Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lost In Translation

Immigration could have gone better. I made it to the point where they inspect my documents, visa, etc. I thought everything is in order. The guy starts speaking to me in French. I shrug my shoulders and apologize, “Pardon, no parlevouz Fran├žois.” He gives me a look, calls over a large uniformed woman. They started talking in French, occasionally pointing at me. Five minutes of conversation later, the woman turns to me and says, “Wait. Here.” She points at the row of seats nearby. Really? That’s all you have to say for five minutes of deliberation? There must have been more to the discussion than that...

Turns out I was supposed to supply an invitation letter. Never saw that in any of the documents regarding immigration to Congo… You’d think that would have come up when I applied for my visa. I suppose it’s understandable; they don’t want non-French speaking visitors wandering around the city and getting impossibly lost. (I think I’d be able to fend for myself, but whatever.)

Fortunately, Jean (my CS friend) was at the airport and came to my rescue. He smoothed things over with the authorities, serving as my advocate. Clearly, he was my invitation; we just forgot to write the letter.

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