Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Getting our Visa

We met with Fernando yesterday morning, he's our Visa facilitator, but let me start from the beginning.
We needed a bus to Manta,we got up to the main road but the only buses we saw going past were to PortoViejo, we knew we could catch one of those and get off at Cruz Verde (the fruit stand) and get one to Manta from there, so we did. After we got to Cruz Verde we waited, and waited, and waited finally one came that was headed to Manta, but he must have been full because he didn't stop and let anybody on. I called Fernando just to let him know we were going to be later than planned, and continued to wait. About this time a taxi pulled up, and two other would be Manta passengers made a move for it, the lady who was on the corner selling newspapers yelled at us, I only understood one word "ahora" but I took her sentence to mean "get this taxi, it's now or never". (Ahora means now) so we jumped in a taxi with two strangers and off to Manta we went. It was a pretty quiet ride, the other noise was the driver had an early morning radio show on, just as irritating in Spanish as in English.

The ride to Manta is about 20 miles from Cruz Verde, as we got closer to the outskirts we started to see the tuna canneries, and other big businesses, we past an area where ships are being built, this is a picture from the internet, but definatly something we will try to investigate one day.

We hadn't made concrete plans as to where to meet Fernando, we were just going to play it by ear, we just knew we didn't want to be the last one out of the taxi and get stuck with a huge fare. The man in the front seat obviously told the driver where he wanted to go and the lady in back with us said yes, so I guess that's where we were turned out to be the bus terminal, and only $1 a piece.

See the bus on the left, he's the first in a line of at least 10 buses. The little building right in front is the terminal, ticket stands, bathrooms and some stores selling odds and ends. We called Fernando, and he was there in no time. I had sent him a picture of us, but he said he would have known we were his clients anyway, ha you think ? It was about 9am, only a little late. 

He drove us to a copy place, where we got all our documents copied, and our Visa applications filled out, and then made our way to the immigration office, took a number and sat down. It was reminiscent of a nice DMV office, while we waited we got to know Fernando. He's from Manta, in his early 30's and wants to be involved with local politics and tourism. Very bright kid. He had gone to University in Canada and worked there for a couple years, that's where he learned his English. He spoke very well, and had a large vocabulary. 

Finally it was our turn he spoke with the lady, they shuffled through all the documents, making piles, getting the highlighter pen, highlighting this and that, more shuffling, more piles. It was a little nerve racking, but in the end all we needed was a bank statement for May. Fernando took us downstairs and across the street to a cyber cafe, we logged on to Wells Fargo, printed two copies of the May statement, $2.30 later we were back in the immigration office. Fernando had said we wouldn't have to wait in line again, but it turned out to be about 20 minutes. Still, in the States, they would make you start all over, another day possibly. Our turn came, passports were turned over, scrutinized, stuff typed into the computer, more shuffling, some printing of new applications (because we'd signed in the wrong spot, and wrote in our US mailing address, not the address here) Fernando said she liked us, otherwise she wouldn't have printed news applications for us. Long story shorter...we have paperwork that says our Visa is approved.

Official looking hologram stickers and everything. Our real Visa will be ready later this week, Fernando said he'll call on Friday, and if it's ready we will go Monday morning to pick it up and pay.  We got out of the office with our official looking paperwork about 1pm. $30 each for application fee, and about $6 for copies. We paid Fernando $60 for his help, and will pay him another $60 after it's all done. Money well spent, I can not imagine doing it without him with our limited spanish!

We were all hungry, we offered to buy him lunch, and he took us to a little place we would never have found! We had a breakfast item, his favorite and we could see why. It basically was an egg scramble, with bolon, which is plantain boiled then mashed, bacon and cheese, with cilantro on top, and the fresh salsa ( which here is more like Kim chi than typical tomato salsa) Muy sabrosa! After lunch, we toured around, he took us to the beach and saw some sights before heading back to the bus terminal.

See the blue rooftop poking thru the trees, it is a little shopping colonnade with some food and cool little tourist shops. Right infront of this picture is a workout area, with various equipment set up.

The longest beach we've seen while in Ecuador. Twice as much sand as our little beaches. Fernando says it's quite crowded on the weekends, and I can see why, it's a beautiful city and even prettier beachfront. We look forward to coming and seeing more in the future, but I think it's too big for us to live in.

Since we picked up the bus at the terminal, we were told to buy tickets, so we ventured into the ticket office, they sure like their paperwork here in Ecuador. As we exited the terminal, the bus to Crucita pulled in and we got on to get a seat, about 15 minutes later, we were on our way back to our little beach town. The bus took us thru a town we'd never seen Rocafuerte, it must have some good shopping, because everybody who got on the bus there had shopping bags. We got home about 4pm, needed a shower and a nap! The bus can be a hard ride, and what a day! But we had another adventure, and are one step closer to our goal of being residents in Ecuador. Everyday we are more sure that we are going to love living our life here, it's already begun. 

No plans today, relax in the hammock, life is good, and the adventure continues!

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