Hassle (Sorry Helen!)
Posted by Cris on March 2, 2007
Well, I wasn’t sure whether to write this or not. But I think its best to keep everyone up to speed, so if something happens it won’t come as an enormous surprise. We are having problems getting our business visas here in Ethiopia. The story is this: as of three weeks ago, when our boss went to the immigration office here to let them know Amy and I were coming to work, it was still very common and possible to come into the country on a tourist visa and then change that visa into a business visa. This is what he has done with all the teachers who have worked for him. But, as of a week and a half ago, the law changed and now it is not possible to change tourist visas into business visas. No grace period, no grandfathering into the system. So, as of right now, we cannot work in Ethiopia (legally). BUT— the catch is this: we can fly to Djibouti, thereby cancelling our tourist visas. We bring our contracts and letters and all the official looking stuff we can with us, and visit the Ethiopian Embassy. Then, hopefully, they can give us business visas. This is what the Ethiopian authorities that be have told our boss and his wife (the owner of the school).
Why we cant all just pretend that Amy and I went to Djibouti, cancel our visas at the immigration office, and then get new business visas is a mystery. They’re being really inflexible about the whole thing, and noone is sure why. So since today is a holiday (the celebration of the Ethiopian forces’ victory over the Italians in the Battle of Adewa) and nobody works on the wekends, we will be going to the Djiboutian Embassy on Monday morning, getting visas to go to Djibouti, then hopping the next flight to Djibouti. Its supposed to be really hot there, by the way. Our boss is paying for this all, so no it isnt some elaborate scam to defraud us of our frillions of dollars. We will stay the night, go beg our brains out at the Embassy, then come back ASAP, either happy and ready to work or sad and cursing Ethiopia.
Contingency plans in case of failure:
A- Travel in Ethiopia for 1 month or so, see all we want to see, then fly to Europe and hole up on a charming organic farm somewhere in the French or Spanish back-country, licking our wounds and drinking copious amounts of good, cheap wine. Fly back to the USA when we are good and ready, or when we run out of money, whichever comes first.
B- Look for other jobs in Addis, under the table, like tutoring or teaching, turning tricks on the corner (kidding!), or shining shoes. We figure we could probably live on 3,000 to 4,000 birr a month, and then we would be able to stay as long as we dont get caught and deported.
Right now we are working on #B, but were not sure if it’ll work. Time will tell I suppose. Hopefully our Djibouti wiggling will work, and we won’t have to worry about it.
When we arrived we talked alot about how at ease and unthreatened we both felt, and how it seemed too easy for us here. We felt like we were waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Ethiopia to give us a good quick kick in the butt. Here it is!
More pictures will come. Were trying to figure out how to make them smaller sizes so they won’t take a (literal) hour to upload.
Prayers, ululations, crossed fingers, and withcraft directed our way are all welcome.