Today we have made progress, although at times it was agonisingly slow.
We had a patient this morning. We ate in the restaurant last night. Adam had a stew, of sorts, with rice and we had fish. Adam was very sick soon after and during the night. Obviously food poisoning. He has felt unwell all day.
Our first task was to visit a bank to change EUR3,800 to CFA’s to pay our shipping costs. Adam came with me, as I already had a bag full of CFA’s to pay our Customs and other charges. I didn’t like carrying so much money around. The 2.5 million pile of notes we obtained was far to much for my handbag, so Adam took charge of this amount.
We were due at the Bollore office at a 1000. As usual the traffic in the street leading to their offices was log jammed. We had written to Bollore the previous evening explaining why their shipping invoice was wrong. (Quoted in USD, but they had used the exchange rate to CFA’s for EUR). The Sales Manager had replied to Adam saying they would investigate.
We expected the invoice to have been sorted out, but when were shown into the office, we were asked to take a seat and wait. The Sales Manager and Mr Ahohoun then had a long discussion over the invoice. It was obvious they were checking on the computer what rate should have been used. After about 20 minutes they told us they were going to talk to their Accounts Department. Another long wait. Eventually they returned with a new invoice, at the correct rate of exchange.
Altogether we had 5 invoices to pay. We were taken to the Cashiers office. I handed the invoices to the Cashier, only to be told they needed to have signatures. Back they had to go to the Sales Manager’s office. Another long wait. Once they were returned duly signed I proceeded to count out wads of notes and paid them all. Great, nearly 2 hours later we thought we were all done and left the building.
This is what 4million CFAs looks like!
We hadn’t got far when the Sales Manager’s secretary came running after us. She needed a copy of all the receipts. Back again to the office where the copies were duly made. At snail’s pace. Over 2 hours later we were finally all paid up.
Dennis and Adam wanted to get the vehicles steam cleaned. I hope it’s a good idea as the weather forecast isn’t good for the next few days. If it rains and the unsurfaced roads turn to bogs they’ll be filthy again. Adam had found a steam cleaning place online, so we headed there. It was a good 20 minute drive away.
Dennis was very pleased with the place when we arrived. The young owner spoke English and it seemed very professional. They were busy, so we adjourned to their waiting room. A very nice young lady gave us each a bottle of water. It was seriously hot. Soon cleaning of Poki commenced. Not for long though. A power cut, so the high pressure hoses ceased. It wasn’t a general power cut, they had overloaded their supply. An electrician had to be called. I don’t think we helped by turning the air conditioning up high.
Another long wait. Dennis had asked them to concentrate on the mud caked underneath and not to bother with the exterior body work. He and Adam could do that themselves before we take them to the container. The message didn’t get through though. The underneath was not to Dennis’s satisfaction. He took over the power hose and did it himself. Eventually we were finished and the Landys were gleaming.
One more job for the day. We had found a roadside stall selling luggage not far from our hotel. We headed their to buy a suitcase and a bag to carry our electronic devices. We had no bags of any description with us in Poki to pack our clothes and the necessities we need to take with us.
By the time we returned to the hotel it was after 4pm. We were starving and had a late lunch. One final thing to do today. Book our flight tickets. I tried booking on my iPad but I could not get the payment with my credit card to go through. We tried on Adam’s laptop and this time the payment did go through.
We are now booked next Thursday, 13th from Lome to Johannesburg. The booking is with ASKY Airlines (have never heard of them) and the flight stops in Kinshasa. We arrive in Joburg at 00.50. Not the best arrival time, but we will book accommodation until later in the morning. Dennis and Adam want to hire a car to drive to Durban.
Now we have had a call from Bollore saying Customs want to see proof we drove into Togo from Ghana. We have to go to Bollore’s offices, yet again, at 0800 tomorrow morning to show Customs our Carnet and Adam has to show his Temporary Import Permit. Will it ever end!
An master exercise in patience… you will look back and laugh. Maybe :–)
Hi Kevin, It has made me even more cynical. I’m reluctant to comment further. Let just see how the next few days pan out.
At some point in the future, we will look back and shake our heads. Absolutely no complaints or regrets though. The insights have been educational. Maybe we were hasty shipping but the alternative was unattractive, at the time.