I have spent the past week testing my patience with Tunisian inefficiency. I arrived with a three month “free pass” – allowing me to live and work in Sfax without so much as a landing visa. At the end of three months I had two decisions. The first would have been to leave the country and come back for another free three months. A nice idea but I don’t really have money to travel right now. So I went with the second, which is to pay 10 dinars a week to stay in the country until my trip to Italy in March – by far the easiest and cheapest solution!
The first time I met my friend and we went to the AIESEC office at the University to get an official stamp for the document requesting my extension. There is only one person allowed the one-second action of placing ink on paper, and I guess nobody told him that we were coming because I sat waiting on the steps of the University for three hours, chatting with students. When he finally did arrive he looked over the document and in a matter of minutes we were hurriedly walking to the police station (hurriedly because it completely closes for a couple hours for lunch). We made it in time but were told that we needed some essential, obvious documents for the application – photocopies of my visa, passport-sized photos, an attestation of my work and housing, etc.
So a few days later I meet my friend for the second time and we go to the AIESEC office again because we need another stamp. Again, we wait three hours. Again, we hurriedly travel to the police station, only this time by taxi because we are cutting it even closer. Again, we make it just on time only now we are told that the man who handles foreign applications is taking the day off so we have to come back another day. Yes, just like with the stamp there is only one person in Sfax who can collect my paperwork.
I meet my friend for the third time today. We don’t need a stamp so we travel directly to the police station. We have all of our documents and we arrive early. We fill out a short form, he cuts and pastes my pictures, I sign my name, and voilà.. I’m legally teaching for another four months at the small price of 150 dinars. I can complain that the one man I need is literally never there when I need him, but really it is so easy to live here and the bright side to all this time spent waiting has been that I tanned/freckled and got pictures from all my various vantage points.