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 café 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.