Arrived in Amsterdam on Sunday to discover that I couldn't continue on to Oman because I needed permission from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to "import" Bea. The expeditor at the Embassy said the process of getting permission could take up to the three weeks.
Bea anxiously, well maybe not, awaits her fate in an Amsterdam hotel room.
So I spent the next 24 hours panicking about where to go for three weeks. Should I fly to Kyiv? Take a train to some cheap town in Netherlands? Do cheap towns in Netherlands exist? My hotel, where I'd planned to stay only one night, had only one extra night available. I looked into renting an Airbnb, but the only one I could find at first that allowed pets was a studio in what I suspected was the red light district.
CLO in Muscat assured me that the process would probably not take three weeks, but hopefully only around three working days.I changed my plane ticket to Thursday and hoped for the best. I asked small hotels in my neighborhood if they accepted pets. All said "It goes against the rules," which for me means, "So?" but for the Dutch seemed to be a polite, but firm no. I started sending messages to Airbnb hosts asking if I could rent with a dog starting tomorrow.
Happily, within 24 hours Bea had been granted permission to enter Oman. The dog, two fifty-pound suitcases and I found a sunny room in a pet-accepting apartment. Things were turning around! I went to the Rijksmusuem, an art supply store, and walked the dog around my new favorite city, Amsterdam.
Once we arrived in Muscat, we handed over all our paperwork to the Ministry and after waiting about an hour, a crabby guy demanded to see the USDA stamp on the health certificate. I have the health certificate signed by the veterinarian, but no USDA stamp. (Remind me to make one.) Crabby guy makes me sign a paper swearing that I'll get a USDA-stamped certificate back to the Ministry within two weeks. I have no idea of how to pull that off. But I've heard the jails here are nice.
While waiting for the Ministry's approval in Amsterdam, Bea's vet-signed health certificate aged to more than a week old, therefore the USDA will no longer stamp it. Peter and I float various scenarios: We beg the vet for an updated health certificate to send to the USDA, Peter's sister picks it up and mails it to the USDA, then after it's stamped, mails it to us via FedEx/UPS/DHL for some ruinous fee. Or: Peter takes the dog to Kyiv, gets a certificate from the vet there and enters Oman from Ukraine. Or: I fly back to California, revisit the vet and get the USDA stamp--I'm sure this option is super cheap.
Day two and we are at the vet in Oman already--Bea developed a hot spot and required medication. While there, we told the vet our story. She rolls her eyes and tells us I won't go to jail, in fact the MInistry won't really do anything. She signs a new health certificate and tells us to take it to the Ministry and explain that this is all we need.
At the Ministry (or the sub-Ministry or whatever it is they have at the airport) a less crabby guy than the first listened to Peter explain the situation. Then I explained the situation. Then Peter explained the situation some more. Weary of our story, he found the paper I'd signed promising the USDA stamp in two weeks and signed his name with an Arabesque flourish above "approved."
Half way around the world, one week and one signature later, Bea is legal. Welcome home to Oman.