Sunday, 18 September 2011

18th September 2011

Last Sunday was Ethiopian New Year and it is now 2004 over there. There are also two times (8 hours apart) that people work on so I think it is possible to never be late for anything!

With just 18 days to go until 'E' day, I'd like to be able to report that we are ready and prepared for the year ahead. Alas, that is not the case and we still haven't got our work permits, business visas or car documents sorted. Its not for the want of trying though. Over the past 4 or 5 months we have become regular customers of a local notary (to notarise many documents), the Foreign Commonwealth Office (to legalise the documents) the Ethiopian Embassy in London (to stamp said documents) and DHL, who finally get to send all these documents to a PO box in Addis. The real problem is that no-one seems to know exactly what is required for a work permit or for importing a car. So we provide everything that is asked for, only to find that there are further things needed; each time this involves various trips to get them authorised by everyone. Our work permit has required; a letter form the GP saying we are healthy, a letter from the charity offering us a job, a job description and terms of reference, photocopies of our passports, copies of qualifications, and copies of a bank statement to show you have enough money to support yourself. All this has to be shown to be genuine documentation and hence notarised, legalised and stamped.

We are just about to pack the car, which will hopefully arrive after 30 days on a ship, into Djibouti. It's not clear how hard it will be to get the car through customs but so far, things do not look good - again, no-one really knows what you have to provide. The other problem is that it's not clear what you can take into the country and what you have to pay tax on. Apparently, personal items are fine, but then a friend got stopped and charged £40 to bring her laptop through. I think these 'rules' are all a bit random and rely on visitors carrying enough cash with them to get through.

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