Tuesday, Feb 16, 2016
We met Denisse at the Ecuadorian Ministry office so we could pay for our Visa processing, and turn in our passports for our visas to be secured into them. This was a very long process. It was longer than when we were here last and waited in line to have the clerk review each page of our very thick visa application file. So it goes in Ecuador.,,you just can’t predict what you will get.
There are 26 windows in this place and only one window was processing visa payments. When we arrived, our clerk at our window was helping number 7, and our number was 14. Sometimes one person took as long as 20 minutes…so our wait continued to build. I soon realized there would be no way to make the 11:25 am bus back to Bahia, and that meant we would be on the 12:50 pm bus out of Guayaquil. What can you do?
It was a bit chaotic when we did have our turn. At the window the clerk had to review our file…the one already reviewed and approved…the approved file that brought us here today. Can you say redundancies? Once we “checked out”, he gives us a small piece of paper that says what we are to pay. We have to go to the one and only cashier window, wait in line, then give the woman behind the glass our little piece of paper with the stated amount of money to pay.
I did this, but the total was $930 and I pushed through $940 since I did not have anything smaller than a $20. Denisse reached in and pulled one twenty dollar bill out and handed it back to me. She told me they do not make change.
Now, as I look through the window, the woman behind the glass has a drawer filled with tons of cash and coin. Ok fine. I start digging in my pocket and find a $5 bill, then I pull out my change and I have five $1 coins (Ecuadorians do not use $1 bills). But it’s too late!
The woman has already processed my receipt for $920 dollars. I’m standing there with the other $10 in my hand. I follow Denisse back over to the first window. The clerk is now helping someone else, but in typical Ecuadorian fashion, Denisse pushes her hand through the slot in the glass with our receipt and says something to the clerk.
He then hands her another little slip of paper and we go back to the cashier. This time we wait in line, and then we pay the missing $10 from our first run through. The cashier gives us our receipt which we take back to the first clerk.
I honestly don’t remember if someone was standing there being helped or not, and if we butted in or not. I was still trying to process why a cashier can’t make change, or why she couldn’t have waited an additional 30 seconds while I was fetching the $10 out of my pocket. At any rate, our full payment is processed and we are told to come back on Monday to pick up our passports with our new visas in them.
Ok, that’s great news right? Well..it is but it has been a grueling 24 to 36 hours in Guayaquil. No one is ready to come back here that soon. We have not met one person…on a bus, in the hotel, in a cab, or anywhere, who hasn’t told us about the dangers of phones being stolen, of backpack straps being slit with a knife and stolen off your back, of being robbed on the street, or hijacked in an “unofficial” cab. Basically it just sounds like open season on Gringos in this city.
Now, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been out walking on the streets during the day and at night, or that we haven’t gotten into multiple cabs. It does mean we are hyper vigilant of our surroundings, and depending on the time of day and where we are going, we remove all watches, jewelry, wallets, purses, significant cash, and extra credit cards. It becomes mentally exhausting to operate like this…and that is on top of the communication difficulties we regularly experience.
I was so happy to get back to the bus terminal and be headed back to Bahia. The craziness of Guayaquil makes me appreciate the slow, eazy, safe pace of our little town on the ocean.
It’s a long ride back, and we pass so many buildings, shops, people, and run down towns along the way.
In Guayaquil we went to two shopping malls (one that even had a Rolex store) that basically have every high end clothing store you would find in the States. It is such a contrast to the poverty that is everywhere. AND…who is buying this stuff?
A 65″ Curved Samsung Smart TV was $16,000 dollars (or $1212/mo x 15 mo= $18,000)!
I just looked it up online at Best Buy and it sells for $3000 in the States.
We’re home and it feels nice to be out of the chaos! We can rest up before we have to go go back and do it all over again in 5 days.