September 26, 2012

Visas - the stuff of nightmares.

Over the past week I've been up and down Ecuador on communications business - namely blitzing people and organisations with emails and conversing with the good people of the Universidad Estatal Amazónica.

Currently, Tamara and Gabe (fellow volunteers / researchers at the Payamino research station) and myself are in Quito, the Ecuadorian capital, trying to extend our tourist visas.

Much to our alarm, renewing your 90-day tourist visa is no longer an option, or at least not as straight forward as it ought to be to gringos like us. Given that "visa runs" to Peru and Colombia are no longer a guaranteed success, doing things officially in Quito seemed like the safest bet. After having been sent from Embassy to Ministry to Police, back to Ministry, to God-knows and back again, it's not looking particularly good.

Now we're waiting to hear from the UEA about the matter – given the research station's new relationship with the UEA, visas for long-term volunteers will be sponsored by the University, thus enabling longer stays. However, inevitably such things take time and at this point time is not redundant.

A bus ride to Colombia is not out of the question, but nor is it the safest option.

(26.09.2012)

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Update (07.10.2012) -


Still in Quito (makes it two weeks here now), awaiting to hear from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as to when the interviews which will determine whether they want us to remain in the country will be.



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Advice to prospective volunteers and placement students,
at the risk of sounding ill-prepared, dis-organised, and patronising:


If you are told you can sort out your visa when you arrive in the country in question, play it safe and arrange it from your home country anyway. Then again, I did try to, but no country seems to want to claim ownership or take responsibility for me - their loss! ;)


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Update (10.10.2012) -

Visas in the pipeline, looks like we're not being thrown out after all!

We did receive some dirty looks for the expiration date on Tamara and I's expired tourist permits, but pointing out that I had a slip of paper signed in Foreign Affairs before the date - to show that the delay was out of our control whilst the Amazónica University (UEA) prepared our documents - was sufficient an excuse. That, and possibly the fact we were in the company of a retired Ecuadorian Ambassador who skipped us 50 places ahead of the queue we had already been waiting in for 2 hours.

Now just waiting for the word to pick up our passports sometime at the end of next week. Until then, I will probably remain in Quito, as I hope to attend some presentations in the UEA, Puyo, next week and work on the cooperation agreement between the UEA and the research station with them.

So I'll be another week out of the jungle, but at least there's light at the end of a tunnel and I know that I will be going back to Payamino!

To celebrate, here is a load of fruit:

© Xaali O'Reilly, 2012



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