Today I come to you in regret and to try to save someone from making the mistake I did last night that left me at the airport with nowhere to go but back home.
I had been planning a get-away for weeks. You know, one of those let it all hang out, won’t get data on my phone on arrival, disconnect and relax kinda breaks?
Yeah, I never had one of those either but this was going to be that vacation. For a whole week I was going to attempt to not work and follow animals by day on Safari and chop them by night at Carnivore.
I took goodbye selfies with the kid, sent do not contact me text, inbox, or DM threats to my operations manager in Sierra Leone who has a terrible habit of communicating. I put on my I’m traveling red lipstick aptly named ‘bawse lady‘ because that’s how I was feeling after I delegated that my assistant send feedback to an editor about a Frutelli TV Commercial I had produced and was still unfinished but I was going on holiday anyway! I bragged relentlessly to my chef friend Binta who had wanted to make the trip but couldn’t about all the photos I was about to send her. I packed three camera lenses including the 70-200 mm telephoto zoom with the f/2.8 because that’s just how I roll. Il na na baby!
The whole crew took me to Kotoka International Airport; mom, the kid, and Yvonne. I didn’t even kiss my mother good bye. I just said okay.
I felt the way Donald Trump must be feeling right now…. it’s about to go down! Man I was feeling good. I must text my friend at Coke and tell him yo I’m bout to go ape sh!t in your town son! This man is atleast 50, he isn’t really my friend but more of a business associate but you know the spirit of recklessness makes you think all sorts. Thank God I didn’t text him.
While waiting in line to check in I watched a short video of Lupita Nyongo doing a sexy Salt N Peppa rendition on Lip Sync’ Battle (Highly recommend you go watch her dip it low, e get peppeh na ein wais). I shared the video on my Facebook wall with the hashtag #WhereMyKenyanBunniesAt yup! I was off to Nairobi! Who else to lead me there but the Queen of Katwé herself. I thought when God is about to bless you, there are signs and manifestations. Baba God na you o! Oluwa never fails his daughter!
It was finally my turn. I pushed up on the pre checkin passport control officer. She said oh I know you. I said oh how? She said oh I check you all the time when you go to Freetown, the morning flight. I said ah yes. You have caught me. I was about to say something smart by way of banter when she asked where are you going?
“I am going to Kenya!”
“What are you going to do there?”
“I am going on vacation. In fact this is my first vacation in a while.”
“You can’t go.”
“Your passport will expire in 3 months, to travel to Kenya you need 6 months validity on your passport. If we send you there and immigration doesn’t allow you to enter, the airline will get fined.”
I will save you the part where I pushed my two bags to the Domestic arrivals and had to get some guy to lift them up two flights of stairs to go meet a Kenyan Airways official. I figured I could cute my way into the flight. Got there and he said he couldn’t even find my name on the manifest.
I tried and tried until he said he found my ticket but it hadn’t been reissued for this flight after the last time I cancelled so I wasn’t on the flight. About 20 minutes of discussions (maybe it was 5 but it felt like 20) he said he could let me on the flight if I wanted to go but he couldn’t guarantee immigration on arrival would let me enter Kenya because “afterall this is a Sierra Leone passport”. If I had another passport okay but this one could bring problems.
“Do you want to go there and try?”
Yeah, he asked if I would like to fly 6 hours to Kenya to go try and see if immigration there would allow me to enter the country and wait at the airport for however long they took to get me back on another KQ flight back to Ghana.
“Umm…I don’t think so, I will try to work on my refund instead.”
Made my way downstairs called the mother I had not kissed goodbye to come collect me.
I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry bitterly. I wanted to cry and put my hands on my head but I was afraid snot would come down my nose and someone would film it and put it on @daquan on IG as a meme that said visa problems. I wasn’t going to be the one.
I entered car, kept quiet in the back seat, and we hit the road. Destination? Adjiriganor.
Moral of the story – To travel to KENYA make sure you have 6 months validity on your passport. Just because you can get visa on arrival doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check for other fine print text on passport validity. Last but not least kiss your African mother good bye so she can bless your journey well well. The gods don’t like ungratefulness.
The facts of the Matter: When I booked my ticket I wasn’t told about the 6 months passport validity. I asked about visas and was told I could get a visa upon arrival. I didn’t do any further checks to see if there were any other stipulations to entry. I should have check here: https://kenya.visahq.com/requirements/Sierra_Leone/resident-United_States/
This is what I would have seen if I had checked: “All travelers will need a passport valid for at least 90 days following your departure date from Kenya, we strongly recommend traveling 6 months validity on your passport at all times.” Had I checked I would not have booked my flight at all but renewed my passport instead!
I will make it to Kenya one day! I will make it. Until then, don’t be like me. Check your passport before you book your flights and make sure you have 6 months validity before you do.