you by telephone to tell you that your request is now pending approval from the country you plan to travel to.

Then, you should take a deep breath, if you are a believer you should pray and pay attention to your purse to cover the cost of the visa and the airport exit fee. These are, irremediably, in hard currency. Of course maybe you will be lucky and can get some pocket money, in case you have any little problems. You will travel nervous and scared, because you know you don’t have so much as one peso for anything extra. Once the ship ascends to the heavens, and you see the clouds out the window, you will know with certainty that after three months of procedures and paperwork you are finally travelling.

March 13 2011

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