The Botswana Immigration saga

I am the proud owner of a sticker in my passport that says ‘Republic of Botswana – Permit – Residence – Extension.’

This is a good thing. My first 90-day visa expires tomorrow, the same day I am meeting wife Karen at the airport. My Diocese of Botswana colleagues and I both agree that my fleeing across the border the day Karen arrives to be with me here might be seen by Karen as an issue. The Dean of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross observes encouragingly that the South African border is very close by and she could come across and visit me, but I’m not sure that will resonate with her.

So now I have it. It’s been quite a saga. I show up at Immigration on March 25 and find the computer system down but – thanks to Diocesan Secretary Ben Motlhalamme’s presence – I learn that they are content with the papers we have assembled. I take him to the office, return, the system is now up, and I clear that hurdle. I look to the adjacent counter, Revenue, and discover it is closed until noon. I return at noon and am told to return at 2:00. I do, now at the end of a long line. Finally, close to closing time, they accept my money for a 90-day extension, and I have the papers to prove it.

I am to return after Easter to secure a stamp in my passport, and I do. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The computers are down all day. Friday they tell us not to bother to come. Monday Immigration is chaotic and I give up.

Yesterday I come once again, early, prepared to wait as long as it takes. I bring a 600-page book, water, snacks, and a banana. But... I don't get to eat a bite or read a page. I end up with a ticket numbered "1" and after a few minutes, during which the official sighs and leaves her desk with my file (an ominous sign), she returns, attaches a visa sticker to my passport, and I'm home before I know it.

How strange.