November 2, 2011

My attempt at getting you all caught up - Part 1

It’s been a while since my last post as a result of the chaos that is Ecuador, and the lack of a reliable internet connection. I will do my best to catch you all up on what’s been going on in the life of Lil’ L.

We are now in Ecuador. We arrived into Quito on October 23 after travelling for 22 hours. Although we’ve now done the trip two other times in the past, this journey was much more difficult. In the past, Lil’ L slept for the majority of our flights and I did not have to keep him entertained, however it was a completely different story this time around. First things first, Lil’ L does not believe in naps anymore. He fights his sleep to the last second when he can no longer keep his eyes open. I believe he thinks that if he sleeps he’s going to miss out on something important.  Travelling alone with a 7 month old infant who refuses to nap and constantly needs to be entertained is definitely an art that I need to master. I don’t know how some people do it. I though our flights were never going to end.  Aside from pacing the aisle, there was really nothing I could do to keep the little guy happy. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to arrive into Quito as I was when our flight landed.
Despite the difficulties of the air travel with an infant, the best part about travelling with Lil’ L in Ecuador is that I am considered a person of priority. In Ecuador pregnant women, women with infants, the disabled and the elderly are given priority over all other people, meaning that when I arrived into the customs area, I got to skip the  lineup and was allowed to go through customs before any one of the other  400+ people who arrived  on one of the four planes that all arrived at the same time.  Thanks to  Lil’ L we were through customs and had our baggage within 20 minutes of landing in Quito, a feat that usually takes at least an hour and a half.  We met up with Lalo, and went to the hotel where it was straight into the bed for all of us.
I had planned to do much of our visa paper work on our first day in Quito, but Lalo had other plans for us. He talked to his mom, Lil’ L’s abuela early in the morning and arranged to meet up for lunch. The journey just to meet for lunch took at least two hours, I swear I could have walked the distance we travelled on the bus in less time than it took for the driver to get there…..and so it started…the waiting game. One thing I have learned is that time doesn’t really matter in Ecuador. Everyone takes their sweet time with ill regard to schedules or other people’s plans.  By the time we had met up and eaten lunch with Lalo’s mom, it was 2pm.  The civil office where we had to go to obtain our documents for our visa application closes at 5. Lalo swore we would make it in time, we just had to walk his mom to a park for her  to wait for her boss to pick her up.  Well…..we never made it to the civil office . Day one down the gutter. 
Before I go onto day 2, let me explain our visa situation. Currently Lil’ L and I have 12-IX visas for Ecuador, which are visas for tourists with economic interest. They are valid for 6 consecutive months of the year, and may only be granted once. Lil’ L and I obtained our visas the last time we were in Ecuador, and they expire at the end of November.  In order to stay in Ecuador we need to apply for our immigration, spousal visa 9-VI. One of the requirements of this visa, is that you must legally be in the country and have a visa with a current validity of 30 days. No problem I thought, aside from the fact that the application process for the visa has changed in the past month. Before, all  I would have had to do is stand in a lineup for a day and submit my documents. Now, all applications are done online, and an appointment is made for you to submit your documents. The appointment that I received was for November 1.  This presented two significant problems. 1) On November 1, our visas would no longer have a minimum of 30 days of validity, meaning that we would have to apply for visa extensions. Visa extension = mucho mas paper work, and at least 3 days extra in Quito.  2) Starting November 2 is a week long holiday in Ecuador. If we waited until then to return to Canoa, where we live, we had no chance of catching a bus. Where we live on the coast is the main destination for literally every Ecuadorian who has time off.  The busses are full, with people sleeping in the bus terminal for days before the holiday commences just to be sure to get a ticket. Not something I was willing to do with a little baby in a third world country.  But enough of that for now, onto day 2.
Day 2 (Tuesday, October 25)
We woke early to be sure to get to the Police office early to obtain a document called “movimiento migratorio” which is a record that details your travel history into and out of the country. It is also where you obtain your Censo, the Ecuadorian ID that all visa holders must have. Unfortunately I lost Lil’L’s censo….I think the customs lady at the airport forgot to give it back to me, but I couldn’t obtain any paper work for Lil L without out, so I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and get a new one for him while we were getting our movimientos.  Not as easy as I thought. Apparently 10 am is too late to arrive in order to have a chance of having a piece of paper printed off…..a process that literally takes 2 minutes…we were told that if we wanted our movimiento migratorio papers, that we would have to return the next day at 9am in order to receive a ticket to have a turn. Ok…whatever, fine…not a surprise at all considering our history with trying to get anything done in Ecuador. So I asked about renewing Lil’ L’s censo.  Turns out that I had to make a police report for a lost or stolen document first…but not at the police office where we were, a different one.   We left the police office. Next stop,  notary public. We had to have notarized copies of all our documents. This task was actually easy. We found a notary office, no appointment necessary, walked in, paid $5 and were told to return the next day to pick up the documents. Thank you Quito Notary #1 for making at least one part of my day a little bit easier.  Our next stop was the office of Immigration to get information about obtaining a visa extension. When we arrived, I was told by the guard to return the next day at 7am and to bring all of my documents for a visa application. Alright….so, it was now past noon, and we had been to 3 different places, and I still didn’t have a single document I needed. Our last stop for the day was the main police station to report Lil’L ‘s censo as lost.   After waiting about a half hour, we spoke with a police officer who told us that in order to report any documents as lost, we had to have a current movimiento migratorio………. ugh……..seriously?!?   That was enough for one day….and truth be told, there was nothing else we could do so we went for lunch and  relaxed for the rest of the day. 

To  be continued manana!

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