Truth be told, when we decided to keep our kids in their sleepwear as we roused them out of bed at 05h30 this morning, we didn't think they'd be in them all day. We simply thought it was easiest and most comfortable for them to be kept warm and undisturbed when we bundled them into the car and head to Home Affairs to get their biometrics for their passports.
Thank goodness I packed toys and something to eat.
I stood in the queue outside the building for two hours before it started moving. It was 06h00 when I jumped out of the car at the traffic light, and joined the line snaking around the first block (it would be around another full block before the office would even open). It was dark and pretty cold, so Andel stayed in the car in the parking lot with the kids. Someone nearby me counted that we were around #175 in the queue. Apparently the guy at the front was wrapped in a blanket as though he had spent the night waiting for golden circle concert tickets. Except, of course, he wasn't. By the time I made it to the mall entrance around 08h00, Andel was waiting with the kids, who had already watched Captain Underpants on his phone, and were characteristically starving. I took pre-made sarmies from my bag and watched them devour that along with an apple each. Had I known how much longer we'd still be there, I'd have rationed their portions.
|The already 110m-long queue at 06h00 this morning|
It didn't take long for us to make it to the passage outside the DHA offices, and at that stage I was both optimistic that we'd be out before it was totally uncool for my kids still to be in pyjamas, and pretty chuffed that despite waiting three hours already, I had not yet lost the plot or my testimony. Little did I know, we'd be there four painstakingly long hours more before we were even allowed inside.
|The physically shorter but other wise as long queue inside|
I feel it's necessary to mention here that today was a South African school holiday. The powers that be (correctly) decided that one day of school between two public holidays and weekend was definitely not going to be productive, and allowed everyone the day off. It was not, however, a holiday for Andel, who was confident he'd make it to work more or less on time. This was not to be. It was around 14h30, when the system went offline for the third time, that Andel decided he had to get to work (meaning that he would have to work a closing shift), and although I stayed - with the help of my aunt who came to my aid (bless her soul) - I already knew our mission was over and unsuccessful.
|Already feeling over the wait - only half way through|
When we arrived home around 15h30 without nothing but three exhausted kids to show for our nine-hour long experience, we were almost more relieved to be back home than we were disappointed to have still not sorted out the passports. Almost. The sad reality is that we have to do this again sometime. All five of us. Again.
|I now have feeding, changing and sleeping on the floor down|
I could write about the lack of logic in the processes, the challenge of having and controlling three children between five years and seven months for nine hours, or the injustices we witnessed in the wait. Maybe I will still. For tonight though, it's enough that, even today, was unforgettable holiday experience. Never may it be repeated. Please. Ever.