Read / lees in : Nederlands
Immediately after we arrived in Kenya – against all odds – we started the preparations in order to leave the country as quickly as humanly possible. Because we wanted to travel just one country more to the north before driving down to the finish line in Cape Town, Ethiopia was our next destination. And for that country we both needed to get a visa. We went to the embassy on Friday right after we’d arrived in Nairobi, so we could file our application before the weekend started. But as soon as we entered the building they asked us for the recommendation letter from our embassies. We didn’t have those, and knowing Dutch embassies I probably wouldn’t get one. Besides nobody in his right mind would recommend me for anything. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So we decided to go there anyway. But the Dutch embassy in Nairobi – which is hidden behing three layers of security – loves long weekends so they’re closed on Fridays. There just happened to be a lady present, and she knew exactly what I needed but ordered me to first make an appointment through the website. The first available date was two weeks later!
A world of difference
We then drove to the Colombian embassy. While we could only get into the Dutch embassy by lying and cheating our way past the three layers of security – instead of being able to enter by showing your passport – we were welcomed at the Colombian embassy with open arms and a cup of coffee instead. The consul was not there, but he jumped into his car immediately after his secretary informed him we were there. Right after he arrived he wrote a recommendation letter and gave Lucía his business card so we could always call him for help. After the weekend I tried again at our embassy. Once again I had to con my way past security, but the last layer was impenetrable without an appointment. Because I kept insisting they’d help me I eventually managed to get through. Soon after I found out that they have pre-printed letters – ready to hand out – in which they state that they can’t recommend Dutch people who want to apply for an Ethiopian visa. Have security hand out those forms for fucks sake, I am competent enough to fill out my own name!!! The English speaking lady at the counter gave me a reprimand – for not having made an appointment – while she slipt me a copy underneath the bullet proof window.
Lying and cheating
When we finally had our ‘recommendation letters’ we could start our visa application. This turned into a daily trip to the Ethiopian embassy for more than a week, where we would be lied to systematically and in the end even cheated out of our money. Every time we were there they came up with new requirements for our application, so we had to return yet another time a day later. Or the responsible guy would not be there etc. In the end they lied that everything was in order and our application had been approved. They gave us instructions to pay the fees at a bank after which we could pick up our visas the next morning. This was then postponed to the afternoon, and in the afternoon they told us there was a new requirement. We wouldn’t get the visas unless we showed them round trip tickets. Lucía almost exploded and didn’t want to travel to Ethiopia anymore. If they are this treacherous in the embassy, what should we expect in the country itself? I on the other hand
remained calm didn’t want to give up and got behind my computer back in the hotel and applied for two visas online. Paid for them with my credit card and received them within minutes in my mailbox. I didn’t give a shit that the site and the visas themselves stated that it’s only allowed to travel to Ethiopia on an e-visa if you arrive at the airport in Addis Abeba. Because it’s easy enough to erase that restriction from the documents using Photoshop.