Wednesday, December 9, 2009


So, what do you think? Exit or no exit? Yes, I got the visa in the end. One sortie, one retour - not the visa I wanted. I described my second visit to CEDOC in the previous post. What you don't know is that there was a third and a fourth.

The third time we went we were already resigned to the idea of a simple one-time visa. Sulking, we entered the CEDOC gates once more and tried to get inside the building. The soldier guarding the entrence, one hand firmly grasping his machine gun, sent us away to the "waiting room" - a set of wooden benches outside - claiming there was no space inside. After a while he called a bunch of people in and we entered with them.

I don't know if I've told you this but the place looks a bit like a bank, with employees behind a counter and three rows of wooden benches, bloody uncomfortable, by the way. The queue is attentively sitting on the benches and the newly arrived are supposed to sit at the end. There is virtually no space on benches, people squeezed in a manner that makes a can of sardines look like a spa. When the person leading the cue is called to the counter, a self-appointed queue manager tells everyone to get up and move, which they do without really getting up, probably afraid of losing their seat to one of the impatient-looking men waiting nearby, ready to jump into an open spot in the middle of the queue. Madness. I was part of it for nearly two hours.

Afterwards everything went smoothly. They took a photo of me (completely unaware that the photo was being taken) and told me to come back the following week. We came back, impatient-looking, and jumped into an open spot in the front of the queue, catching the unsuspecting queue leader off guard. We got my passport back in no time.

Good news is, I'm going home! And no power cut (still a daily phenomenon) or water cut or CEDOC employee can ruin that for me.

The picture I posted with this entry is something I found on the internet when I tried to google sortie. It's by a person called Niki de Saint Phalle and when I saw it I instantly thought of Gabon and CEDOC.

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