So after a morning filled with cedula shenanigans we get ready to go to lunch and discover our attorney's car has been booted. Why? Well, she paid the attendant for 2 hours when we arrived and told him to put a new ticket on the windshield if we hadn't returned by then and she would pay him the additional fee.
Unfortunately there was a shift change and the guy getting off work didn't bother telling the new guy, so a police lady applied the boot as soon as our time ran out (I noticed when it was removed she stored it in the parking guy's hut--surely they weren't in cahoots?!).
Arguing was attempted but of course did no good. The only way to resolve the situation was for the assistant to take our attorney's credit card and go to a specific nearby bank, pay the debt (I think it was over $40!), and return with a receipt. Off he went.
We waited. And waited. And waited. My stomach was rumbling and there was a McDonald's in view. Guilty fast food pleasure increasingly seemed quite desirable so I asked, "Why don't I just go over there and get us some lunch?"
"No. As soon as you leave he'll show up and then we'll have to wait for you," came the rapid reply.
Nuts. The assistant finally returned, explaining that he took so long because the bank was a madhouse during the lunch break. The receipt was displayed, the boot removed, and at long last we were out of there.
Back at the attorney's office, we parted ways for an hour and Cynthia and I went off and found a quick almuerzo (fixed price and menu lunch--only $3.50 each, a bargain in Quito!). Then back in the car, back to the cedula building, and a stern lecture to the parking guy before we entered.
Lo and behold, the kid who screwed up promptly called me over, I signed the pad he had earlier forgotten about, and after a wait in yet another area my name was called and I was handed my cedula.
I forgot to mention that Cynthia's turn after my disaster went flawlessly, and as a result she couldn't get her cedula that day. It seems with foreigners a final check must be done in Immigration that takes a couple of extra days. Because of the error mine apparently was expedited. Our attorney promised to pick hers up on Wednesday and courier it to Cuenca.
Away we went (no boot this time!). A taxi was hailed, our bags transferred to the trunk, and we were off to the airport with time to spare. After an eventless 35 minute flight we were home by dinnertime.
End of story, right? You know better than that.
Cynthia's cellphone rings first thing Wednesday morning. I answer and a lady inundates me with an avalanche of Spanish. I ask if she speaks English, she says "no," so I ask her to please find someone who does. A guy gets on the phone, says he is from the Immigration office in Quito and that Cynthia needs to come to the office because "there is a problem" with her cedula.
(What are we up to now? I think it's super extra loud SIGH---).
I tell the guy, "Cynthia is not in Quito and she's not coming to Quito. Here's what is going to happen. I'm hanging up now and calling my attorney. Then she will call you back and talk to you."
It turns out the "problem" was that Cynthia, unlike Latin American women, does not use her maiden name as part of her last name. This was apparently confusing, but our attorney assured us everything was OK. She would pick up the cedula that afternoon and send it to our other attorney here in Cuenca.
Thursday--Friday--Saturday--Sunday--Monday--no cedula. It was a holiday weekend, so we figured perhaps her vacation had been extended. This turned out to be true and finally we learned that the cedula in fact is here.
Now for sure it's the end of the story. Uh, no.
I went to the gym Thursday morning. Since I had a meeting right afterwards, I rode my bike and took my backpack along with legal pad, pen, an apple, my wallet and cellphone. I locked up my bike outside, put the backpack in a cubby up front and started working out. When I returned from the rear of the gym I saw that the backpack had been stolen.
My wallet contained, along with the usual suspects, my brand new cedula.
As Jimmy Buffet sings in Margaritaville, "Well I know, it's my own damn fault." I should never have left my wallet and phone unguarded like that, and I got burned.
Does this seemingly never-ending saga have a happy ending? Of course. Because it was stolen, the cedula can be replaced right here in town by filling out an incident report. My life is so simple now it took less than half an hour to cancel and request replacement for my one debit and one credit card. A replacement driver's license is on the way, and my new Supermaxi card is already at the grocery store for me to pick up.
Whale watching--IL conference--cedula shenanigans--I'm tired of writing about this crazy week, and I'm sure you're equally tired of reading about it. Thanks for persevering. Hope you enjoyed the story.