Visa Requirements- a stamped letter of invitation, bank statements, WHO certified Yellow-Fever Vaccination, two page application form, 4 passport photos, plane tickets, crisp American bills minted after 2006, passports and patience, lots of patience.
We were headed for Cameroon, the flavor of West Africa.
The Cameroon Embassy in Morocco sits off to the right of a small road, miles from the consulate district. In fact, with no guards, no Cameroonian officials, no check points, the only legitimate proof of an embassy is the dusted President’s picture hanging aslant from a wire above the door.
“Sorry we can’t help you, we only issue visas to Moroccan nationals, are you a Moroccan national? Why didn’t you apply for one in your own country?”
Blank stares, our distress signals flare. Everyone knows visa applications are obtained at embassies- Senegal, Ethiopia, France, they all issue visas. We urge her to ring the Ambassador, surly he could approve the visas.
Our nightmare confirmed, Morocco does not budge.
Searching online tickets from Casablanca to Cameroon on Royal Air Morocco priced an outlandish $800. Skyscanner found the same RAM flight from Casablanca to Cameroon, but originating in Paris for only $300. That’s 1172 more miles for a savings of $500, go figure. We immediately book our tickets to Paris for a second chance at visas.
Finding our way through guarded gates, past men with guns, we arrive at the Cameroon Embassy in Paris.
“Yes, of course you can get your visa here, you can get it in any country, why did you not get it in Morocco if you were there for two months?” Indignant, we hand over our papers, watching as he mulls over each one, setting it down, picking it up, slowly working our stack.
“Come back tomorrow,” prune faced and smirking, he pushes the plethora of papers our way, “this is not the official stamp, you need a police notary from Cameroon.”
We immediately contacted Joseph, begging him to notarize his already stamped letter.
No news is good news, except when INTERPOL is holding a week long conference in Cameroon, suspending all nonessential police duties, including notaries for visas.
Our plans foiled, Cameroon was no more.
And so the fairy tale goes, Jay and Darlene spent one glorious week in the throes of Paris, wrestling the Cameroon Embassy. The tickets now read Dar El Salam, Tanzania. East instead of West, their journey continues.