Friday, February 08, 2008

Oh, the saga of visas

This has nothing to do with this post, but it's a nice picture, isn't it? This is Willie's favorite spot to sit now.

Next week two of our colleagues from our regional office in Zambia are supposed to come and give us a training on project monitoring and evaluation. I should say, were supposed to, since it has since been canceled. Why? Visa problems, of course!

This training has been in the works for several months now. Our colleagues submitted their applications in early December and began the wait. Now, keep in mind that these are lowly, single-entry 30 day visas, not these crazy 2 year ones you get in the States, or even, God forbid, a work visa!!!

One of the guys leading the training used to work here in Angola and happened to befriend someone who used to work at the Angolan embassy in Zambia. This was great because he could help (by "help" I really mean help, not helpwink*wink*) in getting travel visas, usually just making sure they were at the top of the pile. Well, unfortunately they replaced the ambassador in Zambia, meaning that all old employees were transfered and the new ambassador installed ones that are probably his cousins.

The trainers were supposed to arrive in Luanda today (Friday). As early as two weeks ago, the staff were promising our colleagues that their visas were almost ready, just keep coming back. On Monday we all began to worry. On Wednesday, our colleague (the one who had worked in Angola) went to the embassy and was told that their passports were lost. Oops! Come back again the next day.

The next day he went back. This time the same guy was there, only stinking drunk. He said, "They're still lost! Come back tomorrow!" ("Tomorrow" meaning Friday, the day they were supposed to leave for Luanda.) My colleague stuck his head in the little window, pointed in the corner and said, "Are those two American passports right there ours?" Sure enough, they were. Except no work had been done on them at all since dropping them off in December. Ooops! It was too late at this point for anything to be done and the training was cancelled.


Anonymous said...

The exact same thing happened twenty years ago in the same country. Except that in this case the passports were being used to stabilize the foot of a table.

African bureaucracy will teach you the real meaning of the word hatred...

Anonymous said...

Lord! thats horrible. i'm a zambian-angolan but raised in zambia. i live in the US now. i was planning to go to angola AND zambia for summer break. apparently its easier to get into zambia, but the saga of the angolan embassy is still the same since childhood! most of those diplomats kids threw overly glamorous 'govt money' pool parties literally everyday down my street in Lusaka. thats why he was drunk. ridiculous! i am ashamed.

by the way your blog is awesome!