Expat's Inferno: plot overview

Expat's Inferno: plot overview

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So you thought Dante Alighieri had a rough time in Hell? That's nothing compared to getting a residence visa. One of Expatica's editors tells her tale.

Traveling through the Netherlands, Lynelle has lost her path and now wanders fearfully through Government Bureaucracy. The sun shines down on a Dutch Residence Visa ahead of her, but she finds her way blocked by three beasts--Immigration Authorities, Paperwork, and Indifference.

Frightened and helpless, Lynelle returns to Leiden. Here she encounters the ghost of Rembrandt, the great Dutch painter, who has come to guide Lynelle back to her path, to the Residence Visa. Rembrandt says that their path will take them through Hell and that they will eventually reach Heaven, where Lynelle's Future In Holland awaits.

Rembrandt leads Lynelle through the gates of Hell, marked by the haunting inscription "abandon all hope, you who enter here". They enter the outlying region of Hell, the Ante-Inferno, where the souls who in life could not commit to either America or Holland now must run in a futile chase after a blank Visa Application Form, day after day, while hornets bite them and worms lap their blood. Lynelle witnesses their suffering with repugnance and pity.

The tram then takes her and her guide to the Aliens Police Headquarters, the real border of Hell. The First Circle of Hell, Limbo, houses artists and writers, and many of the other great minds of antiquity, who did not reside in their homelands.

Lynelle continues into the Second Circle of Hell, reserved for the sin of WanderLust. At the border of the Second Circle, the monster Civil Employee, lurks, assigning condemned souls to their punishments. He orders them to take a number and wait, indicating the bustling waiting area. Inside the Second Circle, Lynelle watches as the souls of the WanderLustful swirl about in a terrible storm of Documentary Evidence. Here Lynelle meets Gabriella, who tells her the story of her doomed love affair with Amsterdam.

In the Third Circle of Hell, the Hungry For Adventure must lie in mud and endure a rain of Denials and Appeals. In the Fourth Circle, the Greedy For Euros and the Freeloaders are made to charge at one another with giant bags of €2 coins. The Fifth Circle of Hell contains the Integration Process, a swampy, fetid cesspool in which the Reluctant spend eternity struggling to learn the Dutch language. The Vocationally Challenged lie bound beneath the water, choking on Curriculum Vitae.

The Sixth Circle of Hell houses Applicants Waiting Approval. A deep valley leads into the Seventh Circle of Hell, where those who have filed Written Complaints spend eternity with their blood boiling. Rembrandt and Lynelle meet a group of Case Workers, creatures who are half man, half slug. These souls must endure eternity in the form of trees to make up for the reams of paper they have wasted.

The monster Application Fee transports Rembrandt and Lynelle across a great abyss to the Eighth Circle of Hell, known as Evil Pockets; a circle divided into various pockets separated by great folds of Money. There Public Servants are forced to walk with their heads on backward, to watch their backs. The Policy Makers sit trapped in a pit of vipers, becoming vipers themselves when bitten; to regain their form, they must bite another Policy Maker in turn.

Rembrandt and Lynelle proceed to the Ninth Circle of Hell through the Giants' Well, which leads in a massive drop to File For Renewal, a great frozen lake. The giant, Endurance, picks Rembrandt and Lynelle up and sets them down at the bottom of the well, in the lowest region of Hell.

In Begin The Whole Process Again, applicants stand frozen up to their necks in the lake's ice. In Change Your Purpose Of Stay, the applicants stand frozen up to their heads. Lynelle next follows Rembrandt to the lowest depth. Here, those who would like Permanent Residence Status spend eternity in complete icy submersion.

A huge, mist-shrouded form lurks ahead, and Lynelle approaches it. It is the three-headed giant Politics, plunged waist-deep into the ice. Rembrandt leads Lynelle on a climb down Politics' massive form, holding on to his frozen tufts of hair.

Eventually, the travelers reach The Local Pub, the river of forgetfulness, and travel from there out of Hell and back onto Earth.


Lynelle Barrett is an editor at Expatica and resides in the Netherlands, where she tries very hard to be a good representative of America...in spite of bureaucracy. 

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2 Comments To This Article

  • Duke White posted:

    on 26th May 2011, 18:26:59 - Reply

    I want to thank the writer for a very amusing story. It made my day. Keep up the great writing, the world needs you.

    Best Wishes,

    Duke White
  • Dinah posted:

    on 20th May 2011, 11:49:40 - Reply

    Hello, Thank you for this beautifully written article - funny even coming out of hell :-) I do wish you very best of good luck! I also would like to say that even as a European who has been living and working in Belgium and Luxembourg I went through the same 'circles'; I had to struggle for four months to have an allowance when my work contract ended here in The Hague. It was hell indeed too. Once one is unemployed you become an inferior being apparently. An expat office which welcomed me warmly when I had a splendid working contract in hands told me this time that if I cannot pay my rent I shall sleep in the parc! A social worker wanted to give me 20eur to put me on the train to Belgium! This is Europe too. It abandons her citizens without any help or protection within its own very institutions. On national level they do not know or do not want to know the rights of European citizens.

    Best wishes,