A meeting of inequals

I crash into bed….it’s a thursday, so I decide that I don’t have to deal with passport issues until the following day, otherwise I might very well say one of the many regrettable things on my mind. So I give into sleep, I watch TV, I indulge in every vice I can think of and then I finally meet the new day with that bubble of anger nicely repressed.

I walk into the chief immigration office around 1 o’clock, I ask a security officer where I can get my visa extension and he points me into another room. There I take a seat amongst a lineup of people and patiently await my turn. 20 minutes of waiting later and the security looks around the bend and points, “You”…I try to remain as unobtrusive as possible in these situations and so I remain motionless despite having the sinking feeling that he is addressing me. People in front of me point to themselves with that “Who me?” expression, and one by one they are peeled back like an onion to reveal a stinky situation, “You”…my turn…”Who me?”…”Yes you”.

So I get up and walk over to him irrationally wondering if news of my overstaying my visa has somehow trickled down to this lowly official. I ready my many excuses in my mind. “You’re not supposed to wait there but in THERE” and he points around the desks of the cubicles occupied by the staff interviewing people for passport odds and ends. I tentatively walk into the staff area and he waves me on. I walk in one direction, “No, not there!” I walk in the other direction, “Not there!”…there’s only two directions where the hell am I supposed to go??!! Finally someone gets up and points me to a staff only door. “Ohhhh, why didn’t I think of that” I roll my eyes as I enter into the mysterious inner world  of the bureaucracy.

I am beckoned forward to the end of the hall where I enter into a room with an overhead plaque that states in serious bold letters “Domestic Affairs”, a small tablet beside the door reads residency applications. I look around and see three women chatting amiably and a guy listening in. I hesitantly walk through the door, interrupting their conversation. They all look at me. “I…I think I’m in the wrong place, I just wanted to extend my visa…”. “No, you’re in the right place” the guy tells me as he reads over the letter I give him from the ministry of home affairs. He gives me a form that I need to fill out. I look it over, it is an application for citizenship to Guyana. I scoff, “ummm I don’t think this is right I don’t want to be a citizen I just want to extend my visa”. “It’s the same form” he tells me. I look at him dubiously and finally acquiesce after trying to explain my point a few more times and him responding slowly as though he’s staying behind with the slowest student in the class. “Alright!” I finally acknowledge and start filling out the form. “Don’t bother” the women pause in their gabbing to tell me, “come back on monday, we can’t process until then”. I look at my watch which reads 2 o’clock. Are you serious?! Are you honestly knocking off at 2 o’clock on a workday so that you can chat a while with your girlfriends and some crazy guy that insists that I need to apply for Guyanan citizenship?! So essentially I’m screwed yet again since tomorrow my friend is coming in by plane and we are leaving that very night to go to Rewa. And today my temporary visa runs out, so I am really running on borrowed time here. But my friend only has 10 days, and I can’t ask him to stay in town while I try and sort out my visa…AAAAAhhhhhhhhhgggggggggghhhhhhhhhh…the stupid situation has really devolved into a mess!!! I go back to the hostel to work things out but promptly fall asleep in the torpidity of the noon day heat and awake the next day.

My friend arrives early in the morning so I get in the taxi and I’m off to meet him…except I’m taken to the wrong airport. Son of a…so I scramble and fortunately only arrive 15 minutes late…I have not made the best first impression but I am there. We get into the taxi and start chatting bugs. Now I’ve never met this guy in person before, only through online communications and so in order to feel comfortable I feel like I can’t exceed a talking speed greater than my 45 word/minute typing speed. Naturally the conversation quickly lags, well it more just runs in slow motion rather than actually running out of things to talk about. Fortunately this guy is very knowledgeable both on insects and travel, etc…I quickly feel outclassed and am forced to fall back on lamenting about my passport troubles which I hope can pass for conversation to an intellectual. He’s amused at my folly and wonders like many others why I don’t simply jump across the border. I briefly mumble something about not wanting to let them get away with pushing me around, my rights, blah, blah…and then I quickly change the subject to what we need to do today before we head off.

We gas up the stove, buy a whole bunch of supplies and buy our tickets to Annai. There’s no big intraserv bus service on the weekends and so once again I have to resort to the dreaded minibus. At least this time I’ll have company. So night falls and we taxi over to the minibus. It is once again crammed full of people. We depart on time but we haven’t gone far before we turn into a large partially abandoned building. It looks vaguely familiar. In fact it is the chief immigration offices. I look questioningly at the driver. “First checkpoint” he says. I gulp and look down at my overextended passport, is the trip going to be over before it’s begun? “Yeah, I say to myself that will make a fine impression on my new friend!” So I walk into the immigration office and one by one people are called forward, register their passports and are dismissed by the official. Finally my name is called. He looks down at my passport. “This isn’t right”, he says…


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