South Africa may be home to several of the largest cities on the entire continent, but it is also home to a mind-blowing level of total dysfunction in some areas.
I went to the post office last week to pick up a package. It was work-related, so don't get too excited. Anyway, here in South Africa, you must present ID to retrieve a package. For locals, this requirement is satisfied by their Orwellian ID books. Foreigners need to present a passport.
Standing in line, I suddenly realized that under no circumstances could I surrender my passport. I settled on my Peace Corps ID instead, which has my passport number on it.
I rocked up to the window. Passed over my package slip and ID. The post master frowned. My ID expired on September 16th, my original COS date. I explained that my contract had been renewed, but I had yet to receive a new hardcopy ID. He sighed deeply and asked for my passport. I shook my head. He sighed again and went off to fetch my package.
Why did I refuse to show him my passport? Because my visa is expired! The Department of Home Affairs has had my application for months, but they have yet to formally grant my extension. I'm officially in limbo. As exciting as it is to be an outlaw, it's also pretty annoying. South Africa has an obsession with indentification, so a valid passport would be most helpful. As I have no plans to leave the country between now and December, I'm okay, but come December 20th they better let me on that plane.