The Nampula airport is the smallest airport I’ve been to in a couple of weeks. The baggage carousel, the immigration officers stamping passports, security screening, and a customs office are all within 20 feet of each other. And for such a tiny airport, I arrived with maybe 20 other people, in the multiple flights it took to get here, this was the most confusing airport I had arrived at.
We land on the tarmac, and walk towards the entrance. There’s a man checking passports for visas, which I didn’t have. I knew I could get one once I landed in Nampula. I hand him my passport and he flips through every page in it and not finding one he tells me to go to the immigration office, and hangs on to my passport.
Christina had sent me an email to write Victor’s name as the contact and their address as where I’m staying and then write that I am a tourist. I do this filling out a tiny form that’s the size of a postcard.
I then hand my form to the immigration people, expecting my passport or instruction. And they wave me through with no explanation.
With help from another passenger the immigration office is someplace completely different, and walk outside to find Victor and Christina waiting for me with their son, Yohani.
I tell them about having my passport taken and both Victor and Christina are unfazed by this. Victor goes with me to the immigration office, while Christina and Yohani stay with my stuff.
The immigration office is a small office that is cluttered and cramped, and reminds me of a storage room in my elementary school.
The immigration officer in charge and Victor are talking back in forth in Portuguese. Victor says family and then “sister and law” and I nod my head. The immigration man looks at us skeptical. Explaining we’re friends who are like family but not really family didn’t seem like something to get into.
Victor and the immigration man are going back and forth in Portuguese, and what I can figure out is something about me being a tourist.
They give me a new form to fill out Victor tells me to not put his name and address and gives me a name of a local hotel, to write instead, including a room number.
As we’re leaving the airport Victor explains to Christina and I that if you’re visiting family in Mozambique you have to get permission from the government ahead of time. And for government reasons is why I’m a tourist, staying at some hotel that I have no intentions of staying at.
This makes no sense.
Also while waiting for my visa there was a man from China who had a stack of papers and was talking to the same immigration official, that was talking to Victor. I wasn’t really following what was going on but I found out after, from Victor that the man was trying to bribe his way in for a visa. He didn’t get one.
So already I’ve lied to the Mozambican government and witnessed a bribery.