Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Mission Visa - Phase Two

So I almost had my passport back. The missing part was a visa. I bought a mts 700 ticket at Fatima's for the bus to Maputo, which would be leaving the next morning at 4:00. At 3:30 I was up and running and waiting for the bus at Fatima's. It got there about 45 minutes later. The drive to Maputo was uneventful but long and slow. It's not a particular Fatima's bus like I thought it would be. It's an express bus from Inhambane to Maputo, meaning it wouldn't stop as much as a small chapa. At first there were only two mulungu (white) girls. But then it gradually filled up with local people whenever we stopped to pick some up on the way out of here. We drove past Inharrime which I remember from our trip to Muguambe with Black Jack and Martin. At some point I bought a refreshment, which should have cost mts 25, with the smallest bill I had – a mts 100 note. Another lady bought one with a mts 50 banknote. The kid who sold the drinks ran off to some other people to get some change, but while he was busy getting change, the bus drove off. That was some quite expensive drinks.

Floods in Xai-Xai
When we passed Xai-Xai a few hours later, we could see the damage the floods had made. Some houses were still in water and a vast expanse of water covered what looked like fields. The Limpopo river was much wider than it should be. We also saw the part where the road had been washed away. They had put on some temporary bridges for the cars to pass through while they worked on repairs on the side of the road.

After about 8 hours in the bus, we finally arrived in Maputo where a “free” taxi ride was awaiting us to take us to Fatima's Nest in the city. From there I called Gizela so she could call her sister Edna  and so she could give the taxi driver instructions as to where to go next. She had offered me to stay at her sister's place. I had met Edna when she came to Tofo with her daughter Alessandra during Christmas. There one of the maids was already waiting to take me up to the apartment. Edna was working and little Alessandra was alone with her two maids.

Calling anyone was getting difficult, because since arriving in Maputo my HTC constantly lost its network connection. But at 2:30 I finally managed to call Theresa, my contact at the Swiss Embassy in Maputo. As she would only be there until 3:00, I told her I would come and get my passport the next morning. Later Amos from the border called me and we agreed I would call him when I got to the border the next day.

The next day around 7:30 I finally had my passports in my own hands again. It was more than two months since I had last seen it, the visa ran out two months earlier, and nothing had been done with it.
I met Amos at the border gate. I got his contact by way of Samantha and her Swiss German boyfriend from Tofo. The two usually go through him to get new visas at the border. Amos told me two months is quite a long period to be overdue, and that it might cost me about mts 90'000 (about USD 3'000). But he was willing to take my passport to the officials and negotiate an outgoing stamp for about mts 10'000. He told me that having done extensions in the immigration office in Maxixe wouldn't help in getting a new visa from the border. But that was the least of my concerns, being without a visa for two months. When he came back with my stamped out passport he advised me to go through another border (Swaziland) which would probably be less strict. He told me the officials didn't want to see me come in through here again. He then drove me past the Mozambican border post and left me to walk to the South African side. On the way out some officer asked to see my passport which I presented to him with apprehension. I showed him the stamp, but as there was no recent visa, he said I couldn't leave the country like this. He made me understand I had to bribe my way out, so I gave up € 50.