Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Police

So one day we all get on the bus for school, but we soon enough find out that we're not actually going to school that morning, but we're going to go to the police station in Sweileh until we get our visas figured out.

So here's what happens, you get a visa, and it's for a month or forty days or something like that. There's a stamp in your passport that says "see a police station immediately" or something like that. To get your visa extended, you're supposed to do a blood test, and then pay and dinar and a half for every day that you overstayed your visa without the extension. We didn't do either of those things, and we've overstayed our visas by about two weeks, and to leave the country, we need to sort this out.

So we all get off the bus at the police station. Government buildings in Amman have their own sort of charm, or not. They're usually labelled in fancy Arabic script, compared to the usual fonts on most buildings. The national seal, or symbol, or whatever it's called, emblem maybe, is below the name of the building. Outside, there are usually guards in black and grey camoflage uniforms, holding some sort of large black guns, multiple feet in length. I got used to the guns being around relatively quickly, but the harder thing to get used to was the fact that some of the soldiers holding the guns couldn't have been but a few years older than me. Which was kind of strange, but there they stood, holding their guns. Sometimes they themselves looked uncomfortable with their weapons, but usually they just stood there. Along with these soldiers, dependent on the importance of the buildings, sometimes sat tanks, with a man sitting in the top wearing his helemet with a gun at the ready, and several others standing on the ground around it, ready to go. This usually perterbed me more than the soldiers standing by the gates and around the walls.

Walking into the police station, you walk up a big whitish staircase, and go inside, where you are met by several officers wondering why in the world fifteen high schoolers from America have suddenly shown up, much less in their police station, in Sweileh, which is arguably the poorest section of Amman, according to your sources. (Not all of Sweileh is like this, though). They quickly walk us down this long white hallway into a plain white room, with two women sitting at a desk behind a sheet of glass. We all sit, fifteen of us in about ten chairs, complying with their request for us to sit, and our directors argue back and forth about the visas. Then they get us all up, and we move much further down another hallway, and we sit in another room. On the way, we passed plenty of large, fancy rooms, with leather armchairs and big screen televisions, but we settle into another plain white room with plastic chairs. They argue back and forth again, and I can pretty much only catch some numbers and days, which I guess is pretty much all they were arguing about. I never really found out exactly what they argued about, but after maybe half an hour of sitting there, they told us all to leave, and so we left.

Afterwards, I found out that they finally just gave up and agreed to get us out of their police station, as long as we paid them a small fine, something around the price of the blood test that we wouldn't take. And so we paid them for the blood test, didn't take it, but got our passports stamped that we did take it, and each got a recipt, a small scrap of official looking paperwork to present to the security officers at the airport if there were any questions about whether or not we took the blood tests. And that was that.

We went back to school, and when asked why our class was late, we simply offered that we had to go to the police. That was accepted by our teachers without further explanation, and so that was that.

No comments:

Post a Comment