Tuesday, March 1, 2011


All the crazy running around town for this little card.

So yesterday was pretty close to being my own personal hell. My visa was supposed to arrive in the mail, but never did, so I had to go to the foreigners' office. I set my alarm especially early, but didn't get out the door until 9 a.m. Thankfully, the foreign office is just down the street.

Cutting to the chase, after eight hours of climbing stairs, visiting various levels of the foreign office, civil registration office, and at least three international police stations, I ended the day broke and with my fingers covered in black ink and baby oil. This, it seems, is standard procedure.

To explain: The ink and baby oil were the last part of my ordeal. There use of a fingerprint on documents here is extremely common, and I had to get fingerprinted on more then one occasion yesterday.

The baby oil/lotion was to remove the ink, although it seemed to only further slicken and smear it. I walked out of the last building, after standing for two hours in a bathroomless gigantic office, with my hands held in front of me like a surgeon who'd just been prepped for an operation.

Before moving to Chile I knew very little about the it. South American country, land of wine,  bass ... and that's about it. I kind of wanted it to be a totally new experience, and avoided doing research. Even so, in my minimal research I'd heard the bureaucracy in Chile was infamous well before I left. I still think the U.S. is probably far worse in this way, but this experience may change my mind.

What makes matters worse is that all Chilean government offices close at 14:00 -- yes, 2 p.m. Which means you absolutely must take time off work to get these things done because there is no way you can do this on a lunch break. Thankfully, my job is very flexible with my hours. But how do people with more rigid schedules make this work? Especially foreigners, most of whom are Peruvian, Bolivian, or Ecuadorian and usually work very difficult jobs, which, I imagine, are not as flexible.

At least there wasn't any bribing or other form of corruption in order to file my paperwork, like is common in other South American countries. For this, I am definitely grateful.


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