No pictures please, we're "illegals"!

It started on Tuesday, when we innocently went to the Luxor Passport Office to renew our 12 monthly Visas and our 6 monthly Re-entry Visas. After studying every page of our two passports, the (black [this is only to identify her to those who know the Passport Office]) lady behind the counter stated that we had no Re-entry Visa and that we shouldn't be in the country! It transpired that we had forgotten to renew our 6 monthly in October last year, but had left the country and returned without any of the airport officials noticing.
As a punishment, we would have to pay 153le each "tax". (I think the lady meant a fine) "Ok, we shouldn't have forgotten, we won't do it again!" But, after a small discussion with someone else ("the boss", she said) she told us that we must go to Thomas Cook and obtain two $15 visa stamps to put in our passports. We thought, as she said that she was trying to help us, that this would obviate the need for the fine. We went to T. Cook's and were told that they couldn't help us, as all the Visa Stamps were at the airport. Obviously, we couldn't get to "air-side" in "arrivals", so decided not to trail all the way out there. We asked friends in the travel industry, who tried making phone calls etc. but to no avail.
Eventually, we went back to the Passport Office and told them that we could not get the stamps anywhere. What else could we do, just pay the fine and be done with it? The bloke behind the counter suggested a man who might just be able to get the required stamps. Mohamed Rascheed! He telephoned him and explained the situation. "Tomorrow, in the morning, come back here and he will bring them." he told us.
I later got a 'phone call from this Mohamed Rasheed to ascertain at what time I could meet him the following day. We agreed to meet at the Passport Office at 11 o'clock. At ten past, the man behind the counter telephoned him, and told us that he would be here "After ten minutes". We all know "After" ten minutes, don't we????
I telephoned him at 11.35, "I am outside the building now." came the reply. "After" another five minutes or so, the man behind the counter beckoned me across, saying, (in a stage whisper) "He's outside, go and see him." It had started to feel a bit "cloak and daggerish" and I wasn't too happy at the thought of being deported for a simple mistake which seemed to be being turned into some sort of criminal immigration activity by these officials and their hangers-on! Anyway, I duly handed over the $50 ($30 for the two stamps, and 110le for the man to bring them from the airport) and got the two Visa Stamps. Back at the counter and the man came out and led me into the Generals (?) office, just inside the front entrance. "Oooer," ran through my mind! The General carefully peeled the backs off the Visas and placed them in our passports, then proceeded to strike lines through them and write (in Arabic, of course) underneath them. Many thanks and half bows etc. later and we were back at the counter paying for our new 12 monthly visa and 6 monthly re-entry visa. Tamaam! We were on our way to being legal again.
We strolled down to Tuttie Fruttie to get some well earned refreshments. I had just ordered my corned dog and extra onion pannini; when my 'phone went. "Ahh, Mr Edward, please come back to the Passport Office, quickly quickly." I don't do quickly quickly anymore, especially in 30 odd degrees! When I got back to the counter, I had a scrap of paper shoved at me with the sum 153+153=306. It was the fine rearing its ugly head again! "Ohh No" says I, "Ohh yes" says 'e, it was like being in a blinking pantomime!!!! "Mr Edward, your Visa Stamp only lasts for one month, therefore you must pay." "Then why have I just shelled out $50 for these worthless stamps???" "You have to have a Visa to enter the country." "But without the Visa you fine me, so why not just fine me in the first place?" The man behind the glass was getting quite "nervous" (as the Egyptians would describe it), and so was I. "Take me to the General" "Ok, Ok. I am trying to help you!"
(My lack of Arabic is a constant source of problems for me, I must rectify this.)
After being "nervous" with the General for a few minutes; I realised that I was getting nowhere and would have to pay up!
Altogether, our forgetfulness cost us an extra 580le, and when Freda looked at the new stamps and entries in our passports; the thieving Egyptians have backdated our 12monthly Visas to January, while our old ones didn't expire until yesterday!!!!
Needless to say that the policeman on the door didn't get his usual tip today.
BE WARNED..........don't forget to renew your Visa's, we certainly won't, in future.

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