Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Yesterday was yet another long, electricity-free day in our neighborhood. But Alexa and I spent the morning enjoying the air-conditioning over at the big medical clinic in Ouaga 2000. Yes, Al's heart problem is becoming an issue again. It seems to be more pronounced during the hot season.

She was pretty unwell yesterday, so instead of going to school, she had to go in for an EKG and a consult with the doctor. They increased the dose on one of her meds, so we're hoping that will help. The doctor also mentioned that the doctors in Paris might make another attempt to correct the problem surgically, which completely panics Alexa. In fact, she SO does not want to go into surgery again that she's been hiding incidents from me.
(For those of you new to the story, Alexa had heart surgery in Paris three years ago, but it was unsuccessful. Her heart was too small and it was too risky to go through with the planned procedure, so she came back out of surgery un-fixed. Now, we are just in a holding pattern, waiting for her heart to get bigger)

Anyway, it's all very stressful and made me very un-bloggy yesterday. But Al's back at school today, a little tired, but happy. Today was school photo day, so she didn't want to miss it!

As for the rest of the tax story... maybe you forgot about it? If you're interested, here's the end, finally. I wrote it a few days back, during a rare period when we had electricity. It's not that thrilling, but it has the 'closure' thing going for it.

Recap of the previous installments: Our heroine has just spent the entire morning being driven all over Ouaga in a vain search for someone that will let her pay her taxes. After many trials, she finally learns where she really needs to go, but first Valentine has to be rescued from...who knows what?

Mahama knows all the shortcuts. We passed through the “Petit Paris” neighbourhood, then passed by the Moro Naaba’s palace, after cutting across on a very bumpy road paved with rough bricks.

Arriving at the school, I was very relieved to see Valentine standing outside the gates, talking to a friend, not direly ill or injured. Many of her teachers were out on strike, so her day had been cut short.

She agreed to go on with me to what I hoped was the final step of paying our taxes. It wasn’t very far to the latest destination. It turned out to be a small group of low buildings hidden behind a popular restaurant in the center of the city..

We wandered around a while because, of course, there were absolutely no signs indicating where you should go. Completely by chance, we eventually walked into the right office! Amazing! At last! I sat down in front of the tax agent’s desk and got out my documentation, all ready to get started!

Sadly, they weren’t the right documents. And as she explained it all, it became clear that I could never manage to get all the papers I needed.

Our bank in France was demanding proof that we paid taxes somewhere in the world, but it looked like the Burkinabé government wasn’t going to let me be a taxpayer this year.

What did I do? I made friends, of course! Soon, the tax agent and her two colleagues in the office had shown me pictures of their kids and told me what they’d be doing for the Easter holiday. And when I mentioned that I had twin daughters, they proposed that our children marry. One gentleman offered me kola nuts, the traditional gift given to the parents of the bride. It was all in fun of course and when I left everyone was laughing uproariously. And I had been given a few clues about how to remedy my situation.

I went back again a few days later, the twins in tow, wearing adorable matching outfits. One of the tax agents took pictures of them with her cell phone. After some amiable chatting, my file was found, I presented my revised papers and the tax forms were filled out, the kindly tax agent taking everything in hand.

I wrote a check and that was it.

It was VERY unlike dealing with, say the IRS of the United States or even the French tax authorities.


Bridget said...

Hey, this could have been a good place to exercise your mordant wit, vis a vis, US Healthcare vs. French system. I know how striking the diff is.

babzee said...

You not only managed to pay your taxes, but to marry off (at least *betroth) half of your kids in the bargain!! That is Mommy Management on a PhD level.

When we have a chance to email again, we may discuss my brother's ongoing trial with atrial fib and the MAZE procedure. I hope that Al's setback is temporary and easily managed.