I couldn’t let this momentous occasion pass without sharing it with all of you. As of 2:00 pm May 30, 2012 Tom and I never have to go to the Bolivian Immigration office EVER again. The visa process has been a continuing stress for us since our arrival in September 2010. Document after document, hours upon hours spent waiting in lines (I’m talking over 15 hours, just in line time) hours of traveling, significant money spent and sleep lost, all of this culminating in our most recent government ID process.
So a funny thing happened in March. The Bolivian Immigration office, which serves the whole region of Santa Cruz, packed up one night and moved silently across town leaving not so much as a sign about where they had gone. The taxi drivers didn’t know, the bus drivers didn’t know and we certainly didn’t know. The other volunteers were there days before the office moved and said no one informed them in any way nor did they see any informational signs about it. And beyond that, they splintered off the government ID department to a third location. So after a bit of hassle we located the new offices, one in the first ring, the other in the fourth ring. We pick up our passports in the first ring office and head out to the fourth ring office to apply for IDs. It’s a well demarcated, stately office. lol oh wait no, it’s a house on a muddy, back-road residential street with a letter-sized piece of white paper for a sign.
It’s like they don’t want you to find it.
And when we arrive at 9:00am we’re told they’ve already given out all the numbers for the day and that we have to arrive at 6:00am if we want to be helped. Ok, fine so a few days later we get up at 4:30am, get the first shared taxi out of Montero at 5:15am and arrive in line at 6:15am. The office is supposed to open at 7am and there’s already a significant line, and I’m already crabby. No where to sit so we stand and stand. A secretary shows up at 7:10am but says she doesn’t have the key. Finally the lady with the key strolls in at 7:30am. We receive our numbers, 21 and 22 and we’re told that they probably won’t get to us until 11am so we can go and come back. So we go and sit in a coffee shop and read for awhile. At 11am we went back and experienced first hand the glacial pace at which the office functioned but we got our stuff in a-ok and were headed for lunch by noon.
We were told to come back May 30th to pick them up but pick up is only possible between 2pm and 3pm. So we went and we got them and we don’t plan to go back ever!