Many Are Cold, but Few Are Frozen

David Lawrence's personal blog

The Incredible Story of My Ukrainian Arrival Stamp

I've only been in Ukraine for about 24 hours, but I've already had an adventure involving not one, but two different government agencies. All this because passport control failed to put an entry stamp in my passport when I arrived yesterday.

This was a problem because without the stamp, it is not possible to register for a tax identification number. Don't get me wrong: I am not anxious for the tax police to know I am here and where I live. But I need the tax number toregister to live here. We were dismayed to learn, after waiting in line for a long time, that they couldn't accept our application without the stamp. For all they knew, I could have snuck across the border through the forest.

So we went back to the airport to resolve the problem. For a long time, we couldn't even find a person to even listen to our story. We asked airport information, who gave us a phone number to call. We did, but there was never an answer. I tried to sneak back through the exit, but I was stopped by customs guards. Nobody would tell us where to go or who we could speak with. At best, we were referred to the phone number that nobody answered or to an office that was closed. But then one official told us that all administrative offices were located on the second floor of the airport, adding that they'd never let us in.

We went up and found an office. The boss wasn't in, but his receptionist turned out to be helpful and kind. She called around, asking who we could talk to.  We found out that the office we needed was in another building, in a compound about 10 minutes by car from the main terminal.

There, we were able to meet the Boss. We weren't allowed inside, but he came out of the gate and spoke with us. I was suprised he bothered, but he did, maybe because our appearance was so unusual. He listened, looked at my documents, and then went back inside. After a while he returned to tell us what to do.

We went back to the airport and called the same mystery phone number we had tried before. This time, someone answered, and he said he had been expecting our call. Shortly afterwards, a man appeared. He took my passport and disappeared. When he came back, my passport had the magic stamp. And I didn't even have to pay a bribe.

I immediately bought chocolate and went back to the girl who had helped us. She beamed when I told her the story had a happy ending. She also liked the chocolate, insisting that it wasn't necessary.

Maybe not, but I had to show my appreciation. Ukraine needs more people like her.