OK, so they say to be sure to bring your Yellow Fever Certificate or you will not be permitted to enter the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo…formerly Zaire). The first step in crossing the border is to toss your Yellow Card into a booth at the entrance to customs where evidently they will be checked by two agents and recorded.
The next step is to go to the passport control where they will check your visas and give your passport the DRC stamp.
Then back to the booth to pick up your Yellow immunization card. Oh wait, they seem to have put mine aside. I attempt to retrieve it but am motioned inside. One of the Canadian couple also has some issue with his card and is called inside.
After much haranguing the agent points to one page of my Yellow Card where I haven’t filled in my name. After pleading with her that it is truly my card and my name is on all the other pages she will have none of it.
Finally the light goes on. She wants some baksheesh. Now, being by smiley agreeable self I ask her how can we solve this. She says money, suddenly speaking English quite well. I say how much. She says $20. I say how about $15 and pull out a tenner and five one dollar bills. She say she can’t take dollar bills. I pull out a fiver and she proceeds to fill out the blank space on my Yellow Card even though it’s me who should be doing that. Guess she feels she needs to do something for the $15. She hands my card back and I sign that page with my hand shaking trying to hold my temper and keeping my little smiley face on until she gives me back my Yellow Card and passport. (At the outgoing border they will probably say that’s not my signature).
So this is just a border scam that everyone is in on. I think that even if I had added my name on that one page, they would have found something else wrong. I was thinking of asking for her manager but he was snoring in the next office with his feet on the desk. I’m not sure how they divide the spoils but at $15-$20 per couple entering it must help their paltry salaries. I just wish they had said up front they wanted some money and it would have saved a lot of time and ill feeling.
Anyway, I’ve renamed the whole kit and kaboodle the “Unwelcoming Committee”. I have to say it was a small price to pay to get here and see the fabulous highland gorillas.
Just have your $20 ready!