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February 7, 2013 / samwilson60

Our first visa refusal?

Sam had a fairly violent, if predictable, awakening as his meds took effect and once he’d got over the shock, he valiantly set about tightening up the truck and checking its vitals. Cat, meanwhile, set out to locate our runaway doctor, to little avail. The clinic had given up on him and got another doctor to wade in on Sam’s results, which we at least now have – together with another prescription we’re unsure what to do with. A little research of our own will be required before inflicting any more pills and potions on the patient, me thinks.

Bored with our combined medical woes, we focused our attentions on the Gabonese embassy – where the real fun and games would start. We turned up about half an hour early, to find half a dozen others also waiting to pick up their passports. We’re not sure how long they’d been hanging around outside but they were quite animated by the time we’d arrived. Then it started to rain and they grew only more so. Ever heard of a waiting room, anyone? We were squeezed into the security hut every time the heavens opened, only to be unceremoniously thrown back onto the street during every break in the rain.

The lady with the passports arrived eventually, but clearly none of the dozen in her hands were ours. We weren’t the only ones left empty handed, it seemed, and she did say there were more on their way, but as she went back for them she ominously beckoned us to come with. We were taken into the office of the next lady up, obviously the scary one everyone had been sharing horror stories about the previous day. Oh joy. She pulled out our ‘files’, which still included our money, so clearly there was something amiss. She took great pleasure in listing the sheer number of problems our applications posed, mocking what documents we had provided as she went. I never thought I’d find myself defending the ‘logic’ that dictated all our other visa application procedures, and to be fair there was little point even trying. Ultimately she resorted to waving her hands around in a “What do you expect me to do with you now?” sort of gesture and told her underling to take our sorry pile of papers to the big man upstairs. This particular underling, previously pegged as a bit of a witch herself, was our saviour – anyone would look soft in comparison with the woman who’d just given us our dressing down, but the underling genuinely seemed to have taken pity on us and ushered us upstairs, looking nervously at our muddy trousers and flip-flops as we went. For application days, we normally make a bit of an effort, but for pick-ups there never seems much point. Today was the exception, as we realised as we were escorted into the very grand, very air-conditioned office of the ambassador himself.

We apologised for the state we were in and were treated very professionally. We were also told, in no uncertain terms, that there’s no way he would have agreed to see us personally if he didn’t realise there’d be plenty more like us to come. The real issue, it quickly transpired, was the new biometric system introduced on 1 February. If we’d been a week earlier, there would have been no problem. We got that from the horse’s mouth. But with the new system, it was simply not possible to issue a visa without all the standard documentation that overlanders such as ourselves cannot produce (airline ticket?!). Computer said no. The ambassador was at a loss and started phoning around, to the head of immigration and various other générales and colonels, but it was too late in the day – they were all long gone. Having seemingly warmed to us, and clearly powerless but keen to find a solution, he promised he’d call us by midday the following day with a final ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Not the greatest place to leave things for the night, but as promised, not poo-related.


One Comment

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  1. leelee / Feb 7 2013 2:38 pm

    bloody hell guys. technology huh? it’s definitely a slippery slope once we have to convince computers of our motives. it’ll be the death of all of us it seems… apart from the obvious inconvenience to you both (sincerely hope you’re feeling better soon), i have to say i didn’t mind hearing about your poo stories at all. you funny lot! i’m presuming you had a good word with sam-sam about the effects of praziquantal poisoning (i’m 99% confident that’s what they gave you – the laxative however, is anyone’s guess!) benny would ask whether or not you ate any horse meat? apparently it gives you the trots… ah dear…

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