Friday, October 17, 2008

Manana Strikes Again!

On the boat for 13 years with no bathtub, it took awhile, but lying in a hot tub of water, Shelley suddenly thought: Bubbles! We checked at Fybeca, one of Ecuador's largest pharmacy chains. No bubble bath. They suggested we try SuperMaxi. We did. No bubble bath. We have yet to find a hummingbird feeder. Several people have told us "Oh yes, they're all over the place" and have directed us to this store or that, but so far no luck. A Canadian woman brought us Cheezies the other day. We're saving them for a particularly home sick moment.

It'd been a full week since we opened our bank account so we went downtown to pick up our bank card. We had to go to a different department and the young lady there spoke no English whatsoever. We showed her our bank number and she looked in her computer and then rather indignantly told us something was wrong with our account. We, of course, didn't know this was what she was telling us. A kind woman waiting for attention translated for us. Our bank lady went off to see the man who originally opened up the account and after 10 or 15 minutes came back nodding and told us a whole bunch of... we don't know. Eventually she went through a stack of waiting cards and pulled one out for us. We both had our index-finger-print scanned into a computer and signed various pieces of paper and then she took us to an ATM so we could change the PIN number. We then wrote a cheque on our Canadian bank and deposited it to our new account. We've been told it'll take 5 days to clear. We decided to write the cheque and deposit it as a kind of science experiment to see how the whole thing will go. We noted when we got our deposit slip, that they'd charged us $5 (!) for the bank card.

Our second to last visit with our lawyer (the last one being the day we pay their bill) had us leaving the apartment at 10:30 a.m. and arriving home again at 4:10 p.m. First we saw, for the first time, our passports stamped by the Republica del Ecuador, Ministerio de Gobierno with a Visa Indefinida. It sure felt good to know the mild anxiety was over.

Next we drove to get our Censos Card from the Jefatura Provincial de Migracion del Azuay. We climbed several floors and entered an office full of people in uniform. Our lawyer directed us to sit down and we could see him shaking hands with several people in the office next door. After 10 or 15 minutes Shelley was called in to get her picture taken, advise as to her height (in cm) and sign several documents. Brian was next and then we both sat in the outer office some more wondering what was going on. The young lady sitting next to Shelley seemed nice, so Shelley did a "oh my goodness, isn't this exciting" hand wag and the young lady wagged back. Through the fellow several seats down (who spoke English), we advised we were from Canada and listened while the fellow explained to several interested parties that in North America, first there was Mexico, then the United States and then Canada. Finally the lawyer came out and we went downstairs to a copy place and had several copies made of our lovely Censos cards.

We drove back to the lawyer's office and arranged to meet there again after lunch. We went and bought some fruit for our breakfasts and had a cappuccino and sat in the main square watching the people go by for awhile until it was time to go back. We also got our pictures taken so that we had 6 copies to take on our next mission.

Back at the lawyers, we drove to the Republica del Ecuador, Direccion General de Registro Civil, Identificacion y Cedulacion for our Provincial Identification cards. There we were fingerprinted and had our pictures taken once again and then sat around cleaning ink off our fingers and watching civil servants glide around us. Our lawyer spoke assertively a couple of times to a couple of people and sped things along, and after about an hour we left with a lovely laminated identification card.

We drove back to the lawyer's office where he presented us with our stamped passports, Censos cards and Identification cards and shook our hands and welcomed us to Ecuador. After 2 1/2 months of anticipation, waiting and mild anxiety, it was somewhat anticlimactic. There wasn't a great rush of well being but we're very pleased it's all over now. The Identification card is good until 2020, the Censos card is good indefinately and Shelley wondered out loud what happens to the Visa Indefinida stamp in the passports when they got renewed every 5 years, but Brian refused to think about it. (We found out later, when we renew our passport we have to go to Quito and get our stamp redone in the new one.)

Ecuador doesn't want us to have internet!

The big day arrived; ETAPA was supposed to come to our apartment between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and do the installation. Shelley even got up early and got out of her jammies just in case they came promptly at 8:00. They didn't. They didn't come at 1:00 either. They didn't come any time in between. They didn't come. We stared at the invoice we'd paid for the service and reconfirmed the date and time. We discussed strategies to cope with their not coming; whether we should go to the ETAPA office that afternoon or the next morning. We sulked.

At 2:30 p.m., after the lunch time break, Brian set off to the ETAPA office to find out what was going on. He was told that the fiber optics cable had been broken somehow and they set up another day (for sure!) to do the installation. (We've heard this before, haven't we?) The internet guy at ETAPA even gave Brian his personal cell number so Brian could phone the next time nothing happened. Brian told him that it's very difficult to communicate via telephone because of our very halting Spanish. The internet guy communicated to Brian that he understood very clearly what Brian had just told him in the office and revealed that he is studying English! He even showed Brian his workbook and assured him that they could muddle through the communication if need be. Brian said he's a really nice guy. Shelley said that wasn't getting internet.

On the way home from ETAPA Brian had a bit of a magical moment with the taxi driver who, it turns out, had spent 16 years in New York city. (He'd seen Dave Letterman several times (!) as he worked right next door to the theatre.) He's been back in Ecuador for 6 years and has spoken very little English in that time. With Brian's hesitant Spanish and the driver's shy English they had quite a conversation, ending up with the driver shaking Brian's hand when he left the cab.

"You're a nice man" the driver said, "I like you!"

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