It’s about time to give you all an update on where our residency and container, last seen at Mason Place in Cambridge, are at.
But just quickly, before I do, a totally unrelated fact. I’ve lost my husband. Sort of. Will has spontaneously decided now that he is back home, to take up the name by which he was called as a child in Zim; Jamie. It’s his third name, and use of middle names is quite common here because of the good ol’ Afrikaans tradition of giving almost everyone the same first names (or so it feels to me).
Unfortunately, he decided to do this a week or so after we arrived, so half the people we have met know him as Will, and the other half as Jamie…this all means that whenever I am trying to explain who I am I have no idea who I am married to. Is it Will or Jamie? It is VERY CONFUSING, and VERY ODD after seven years to suddenly have a husband with a different name.
Ok, back to the subject at hand. At the last update we had just discovered the concept of fuel shortages, were trying to work our water systems at home out, and still had no residency, which meant we were facing a huge bill to keep our container in a bonded warehouse until we were legally residents of the country and so could collect it.
I think I also mentioned that Will spent a lot of time praying in the fuel queues.
Well, it seems to have worked. We decided to break one of the golden rules in Africa, and hand in the paperwork for each of the six consecutive steps to get to residency at the same time…this meant each step would be missing the approval of the previous step.
Within three days, step six was approved, and we were free to hand in our application for residency. What followed was a hectic few days photocopying, certifying and collating endless paperwork to prove who we were and what we were doing.
In the meantime, our container seems to have become part of a comedy show. A still unknown error meant the moving company lost our paperwork, which meant the container has been travelling all over the country (at one point, it was on its way to Zambia). Our clearing agent has been growing increasingly incensed, and is now trading insults over emails with the moving company, while we watch in awe…after all, every day of stuff ups saves us the bonded warehouse fee.
So far Africa being Africa has saved us about US$900.
It’s all fantastic news for us, at present. Now, we’re just praying that our residency comes through super fast, and that as soon as it does our container miraculously arrives so we can FINALLY collect our stuff. We really are yearning to set up our home.
In the meantime, we have learned that fuel shortages are, indeed, a regular occurrence around the entire country. It turns out the lack of USD in the country makes it hard to buy fuel, hence the shortages resulting in 1km queues about once a fortnight.
We’ve learned to fill up as soon as fuel arrives and the queues are gone, then drive Will’s/Jamie’s diesel instead of my petrol whenever possible. Diesel seems more readily available!
We’ve also learned how our water system at home works, and have a steady flow of both hot and cold water coming into the house (hallelujah!!), unless there is a power cut. In which case we have a generator.
So, little by little we are getting there.