Saturday, October 23, 2004

Ethiopia a la Mexicana

We had to go into Mexico City so we decided to start working on getting our visas for our upcoming trip to Egypt and Ethiopia.

After quite a bit of searching I had finally found the contact information for both embassies. Upon calling the Egyptian embassy we found out that it is only open until noon and we need a copy of our round-trip ticket, which we don�t have. Upon calling the Ethiopian embassy we found out that � their phone has been disconnected.

Undeterred we looked the street up in our 230 page map of Mexico City. On the map it appeared to be in Polanco, one of the nicest parts of the city, where many embassies are located with their flags waving and their colorful coats of arms proudly displayed by the doorways of the buildings. The reality however was a bit different.

As we drove closer to the targeted address, the large, ornate houses of Polanco were replaced by they type of unadorned, square cement-block construction, multi-family dwellings that make up most of Mexico City. We found the right street and, on the second drive-by, a building with the right number, but we couldn�t find an entrance. The third time around the block, I decided to get out and ask at what appeared to be the entrance to the neighboring apartments.

I had already lowered my expectations for the consulate significantly. The flag and coat of arms image had vanished as we stared up at the dirty curtains in the sixth floor window of an small, ugly apartment building, but I was still unprepared for what followed.

There was a security guard sitting behind a Formica counter inside the glass cube-shaped entranceway. I knocked at the door and he motioned me over to the intercom on the wall beside me.

(This conversation is translated from the original Spanish for your convenience.)

Annette: Good Afternoon. I�m looking for the Ethiopian Consulate. It is, by any chance, in this building?

Guard: Yes it is. But no one has come in for a very long time.

At first I thought he meant no one had visited needing consular services, then I realized that he was saying the office had been abandoned for a very long time.

So there you have it. We did find the Ethiopian consulate, which I personally consider a success, of sorts, but we are absolutely no closer to getting a visa, or even to knowing how to go about getting it for that matter.

But hey, it�s another chapter in our international life.

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