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Week 63: Visa Countdown Begins

This week has been quite stressful, it started with the shocking news that my application to the Ministry of education had been cancelled by the headteacher of the school I was trying to work in. He was worried about getting into trouble because I didn’t have a visa, even though immigration had said it was ok. So the next day (Tuesday) I travelled into town to try to speak with immigration and see what my options were, this time I went without any teachers, but with the contact name and number of a friend of a friend who works there.

I arrived at the main immigration office in Stone Town and asked for to see my ‘contact’. He was in a meeting so I had to wait for about 30 minutes before I was asked into his office. After about 5 minutes talking to him we realised that he was the wrong guy and I was in the wrong building. Instead of the main immigration office I should have gone to the regional office at the edge of town where someone with the same name as this guy worked. Luckily the guy I had come to see by accident was a nice guy, he called this other guy and arranged a lift for me. But the guy I was actually supposed to meet was out of the office, he had actually gone to Makunduchi looking for me and I had unknowingly gone looking for him at the same time. So we arranged to meet the next day. I then headed to the airport to meet Billy and Zoe, two new Zanzigap volunteers, and we all headed back to Makunduchi.

On Wednesday I headed to meet the immigration guy, this time I waited for about 10 minutes before I was asked into the office. After a brief explanation of the situation, I was told that I could only have a one month extension, and this one month rolls on from my previous visa. This left me will 11 days, yet they asked me for $100 for their ‘help’, I managed to get that down to $40 then headed back to Makunduchi. I was now left with two choices, the first was to leave Tanzania within 11 days and re-enter to get another 3 month tourist visa. The second was to try to get the Ministry of Education to process my application and grant me permission to stay and work, within the 11 day time limit. After talking with one of the teachers we decided to try the Ministry first, I spoke with the head teacher and was told that he would write me a letter to help the process along.

Thursday I went to town again, this time I was with the Assistant Head of the school. Unfortunately the head teacher had failed to write the letter he had promised but insisted it wasn’t needed. We went to the Ministry of Education and after a short wait we went into an office to meet a large man lounging in his chair with his eyes half closed. As we spoke to him he stared at us as though we were boring him, when we finished he told a few seemingly unrelated stories about previous people who had been ill-suited for teaching in Zanzibar. I reiterated that I had already lived in the village for a year before, I speak Swahili, I have a degree in IT and am a qualified English teacher. He said that I could have his permission if I brought him a letter from the head teacher and one from the director of Zanzigap. I left the office positive that this would not be a problem and sent texts to the head teacher and director. Within an hour I had texts back from them both saying they would not write the letters. The director explained that it was because the government were looking over Zanzigap and were watching my situation to judge whether Zanzigap was a trustworthy operation. The head teachers reasons were more due to his incapability to understand the situation.

This means I have to leave Tanzania before the end of the 30th of September. Since then I have packed all my belongings and moved to the hotel on Makunduchi beach so that I can spend my last few days in comfort by the pool. I’m sure this coming week will also be stressful, I need to finalise the sale of my motorbike on Tuesday or Wednesday, get some paperwork confirming my sale of the bike so that I can leave the country without it, then travel to Malawi on or before Sunday, all using public transport. I plan to stay in Malawi for a while and hopefully arrange all my India plans while I’m there.

2 thoughts on “Week 63: Visa Countdown Begins”

  1. Richard Meek says:

    Feel for you mate! Must have thought you’d cracked it when he asked for just the two letters….Ho hum…onwards and upwards…….!

  2. Simon Taylor says:

    Their loss matey! Guess you’re pretty cheesed off, but I remember my small amount of time spent in Zanzibar, it’s unbelievable how much archaic ‘Red Tape’ exists in parts of Africa – I’m sure things will work out, all the best, Si

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