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Entry 49 // Visa Time

Update by: Luke | April 11th 2011

This was our campsite from the previous night. Not so stealth.It's monday morning, we are only 50 miles to town and we already know where the Saudi Arabia embassy is located. We are in great shape. we pack up camp and casually make our way into town, looking at carnage, and stopping to get a bite to eat along the way. Breakfast was really good, and expensive. We have heard Djibouti was more expensive than Ethiopia, but 5x's more expensive? My dad is a health sanitarian. Part of his job is inspecting restaurants. I wonder what he thinks looking at these photos.

Flies everywhereThis goat was just running back and forth under the table.This is not the norm. Most restaurants are a lot cleaner than this place. The food was great. It's amazing they can get this food, out of those conditions.Back on the road Nick points out some military helicopters. Are these Americans? I know they have a base here.We arrive at the Saudi Arabian Embassy right at 9:00 a.m. ready to go. If everything goes to plan we can have our visa completed by tomorrow, and get on a boat, only staying one night in town. Perfect. Inside, we find out we can not get a Saudi Arabia visa here, but only from Yemen. Saudi only gives out transit visas which last 4-5 days, so they only issue visas from a bordering country so you have enough time to get to the border and cross Saudi. They tell us to go to Yemen, and the Saudi Embassy in Yemen will give us a visa no problem. Well this is a problem, we don't want to go to Yemen. We want to take a boat from Djibouti to Saudi Arabia via the Red Sea. There are no passanger ferrys to do this, but remember, we know people. We have Seid and his people who can put us on a cargo boat, and take us to Saudi. The only thing standing in our way is the Saudi Visa. We explain our plan to the counclor at the embassy. He understand what we are doing, but says he doesn't have the power to issue visas from Djibouti. We must get the visa in Yemen. Case closed. This is downhearting, but nothing has stopped our trip so far. On to the Yemen Embassy.

The Yemen Embassy is pretty chill. You stand outside on the sidewalk and talk through some bars. We explain we need a visa, and give him all our paperwork. Then he asks for the dreaded letter. We have heard this story before. Back in Nairobi Sudan demanded this same letter from the US Embassy saying that we are US Citizens. Of course the US Embassy would not give us such a letter so that killled our Sudan Visa chance in Kenya. Once again we were asked for this letter in Addis Ababa to get our visa for Djibouti. The US Embassy DID grant us this letter and we DID obviously get the Djibouti Visa. Onward to the US Embassy, cross your fingers.

The US Embassy is a serious place. You get patted down, and walk through a metal detector. It's much different than the Yemen Kiosk just a block down the street. Inside the people are friendly, this is a good sign. Unfortunatly on mondays, they don't do civilian requests. We are told to come back tomorrow. I push it a little bit, asking for possibly this afternoon. This works in getting us to talk to the civilian requests office lady. She tells us the same, to come back tomorrow, but she does say she will indeed write us the letter. This is great news. I think we will be getting the Yemen visa. It's about noon now. We can't do anything until tomorrow, so it's time to find a place for the night and celebrate with some fresh juice.

Well finding the place to stay is a challenge. The cheapest place is a dump with one dirty single bed. It's $40 USD and there is no secure parking for the bikes. After a few hours we finally find a place for $50 that's clean and has secure parking. When I bring Nick to the place, we get denied. I told the receptionist that there was two people, but I guess two guys can't share the same room. We are tired and hot and after checking out all the hotels in the area we spring for the $115 a night place because they have secure parking for the bikes. Oh well, it will only be two nights, and they have in room free wifi. It really is a nice place. Just so expensive considering our last hotel was $9.Ok, juice and street meat time.The rest of the day we spend catching up on the blog, and watching to our friends on Skype.

The next morning we go to the US Embassy. The lady that wrote the letter took time to make sure that we fully understood the Yemen situation. She strongly recommend that we do NOT go to Yemen, but there was nothing she could do to stop us (except not write the letter.) All nonessential government personal are currently being evacuated. We agree that we would like to skip Yemen, but unfortunatly our hands are tied. We have no other options right now. Yemen is our only way out of Africa and we are going to take it.

Back to the Yemen Embassy. We drop off the paperwork, and they tell us to come back in the afternoon to pick up our visas. Awesome news! There is a football (soccer) field down the road, and we stop over to do some interviews. We are really happy about the good news, and the chance to leave Africa in the morning.Now we head to the port to rig up a ride to Yemen in the morning. There are tons of shady people hanging around, so I watch the bikes while Nick investigates. There is stuff going to Yemen daily, and it sounds like it won't be hard to get a ferry, but we can't do anything now without that Yemen visa. They say come back when you have it.

Back at the Yemen Embassy we are taken inside to talk to the counclor. He explains the problem. The situation in Yemen is complex and uncertain. We can not get a visa because if something were to happen to us while we are there if would be very bad for Yemen. We are denied. The counclor is sincere when he says he is sorry. His hands are tied and the decision came from higher up. All our reasonable options out of Africa are not offically closed. (There is always air freight to Europe. Cost keeps that option in the unreasonable category.)

Look at a map of Africa. The north is blocked from west to east by Cameroon, Chad and Sudan. All of which will not issue us a visa. The Araibian Peninsula is now out too.

We will figure something out. We always do.




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