Day 1 (Friday)
Sylvie and I arrive at 6:15 am at the Registro Migratorio. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m tired right about now. As we pull up in the cab we see a line running down the block. By the time we get our ticket they've reached numbers 89 and 90. Mind you, we arrived 15 minutes earlier than we were told by the woman behind the desk (15 minutes before the office even opens) because we just thought we’d be good and get their early so we could be sure to get a good ticket. So Sylvie asks the guard giving out tickets exactly what time we can expect to get served. He says that they serve roughly 20 people an hour. So, by 11ish we should be sure to be there so we don’t miss our turn. 11:00, and it’s 6:30 when we’re hearing this. Well, all I can think about is eating breakfast. So, we try to find a place that’s open and eventually head into a spot that has “American breakfast”. Smart idea on their part, being so close to the Registro Migratorio. I had buttermilk pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, juice and coffee. Fans of IHOP will feel me on this one. I was trying to eat myself into a coma for the next 3 hours to reduce the pain of the 5 hour wait. By the way, I’m not the type of guy who demands ketchup when traveling abroad, but sometimes you just need the comforts of home. After breakfast, we head over to the mall to find out about buying cell phones, and to the bank to see if we can open an account. Not surprisingly, we need our censo to make these things happen. So, around 11:00 we head back to the office for our Censo. We excitedly look to see what number they’re on. 39. We wait for another four and a half hours until we’re called at 3:45 in the afternoon. We excitedly head up to the awaiting officer behind the desk with all our papers. However, I notice as we’re waiting for him to finish with the preceding extranjera that he was being rude and kind of yelling. By the way, these officers are not doughnut cops. They’re more in the military mold: government’s taskmasters of the street, if you will. They wear pressed, olive-colored uniforms and the whole nine. The ones working in these types of administrative offices are pissed because they’re on desk duty; perfect for dealing with unwanted foreigners. So yeah, we head up there. Sylvie’s smiling. I hit him with an “hola señor” just to show respect. Cops like that. He responds with a slight head nod and puts his hand out for our papers. Clearly, this man is a hard time waiting to happen. We hand over our papers. He tersely reviews them. When he looks at our passports, he tells us that we haven’t registered our visas yet. Sylvie says in Spanish “yeah, that’s why we’re here”. He says with a sly smile that we have to register our visas at another office, then come back to this one for our Censo. Sylvie protests to no avail. Eventually, we are left asking questions such as “where is this office?” We find out. We ask if we can/should come back to him? He says he’ll help us if he remembers us. This should have been our first clue. Sylvie writes his name down. She’s quick. We leave feeling somewhat defeated. That’s an entire day shot.