At 3:45 a.m. this morning, we jumped in a cab and went to mini-bus station where we connected with a special van to go to Machala to get our approved Visas. My husband and I rode in the back, which was fun to squeeze his 6 ft. 4 in. frame and my 5 ft. 9 in. frame into the seats. The passengers in the front wanted to push their seats back and we had to tell them “no, por favor” and pointed to our knees in the back of the seat. They weren’t too happy about that, especially a lady with a baby, but they left the seats where they were. Thankfully, the baby slept all the way to Machala and when she did awaken was good as gold.
The driver must have either been very angry that we were the last to arrive so that he couldn’t depart as early as he wished or he had decided to try to break the land speed record between Cuenca and Machala. The roads in areas along the way are in really rough shape as they are either in various stages of repair or have been washed out by slides due to the unusual amount of rain in that area. I came very close to being car sick, which is something that never happens to me. We were extremely thankful that we did not have to go to Guayaquil as the roads in that area of the Cajas are a complete mess with ice and snow! Yes, my dear friends, there has been snow in South America.
We arrived a little early, small wonder Mr. Van Driver, so had a light breakfast at a local restaurant. We had been there before when we went to submit our applications and have pictures taken. After breakfast, we went to the Ministry de Immigration and waited to be called. They compared our Passports with our files and then took them to get the Visa stamp. We waited, and we waited and we waited. Finally, we were told it was taking a long time due to the fact that only one person was processing the Visas as well as processing some kind of Certificates for those natives who were re-entering the country and today and tomorrow were the only days they could get them. It was a mad house, but at least they let us know.
Finally, after a four-hour wait, we were given the signal that approval was at hand. They handed me my Passport and asked me to verify that all the information on the Visa was correct. Passport number – check; first name, middle name, last name – check; date of birth – WRONG! Somehow, they had me being born in January instead of June, so MY Visa had to be redone. Luckily, Ray’s was perfecto. After about a half hour, mine was ready and once I approved all the information and signed the necessary copies, we had our Visas.
We left the Ministry and stopped to have a bite to eat for lunch and then it was on to the Minibus station where we had been dropped off to arrange for transportation back to Cuenca. Where the first driver tried to bust the land speed record, this one loved to see just how close he could time on-coming traffic and passing buses and large trucks. There were a few times there when I thought for sure that I would be having my Visa checked at the pearly gates. One thing I have noticed here, most Ecuadorians are gentle, kind, soft-spoken and the nicest people you could meet. That is until they get behind the wheel of a vehicle and then it’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I have come to the opinion that bus drivers, taxi drivers and special van drivers are muey loco en la cabasa!
Once we arrived back in Cuenca, our Immigration Attorney’s Assistant said, “Chao! See you tomorrow!” To which I responded, excuse me, but we have no idea where we are in Cuenca and would like to know how we are to get home. Whoops! He hailed us a cab and we made it home safely. This taxi driver was a good driver and even spoke some English. He wanted to talk, but we were just too tired. Once home, we took off our shoes and opened a cervasa (beer) to celebrate our Visa Approval.
Tomorrow we go to the Attorney’s office to pay the remainder of her fee and to get a copy of the Visa in a shrunk down version that will be laminated so that we can use that as our Ecuadorian ID until one is issued and so that we don’t lose our Passports with its original stamps.
I need to close this so that I can get some rest as I had absolutely no sleep last night. Until later my friends, take care and God bless.
Terri at the Drake’s Nest