Friday, August 24, 2012

What next?

We went downtown with our entire family to get our visas yesterday. (Yes, we had to pull the kids out of school) If I ran this country, things would be a lot simpler and make a whole heck of a lot more sense. I'm not sure who came up with this system - but it's ridiculous.

We've already waited in line at the RUT office when we first got here to apply for our RUT numbers. We were issued a temporary number and when our permanent RUT arrived, our Relocation Specialist, Paz, picked them up for us and delivered them to Greg's office.

Now that we have our permanent RUTs, we have to go get our resident visas (the kids and I are currently here on travel visas). This means that at 7:15am, on one of the coldest days since we've been here, snow-flurry-cold, we have the cab drop us off at the visa building so that we can stand outside waiting in line before the place even opens. When we got in line, it was already around the side of the building. They open the doors at 8am to let people file inside and wait in chairs. At 8:30, their official "opening time",  we were given numbers and sent to different rooms.

We then wait for our number to be called to get our visa. Unfortunately, they were training an entirely new staff of people today. 1st day for all of them. The lady put my visa sticker in Alex's passport among other things. Finally we get it right and then we have to wait again for a stack of passports to form and justify someone running slowly walking while visiting with her friends, them up to the 'man upstairs' who signs them and then they bring them back to us.

We're trying to hurry as fast as we can because there is a scheduled protest at noon in that area. So we decide speed walking to the next location, 7-8 blocks away will be faster than a cab. We arrive at this police station type place, get another number and wait again. We then get to the counter, get our photos taken and this lady makes a mistake on my paperwork. That gets fixed and we head to the next location.

**Thank goodness for our Relocation Specialist, Paz. We wouldn't have known where to go, or even what mistakes to look for. She saved us hours upon hours of time.

Paz is continually checking and rechecking the paperwork. We take 2 cabs (they only hold 4 people and we had 5 with Paz) to the final building and it's just after 11. While in line, she goes through the paperwork for like the bazillionth time and finds an error in Andrew's. The last lady at the police place, made a mistake on his. So she takes him back and we remain in line. They take a cab, only to be told that he will only go so far because of the protests. So he drops them 2 blocks away.

They then hoof it the remaining two blocks and see the protestors beginning to gather. Andrew said that there were several SWAT vans that pulled up and several police officers completely surrounding the protestors with shields.

They get Andrew's paperwork fixed and head back to us. We're still in line. Finally it's our turn. We sign paperwork. I say that yes, I'll donate my organs if I am to be killed here, blah, blah. Then have to be fingerprinted in another area = another line.

This lady inked my fingers from the middle knuckle up - all 10 - then hands me 2 paper towels. You are supposed to go out of her office and use this lotion stuff and your 2 puny paper towels to get 65 gallons of ink off your hands. Not possible. I've smeared this lotion on my hands and am now a black mess. Thank goodness I had a pack of tissues in my pocket and the tissues are actually multi-folded napkins. No bathrooms at this place. No sink. I do my best and help the kids with their blackened fingers.

Then Paz comes and tells me I need to resign some paperwork because the lady has made a mistake. Again? So I go back, still blackish, and re-sign. We get out of there around 12:30. The protests should be well underway. Paz recommends taking the subway and staying out of the streets. So we follow her advice and ride the subway through 10 stops before getting out and hailing a cab.

We later learned that this "protest" was the worst in 30 years. They are basically just destructive. They destroyed everything in a 5 block radius. Windows all broken, street signs torn down - cars beaten. What a mess!

We are so grateful to have had a knowledgable guide. Without Paz to walk us through and check our documents, we'd have been sent back so many times after waiting in enormous lines. Then we'd have gotten trapped in the middle of the protests. That is not something we want to get caught in. Apparently, the police pull everyone and check their documentation. A run-in with the Police is not our idea of a good time.

We celebrated our new visa status with lunch at Burger King:

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