We got up at 6 am today, put on our best clothes and left home before 7 on a mission to find the infamous CEDOC (hope I spelled it correctly), the immigration office. We found it ok (road and sidewalk full of dust dust dust and me in my pretty delicate sandals) and took our place in one of the lines. It was 7:05 am and we were under the impression that the office would open its far-from-friendly gates at 8. There were already a lot of people queuing for different things (visas, passports and so on) and we confirmed with several of them that we were in the carte de sejour line. They were all African people from outside of Gabon and we were the only whites. Ladies in beautiful gowns mixed with smelly men in old T-shirts and rubber flip-flops mixed with gentlemen in European clothes mixed with women with babies clinging on to their backs. Mixed with two completely lost white people in their fancy clothes.
A man came out of the building and Jandro went up to talk to him. All he found out was that the Carte de Sejour Department was closed today and we may as well go home, thank you very much. The other people in the queue stayed, though, and we decided to hang about a bit more. A policeman in sunglasses (which are completely useless during the grey dry season) shouted and bossed people around. Jandro tried talking to another guy. This time he was asked if he had an appointment. Obviously, we'd had no idea that such an appointment was possible, not to metion essential.
- Do you have an appointment?
- I can't help you today.
- How do I get an appointment?
- You must come early.
- I've been here since 6:30 am! (A little lie but the official didn't know, right?)
- You must come earlier. People have been here since last afternoon. If you don't have an appointment, I can't help you.
- But how do I get an appointment?
- Must come earlier.
Right. It was 8 am. We called Jandro's co-worker who might know something about the procedure and she said that yes, we needed an appointment. The European Commission CAN get an appointment (apparently, not everybody can). So we left the queue, went back to the car and bitterly laughed at our naivety. We'll try to get an appointment for tomorrow. My visa expires in three weeks.
The only good thing we got out of it was a pretty picture of the sunrise as seen from our kitchen window. Oh dear, it's so grey today... I'm going to make some tea.