The immigration story continues…Nighttime visitors…

Last night, Tom took this photo when he checked the thermometer to find a frog doing the same. It was 25C, 77F at 2200 hours, 10 pm.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Hippo and cattle egret on the river’s edge.

I almost don’t know where to begin regarding the South Africa immigration story. With a definitive response, when our passports were stamped when we re-entered at the airport in Nelspruit after a trip to Zambia, that we won’t be allowed to stay beyond November 21, 2018.

As mentioned in a few prior posts, our only solution was to find a holiday home where we could stay for three months while we await our big upcoming tour in Kenya beginning on February 22, 2019. This was no easy task.  
In the dark, Tom also spotted a re-visit of giraffes in our garden.  I was already asleep so he took the photos.

Between us, we each spent no less than 40 hours in research trying to locate a holiday home for this extended period, for these specific dates, in any country we were interested in staying for three months. On short notice, 95% of most properties were already booked.

Even if we stayed part of the time in a hotel and the remainder in a holiday home, we couldn’t match up the dates and locations that would work for us.  Also, we had to consider airfare, rental cars (or other means of transportation), distance, and expenses during this period.

Two giraffes munching on treetops near the little car.

Frustration kicked in after a few days of research but diligently we continued to consider many alternatives that would have been less desirable such as staying in apartments or hotels during the entire period. Living in a hotel for three months was certainly not an appealing prospect.

Considering there are a number of countries in Africa we’d prefer not to visit, our options were limited.  Louise and Danie were well aware of our frustration and in their usual thoughtful manner, connected us with a highly experienced and competent immigration specialist who walked us through, over the phone, how to complete the myriad documents in order to get an extension until February 20th.

A giraffe visiting in the dark.

I’m not exaggerating slightly when I say, it took the entirety of two days to get the paperwork completed, collated, and stacked all of which Louise handled with her printer at her home office. On both ends, we were at it for two days. I don’t know how we can ever thank her and the kindly immigration specialist who supported us through this process.

I must add here, that no special consideration is given to us. We are simply following the “letter of the law” in compliance with gathering the endless number of documents required to possibly receive an extension.  

She’s awfully close to the little car.  One swift “necking” and it could be totaled.

This included bank statements, financial documents, passport and visa documents, and many peripheral forms to be completed, dated, and signed at the time of the meeting. Also, we paid a fee of ZAR 3550 (US $240.42) but weren’t allowed to use any of our credit cards. The fee had to be paid using a South Africa credit or debit card.  

Once again, Louise came to the rescue. We used her card and gave her the cash we’d received from an ATM. This added exponentially to the amount of paperwork in order to be able to confirm Louise authorized this transaction

Moms and babies at the Crocodile River.

During this process, using the complicated South Africa Immigration website, we were assigned an appointment date and time for a face-to-face meeting upcoming this Wednesday morning in Nelspruit to which we must bring all of the printed documents. Complicated, to say the least. 

Part of the process required we include airline tickets showing we’re flying out of South Africa on February 20th (coincidentally, the date of my birthday). The only tickets available were over ZAR 16243 (US $1000) and are non-refundable. In other words, if we don’t get approved to stay until February 20th, we lose the money we paid for the tickets. Oh, goodness.

A noisy hadeda bird flies overhead almost every night at dusk.

We decided we had to take the risk. We understand the necessity of this complicated process for visa extensions when so many countries struggle with those overstaying their visas or entering illegally.  

So here we are, two days from taking the 90-minute drive back to Nelspruit, from which we returned only a few weeks ago after our flight, to enter our documents in person to see if we’ll eventually be approved. It can take two to four weeks for a response. Hopefully, we’ll know by the end of September or early October.

Bushbaby tongue sticking out and the others head in the yogurt cup!

After Wednesday’s in-person meeting, we’ll include an update and will continue to update the news here as it becomes available.

Enjoy today’s photos, some of which Tom took last night in the dark while I was sleeping.  

For those in the US, today is Labor Day. Have a safe and meaningful day whatever you may do!

Photo from one year ago today, September 3, 2017:
This Giant Tortoise is located at the Zoo Ave location, although not indigenous to Costa Rica. We suspect the facility imported some of its wildlife to attract more visitors to its rehab facility. For more details, please click here.

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