Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A treatise on the lust for efficiency, bureacratic idiocy, psychological torture and questioning your last, greatest major life decision (Part 4)

Day 6 (Friday)

Before I begin here, let me point out that Sylvie and I are feeling pretty confident about our chances at this point. We’ve just jumped through the 3-day hoop of registering our visas. We also know we have all the paperwork required because were told so by the officer at the Registro Migratorio on Day 1.

More determined than ever, we wake up at 5:15am to ensure an even earlier arrival, and that we receive a younger ticket number. By 5:50am we’re on line. Numbers 19 and 20 are handed out. We go to a cafĂ© for some strong coffee. We read magazines and joke a bit about the ridiculousness of this entire episode. We make tentative plans for opening our bank account and maybe even buying a cell phone with the extra time we have between receiving our Censos and me leaving for class.

Around 11:00 am we get called (We reminded the same man as before that he said he would help us if he remembered us, and he actually agreed – amazing really). He looks over our paperwork, which is beyond reproach, and starts to enter our info into the computer system. Then, he then tells us with a slight smile that “it’s funny but for some reason you’re not in the system”. Why does he like this so much? He’s sick, as my mother would say. Sylvie says “what do you mean?”. “I don’t know, you’re just not here.” “Well did you try the other passport?” He tries my passport. “He’s not in here either. According to this, you’re not in the country. How did you arrive?” “By plane…at the airport!” “Did the immigration officer slide your passport through the scanner?” “Yes!” “Well, I’m not sure what’s going on. Let me check with my boss”. Officer Carlos Mendez comes back after a few minutes and informs us that the company that had been contracted by the Ecuadorian government to enter data into the immigration database has messed up. We were never entered into the system when we entered the country. He/we have no proof that we entered legally. Furthermore, this problem went on for a while. So, everyone who entered the country between certain dates last month has the same problem. And….since it’s after 1:00 pm on a Friday, and the office of this company has already closed (perfectly logical, right?). He can’t call them to get them to help. We should come back Monday early when they’re in the office and can help.

Two sidenotes here: anyone who’s spent significant time outside the Western world is probably thinking to themselves, why didn’t these rank amateurs just bribe somebody. Well, that thought came to me back on Monday, but when we inquired about if I should or how to go about it, our Ecuadorian friends warned us that this is an “Ecuadorian thing”. Hence, we were advised not to make attempts at bribing an Immigration officer. It made sense, so we didn’t push it. No need in complicating our plight with an arrest and potential deportation. Besides, after waiting 5 days to get this thing done, we weren’t bribing any of these pig cops. Point two: 6 de Deciembre is approaching. Quito was founded on 6 de Deciembre in 1534. Every year in early December Quito essentially shuts down for a week of partying (Las Fiestas de Quito). In the week leading up to 6 de Deciembre it is nearly impossible to get anything done. At the office, staff play cuarenta (40) a popluar card game and drink shots of liquor. At this point in the saga, 6 de Diciembre is 3 work days away. For us, this could be the proverbial kiss of death.

By now, Sylvie is crying, pleading with Officer Mendez to help us. I’m so pissed off I’m considering pulling Officer Mendez by his ears over his desk. He says we can talk to the woman in Computacion. We go to this a very unhelpful woman who tells us she can’t help us. We go to her supervisor and are told to come back tomorrow. We go back to the woman in Computacion. She tells us Officer Mendez can authorize the Censo, but we need him to give the ok. We ask him to do so, but he refuses due to the suspicion that would be raised during an internal audit. The assumption would be that he was bribed if he didn’t have the necessary paperwork. He did not want to be the answer to the question “who authorized this censo”? As a parting victory Officer Mendez tells us we can come to him directly the following business day and that don’t need to wake up at the crack of dawn to wait for a ticket.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


just registered and put on my todo list

hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.