Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Khartoum, Sudan - Come shoot me now!!

Hello my friends. Today was the mother of all wasted days. At least 5 hrs. I won't get back.

The only saving grace was talking to my brother on MSN for an hour or so. I miss everyone at home very much but it's this crazy "profession" I'm in. Ok, it's not a profession but some days it feels like work. Hard slogging, frustrating work.

The drudgery started early. Most of today was taken up with the alien registration but first I needed more money at the bank. It seems like I've been burning a lot of cash lately. Then I managed to track down the US Embassy a couple of miles down a traffic choked lane from the hotel. Like most American embassies in the world, this one was heavily guarded with razor wire, walled compound, concrete blast barriers, armed guards, marines, checkpoints, metal detectors. You name it they had it. Pretty ominous.

It was hot as hell already when I got to the Embassy. I asked one of the Sudanese cops sitting under a tree if I was close to the registration office. He pointed down the street using a curving motion. Shukran, my friend...

After a hundred metres walk, I found Office III. It wasn't signed, dammit. They were still playing around with my head. I asked an official looking person for confirmation. The Eagle had landed. Office III was real. I nearly cried but felt really dehydrated instead. Got the necessary forms despite no one knowing a speck of English. I found the lack of English speaking personnel rather odd for an alien registration office. Next I had to wait an hour to submit my completed form only to find out that I needed a guarantor's stamp (a Sudanese citizen that could vouch for me that I'm in the country). Where am I going to find someone to do that??? They told me the hotel was suppose to supply the stamp. Went back to the hotel where Mahmoud at reception was really reluctant to do this for me. He pretended like I just stepped off a spaceship or something. Eventually, he opened the drawer in his desk and pulled out the rubber stamp and stamped a piece of blank paper. Went back to the office. This time when I got to the hole-in-the-wall they told me that I was missing the requisite letter stating I was an alien staying at the hotel. Back to Mahmoud. He acted like an idiot again. Refusing, hemming and hawing until he broke down again and hastily wrote me a letter. I think he just wanted to get rid of me.

Back at Office III, I met a couple from Switzerland who said that the letter had to be typed!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! The buck had to stop there and then. I was going to give them the handwritten letter I had, dammit!!! While I had a conniption, the service window closed. What the hell!!! It was lunch!!! I felt like giving up. I just sat there staring incredulously at the sealed window. 45 minutes passed. Nothing happened. I needed clarification about the need for a typed letter. I knocked on the Office door. When the door opened, they dismissed me. I tried knocking again. This time I wedged the door open with my body and asked them about the letter. I was told to come in. After a few minutes, the Boss man came out. He took my application. Fifteen minutes later, it was approved. I thanked him profusely but to rub salt in my wounds he told me to come back in an hour to pay for the permit.

Situation normal for Sudan, eh.

[ed. note: after I paid 44 USD for the registration, I found out from the Swiss couple that they had paid 34 USD each.]

Out of Canuckistan: A travel blog, May 13/07
Buy Bubba a Beer Now!

No comments: