First Impression Montenegro: Instant Coffee, Cigarettes and Ink Jet Printers

You are probably wondering why I decided on such an odd name for this first entry. It came to me the day that had to go to City Hall in the old town of Kotor as part of the process in getting my work permit.

In order to get a work permit here you must supply the appropriate authorities, along with a host of other documents, numerous copies of your rental lease and an original copy of the land title for the apartment or house you are renting.

Instant coffee, cigarettes and ink jet printers provide the perfect visual for the experience of getting the original land title to the apartment we are renting. It all started with the first visit to the main lobby of city hall where I picked up the two payment slips that had to be taken to the Post Office around the corner where payment was to be executed and receipts given to me to prove payment. In order to pick up an original copy of the land title you must prove that you have payed the two invoices totaling 8 euros and 6 centimes.

Once I paid the prescribed amount (with cash, because no matter how big the bill, you have to bring cash to the post office to pay anything. They do not accept debit cards there) I ventured back to city hall where I needed to now make my way to the land title office located in the attic. The elevator did not appear to be making it to the main floor anytime soon, so I took the stairs.

After waiting outside the wrong office for a half an hour with my colleague who was translating along the way all morning, we were told to make our way to another office. The person that used to issue land title certificates no longer did that task. It has to be mentioned here that the entire staff of city hall had been replaced just a few weeks earlier. I never understood why this had happened, but in a country emerging from a past tainted with pockets of corruption, I had my suspicions.

When we opened the door to the correct office, the lonely worker told us that it was not Tuesday. Apparently, that is the only day that she dealt with the general public. We were told to go to the other office at the end of the hallway.

Once there we were greeted with slightly more hospitality by a couple of ladies each having a cup of instant coffee, smoking cigarettes and sitting behind their desks. Once we gave them the receipts for the document we were supposed to get, we were asked to leave the room while it was being printed on an old ink jet printer.

After two hours that reliable old printer sputtered out the document I needed to get that morning. With the appropriate rubber stamps we were on our way. The only thing that was missing was carbon paper, but that would come another day!

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