“Her visa is ok,” the border officer said while we were standing sweaty in a narrow corridor and pointed at me. “Yours… no,” he said and pushed Clara’s passport through a little hole separating his air-conditioned office from the hot, stuffy air outside. What?!
We leaf through the passport, to the page with the Ghanaian visa and see what the deal is about. Instead of 2018 they accidentally wrote 2017 as the year her visa was issued when she got it done at the Ghanaian embassy in Abidjan some weeks ago. As you have to enter Ghana in a 3 month window after your visa is approved, Clara’s was not valid anymore.
What do we do, what do we do?
We are 4 hours away from Abidjan, with plans to travel in Ghana for 10 days. We aren’t going to go back to Ivory Coast.
Our first idea was to call the embassy in Abidjan, where they issued the visa and ask them if they remember a Spanish “la blanche” from some weeks ago and if they can explain to the border guy this was all just a mistake. As it normally happens in situations when you need somebody to pick up the phone, of course, nobody picked up the phone. The office was closed for lunch. For another hour and a half or so.
Then I remember. We should call the guy! My guy! The head of chancery I met last week in front of the Ghanaian embassy. The guy whose number I was sure I will never ever need, not in this lifetime. Well look at that!
He answered after three rings; and two calls and 5 minutes later the embassy confirmed to the border officer they have Clara in the books from the other week and that her visa was indeed issued this year, not in 2017.
A stamp over it and bamn, we were in Ghana!
***Lesson learned: always check the dates on your visa. Except if you’re travelling in Africa. In that case, some small talk with random officials should suffice.