Getting visa and permit paperwork has been a pain in the butt. I made three trips to the University talking to three different professors before getting my letter of authorization today. And that was after going to the Ministry of Higher Education only to be told that I need to go to the University. However, the professors were extremely helpful and interested in what I was doing. I now have three useful contacts of educated and interested men. The visa paperwork on the other hand was been frustrating though I’m only lacking one paper at this point. The Embassy of Madagascar in DC only mentioned needing a police report and a letter of recommendation. But when I went to the Ministry of Interior to extend my visa they told me that I needed a whole list of documents (12 or so). Of course they didn’t give me a copy of the list but instead directed me to where one was glued to the wall from which I could take notes. This list included certified copies of my passport, my ID cards, my host’s ID card, certificate of honor, and a letter to the Minister requesting the visa. I also needed a certificate of residence and foreign residency declaration. Many of these documents also required passport photos. I went out to what I thought was the district office to do the foreign residency declaration (a 1.5 hr trip) only to find out that the office was not there but back in town (45 min back). When I got back, I found out I have to have my certificate of residence before I can do the foreign residency declaration. So I went home and the next day went with my host, Lalari, to the Fokontany (community) office to get that. They, in turn, tell us that they can’t do it there, but that we have to go to the commune office. We get to the commune and find out they can do it as well as the foreign residency declaration, but I need to be registered in Lalari’s ID carnet at the Fokontany first, I need more passport photos, and four copies of a form they gave us. So, after getting some of my paperwork certified (stamped with several red ink stamps that Malagasy bureaucracy loves), Lalari runs to make copies while I go back to the Fokontany and home for passport photos. At the Fokontany they tell me they need a copy of my passport, so on my way home I grab that too at a nearby copy shop. Finally done with the Fokontany (after paying an unanticipated amount of money, probably illegally requested), I return to the commune where Lalari is waiting for me with the four copies of the form. I fill those out, go upstairs to pay, yet another unanticipated fee, and then back down to the lady in charge who stamps the form and sends me back up stairs to process the form. Fifteen minutes later, I am led back downstairs to get the mayor’s signature and I finally have a certificate of residence and foreign resident declaration form. Unfortunately, I forgot one form that needed certification with Lalari present, so we’ll have to go back on Monday. But other than that, I think I have all the rest of the paperwork depending on what they want from me to prove my academic situation. Lalari and his wife have been extremely helpful throughout this process; I owe them a lot.

~ by Abraham on 27 May 2011.

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