Arriving in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar
It must be a good sign when you start smiling in the arrivals hall. No need for electronic passport recognition here, just a queue snaking backwards and forwards under the low roof of an old wooden building. The wide bodied Air France jet hadn’t manoeuvred into position for a flexible walk-tube to be attached but nor had a fleet of buses been sent out to meet us. We just drove right up there.
The queue moved along at quite a lick and before long we too were motioned to a wooden box where a friendly woman in uniform stamped our passport. She then pointed us to another queue. Here three people sat behind a desk issuing visas at 27 euros a go. All three seemed involved but it wasn’t obvious what their different responsibilities were. Then another queue. This may sound irritating but it wasn’t, actually it was quite good fun. I’ve still no idea what this one was for but the queue approached a wooden box-come-office and a man on either side invited you to go this way or that. We went left and handed over our passports yet again to a hand thrust out of the office. It seemed to get passed left and right as it made its way to the back of the office where stood a very big man in uniform. A group of tourists was gathered round him and as passports were disgorged he called out the name printed on them. Actually he called out something similar to the name on the passport.
There was much mirth, including from the man himself as travellers thought they might have recognised their names and made themselves available for inspection.
Next step was the usual trial of getting your luggage off the carousel without crippling anyone while everyone stands right up against the side of the carousel. At least there was no wait for it. It had only travelled about 30 yards from the plane!