Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Like Overfeeding Your Fish

What should I eat first, I thought. The baguette or the croissant or the toast?

I've really, truly had quite enough bread since crossing over from Spain at the beginning of March. And why exactly was I still drinking this hotel coffee tastes so bitter?

I have developed the unfortunate habit of eating every meal on the road as if it were my last. I gorge myself on things I don't even like because I don't know when I'll get to eat again.

But, I reminded myself, I'm not on a long bus journey. I'm stuck in Yaounde all week, waiting on visas. There are nice restaurants right down the road. Who knows what logic my instincts are following?

I ventured down to the DRC embassy, with the 5,000 CFA I owed on my visa. They made me wait a bit while the people behind the glass partition had a riveting conversation that was probably about office gossip, then handed over my extremely expensive visa.

I walked then down to the Gabon embassy.

"No, no, not yet. The boss isn't coming back until Wednesday."

"So I can leave it and get my passport back tomorrow?"

"No. You can't have it back until Thursday, earliest. Maybe Friday."

Well, I tried.

"So I'll go to Congo-Brazzaville and come back tomorrow."

"This is a good idea."

I walked back to the Republic of Congo embassy, which was open today. I submitted my passport, then hailed a share taxi back to the Chad embassy across from my hotel.

I was wary of running around town, as I wasn't carrying my passport. By law, you are required to carry identification at all times in Cameroon. Of course, I had my driver's license and a photocopy of my passport, but I hadn't bothered to go to the police station for the assorted stamps I needed to make it legal. Seriously? Come on. What is this, a new way to extract fees from people? 

And so I kept a low profile all week.

I looked up which ATM took my debit card, then go the hotel driver to take me to it. I had money again, which was good since I took the same attitude towards cash that I had been taking towards food. Get it. Get lots of it whenever possible.

I was going broke and gaining weight.

Perhaps I needed to rethink my approach.

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