This almost-final post (I now realize the saga is too long, forcing me to break it up into episodes) of our ultra-busy week got delayed because I've been waiting for the story of last Monday's events to end. Yesterday it finally did. And then today it didn't. Let me explain.
After the International Living conference we stayed over in Quito an extra night because our long-awaited cedulas (Ecuadorian resident cards) were going to be processed on Monday. This would culminate over a year of delays while Immigration officials were repeatedly fired for corruption (shocker!), each time disrupting the process.
Last summer we decided to switch from business to retirement visas, and were given 6 month tourist visas to "keep us legal" in the interim. Those expired in January with no new visas in sight. Since July when our application was submitted we had to get our passports back from Quito 3 times so we could travel to the States. And we'd left and returned to Ecuador twice with those expired visas this year--no easy task, I assure you.
Now we have the proper visas stamped in our passports, and clearing this one final hurdle would complete the process. So we were pretty excited.
Our attorney picked us up first thing Monday morning and we were off to our destination. We parked, went inside, and---bedlam. There were people everywhere. People with little kids. Lots of little kids. Turns out this wasn't the ideal time to be conducting our business, because school starts soon and all new students need the same cedula cards as us.
But here we were in Quito, damn it, and today was the day, so we took a number and a seat. After waiting awhile it turned out this was just the first stop where somebody verifies that you have all the proper forms and that they are filled out correctly.
We then went downstairs where there were even more people and more kids. After sitting around for a bit we noticed two things: 1) the numbers on the overhead screen showing whose turn it was bore no resemblance to ours, and 2) the numbers weren't changing.
Our attorney's assistant checked with the folks in charge and learned that yes, the screen wasn't working and no, we were in the wrong place. So we moved to the other end of the room where non-Ecuadorian applicants were processed.
And waited some more.
Finally it was my turn. The young man handling my application didn't look old enough to shave, spoke zero English, and nevertheless asked a zillion questions. My lawyer's presence to provide answers made me once again thankful I hadn't tried to fly solo on obtaining residency.
Eventually he was satisfied, my photo and fingerprints were taken, and the file was saved in the computer. Done! Then he made a face and put his hand to his head in a gesture that in every language means, "Oh, shit!"
It seems he forgot to have me sign the pad verifying all that we had just completed.
Ah, but he had a solution---"Please come back Wednesday."
There are times when I'm actually glad my Spanish isn't outstanding, and this was one of them. Because with a literal translation of what I told my attorney to say to the kid I'd probably be writing this blog from a jail cell.
Here's the "family friendly" version: "We're getting on a plane to Cuenca at 5:40 this afternoon and we're not coming back to Quito. He caused the problem. He's trying to make his problem my problem. That's not happening. I want this fixed today."
Well, Ecuadorians are not accustomed to folks balking like this, so with a shocked look he retreated to speak with his superiors. When he returned he proudly announced that if we came back at 3 not only would the problem be resolved, I could take my cedula home that day.
Now that's more like it.
It was lunchtime anyway, so we all decided our attorney and her assistant would return to work, Cynthia and I would grab some lunch, and we'd meet back at her office at 2:30.
We got to her car and discovered it had been booted.
(Extra loud sigh)
To be continued-----------