Friday, December 01, 2006

In Dar (trying to leave)

I got my extra passport pages today!

I was lucky. My watch was still set to Zambian time, one hour behind Dar Es Salaam. So, I arrived thinking I was early enough but not too early (10:15am) to find I had missed the 11:00am closing time by 15 minutes (big disappointment! - getting to the embassy in a big city in another country can be arduous and/or expensive! plus I want to leave Dar this weekend!) When the guard showed me the sign in answer to my question what are the hours, I could see that it stated the closing time on Friday is 11:30am. I pointed out it was only 11:15am, and he said, yes but they were already closed and getting ready to go home. I muttered to myself, "They don't like to work much, do they?" -- and the next thing I know, the guard decides to check on my behalf whether I can be permitted to enter. He comes back to tell me the good news and to let me through security check.

So, after a walk through a courtyard and a second security check*, I enter, and when I reach the small booth enclosed in a room (with a bullet-proof window and only a sliding tray to exchange materials/documents), someone gives me a form and takes my passport. Shortly thereafter, a man comes to the window and tells me that I can submit the form but will need to return Monday for the pages...I show him my disappointed, half-smiling face and say, yes, but I'm leaving tomorrow. Meanwhile, he and I both know that adding pages is a two-minute task, at most. He leaves, and two minutes later, an elder woman comes to the glass and administers a few-minutes lecture (about how I should register my trip on the State Department website, and how my passport says it is a replacement for a lost passport, to which I reply that was 2 passports ago, but they seem to print that on the passport every time. It's funny that the lost passport issue arose at this time, because I traveled on that reported lost passport for more than 5 years, until it expired! Which leads me to wonder, why is the Bush Administration busy wiretapping cell phones when the State Department can't even detect entries and departures on a reported lost passport?!)

After all this, I left with my newly augmented passport! Yes, when traveling, little victories like this mean a lot (sorry to drag my readers through all the minutae!)

To the island

We found out that the Mafia Island dhow (sailing vessel) does not run on Sundays. Going to Mafia Island requires going by daladala (minibus) to a port a bit south of Dar and sleeping on the dhow the night before as it leaves around dawn, depending on the tides. Should be another adventure...

*In 1998, the U.S. Embassies in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and Kenya, Nairobi were car-bombed simultaneously, killing 257 people and wounding over 4,000, mostly Tanzanian and Kenyan citizens.


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