Monday, August 14, 2006

In which the intrepid traveller attempts to wrest permits from the belly of the beast.

... the beast being the Kenyan Beaurocracy.

The scene: Silk Stockings walks into the hotel reception area [to call it a lobby would be giving it too much credit]. She holds in her hand a sheet of blue A4 paper with the instructions for picking up her permit. Included in said instructions is a request for cash payment, but is cash inclusive of traveler's checks?

SS: Can I make a local phone call?
Desk Clerk: Yes. It's 10 shillings per minute.
SS: Fine. Here is the number.
Desk Clerk: dials number. I'm sorry, that number has been disconnected.
SS:'s the number for the ministry of Science, Technology and Education!
Desk Clerk:Maybe you wrote it down wrong.
SS: It's on the letterhead!

SS gives up and goes to the ministry to ask the question herself. She discovers that traveler's checks do NOT equal cash. She tries to change said checks at the bank.

SS: I need to change some traveler's checks.
SS hands her the passport and traveler's checks.
SS: What is the exchange rate?
Clerk:69.75 shillings.
Clerk takes out a big calculator that prints receipts and a red logbook with a bunch of handwritten entries. She punches a bunch of buttons and looks confused. She pushes more buttons and looks confused. She leaves the room and comes back with her manager and a new cup of coffee. The manager punches some buttons, and leaves. The clerk pushes some more buttons, and then counts out money for me.
SS: This is 18,500 KSH.
Clerk: Right.
SS: I changed $300.
Clerk: Right.
SS: How much is the commission?
Clerk: 150 KSH.
SS:... Can I get a receipt?
The same process is repeated and clerk finds her error. SS gets her receipt. She leaves 40 minutes after entering the building. There is a huge line of people behind her. She proceeds to the ministry.

Receptionist: They're still working on your permits. Wait out here.
20 minutes pass. The minister emerges from his office.
Minister: Why didn't you come in?

SS finally emerges, victorious, permits in hand. She can begin research.


  1. hooray! well at least you are getting somewhere. i think i would have banged my head to the point of being unconcious.

  2. Wow, you got all of that taken care of in just one day? You don't know how good you've got it.

    The "Why didn't you come in?" is hilarious.