29.03.2012 - 30.03.2012
Immigration can always pose problems in any country you go to and I should not be surprised as to the lengths one has to go to to stay an extra month in a country, particularly enquiring at Flight Centre when I purchased my ticket about visas and again on arrival to ensure that procedures are fine to extend for another month Nothing is ever simple.
It has taken me all day to try and sort out my visa. Of course you can't just rock up to immigration and expect them to stamp an extra month as explained to me at the airport on arrival. No you have to spend two hours just trying to find somewhere that will photocopy your passport, then find somewhere where the internet is not down and on top of that have a printer to print off the application form to be able to extend the visa for another month. You then have to go from pillar to post as no-one really knows anything about where anythng is so I felt like I was in a duck shooting gallery and at the end of the day that is where I wished I was.
In Timor Leste you actually have to have someone to sponsor you here to extend an extra month, even just as a tourist, so then it was back over to the college (which is about a 40 minute drive with the way roads are). So at 3pm I get back to Immigration and the guy says to come back Monday. Did I do my block. They are just such an lazy bunch of ?????? I had a stand up confrontation with him and then he said I still didn't have a copy of the ID of the person that signed my extended visa application. I asked him to point out where it said on the form that that was a requirement. He said not to worry and come back Monday and just walked away. Can you imagine a country keeping someone's passport for two weeks to process a visa - not a passport just a frigin visa.
With that I started explaining to someone else the circumstances since this morning and started thumping the window where he pointed out all I need to do is download the form. With that security came out and he said to process the application. (Ithink I had that look) I paid for the visa and the guy just kept on looking down. I asked for my passport and he said it takes two weeks to process the visa and come back in two weeks for my passport. If Timor Leste is gong to get ahead it really needs to concentrate on getting visa issues streamlined. I mean to say how does someone who is in business who needs to be here for six weeks and then may need their passport to do a quick trip somwhere go with all the issues?
Other volunteers are fine that come in through an agency or others that fly in and out for four or five days to build a building but I am in a unique situation as from my experiences no-one would want to be here more than a month anyway as a tourist.
Tourism issues in study are quite significant in trying to get courses recognised. Colleges can't offer certain levels of tourism as there is no-one than completely translate requirements in English from Tetum and Portuguese to offer different certificate levels. I can see ET in the next 15 years starting to go ahead with tourism as although I haven't still ventured to some great spots, apart from Araturo Island. I believe there is a lot on offer.
When I paid my $100 (the visa is $35.00 now instead of $30) there wasn't ample change in the draw so one of the guys drew out his wallet and gave the rest in change out of it. Mmmmm.. great accounting.
Anyway I headed back to ETDA where I am writing a report in the hope that Palmira, the Director would help but she was not prepared to sign the form as my sponsor and she was quite surprised herself that everyoine staying longer than a month had to have the form signed.. I rang my Rotary contact and he said it must be a Timorese person who signs it although talking with the person who runs Timor Lodge when I finally got back said he could have signed it for me even though he is not Timorese. I don't understand the difference.
Well again no help from people you would think would help you. Actually talking to a few others here Rotary does not have a good reputation and from first hand experiences I can understand. Maybe that's why they started with about 40 are are down to just a few people attending of which there are no Timorese.
I have been speaking to a few people with the difficulties of immigration here in ET. It takes ten years of living here before someone can be considered for citizenship. Frankly I think it is great although maybe a bit too long and I'd like to see Miss Julia introduce that in Australia.
Thursday I had a workshop booked to try and get everyone thinking about a five year plan for ETDA. Being of latin background everythng happens on a needs basis . The info was sent out to everyone about the conference but when I got there yesterday there was already a conference being held and booked out for most of the day so I asked what was going on and the office manager said we willl have it Friday instead. Mmmmm.... but all the staff are not going to be here as most of them are heading off to another area for the day. Doesn't matter we will have it Monday. Ok Monday t is.
Being here as a volunteer in the true meaning of the word and not the other 'volunteers' who come over with an organisation and are paid airfares and fundamental costs is not easy and they at leastl have backing within the organisation. This experience has shown me not to do it again in this same capacity. I have been totally disappointed with organisations that I belong to or contacts of so called special friends that will "really look after you ".
So some of you may say well stop grumbling but these are the facts for anyone reading this. I have been asked by a few contacts of others wanting to come to Timor as volunteers how things are like.
On the brighter side I have had a few visits with the course doing the Dip of Tourism through ETDA where I am dong the report. Kerry who is the teacher from William Angliss asked if I wanted to tag along given the fact that I said I am doing the report and it would be great to see how the students are getting involved with local lndustry. We visited Megatours, Guidepost, and Padi Dive and it was good to see the interaction of the students with the managers.
The other brighter side is that I took out one of the teachers from Sao Miguel College and two students for lunch to practice English today. So yep what a week and an early night.