Well, the boys are safe in an Airport hotel in Melbourne. Getting them there has been well, shall we say rather like Sleepless in Seattle only not involving Seattle, or RomComs or large cities. Actually I suspect it'd take a fair amount of effort to get as far away as Flinders Island from Seattle with our 0.6 people per square km and gum trees and wallabies... but the sleepless part is about spot on.
You see we asked the boys to drop us an SMS to say safely ready to board. A simple cheap excercise... we were worried because James had a late Maths exam, and had to fly on a later plane to Johannesburg giving him very little time to check in and board. And Paddy had his cell-phone stolen a few weeks ago. I hate close run things, especially with ropey communication. So - figuring they couldn't call before 3AM we went to bed around 10 ish. Me- I wake and look at the clock, and a tissue I put on the table obscures the 3 of 23.57... so I wake up. See the time. Go check my computer. Put more wood on the fire in slow combustion heater. go back to bed... not sleeping. 3.30 AM get up. Check computer -find Paddy tried to skype at 1. What do I do about Visa?
Now Australia in its wisdom issues a small (very small) number of visas to people of creative and intellectual and sporting ability that they think will add avalue to their country. It's a clever policy and one other countries might start taking exception to. Ok, every now and again even clever ideas may be applied less-than-cleverly because we were granted one of these. (They're unusual to the point that the very large bank in Hobart had never heard of them, and very politely asked us to wait while they checked... and came back and were very nice to us. The same was repeated when we registered for tax and medicare - "I've never seen one of these," telephone...) It's a generous visa allowing 5 years of unlimited entry for me, B and and our two boys despite their being over 18. And here is the real kicker - it's a label-free visa. It does not appear on your passport - your passport number is linked to it and the immigration guys scans it gives you a smile and say "welcome to Australia."
Which means, de facto, that the source country doesn't actually know you've been poached... and some can be nasty, and I think it is merely a matter of time before South Africa - bleeding skills and education fleeing its corruption and crime - starts to get nasty too (easier than fixing the problem, persecute the symptoms...)
There is just ONE downside. The airlines don't like transporting people back because they don't have visas. And they too don't know much about visa class 124. So they ask for your ticket and passport at check in... and check to see if you have a valid visa.
I of course (when we left SA) had the visa grant letter with me. I still have it in electronic form and of course in several copies on paper.
Oh dear... you see the problem. Anyway, Paddy is a child of infinite-sagacity-and-resource - or at least determination, goes to see the Australian ambassador (I quote - I assume he means the office and consular rep) and gets a clearance (which he is entitled to) and finds out for his brother.
I am sending copies frantically over skype and e-mail and sms. NO REPLY.
Now... somewhere in all this the geniuses (and they are, both of them) decide that an e-mail to their mum's gmail account will do just fine. Why SMS and wake us...
My sister Skyped me at about 5 AM to say she'd heard a few hours earlier that they were going through passport control... at which point my knotted stomach untangles a little... not enough to sleep, but I had bath and made porridge.
At about 11.30 this morning B checks her post (on her computer)... 'We're in the departures lounge, no major hassles.'
Anyway... they're in Melbourne, in their hotel.
B flies out tomorrow morning to Launceston for her bone marrow biopsy (which we've been avoiding mentioning because they read the blog sometimes, and well, they were writing exams and could do nothing except worry. And I am doing that well enough for all of us.) And they will find her at Launceston Airport.
Our lives are never just simple.
After a 2 hour sleep my writing has been bloody awful, and I ended up cutting most of it, but the end is louring.