FELCC: Bolivian for needless bureaucracy. So we drop off our papers at the Felcc office in Montero Tuesday afternoon, feeling good about having made some progress that day. He says come back tomorrow, we say okay. Now this guy ran the other two volunteers all over town to get their paperwork done. Each time they came back he asked for something new, one document at a time and then when they had everything the price somehow quadrupled. He’s a real tool. He’s not nice to the locals either. So we don’t got to see him without a Sister to do the talking. Anyway we were on top of our game and had everything he could possibly ask for, plus a Sister so of course guess what? When we came back the next day he says, oh you can’t file this here, the new rule is that you have to go to Santa Cruz. (Actually blessing in disguise, but we were frustrated at this point because he didn’t get around to telling this to us until 10am) Luckily we had Madre Clara with us (she’s the superior of the convent right now, born in Montero and can get things done). She walks us down the street to the taxi station to Santa Cruz and makes some phone calls. After about a half-hour wait, her nephew shows up in a nice SUV with leather seats and wisks us off to Santa Cruz. We breeze in the FELCC office an hour later (now 11:30) and Madre Clara throws some elbows and gets us a seat at one of the desks. Anyway turns out we don’t need half of what Senor Tool in Montero had asked for, the price is half of what he charges and it’s done in under 5 minutes. Pick up on Friday.
So we zoom back out to the car and Madre Clara decides we can make it to the blood place by 12:30. But then we need gas and we need to pick up Sr. Christina and we roll into Cenetrop for HIV tests at 12:29:30. This time Madre Christina the tall Polish Sister heads things up and talks her way into the office with sad puppy eyes and a story about how we drove all the way from Montero just for this. We get our blood drawn and we’re out of there by 12:45. (Miracle #2)
Now Madre Clara’s nephew has to go to class, he’s 19 and a university student in Santa Cruz and amazingly nice to drive us all over that morning, so Tom and I get dropped off for lunch and we’re on our own for the afternoon. This is where our luck begins to turn, but we eat a nice lunch for $2 at a restaurant and then try to go to Interpol to get Santa Cruz background checks. It’s not open yet so we kill some time checking out Bolivian Burger King and eat some ice cream. At Interpol there’s already 20 some people there when it opens and I walk right through their not-on metal detector but the guard says to Tom, no you can’t come in. I thought it was the backpack so he gives me the paperwork and I go and try to do everything for both of us. Now Interpol has got a really nice thing going, there’s two offices in there and the guy in the actual background check office won’t talk to you until you have an official letter from the guy in the other office which conveniently costs 40 bolivianos. So you stand in line to buy your piece of paper- the guy literally sits there with a word document open on his computer, types your name in and hits print. Anyway, then you wait in anther 30 minute line to talk to guy in the other office. Once you talk to him, he tells me I have to go back to the other office and buy the forms I need filled out, which conveniently cost 50 bolivianos each. So back to the first line, and then back to the second line. Two hours later I get my stuff done and as much of Tom’s as I can without him coming in. By this time I’m annoyed for many reasons but one of them being that there are tons of people in there with backpacks. Come to realize, that the reason Tom wasn’t allowed in was because he was wearing SHORTS. I then noticed clearly posted on the door was a dress code: no shorts, no flip-flops, no tank-tops. Now sure this might make sense at a nice government building or a court house but it’s about 95 F and humid, no air conditioning, and this place is a dump. The ‘walls’ of the offices are glorified cubicle dividers, there are wires hanging out the ceiling where they should be lights, the walls are filthy, oh but they have standards I guess, I’m sorry.
Anyway we’re still in good-spirits because I got my paperwork done and so we get some wifi at the hotel across the street and wait for our ride home from some of the sisters who are in town doing errands.