22 September 2006

Next Stop: Togo!


As of yesterday, when I booked and paid for my plane ticket, I am on my way to Togo and Ghana at the end of October for ten days. I am so excited! It should be totally awesome!

For those of you darling readers from my Japan social circle; I lived one year with a lovely girl from Vermont named Katie who is currently now working for the Peace Corps in Togo. So after two years being hounded by my other roommate at the time, Jennifer (whom some of you may have met when she came to visit me in Tokyo), I am finally on board for this African expedition! All systems set to go. Or is that all systems set Togo! Hahahaha, I’m so witty.

I have had a tonne of fun trying to extract information about visas from lovely West African consular workers in Ottawa.

ME: I'm not sure what I should put in the 'references' section of the visa application form.
GHANIAN EMBASSY LADY: You put down the hotel you staying in and one person you know in Ghana.
ME: Okay, but I don't know anyone in Ghana.
GEL: (incredulous) You don't know anyone in Ghana!?
ME: Um, no.
GEL: (sharp suck of air).
ME: ...
GEL: Well, just the hotel is fine then.
ME: Only one reference is okay?
GEL: Yes. No problem.

ME: Hi. I'm phoning to find out if tourist visas for Togo are available at the border with Ghana.
ME: Are visas for tourists available at the border with Ghana?
TES: I really don't know...
ME: ...
TES: ...
ME: Uh, is there someone in the consular section I could speak to?
TES: Oh mon dieu!
(put on hold)
TES#2: Yes?
ME: Are tourist visas available at the border with Ghana?
TES#2: One moment.
(on hold again)
TES#1: It's do-able.
ME: So visas are available at the border?
TES#1: Yes. You can do it.
ME: Thank you.

And of course my favourite; phoning the Bénin embassy:

ME: (ring, ring, ring!)
ME: Um, is this the Embassy of Benin?
BER: Yes.
ME: Could you please fax me a visa application form?
BER: You're going to get it from the internet. benin.ca.
ME: ...Uh, okay--
BER: Goodbye. (click)

I’m not even exactly sure what the point of a visa is anyway. They seem pretty lackadaisical about the whole process and I highly doubt that anyone ever looks at the forms ever again. For example, why do they need to know the address of my employer, ? They should just call it “Tourist Tax Grab” and say “Give us 70$ to come to our country” and save everyone all the paperwork. I’d be fine with that – way less headaches.

Visa hassles or not, I am totally stoaked! Africa won't know what hit it!


Princess Pessimism said...

Miss Ash and myself went out for a lovely Thai vegetarian dinner tonight, and then spoke in great length about your upcoming expedition. I lent her my backpacker's backpack (LOL!), and then at 9:30, we raced to Chapters to see if there were any travel books on Togo. There weren't. So we went for a beer instead.

Miss Ash said...

This is going to be good times indeed!! I paid for my ticket today, togo here i come!!

tokyo tintin said...

i find it very humourous, by the by, that it was jenni who was doing the hard sell for this trip for the past two years and now that it's actually happening, she's still not got her act together.

c'mon jenni, get it together! togo beckons.