Thursday, 1 July 2010

Frustrating day...

It's been a bit of one of those days today. And Mama B has gone out for a girlie's night out so I'm left having to moan to the world instead... It started yesterday really, when we had some last minute visitors over for a meal (which was very nice - especially as one of them is newly relocated from Aberdeen and so was good to catch up with here) and just as we were getting sorted with them, the lawyers phoned about passport related things. From what I was gathering on the phone it sounded as though on the one hand it would be a really big problem to let Mama B and the littlies travel back to UK in a few weeks time, but on the other hand it would make life much simpler if I were to leave the country for a few weeks after all. Hmmm. Given that the phone kept cutting anyway, I arranged to go over and meet this morning.

I'd also arranged to drop the landrover at the fundi to have a few rattles and a recurrent oil leak looked at before we headed off for the weekend. So, I headed down to the fundi first thing this morning, only to have the verdict passed that the oil leak (in fact, more of an oil spurt - each time the engine turned over a little puff of oil would shoot out the dipstick tube - not so good...) was probably related to the cracked piston ring I've been aware of for several months now but been putting off fixing until we know we're here long term - as it only really makes sense to doa  full engine overhaul. Which, although much cheaper here than it would be in the UK - I've been quoted $1000 - is still not cheap and quite a hassle. Still, the verdict was that if I kept driving, even if I keep pouring oil in the top it risks doing some s rious damage to the engine. So there was little choice really - but as the mechanic wasn't sure quite what he'd find when he opened up the engine, he couldn't give me a complete quote at that point, so asked me to come back after lunch to see what had been discovered.

Anyway, from the fundi Mama B picked me up and we headed on to the lawyer's offices, where happily they have a playground that she amd the Mancub could play on whilst I went round and round and round trying to make sense of what I was being told and trying to explain what I had understood. To cut a very long story short, it seems that although we have a valid resident's permit which does entitle us to live in Tanzania legally, we also need a visa in our passport that lets us in and out of the country. That would normally be fine - but legally, to get the visa stamped in the passport, you need to show both the resident's permit and the letter of employment - in my case, the research permit. And I don't have one of those. In fact, legally, it seems no-one should ever be in the position that we are in - without the research permit, I really shouldn't have a resident's permit and we shouldnt' be in Tanzania. But we do still have the resident's permit as a consequence of the lawyers calling in some favours with some friendly officials at Immigration in Dar. But that places us in a sort of semi-legal limbo. Now this will all be resolved when (and I'm assured there's no 'if' left) I get the research permit back -but the head of immigration we're dealing with (who's already working in a very grey area of his juristiction) is out of the office again and not back until the weekend. And when he does get back, it's still not clear to anyone if that will be it - end of all problems - or if it will keep dragging on again. In theory, no-one sees any reason why it shouldn't be over on MOnday - but no-one has seen any reason for several weeks now... And in the mean time, unless we can persuade someone else to stamp the visa in our passports in a decidedly irregular manner (and don't forget, this is Tanzania, so anything is possible), the definite recommendation after seeing where my worries came from is that no-one leaves the country unless we have the visa or at least an official letter authorising re-entry. Which may or may not be possible in the next few days. As I say, very frustrating indeed.

Anyway, after all that we turned up for the last it of Kitty's leaving school assembly and a bit of bouncing on a bouncy castle, a quick lunch and I headed back down to the fundi to see my poor car with engine in mid-phases of dismemberment. Very sad... But quite interesting none the less - not so often you see all these bits and pieces that you know are in the engine... And the good news was that no serious damage (beyond the obvious, it needs reboring, new pistons and all the rest of a good overhaul...) had been done. The bad news was that I didn't have enough cash on me to pay for the spares, so had to run home to collect bank cards, on to the bank to withdraw as much money as possible, to the spares place to buy the things, realising that I was still 14000TSh short (about £7...) and then finally persuading them to let me bring the remaining cash tomorrow (given that I'd given them 1,000,000TSh already it would have been a bit tough not to let me off the last 1%...). And then back to the fundi's with all the parts. So I'll return tomorrow to see how they're getting on putting all the pieces back together again. At least I'm assured by friends (a) that the engine will be good as new afterwards and should easily do another 150000kms before it needs anything else serious and (b) that the selling on value will reflect the good-as-new engine when we do have to sell it on when we leave here. So I should get most of the money back anyway... Still, it's going to make our plans for a last minute camping trip this weekend a little more challenging. We'll see - Kitty is very keen, as our several new friends if they can borrow camping stuff too...

All in all a bit of a frustrating day. At least the bouncing paper didn't bounce today as well from it's fifth resubmission attempt!


  1. Puts my frustrating day into perspective! Hope we can still see some of you over the summer and that sense prevails eventually.

    Love to you all,
    Auntie T and the exploding twosome.

  2. In my thoughts and prayers often, sometimes hard to see God's hand in it all....but it is!
    Much love

  3. Stick in there, and have fun too.

    Good job on having the engine fixed, it had probably done a million miles. I suspect they die quickly if the air filter is leaking because of all the dust -- worth checking!