…for the next month anyway. Perhaps longer.
I’m already here, actually. You can blame my wife. Or the American government. Or striking South African postal workers.
You see, not that our U.S. government wins any blue ribbons for its efficiency, but things are a little rogue here in South Africa. The postal service has been illegally striking for eight weeks, so the documents we mailed (“oh do not vorry, za documents vill be deliwered owernight” the Germans assured us) never reached the proper office.
Heidi is in the final stages of her American visa process and we’ve run into one snare…a demand for a police report stating that she committed no crimes in South Africa.
Why would a nice German girl need a police clearance certificate from South Africa? Well, because she had the audacity to volunteer a year of her life to work in a children’s orphanage here a few years ago. The horror!
But the Americans, with their high-tech surveillance methods, apparently cannot be bothered to login to Interpol or whatever police database they care to take a gander at to see that my wife has a clean record.
So this morning Heidi was fingerprinted at a local police station and we then drove (hey, that practice driving on the other side of the road paid off!) to the Police Central Records Office in Pretoria, which turned out to be a small office in a decrepit circa-1970s office building. And it wasn’t just the building…forms were filled out by hand and the room was filled with file folders…thousands of them. Need to find a document? Start leafing.
How long will it take to get the piece of paper stating Heidi has no criminal record? 3-4 weeks? Can we pay an expedite fee? No. Bribe? No. Anything? No. [For the record, no bribe attempt was made]
Rather comically, my wife tried to plead with the clerk who took her paperwork this morning.
“We’ve flown all the way down from Germany for this! We need this in a hurry!”
The lady smirked and pulled out a stack of about 200 records requests that had been turned in today, dropping them on the desk and stating, “Everyone needs them quickly.”
Why not hire a courier service to take care of this? Because I don’t trust them (and because, come on, who wouldn’t want the chance to fly to South Africa…wait till you hear about my transit through Nigeria…)
I have tickets booked back to Germany at the end of the month, but I doubt the mission will be accomplished by the end of this month: hopefully we will be home for Thanksgiving (Hi Ma!). So, we will make the most of the time here, perhaps even have a proper honeymoon and check out some neighboring counties.
For now, we have moved into an apartment here and are fitting in with the locals at Pick n Pay and Checkers…
My wife admonished me for not tipping the man in the parking lot of the grocery store tonight on the way in…she matter-of-factly stated that you tip the man roaming the parking lot so that he watches out for your car; otherwise, he will turn the other way when it is broken into, vandalized, and looted. Hmm…
Looking back even to August, neither of us envisioned ourselves spending time in South Africa, but here we are and here’s to the month ahead!