Third world country problems?

Currently sitting at the airport of Addis Ababa and hoping that my connection flight doesn’t get cancelled. I am not as sure as I used to be if Zambia will let me in. But after what I had to go through to be here in Addis, I really hope so.

Our new reality is much more different than I thought. I have been preparing this field trip two months in advance, gathered information from embassies, consulates, airlines, immigration offices…the list goes on. With the help of some extremely dedicated people I accumulated many more documents than actually needed, except for a visa. Long story but currently it is almost impossible to get a visa in advance because “who knows what will be in two weeks?”. However, the combination of Zambian borders being officially open and all my supporting documents saying I will get a visa on arrival should have worked. Should have…

When I arrived at the airport, a polite man from the check-in told me “sorry Madame, you can’t fly”. This sentence I heard from three levels of authorities upon which I almost gave up. All the documents I had were not enough. For the first time I experienced how it felt to have the wrong passport. A passport that does not guarantee you a friendly welcome to most countries in the world. Not during Corona.

After one hour of talking to different people of the airline including the highest area manager in Zambia (“we have never given away that number for a passenger, good luck!”), I finally got a “yes, you can fly”. That hour cost me one year of my lifetime I reckon. Pulse far from healthy and I am all sweaty and stinky. But in the end the only thing that counts is that I am sitting in Addis and not in Frankfurt. This positive outcome was only possible because of two wonderful people from the Zambian embassy who involved themselves way after their official working hours on a friday evening. I am very very grateful and just hope it will be okay from now on. Think I am going to visit the prayer room…

Pretty empty plain. EVERYBODY was super strict in wearing the mask during the entire flight…safety first!

Published by caribiologist

Postdoc at the University of Basel, Switzerland

6 thoughts on “Third world country problems?

  1. Oh my! What a hell! Fingers crossed that you will arrive safely in Zambia after all that you have been through!


  2. I guess the classical prejudices for or against first, second, or third world countries is completely flipped these days as each and every country has to find their own way through Corona. Whenever one tries to travel across borders – it’s maximally unclear how and whether you are cleared.
    Good job, Cari, you made it through the first quagmire of bureaucracy!
    Way to go, girl!


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