This is no small task since we are over 3,500 miles away, living in a snail-mail country, and the clock is ticking because our tourist visit will expire in the next 3 weeks. Oh, and the reason we are applying so late for our residency is because it took the entire month of January to open an account at Banco Pichincha and have our investment money wired there from our Oregon bank (another LONG story). There were so many hoops we had to jump through just to open the Pichincha account, and also with all the holidays in Ecuador and so many fiesta days of closed businesses, the time clock just flew.
Once our money for our investment CD finally arrived to Banco Pichincha end of January, Bo and I heard that JEP Bank paid a much better rate on CD's (9.5%). So, we immediately walked over there beginning of February, and in less than 2 hours, we opened an account! The staff there was so helpful and made opening an account an absolute breeze. Banco Pichincha was not a pleasant experience after continued delays and about six back and forth visits there trying to scramble and gather all the documents and letters they required, and their interest rate is not even great! So, immediately after opening our JEP account, we hurried over to Banco P, withdrew our money, and returned to deposit it to our JEP account. Immediately, a CD was issued and we were given the proper documentation to submit to immigration for our investment visa. Had we known this in the beginning, had our hired relocation helper told us about JEP and the ease of opening an account there, we would not be in the "marriage certificate now expired because of ONE DAY" situation. But, I digress.......
By the time we realized we needed to jump on things or our documents would be expiring, we ran into the "sorry, but we have no more Movimiento Migratorio forms for two more weeks, at least" dead end! Our relocation helper told us to go to immigration anyway and maybe they would make an exception. NOT! We spent the rest of the afternoon back at our apartment - I took a long nap and Bo went out for a long walk. We later were invited to our neighbors for dinner, and they gave us all their sympathy since they, too, had recently gone through their own four different immigration denials from hell! Today, they had finally passed the "picky" visa ordeal and had been accepted! So, we celebrated them, and they let us whine as we dined with them, completely sympathetic to our situation.
Every morning is a new day - and we can either rejoice in it or keep sinking. I woke up very sad and weary, and so I prayed and asked God to give us wisdom and to help us. I later received an e-mail from some friends here, and I wrote them back and shared our ordeal. Immediately, we were invited over to process things and find resolution. We found out from them that we could apply for a 90 day tourist visa extension (12-X) for $30 each, and this would give us peace of mind and lots more time to continue our visa process. We jumped on a bus this afternoon (really, you have to jump on or they ride away and drag you along) and headed to our rescuers. What encouragers! Within a couple hours, our friends had helped us download the proper forms, fill them out, printed them for us, wrote us the appropriate extension application letter, and told me all I had to do to before going down to immigration's passport section next week and applying for extensions. We would not have known this without our friends (since they are going through a similar visa rejection ordeal and time crunch). We only knew about the $230 visa extensions (which we did not want to have to spend that much money on). They've truly paid it forward to us, and I can't wait to do the same one day.
We visited for a few hours and laughed a lot, and then Bo and I jumped another bus home (I LOVE the buses here for 25 cents, and they drop us off a block or two from home). Once home, we checked our e-mails, and Bo's brother wrote back (whom we had e-mailed last night asking if he would go to Portland and obtain certified copies of our marriage license and then take them to Salem and have them apostilled). He told us the task was done and our documents were on the way today DHL Express and will arrive in Cuenca on the 15th (that's EXPRESS). it is costing us $170 - but that's a lot less than if we had to fly back to Oregon! We still may have time to submit our documents before our 90 day passports expire on March 4th, but I don't think we want to chance things for only another $60 for the visa extensions and 90 more days each.
So, here I sit, hopeful again, and all because of the help we received today from our Cuenca friends and Oregon brother. We still have a lot ahead of us to accomplish. Translation of documents must be corrected, and when the apostilled marriage licenses (I got two copies just to play it safe) arrive, they must be translated and notarized. We have to make another trip to immigration once the Movimiento Migratorio forms are in, and the process will begin all over again (yikes!).
When I think of the positives about being here, I smile. In spite of "suddenlies" and discouragements, which will always be a part of our days and life, it's the people we surround ourselves with who can be that voice of encouragement, that rah-rah-rah team, that wisdom and help we need when we wouldn't know what to do. These are the friends who help us climb out of the pit of despair. Today, we were reminded that we are not alone. Even as new as we are in Cuenca, we already have people here who have shown themselves to be there for us!
Thank you neighbor friends, for dinner last night and for listening and caring.
Thank you brother Dave, for being there for us when we so needed you miles and miles away and getting our task accomplished so quickly.
Thank you God, for always giving Bo and me hope by sending us help and words of wisdom and encouragement, and for picking us up when we feel like we're sinking.
Yes, today's turned out to be another wonderful day in Cuenca!!!
|Calle Larga - Blue Skies in Cuenca!!! Not a day's gone by since being here that I don't walk around in sandals and a t-shirt.|
|Parque De Calderon - Flowers bloom year round in Cuenca!! How I love sitting in this park surrounded by the beauty and watching the people walking by!|