Our only task back in Johannesburg was to obtain our visa for Tanzania. The consulate for Tanzania is actually located in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital. Lucky for us, Pretoria is not even an hour away on the new train line that was installed for the 2010 Soccer’s World Cup.
We got up early and took a taxi to the nearby train station. There we rode the new, sparkling clean Gautrain into Pretoria. We were impressed with how well organized everything was, and how safe it felt. There were staff everywhere to answer questions and keep an eye on everything.
We ended up arriving in Pretoria at around the time we had planned, and opted to walk to the consulate. The distances were much further than we had anticipated, so we arrived at the consulate later than expected. We filled out our form, handed over a passport-type photo and requested a rush service. Usually visas are ready in 24 hours, but we didn’t want to have to make the trip twice. This would make our visa available later today.
Now for the tricky part: paying the visa fee. 1) Visa costs are quoted in US dollars, and a new exchange rate is established every Monday (today) for the week. Because of this, we couldn’t have paid in advance the fee, as we couldn’t have found out the correct amount in South African rand. 2) Visa fees are to be deposited directly into the consular bank account, and cannot be paid at the consular office instead. I imagine that this is to ensure that no money goes missing. So, once we had filled out our form and gotten our fee in rand, we then had to walk another 4km round trip to their nearest bank to make our deposit. And we had an hour to do so before the consular office closed. Needless to say that we walked very quickly. It didn’t help that there was a long lineup at the bank, but we made it back at the consular office with maybe two minutes to spare.
We handed over the deposit slip to the lady behind the counter and to our surprise, she handed back over our passports. In the hour that we had been gone, she had already processed everything. We had been expected to pick our visa up at around 3 PM, but instead we had obtained our fasted visa yet. It was well worth the extra fee!
We spent the rest of our time in Pretoria walking. It’s actually a nice city, which felt much safer and prettier than Johannesburg. I only took one photo: the Union Building.
We ate lunch and tried to catch a movie, but nothing good was playing. Instead we headed back to Johannesburg, much earlier than expected. It was back in Johannesburg that we encountered the first kink in our day: there are no taxis at the Gautrain station, and no public phones. In the end we had to plead with a lady at the ticket counter to call our hostel and have them call us a taxi – such silliness!
All in all we were pleased: our day had been a success and we wouldn’t be needing to use our buffer day (tomorrow) for anything after all. Hurray for efficient bureaucracy!