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Alicia & Rich's Roads to Everywhere London to Australia on the route less traveled

Back to Mombasa

KENYA | Friday, 7 November 2008 | Views [546]

After leaving Nyali, we head back into Mombasa to see where to go next. The first stop was the local tourism office (not recommended). We took a look at a couple of hostels in central Mombasa and quickly decided Mombasa wasn't for us. One of the places was described in the Lonely Planet as having "...something of the night about it." - we concurred.

As the next main stop was due to be Dar es Salam (Tanzania), it made sense to head south and conveniently there lay Diani beach, with

The Visa Fiasco

Before we leave Mombasa we should get our Tanzanian visas organised - or so is the advice of Michael, the tourism office guy. OK, makes sense. It'll save us time at the border and it's one less thing to have to sort out. So Michael leaves with our passports and money and heads off to the Tanzanian Consulate. Now writing these words, there are clearly a number of things wrong with this situation, most important being that we've just given our passports to a complete stranger. So it will come as no surprise that we were soon to encounter a problem

Michael returns, with our passports, and with our visas BUT he needs another $50 on top of the $100 we've already given him (all visas in Africa are sold in US$) , but as far as we're concerned the price per visa is $50. Michael explains that there's a new price for US citizens of $100 and he went ahead and got it, on the basis that we would settle the difference.

Now he is a nice guy and did this to genuinely help us, but in the process he maganged to screw us out of $50. Here's why: Alicia has a Trinidad passport and the visa for that is $50. If he had come back and said the US visa has been raised to $100, then we would have said use her other passport. But instead he took it upon himself to get the visa put in the US passport and assumed we would be ok with paying the extra. And in 90% of situations this probably would be the case, not many people carry more than one passport. Our first reaction is why didnt you tell us about the price change before getting the visa put into the passport. Never make decisions about other peoples money!

At this point we insist on going back to the consulate to try to get the visa put into the Trini passport instead of the US one. when we get to the consulate we're met by the most annoying, rude woman you ever want to meet. She starts shouting, saying that she's very annoyed with us because of this mixup! I immediately point out that the mixup is entirely her fault because she issued a visa without receiving full payment. How did she know we were going to pay the additional money? This is unfortunately not the right tact, and only riles her more. Stand off. The boss gets involved and ends up laughing at us. They say that the price is $100, no refunds. And Alicia cannot use her Trinidad passport to enter Tanzania anyway as the border officials will need to see the Kenyan exit stamp in the same passport she uses to enter Tanzania. Nothing left to do - we reluctantly pay the extra $50, kick the woman, and leave the consulate in search of somewhere better to get ripped off. Arghhhhh!


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