Here in Kurdistan, bureaucracy reigns. In order to do anything you need three things: money, time and a lot of patience. Things are not organized let alone there are any procedures, and if there are, they are subject to change without any previous notice. If you need anything done, you need to pay for it. It [the government] works as a private company, like in most parts of the Middle East. Either you have "wasta" -know someone-- or you have to pay, before you get white hair waiting for things at any governmental office. I learned the words for up and down [in reference to the location of the different offices I was referred to], "sere and khware" respectively. I guess the government is the biggest source of employment, so they have created so many positions to deal with the same thing, and to make it more difficult for people. They do this so people don't have time to think about important things, but just worry about basic things like food, electricity, bureaucracy, etc.
So, with that background, now I'll tell you how I tried to renew my visa, after being here in Kurdistan little more than a month. First, when we got to the building, the parking lot was full, so we had to park on the "street". But there was no such thing as a street since all was just covered by mud. We parked and attempted to walk on the mud. I felt as if my feet where being swallowed by the mud, they felt heavier and heavier....I couldn't stop thinking, Oh My God, if I fall, (which is likely to happen to me) how am I going to get out of this mess. I think I got more than a kilo of mud on my white shoes...
Thank God, this is the capital city, imagine elsewhere. Construction and development everywhere, but the auxiliary infrastructure to support that development is unexistent. How does the Kurdistan Regional Government expects to expand and open to the world, but still keeps this archaic methods that date from the Ottoman times? We went to a small office and got the petition for the visa extension, then to the second office, the Passport Control office number 3, where the guy just look at your paper and sends you to the next office, then to number 11 and then to number 15, or whatever. I counted 6 different office, the last one being the "Blood Test Department". I did the blood sample and I have to return on Sunday, to finish the process. So I guess that was the easy part.
I have my solution to the mud issue for next time, I will get a couple of plastic bags and wrap my shoes around them. This is the latin way, if you cannot deal with them, join them. So far, ALL my shoes (3 pairs in total) are full of mud, but what can I do, if I can't fly...Yet. Maybe Barzani has to come here and see how things around here!