January 1993, London
Moana and I had decided to start our journey in Guatemala. We hoped to do Spanish lessons in Antigua before heading off to explore the region. In the months leading up to our departure there was something nagging at the back of my mind, that I chose to ignore until my last day in the UK. Moana and I had organised our tickets through an agency that also researched whether we needed any visas for our trip. Well, they said they had looked into it. Despite them knowing I was travelling on an Australian passport they had failed to check entry requirements for my nationality and I, stupidly, had also failed to check.
Del Holbrook had organised a lovely farewell lunch for Moana and I, to which Helen White had been invited. After Helen arrived, something she said made me realise what my nagging concern actually was – did I really NOT need a visa? I was encouraged by all to make a phone call to check, the result of which was an abrupt departure without my lunch, a quick set of identity snaps in a photobooth at Victoria Station and an emergency interview at the Guatemalan Embassy to get the visa I should have organised weeks earlier.