A dirty concrete floor, the smell of a mixture of urine, body odor and charcoal, an infestation of unknown insects. Not a pleasant place at all. Not a place you want to spend the night clutching your jacket, fighting off mosquitoes, and wondering what will happen to you next. Not the place you want to end up after letting your travel visa expire by more than a couple days, and trying to cross the border from Malawi into Zambia.
My first piece of advice to avoid this situation is to get your travel visa renewed at the immigration office before it expires. A very common sense and relatively simple thing to do. If by some extreme circumstances you are unable to do that, and you have to leave the country briefly to “reset” your immigration status, you may want to bring some extra cash with you.
Something equivalent to about 5 times the normal on-time visa renewal fee is what may be quoted as sufficient enough to get yourself out of any unfortunate situation with Malawian border officials. Although this figure might be an exaggeration.
Not having more than about 2 times the normal renewal fee in combined US dollars and Malawian Kwacha is where you might get yourself into continued troubles. That’s the point where the border officials might say that you just don’t have enough to pay the “fine” of letting your visa expire, and that you’ll have to be detained for a few days before being sent to court, after which you will most likely be permanently expelled from the country.
Thankfully I have no idea what would happen in that likely exaggerated situation, and have no idea what a night in Malawian jail would actually be like… Phew!
In all seriousness, the purpose of this post and of widely publicizing my illegal immigration status and carelessness/foolishness on the internet, is to make people aware of a completely preventable situation that they don’t want to get themselves into. Make sure you get your travel visa renewed when traveling in foreign countries. It’s really not that much trouble to get it done in the immigration office of any town.
Yes my visa expiring was entirely due to my own negligence, yes it was potentially quite serious, yes everything ended up being okay. Learn from my mistake.