South African Airways is really strict about the number of blank pages in a traveller's passport. If there are not two completely blank pages at the time of travel, they will restrict you from boarding a flight. (In fact, they did this to Bill Hybels on his trip to South Africa earlier this year!) Back in May, Niel discovered that his passport didn't have two fully blank pages anymore. He immediately started the process of getting his passport renewed, so that it would be done in plenty of time for our August trip to the States.
Upon realizing that my passport expires in January, I decided to go ahead and renew it before we go to America -- that way it's done. I went to the American Embassy in Johannesburg last week to submit my paperwork for a new passport. (As a side note -- I've always enjoyed going to the American Embassy. Maybe it's the knowledge that it's considered "sovereign soil" that makes me feel like it's "home" there...)
I received notification that my new passport was in and ready to be picked up. My application and paperwork had been sent to the States, my new passport issued and printed, and this new passport mailed back to South Africa -- all in 6 working days. I was very impressed.
Niel is (finally!) picking up his new passport today. It took him over 3 months to get his -- and it never had to leave the country! Prime example of the slow South African system compared to the speed-conscious, customer-service-friendly USA-system.
We just shake our head and chuckle. T.I.A. - This is Africa!