I meant to post this blog last Tuesday for the title #TraumaticTuesday but after the afternoon I had….I really just wanted to relax.
So last Tuesday I had the WONDERFUL opportunity of going to the Immigration Office to extend my Visa. SO when I entered the country, I received a tourist Visa for 90 days. After those 90 days I have 2 options…leave the country (go to Costa Rica) and come back or go to the Immigration Office. I really didn’t feel like leaving the country (we don’t know if they would have let me back in) and spending all the time to find out whether they would give me what I needed. So we did the second…… and should have gone to Costa Rica!
Where do you imagine an Immigration office being? In Spain I remember it being very far from the city center in a large building. In Ohio I’m not sure if I had ever been in an immigration office but I did not expect it to be in the middle of the mall…..
We arrive at the mall, checked out the Halloween store first (we needed some mental preparation) and then headed off to the office. The waiting room was filled with green plastic chairs with people waiting and when the person in the front far right chair went in, everyone shifted one chair over, all moving in a snake pattern, to move ahead in the line. I waited for the form guy to give me a form to fill out ( it cost me 5 Cordobas) and began reading to make sure I didn’t have any questions for Christina (my supervisor). Now, I’m not sure why but the security man wouldn’t let her sit with me to help me understand everything….so she was forced to let me be by myself.
After about 5 minutes of reading the form, this woman burst through the office doors and stomped right up to me. She had a very serious, sour face, like someone had spit in her gallo pinto or something. She came up to me and let me tell you, if we ran into each other on the street…..I would NEVER want to be on her bad side. She began asking; Why are you here? How much money did you come with? Where are you staying? When are you leaving? What are you really doing here? Why do you need an extension?
The questions were so forceful and she was just drilling me with them that I was sweating and stuttering a bit. I know some of you might be reading and thinking, ‘Aw Kels you should have been stronger’. I know there are people thinking that…but take this into consideration: these people, this government..they do not want anyone here for a long period of time. They don’t like foreigners experiencing what their government does, or what their people go through. These workers here don’t want someone that knows someone with power to see something that should be hidden. So this woman was trying to scare me into giving up and leaving. Instead, we went to a different office. By the way, shout out to the older woman next to me that explained everything in great detail so that I would understand. You rockand I will never forget you!
I can’t say it was any better but hey, this time I didn’t have Ms. SourFace breathing down my neck. This time Manuel, Christina, and I were solo in this office that looked kind of like a reconstructed hanger for airplanes. So the woman shuffles us to a section with a giant sign hanging above: “EXTRANJEROS”/”FOREIGNERS” and we sat and waited. The lady in this office looked a lot nicer but I was prepared for another great experience…I was ready for the challenge!
After getting up, walking to the window, sitting down and waiting about 50 times (I am NOT exaggerating) the woman told me that I could only have 31 days instead of 61….and that I needed to pay 500 cordobas (about $16.67) This woman told me that I needed to bring more information about what I do at the center and what all my life here was like in order to get another 30 days…..
I did ask her about my flight thought…. it’s in December and then ‘I’ll be gone’ why do would she care about all of that if I’m leaving and out of their hair?
So after about what felt like a year….I didn’t even get what I came for….I got half of that. After the small amount of tears shed after that mean woman yelled at me in front of everyone….after running back and forth from my chair to the window…..after being interrogated for about two hours….at least I can give a great story down the road!