My documents have been notarized. It still was not an easy process, but it was much smoother than my first attempt.
Two days after my previously described attempt, I went into town early to get in line at the notary before it opened. I arrived at 7:15 for its 7:30 opening. The line was down the three flights of dark stairs and out the door. But it was an actual line. Once the office opened, we moved about halfway up the stairs then waited. At least it was still a line. No pushing or shoving. Plus there was a girl in front of me and an older woman behind me, and the crowd was considerably calmer than the afternoon crowd of two days previously.
I found out that a friend of the woman behind me had been in line since 5:30! I also found out why I had been turned away from the official that first day. Apparently, there are two counters inside the office, one for original documents and one for photocopied documents. I had had photocopies in the original documents line.
At 8:15 one of the guys from my office arrived to take over for me. While he is a very gentle person whom I couldn’t envision being forceful in a crowd, he is, nevertheless, a Mozambican male who is larger than I. I handed him my documents and went to my Portuguese lesson. About 10:00 he arrived at our office with everything notarized. Nearly three hours to get a stamp and signature on a piece of paper.
I don’t mind waiting. In fact, I spend most of my time in Beira just waiting. Waiting for signatures, waiting to pick up my passport, waiting for people to arrive, waiting to see apartments, waiting to check out at the grocery store, waiting for 3-hour long church services to end, waiting to take cash out of the ATM. And by waiting I mean an hour or two or three. I get frustrated when it seems – at least in my westernized mind – that there are simple solutions to avoid the waits, but I am learning to become patient with all the waiting. It’s when the waiting turns into more, when it’s combined with oppressive heat and stagnant air or with people telling me lies or with too much body contact that I want to escape or lash out at someone. That’s why an hour waiting in line at the notary felt just fine to me compared to the misery of an hour in the midst of the crowd inside.
This is also just the beginning of waiting and dealing with government bureaucracy. My passport is now at the US Embassy in Maputo because I am out of space and need more pages. (Praise the Lord for DHL – an air-conditioned office with no wait at all, someone who speaks English, and next-day guaranteed delivery service.) Once the passport’s returned, hopefully on Tuesday, I then start the possibly months-long process of trying to get a work permit with the Ministry of Labour and a residence visa with Immigration (as I understand it), and of course the two offices do not work in conjunction with one another. In the meantime, my current visa expires on the 28th of this month which means again applying for an extension. More waiting.
But the good news is life has been smoother since my last written post. At least for the time being.