You know me and my bad luck….sad to report it’s still with me.
The plan was for me to complete four tasks on Monday, then wait a week or less for my ID card. I rented a tiny studio apartment for a week for $30 a night and told the guy in Shkoder that I wasn’t able to come when scheduled.
The apartment is nice but it’s a 3rd floor walkup, with a bathroom about the size of an RV bathroom and with the same kind of “wet bath” shower that sprays the whole room when used.
It’s got a teeny 2 burner stove top, a teeny kitchen sink with a little drain board and zero counter space. And a small fridge/freezer and washing machine in the bed area
But it’s cheaper than a hotel, plus I can cook. Kinda. The qutensils provided are one wooden spoon and a corkscrew. There’s some silverware. The only pots are two big Dutch ovens, and only one giant scabby nonstick frypan. No salt or pepper. I’m well aware of the shortcomings of Airbnb kitchens so I had packed a lot of my own stuff, including my spices, salt & pepper, a small titanium saucepan and two frypans.
Monday morning started out pretty good. I got the forms printed, made a bank deposit of $57 to Immigration’s account to pay for the biometric ID card and then met a real estate agent who my facilitator had arranged to take me to City Hall to get my official address. But their computer system was down, so that was all I could do on Monday.
Later I got a taxi and took the stuff I’m going to store (2 big suitcases plus a carryon) over to Catherine’s apartment, and we went to dinner at a nearby Suflaqe place. I had eaten a late snack so I just got one skewer of bacon-wrapped chicken kebob for $1.50 and it was very good.
Catherine’s two kebab dinner was $5.
Tuesday was an absolute disaster. I took a bus to the City Hall area and found the right office. The woman there looked up my apartment’s location on a big online map and gave me a piece of paper with my official address. I started chatting with a Canadian woman who was there with her realtor and when they left, I cadged a ride with them to Immigration. I paid my $57 fee for the biometric I.D. card and then went next door to Immigration and was told that it wasn’t the right address form and to go back, and she said “That lady before you had the same problem; go with them”.
So I rushed out of there and they’d already gone. I was too hot and bothered to go wait for a bus so I walked up to a taxi stand and got a $10 ride back to City Hall. The woman there said that’s the only form she had. At that point I called my facilitator in Tirana and she said I should have given Immigration the document I had printed that had my ID number on it. So I got another taxi back to Immigration and just before we got there, the facilitator called and had spoken to Immigration. She said to turn around, go back to City Hall again and to call when I got there so she could speak to the woman in charge. So back we went.
It turned out that the form I needed had to come from the Civil Registry Office. In Tirana, that is housed in City Hall but not here; here it’s (naturally) on the other side of town. I got a taxi there and gave her my lease and the form from City Hall and she said it was too late in the day, to come back today to pick it up. Another day lost, and about $30 wasted on taxis.
Today I took a bus to town and then got a taxi to take me to Civil Registry and wait for me. I was directed around the back of the building and was second in line when a middle-aged man came and squeezed between me and the guy being helped! What the heck?? I decided not to make a scene right then but was prepared to make big fuss if they actually started to help him before me, especially since I had a taxi meter running! But I was spared that confrontation because she called my name and handed me the document. Phew!
So yay, progress! I went back to Immigration. What I need is to get fingerprinted and photographed for the biometric ID card. I was thinking that photo was gonna be wonderful with me sweaty, red-faced and with hair sticking straight up from riding in a taxi with openqq windows. But hey, at least I’d get the darn thing done.
They looked at my paperwork and FINALLY said it was correct. But nobody was there today to do the fingerprinting; come back tomorrow after 10 a.m.
So MAYBE I can finish it up tomorrow. At this point I’m not getting too excited about anything. Oh and she said once I get the next step done, it’ll take 1-2 more weeks to get the card!! (In Tirana it only takes 4 days but I bet the cards are made in Tirana and have to go back & forth to here; maybe by mule). So now I’m trying to extend my stay in the apartment for 4 more nights. That will be til June 10 and another $120.
It’s too bad you only do this once; now that I’m an expert at it I’m done! Almost.