Getting ready

The date of the start for the scouting trip is getting closer so we did a short trip to Geneva to arrange visas for 4 of us going for the mapping. Luckily we made all the arrangements with the Niger and Benin embassies way ahead as we experienced problems even before we got there.

Due to a crazy fog our flight from Budapest was canceled. We were told we had to fly there in the morning at 9:45 to Zurich (!) take another plane to land in Geneva at 1PM and we had a flight back to Budapest at 6PM.
Two embassies not exactly next to each other and a nice pile of paper… not bad for challenge #1.
And 3 flights on the same day….

Gabor checking in – in vain.

After landing in Geneva we rushed to the Niger embassy. The staff was really kind and also efficient (thanks to the fact that we faxed all the application forms there a week before), we discussed some questions, met the consul and sipped some mint tea.

The building where the offices of the Embassy of Niger are – 3 windows somewhere  on the 2nd floor.

We finished within an hour even though Gabor had a long chat with the consul. And they even called a taxi to us.

Waiting for the taxi we found this next to the entrance – well, even Switzerland cannot be perfect.

We thought we arrived to the Benin embassy next but apparently they moved somewhere else so got on a tram and took a ride.

If the staff at the Niger embassy was helpful and kind those guys at the Benin embassy were the coolest diplomats I’ve ever seen. The consul only let us call him Pascal and greeted us as someone he knew from his childhood. A big smile and ‘no problem’ attitude. We knew we were in Africa.

Anyhow, we got back our passports in 30 minutes so we even had time to stop for 10 minutes at the UN Palace to meet Imogen, the brave British explorer girl we met at the Caucasian Challenge this year and chat about her experiences in  Algeria and Niger 4 years ago. We promised her to come for at least 2 days nexttime so she can cook a dinner for us.

A weird chair and the UN Palace entrance in the background.

We even had time to get lost a little bit before we took a bus to the airport. They already knew us at the airport, what else could be the reason to called our names 4 times before we stepped aboard.

No fog, no rain, no food the whole day, just a small cookie on the plane – but fresh visas in our passports.