I got two great things this week: A new president, and a 2-year visa for Brazil!
I realize that these two things are slightly contradictory, but... I'm happy nonetheless.
We went to the visa office on Wednesday, convinced that we had all the papers that we needed. We just wanted to get everything verified one last time before we pay the fee at the bank, since the receipt from the bank is only valid for one day. We got there at 12:10, only to learn that their new lunch hours are from 12:00-2:00pm, because apparently an hour and a half of lunch for the entire office at the same time isn't enough.
So when we went back on Thursday, we were sure to get there before noon, and arrived at around 11:45. (It's hard to fit in times for us to get to this place-- it's 20 minutes away, and our schedules don't always match up.) But when we got inside, the short gimpy immigration guy shooed us away.
"It's my lunch time," he said curtly. "Come back in the afternoon between 2 and 5."
"But sir," Alexandre said, cool as a cucumber, "it's only 11:45, and the door says you close at 2. We just wanted you to check a few papers really fast before we go to the bank to pay the fee."
"No no. Some other time."
"Só um minutinho!" I piped in, laying out the papers on the counter and trying to hide my very obvious rage from this short lazy bastard.
He glanced over the papers halfheartedly while answering his cell phone from the doucheclip on his pants.
"They're fine." he mumbled as he walked away. "Bring them back with the receipt later."
We followed him outside so we could know which car to key later, only to learn that he parks in a gated and guarded garage, so it looks like our vengance will not satisfied after all. :(
So we paid the fee this morning and then went back this afternoon (3rd try now) between my classes. When the immigration guy saw us, he sighed and limped up to the counter.
"We believe we have everything now, sir," Alexandre said. I still don't know how he manages such cordiality with these people.
To be helpful, I had neatly organized the documents in the order that they were on the checklist, being so kind as to paperclip the appropriate papers together and everything. As I handed over the packet, I even said, "they're in order." The immigration guy, of course, procceeded to rift through them quickly and mix them all up, and then spent another 10 minutes putting them in order again. rageragerageI-have-a-Class-in-30-minutes-ragerage.
"Okay," he said. "It'll be a few minutes. Have a seat." Then he disappeared into his cubicle. He had no idea what to do next, and had to make some phone calls.
We waited... and waited... and waited. We expected it to take only a few minutes, but had given ourselves an hour and a half just in case. But after an hour passed and the time moved closer to the start of my class, I started to worry. When I was officially late for work and there was no hope that the guy would be coming out anytime soon (since he had decided to help other people in the process), I called my boss to ask if he could teach the class, at least for the first part. It's the only class I have with teenagers, and only 2 out of 10 had shown up anyway, so my boss said no to worry about it (and was actually reasonable and understanding for once).
We waited for another 10 minutes or so, at which point the immigration guy came out to ask if I had "a little photo," one of those typical Latin American mini portraits that are often required for documents like job resumés or whatever. (If you don't know what I'm talking about and therefore aren't laughing right now, they're like little passport-sized photos that people carry around to give out with official documents.) Luckily, I took them when I first came here, and had brought them with me just in case. I was 14 pounds heavier and had the cheeks to prove it, but it sufficed.
I gave my little photo to the guy, and on his way back to his cubicle, he tried to reach up and turn off the air conditioner, but the switch was relatively high on the wall, and he couldn't reach! He kept doing these little jumps to try smack at the switch. Alexandre made a karma joke. I tried really hard not to laugh by using my childhood technique of "think bad thoughts think bad thoughts wars your family dying if you laugh right now you can never come back to Brazil DON'TLAUGH AT THE EVIL CHUBBY SHORT MAN UNABLE TO PERFORM SIMPLE HUMAN TASKS!"
It worked. FINALLY, about an hour and a half after we had initially walked into the office, and miraculously past closing time, the immigration guy emerged, waving my passport in his hand.
"Here, this is your temporary visa until the other one is sent by the capitol. You can go in and out of the country with this." He held up a form in his other hand. "You just have to sign this form saying that you'll pay the fine for being in the country illegally for one month. I've dated it for today, even though you can't go pay it until Monday. That way, you don't have to pay for the weekend."
"That's surprisingly nice of you," I thought, "but it would've been a lot nicer if you had done your job over the last 3 months that we've been trying to work with you so that I DIDN'T stay here illegally." But of course, I just stayed quiet, signed my form, and let Alexandre take care of the gracious thank yous.
But after all was said and done, and lots of money later, I got my passport with its fancy little stamp that says I can go in and out of Brazil for no more than 90 days at a time until I receive the permanent visa. Alexandre made the guy explain it a few times just to be clear, and also said "so she can go to the US for Christmas and can come back in January?" The guy said yes, so it seems like everything's FINALLY taken care of once we go pay that fine.
We're going to celebrate with sushi (surprise) and go on with our lives. I must say that all the work is well worth it. ;)