Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 2 - A touch of Latin buracro-reality

No pictures today - we had business to do. "Register our visa" - whatever the heck that is supposed to mean! Here's what it meant to us: Take the express bus* to the address listed in the guidebook for the "Dirrecion General de Extranjeria." Learn when we arrived that the building held some sort of "tribunal," not the office we were looking for. Walk to the correct location. Stop at the Marriot, for confirmation of the correct location. (Buy some mandarins for Nikki from a street vendor on the way.) Continue to the correct location. Take a number. Wait in line (in some comfortable chairs at least, while watching Japanese cartoons dubbed in Spanish). Finally get to the official who asked us if we had copies of our passports and visas (no), if we had deposited the money for the registration in the bank account yet (no), if we had brought our file folder, with a 2-hole punch and clasp (no), and if we had our manila envelope (no). How could we have been so unprepared!? Clearly, we had some work to do!

The photocopies went pretty well (~5 minute wait in line), but when we got to the bank, we learned (~10 minute wait in line), that we couldn't pay the $40 fee with American Express travelers checks, nor with our visa card. We could, however, exchange our traveler's checks at a nearby Casa de Cambio. At said Casa, however, we learned (~no wait) that they don't deal with American Express travelers checks, but another Casa, a mile away, would. So after a couple of near-meltdowns, by Don, Debby and Nikki - Mia held it together quite well, and lunch at a Mongolian barbeque, we found the right Casa, and (~15 minute wait) had our cash. Debby and the girls had had enough, so they took a cab back to the hostel, with dreams of finding a pool. Don, intrepid adventurer that he is, headed back to the bank, and (~5 minute wait) deposited the registration money. Back to the Dirrecion General, take another number, and back to the very same suited and somehow sweatfree official. All in order: all that remains is to return in 3 days to retrieve our passport!

* Quito has three express bus lines that have a dedicated lane, and a cool boarding system. You pay to get into a waiting area, which is elevated above street level. When the bus arrives, it aligns itself with the doors on the platform that open and close to allow access to the bus. It would be great, but the buses are shoulder to shoulder packed. Quite polite though - no groping so far.

No comments:

Post a Comment