Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mozambique borders revisited

Crossing borders in Africa can be an adventure - and really tiresome. Started Sunday morning from Harare heading for Mangochi, Lake Malawi. Had not bothered with applying for visa at Mozambique embassy due to various reasons.

Mistake. BIG mistake. For starters I think Mozambique Immigration are on a go-slow as it
took the guy at Nyamapanda over 1 hour to process my visa. That included starting by counting the various currencies for over 10 minutes. Then looking for the right form, finding the correct receipt book etc etc.

The Malawi border was not much more fun and I arrived late to Lake Malawi, rather tired after 770 km on the road alone.

The following day when I come to Mandimba, Mozambique border to Niassa province, at around 9.30 am or so I am told they can not issue me with a visa at the border... why now, I try to find out. After much deliberating in poor English (my Portuguese is extremely basic), calling in Amisse (one driver from SCC who happened to be nearby), discussing with Andreas (Finance Manger in Lichinga) and on and on it is finally explained that if you have 2 single-entry visas issued at borders you must have the next from an Embassy. A rule noone had heard of. The station Manager is the only guy who can overrule this, albeit at an extra cost. And he is in Malawi... hurrah. So I turn back to start driving to Lilongwe instead in order to get said visa.

Now when I get to the Malawi borderpost I have recently left they refuse to let me back in "as I had not really been anywhere"... they seriously suggested I spend 24 hours in no-mans land! Refused to believe noone on Moz side would issue a visa and so on. After much begging and wringing of hands it took a beer and promise of drinks on the return leg to get back in. By then mentally rather hammered.

Arrived dog tired in Lilongwe last night, slept like a log. This morning start visa process. The ATMs went on strike after a short rain... and the Mozambique Consulate that is supposed to open at 8 am was not open by 9 am. The "man with the keys" had not arrived and staff plus other applicants patiently waited outside the door. Finally the lady in charge of visa applications accepted our forms, photos, passports and money outside the door.

I now finally have a visa (multiple entry...) and ATMs are working so I could pay back the cash I borrowed to pay for it.

Question is: dare I try tomorrow or is Karma and whatever destiny, fate and Gods not on my side this time?
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