Notarizing documents for Egypt. How hard can it be?…..

The Egyptian embassy in the Netherlands does not have a website. I’m not sure if they ever had one, but the one linked on Google leads to nothing. With no information and no reply to my emails, I did what I always do: I just winged it.

A lot of people. I’m guessing around 20. Mostly male. Only travel agency representatives and Egyptians. The main consular service guy who kept walking towards the fence didn’t speak English (nor Dutch). I waited for 1.5 hours, not being assertive, just assuming that I had to wait my turn, while people pushed in front of me. I clearly still have too much Canada in me; haven’t made the cultural switch yet. Finally, after nearly two hours, a lady comes out. I elbow three men out of the way, and tell her I need to notarize two documents. She takes them inside, then tells me to wait. She doesn’t tell me for how long. So I wait. I wait another hour. The same man comes out 10 more times (let’s call him fence man), with the people on the other side of the fence talking and waving documents in front of him, while using very elaborate hand gestures. A mild fight ensues. Everyone is frustrated. The waiting took a long time and it started to rain. Some guy wrecks the bulletin board off of the fence and murmurs the same thing over and over again while ringing the bell a million times. I have no idea what’s going on. Then I look at the one lady to my left. She had also been waiting for quite some time. I ask her politely if there’s any chance the fence man said something about documents or pick-up. She says: “not yet, but just ask him. I will translate.” Fence man tells me to wait just a little longer. The lady turns to me and says:

“You’re not Egyptian?”

“Half. I’m half Egyptian”

“Half. and half Dutch?”

“Yes.”

“You need to get your Egyptian half to come out and fight for your documents, or you will never get them! Be more assertive!”

I laugh nervously, while looking at the row of men holding on to the fence. “Thank you, I’ll do my best” I say.

“Good luck my dear” she says.

Fence man hands over the documents. I say thank you in Arabic, then walk away. I look back one more time and see everyone staring in my direction.

Don’t know if that’s a taste of what’s to come, but what I do know is that women are better than men.

Not sure if I’m ready for Cairo yet.

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