This was a loooonnngggg day. Shouldn’t have been, but it sure was. Maybe because it started at 3:30 am? Anyway, Mamer’s cousin, Ajak came to escort us through the day and we would have really been in trouble without him. We first went to the Government of Southern Sudan’s (GOSS) special permits (visas) office, arriving there at about 11 am. The official who had been contacted by the government in Juba was a bit reluctant – I suspect because there are so many visa requests they do daily – and he was being pressured to get ours done quickly. Apparently it usually takes at least 24 hours to process a single visa and we were expecting two in less than 4 hours! Grumbling, he asked us to come back at 3 pm to collect the visas.
We left the GOSS office, heading into the center of Nairobi to Barclays Bank to withdraw cash for the tickets – and then to the airport to purchase our flights to Juba. We ran into a small hitch at the bank; we have a $1,000 daily limit for drawing cash, so I figured we’d have no problem with the $305 (each) fares. In an enclosed atm, at which there were no less than 2 armed guards, I started the transaction to withdraw 40,000 Kenyan schillings (about $500). The atm sounded like it had processed the transaction, started counting the bills . . . and then the screen went blank, froze up and reset itself. No money and no receipt. But the machine had processed the withdrawal! After about an hour waiting and dealing with a very gracious banker, we now have a signed receipt proving the money never changed hands. However, once I withdrew the 40,000 schillings from another atm inside the branch, we had “exceeded our daily limit,” and couldn’t get any more cash. Fortunately, East African Airlines takes credit cards ☺
At about 4:00 pm we actually picked up our visas, and exhausted, headed for the hotel. Not used to either the heat or humidity, it took another 2-1/2 hours before we finally finished all the errands (walking I might add). So we leave for Juba, Sudan on a 10 am flight tomorrow morning to meet with Mamer, who says, “The land won’t be a problem!” In fact, it should be confirmed at our meeting Wednesday morning with the Minister of Agriculture!
Ahh . . . like Sherry says, “We ain’t in Kansas any more!”