On paperwork. . .
We woke up before the sun to drive into the immigration house in Nairobi. In an effort to make sure everyone had correct papers, Kenya had called for all expatriates to be reregistered in the next two months. We drove up the winding road to the highway as the sun rose over the Great Rift Valley. Orange light shifted through the trees, and I shifted through the papers, making sure we had everything in order. Passports. Receipts. Original permits. Tax ID.
As we arrived, we drove straight to our favorite parking spot and wound ourselves to the end of the line. An amalgamation of global humanity stood with us – Israelis, Australians, East African, Indian, British, American, Chinese. All carried a variation of a folder, all waited expectantly – hopeful it wouldn’t be too long of a morning.
Three hours later we reached the front, and we realized, despite our careful preparation, we were missing a paper. I apologized to the lady for not being ready and fought back tears. She had compassion and gave me a “yellow paper” (also known a post-it note) that gave us permission to come to the front of the line if we found the document.
I searched my email and was ecstatic when the correct paper showed up on the screen – received 2 years ago and never opened. We went across the street, past two bus stations a people asking if we needed passports to a back corner cyber café where we paid 10 cents to print out the document and sprinted back to the line. The lady laughed at my excitement and they put me back to the front of the line with my yellow post-it as my ticket past the other 200 people in line.
Finger prints, photos, and a few lines later, I was again official and my work permit and papers and ability to stay in Kenya were confirmed – as were David’s.
I met David at the car, and we laughed at how things had changed. It used to be that if we accomplished half of one task in a day, we would consider it a victory, but we had maneuvered an early morning drive, the line, missing papers, renewed papers, 9 different lines, and we were done before lunch. Just a year ago, they had asked us for color copies of something in a line in the same building, and we had given up and driven home to come another day, unsure of where to go. Today, we had met obstacles with certain determination that we could figure it out.
Driving out of the immigration center, David maneuvered a tricky left through a roundabout and guided the car between two buses and set our course to our next destination. We went shopping for the rest of our items for the guest house, grabbed frozen yogurt, found the new grocery store, and then headed home to pick the girls up from school.
“Are you finished?” Belle asked, as she bounded out of her classroom after talent show auditions.
“Yes,” I said with a slightly weary but triumphant smile.
“Good job!” she said knowingly. With the awareness only a child can have that we had accomplished something that would have seemed impossible and overwhelming when we first arrived.