One felt at home being able to talk to all the Indian workers in Spanish (and some of them even in Catalan!), eating pa amb tomàquet with real olive oil and spending several days without having to negotiate the price of the room or transport you are about to take. And finally, the third one is that it saved me from having to pay a big fine when, weeks later, I had left India to continue my route in Nepal.
The importance of knowing the details of the visa
What I will say now is Traveler 101: When we travel we must not only check if we have obtained a visa and for how long, but also the parameters within which it is valid.
Talking to other Spanish travelers in the NGO, they asked me what I would do to trick the 90 days limitation of the 6-month visa. I was puzzled and I said I did not think I had it. When we checked my visa was pretty clear written: ‘Each stay not to exceed more than 90 days‘.
Pretty clear, right? Even if it is true that neither the Indian consulate in Barcelona nor the embassy in Madrid did not mention that to me, I blame myself since I should have check in detail the visa at the time it arrived instead of rushing to prepare the case.
Looking for solutions
Well, I still had 15 days left to reach the 90 allowed and thereafter I should pay a significant economic penalty for each day that I stayed in the country illegally.
I could cut off the plan the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and go straight north to continue my route through Nepal but that was not an option. I had seen too many pictures of those two states and I would not leave the country without having seen them with my own eyes.
My girlfriend, who made her visa in Italy, did not have this problem, so she decided she would stay in India while I was in and out of the country to avoid the extra expense. The plan then was to get a flight to a nearby country, spend a few days there and go back without losing too much time there or I would catch the monsoon in Southeast Asia months later.
The fact is that from the south of India there are several affordable options such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Of these, the last three give me free visa so I would pay only the flights, but since these are countries I want to visit when I’m done with the Indian subcontinent and I go to travel to all Southeast Asia, I thought it was wasting money to go there now and go again a few months later.
I’m going to Sri Lanka
Yes. Although it was a country that was not in my plans, as you are reading this, I’m flying to Sri Lanka!
The visa is really easy to get, because you can do it online days before and pay the visa fee ($35) with credit card. I’ll be there two weeks discovering this small island, improvising and using a lot the tent since it’s full of mountains and beaches. After I’ll take a flight to Chennai to meet with my girlfriend, finish the experience of India and continue the adventure in Nepal.