So I Forged a Visa? What Would you have Done?
Apr29

So I Forged a Visa? What Would you have Done?

Thanks to an issue shipping Anne Murray on the train to Franceville, I fell behind.  I fell way behind.  Now normally, being a little bit late in travel isn’t exactly a bad thing, it means you’re having too much fun to move on.  However, when I applied for my visa for Congo in Yaoundé, Cameroon I hadn’t been planning on going through Gabon.  I certainly wasn’t planning on spending nearly a week waiting in Franceville, Gabon for my scooter to arrive.  This time, being late in travel was about to cause major problems. You see, when I applied for my visa for Congo in Yaoundé, they made me give them near exact days of travel.  I thought I’d travel directly into the Congo from Cameroon and then I’d have plenty of days to get through before my 15 day tourist visa would expire.  My visa would expire on the 10th of the month. I ended up in Leconi, staring at my passport on the 9th of the month.  One day to cross the so called “worst road in Africa” and cover nearly 400km to Brazzaville, and then get across to Kinshasa?  Not a chance.  Unfortunately, I was left with few options.  I could cross all the way back to Libreville, setting myself back at least 2 weeks and more money than I ever dare to think, or I could add a little tick to the 10 on my visa to turn it into a 16.  I did what I had to do, this is Africa of course, rules are never really fixed are they? I passed through the country without anyone offering even the slightest hint that something was wrong with my passport.  Everything in regards to border crossings in Central Africa is done on paper and pen.  Information about my visa is probably filed away with thousands of other trees in some warehouse in Yaoundé.  No one would ever have a clue.  In fact, throughout West and Central Africa there have been few instances where a little forgery couldn’t get you anywhere you need to be.  Borders are all soft at best, and nothing is done on computer. In the end, this is, thus, not a story about forgery, but one of development and corruption.  You see, as long as these parts of Africa are left behind when it comes to technology, there will always be ways around rules.  There will always be doors left wide open for corruption and abuse of laws.  The one thing that has surprised me more than anything in Africa thus far is the lack of communication technology, and if Africa is ever to pull itself from the shadow...

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How to Enter The Gambia
Aug29

How to Enter The Gambia

The Gambia welcomed me with a warm smile and a couple of friendly handshakes.  As soon as I entered the country’s border posts I had a feeling I was going to like the country.  The security people all spent their time laughing and joking with me; and the process crossing the border was smooth.  However, getting and staying in the country wasn’t as cut and dry as I had been led to believe. Entering the country This part is easy.  There is no challenge to actually getting into the country.  Just like 90% of the world’s other countries, you enter into an immigration office, answer a couple questions, get a stamp, and move on.  Canadians, along with other members of the commonwealth, do not need visas to get in.  However, they will only give you a 72-hour pass to get it at land borders.  And that I didn’t know entering. Getting a Tourist Card/Visa Basically, once you get to Banjul, or Serrekunda or the Sene-Gambia area, there are immigration offices all over.  If you’re planning on staying longer than 72-hours, you need to go to one of these offices and buy a tourist card.  The card when I bought one was about 15 Euros and covered me for 30 days.  They also said it was possible to get a 3-month visa. Why??? When I asked for an explanation as to why they can’t issue 30-day visas at the border, the official told me that it was because how could we know how long we want to spend in the country before seeing it with our own eyes?  Me personally I think that they do it so that the guys in the tourist office can earn a little bit of cash.  Regardless, the process is fairly painless, it takes just a couple minutes. Your experience? If you had a completely different experience let us know in the comment box below.  I had never read anywhere online about my needing to buy a tourist card for The Gambia, so I was a little surprised that this was the...

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Getting a Visa for Mauritania in Rabat, Morocco
Jun16

Getting a Visa for Mauritania in Rabat, Morocco

I read a couple pieces about getting a visa for Mauritania in Rabat online before doing it myself but most of the information was out of date or unclear so I thought I’d give an update on how it went for me. Just so you know, you can get a visa in your home country, but as long as you’re willing to spend an hour or so at the embassy here getting a visa for Mauritania in Rabat is much cheaper, and probably even quicker. This is the process: You’re going to need 2 passport photos.  There are a couple of places downtown Rabat to have them done. You’ll also need a couple photocopies of your passport.  If you’re like me and you forget them in your hotel room, there is a place across from the gas station near the embassy that does them. Of course, you’ll also need to bring your passport with you. Jump in a petit taxi and ask for the Embassy of Mauritania. Almost all of them will know it, but you can also ask for the Embassy of Senegal which is really close if they don’t. The address of the Embassy is 6, rue Thami Lamdawar, Soussi, Rabat. I found catching a petit taxi at the train station in downtown Rabat was the easiest. The price shouldn’t be more than 20 dirhims, but be sure to negotiate the price before leaving. If you run into problems the embassy also has a phone number of (+212) (537) 65 66 78. The Mauritanian embassy in Rabat opens at 9am, but I would recommend getting there about 8-8:15. Around 8:30 the door opens and someone will come out with forms for you to fill out. The forms are in French and Arabic. There isn’t one in English. Some of the information on the forms is redundant, and I’m not sure they read all of it anyways. The one thing you’ll want to get right is your dates in Mauritania. You get a 30-day visa so if you’re not going to be there for 10-15 days make sure to say that or they’ll just start the days immediately. If you don’t speak French, bring a phrasebook or translator. You will not have the chance to speak with anyone official to question them about the form. However, there are generally some lots of other people there (getting visas) that can help you out in translating, and as I mentioned above, I don’t think they’re all too concerned if you don’t fill out all the information. If you don’t understand something, or it seems irrelevant, just leave it blank. Also,...

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