Attention all travelers from the USA: If you're going to Brazil, YOU NEED A VISA. I repeat, YOU NEED A VISA. Sometimes no one will tell you this until you arrive at the airport the morning of your flight with all of your things ready to go. Then you'll be stuck in Chile.
I spent the better part of yesterday running around in consulates and embassies, trying to get an emergency visa to Brazil, which doesn't exist for Americans. (I listened to quite a few spiels about how Americans are assholes and won't let Brazilians into the US without a forty-day visa application requirement, so a seven-day one for Americans isn't all that bad...) I went against my moral code and did the whole "cry to get your way" thing (at the advice of Rossanna), and it failed. I talked to airlines trying to switch tickets that I now can't use, but it wound up costing more to switch them than to buy new ones.
How/why this happened:
• First and foremost, I was an idiot and didn’t check to see if I needed a visa to get to Brazil. But there are reasons for that, too. For example, in every country I’ve ever traveled to, the passport stamp comes with a ninety-day tourist visa. Also, getting a visa isn’t something I’ve ever had to deal with before, and it honestly just never crossed my mind that there may have been extra steps I had to take to get into another country.
• I bought my tickets in Chile, so, even though the airline knew I was American (I needed to input my passport information to book my flight) they didn’t send information about important documents that they would have sent had I booked my flight in the States. The airline representatives to whom I spoke were all pretty surprised that the information was never sent…
• Chileans don’t need visas to get into Peru, so my academic directors, who would normally check up on every detail of our travel plans (and they really did check up on everything else; they were wonderful) didn’t know that Americans did.
Luckily, I'm not the only one from my program who is stuck in-country for a few more days. Kim, Ana, and Lizzie are all here for various reasons (Ana is the only one here by choice) so we're all able to hang out around Santiago for the next few days. The new plan is that I will leave for Peru on Monday, get there a few days early, and hang out with my friends Ana (different Ana) and Jed in Lima for a few days before heading to Lake Titicaca on the 16th as originally planned.
I'm trying to focus on the silver lining, (I have a few more days with Mercedes and my friends, I get to go to Peru earlier than I had hoped, I was able to help some Swiss people at the American embassy when they couldn't speak Spanish...) but it's hard. I'm really bummed that I never got to meet my family (although they understand completely, and are planning a trip to New York next year--so I will meet them eventually) and I'm upset that I never got to Brazil, where I've been wanting to travel for a long time. Mostly, I'm upset because this really is all my fault, and if I had just been more thorough with my planning, I'd be in Brazil right now.