Of loving borders … and rain in Africa!

In one of the songs our children love, it says "In Africa it is so hot ...!". Is it!? Really?!

No, it is NOT! Since Ethiopia it has been raining almost all the time - at least that is how we feel! Why is it that whenever us nomads go to whatever place that people tell us that this week, month, year et cetera the rains and thunderstorms are somewhat different than "normally"! We had exactly that in the Pyrenees, in the Carpathians and now ... in Africa! ...

 

Traveling with Swiss friends we built this Land Rover Castle on our way to the Carpathian Mountains in Summer 2014.

 

Yes, we know that there is a thing called "rainy season", but this doesn't mean rain all day ... more or less for days on end! Well, that is the way it is, but we wanted to escape the rains ... "In the south, there is a draught!", somebody said!

 
 

Mischa wanted to go south fast, so he got his first speeding ticket in Tanzania on the way from Mbeya to the border ... No problem with the police though - all very nice, receit and everything, no bribe! IT WAS HIS FIRST SPEEDING TICKET EVER! Can you believe it!? ... When at that morning Nici at "Kisolanza" Farm, where we stayed two nights (a great place to stay, by the way!), had warned us that especially on this route, there would be myriads of policemen just waiting for issuing speeding tickets, Mischa had proudly stated that he never ever got a speeding ticket so far! Haha, he lost clean slate!

 

Our nicest border until we reached Namibia!

 

Borders! Everybody says that the borders are getting better the more to the south in Africa you come, and actually this is right ... generally! At the border between Tanzania and Zambia, the rains had just stopped (briefly!) and Mischa went out to follow his usual procedure: first immigration to get the exit stamps and then customs to get the carnet stamped out. No need to use the fixers which stick to you like flies do with sh**!

 

 
 

Oh, I forgot the Massai ladies in Tanzania ...

Kamal, our customs broker on the Egyptian side of the Egyptian/Sudanese border.

Magdi, our customs broker for the Sudanese side ... we had a wonderful time with him and his family!

Apart from Alexandria and the border between Egypt and Sudan, where we used the help of customs brokers who were respectable people and did a great job for us, at all other borders the fixers and the money changers really were extremely annoying even though we know that for them this is a way of earning money and they all are registered and have a permit for what they are doing. They follow you, you tell them that you don't need their services, still they follow you, do nothing for you because you don't let them and at the end they expect money for their "services"! Why use (and pay!) somebody you don't need!?

Anyway, in spite of the "flies" buzzing around us, at this special border everything seemed to go really smooth: passport stamps, then the carnet and off we went to the Zambian side.

For what comes now, I have to first explain that in Germany children's passports only have a very limited number of pages. So, we got new passports in advance in Germany to be used when the old ones are full. This is completely legal (even though your local city council might not know it and downright tell you that you are wrong ... don't let them win!)! As when we entered Tanzania, the border officials told us that our children's passports were full now. Now, in Zambia, we used the new ones AND also showed the old ones. As they are biometric there is no way of saying that they are fakes (so at least they could not suspect our kids of being spies for, say the Americans ... or the Absurdistanians!). Guess what came now! The Zambian immigration officers did not want to stamp an entry stamp into a new passport which doesn't have an exit stamp from the previously visited country. "Go back to Tanzania to have the exit stamp transferred to the new passports!", they said.

Seeing everything from a bird's perspective it would have been a wonderful picture: you could see Mischa running from the Zambian side to the Tanzanian ... only to be told that they would not do it ... then back to the Zambian ... who again said that they would not do it, so did their superior ... "Ah, no, our boss might do it, but today is a Sunday, so you will have to come back tomorrow!" ... "But we can't re-enter Tanzania, because we would need an exit stamp of Zambia!" ... so back to Tanzania, begging, asking for the superior ... "On a Sunday?" ... "No way!" ... so, back to Zambia, where the immigration officers suddenly didn't think the old kids passports were full and stamped their entry stamp on a page which legally was not reserved for visa. ... Problem NOT solved! Especially as we know that Namibia and South Africa are extremely strict with immigration, passports and children.

Different thoughts were going around and around in our heads: "Does this mean that our Transafrican adventure is over???" "What will "they" do with us if the country which we have just exited would not let us in again (because we do not have an exit stamp of the next country which we could not enter because of a full passport)?" "They"!?, Who will be responsible for us then, the officials of the country we have just left or the ones we intend to enter but can't?" "Us"?! No, only the kids! Does that mean that one of us will have to fly home with the kids and the other will have to continue to somwhere where we can meet again after having used the new passports for flying there?" "Shall we just cross the Zambian-Namibian border and wait and see what happens?" "Shall we go to the German Embassy in Lusaka and ask for assistance there?"

So, before getting stuck in "no man's land" between Zambia and Namibia, maybe in the rain, we contacted the German Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia. "No problem!", they said, "Just go to the headquarters of the immigration department in Lusaka and have the entry stamps officially transferred to the new passports!" Lusaka was on the way we wanted to take, but actually, we did not really want to into town! Especially not in that rain!

 

The most beautiful speeding ticket ... we will frame it! ... But just read what the police woman wrote on top!!! LAND CRUISER!!!!!

 

Mischa wanted to make haste ... and guess, what happened: he got his second speeding ticket, this time in Zambia (and what a beautiful one, too!) ... two speeding tickets within 48 hours!

Anyway, we did exactly what the embassy told us - in the rain - and, three hours later after writing a (typed!) explanation of our situation, we had the stamps transferred into the kids' new passports without a problem. Later, when crossing the Zambian-Namibian border, it was no problem at all for the officials in Namibia, the new passports were fine and we didn't even have to show the old ones!

...

Here is the text of the letter we wrote, just in case you want (or have) to do the same ...

...

Names of parents                                                                Date

Residential address: ...

Email: ...

Currently traveling in ...

 

 

To whom it may concern,

 

we hereby kindly request the entry stamps for Zambia (as stamped on the ... (date) at the Tanzanian/Zambian border post of Nakonde) in our two daughters' old passports

name daughter one, dob, pob (old passport: passport number, date of issue, place of issue, expiry date)

name daughter two, dob, pob (old passport: passport number, date of issue, place of issue, expiry date)

to be transferred to their new passports

name daughter one (new passport: passport number, date of issue, place of issue, expiry date)

and

name daughter two (new passport: passport number, date of issue, place of issue, expiry date).

The old passports (numbers as stated above) are full due to the fact that since the 10th July 2015 we as a family have been traveling overland by car (make of car, rego) through countries visited so far. In Germany children's passports do not have enough pages for the visa needed for a Transafrican journey, so the German passport authorities issued new passports for our two children to be used when the old ones are full. The old passports thus become invalid but will have to be forwarded at request to any customs ifficial to accompany the new passports and prove the route of the travel. Also, for the next following countries to bevisited (namely, countries to be visited on the onward journey) the passports need two blank pages each for the visa. to make sure that we are not stuck in "no mans' land" between the borders of Zambia and Namibia after having exited Zambia, we contacted the German Embassy in Lusaka who kindly informed us to request this transfer of the Zambian entry stamps in person at the Headquarters of the Department of Immigration of the Republic of Zambia which we hereby do.

We thank you for your help and support,

Yours sincerely,

(names, dob, pob, passport numbers)

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