Monday, May 19, 2014

All visas are stressful.....the bank AND the country kind

Ecuador, like many Latin American countries, doesn’t quite have it worked out.  Frankly, I probably could say the same thing about the United States, given the runaround as a cruiser that I’ve gotten there.  In the states, there is something called a Cruiser’s License, which enables a foreign registered boat a year to stay in US waters.  Of course, this license doesn’t apply to a person, and as such, while my boat can stay, apparently me, the owner/operator can only stay for 6 months.  I haven’t figured out how “they” think the boat will travel onwards without a person on board, but of course those rantings are for another blog posting. 
Mexico, on the other hand, has embraced the idea of foreign registered boats, along with their equally foreign owners, staying for a lengthy amount of time hanging out, enjoying the country, and of course bringing in a boatload (pun intended) amount of cash to distribute at stores, restaurants, marinas, fuel docks, hotels, car rental companies….you get my drift.  Now that we are south of Mexican waters, we are needing to pay a bit more attention to visas.

As I’ve previously described, Ron and I are not the quickest of travellers.  We figure we are going to do a country to death before we move on.  While there is so much to see and so many countries to get around to, we try not to leave a country until we’ve seen it all (or as much as we want to) as we have no intention of going back for a second go-around.  What this has pointed out to us, however, is that no matter how cool WE think we are, some countries are frankly not interested in us hanging around indefinitely.  

When we arrived here in Ecuador last year, sometime mid-Julyish, we were quite cautious about our visa timing.  We had left it pretty late leaving Panama for the lightning season, but what that did do was start our visa also later than we had originally intended.  Here in Ecuador, your first visa is for 90 days (NOT 3 MONTHS) but this visa’s clock will stop when you leave the country.  When we left to head back to Panama last December, we had about a week left on this original 3 months, as we had spent almost 4 months out of the country.  However, we were now back, and unclear as to how the whole visa thing was going to work.  As North Americans would understand it, that first 90 days was to be within a year, but as Ecuadorians figured it, we had arrived in 2013 the first time, and although it was now only 5 months later, we had actually arrived in a NEW year, 2014.  BONUS!!!!  We had been stressing about how it would be accomplished, as after we leave here we want to go to the Galapagos, which of course is also in Ecuador, which meant that there was going to be even more time spent on a visa.  We now know that we’ll receive another 90 day in/out visa, and can then apply for an extension, which is either an additional 90 days or with a letter describing how you are “pursuing business opportunities in country”, a full 180 days more.  Our days of worry are over.  Apparently, we are looking at investing in real estate or starting a company here (wink, wink).  

I’ve never been great at legalese-type paperwork.  As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I loathe with all my being, insurance companies.  Remembering to pay my credit card bill, my medical premiums, taxes, etc. etc., are as close to torture as my lifestyle will allow.  We will need to apply for this additional extension for our visa here.  Prior to heading to the Galapagos we’ll need to apply for an Autografo, which will enable us to stay for 2 months, and visit 3 islands, versus just the one.  2-3 months prior to heading to the south Pacific, and French Polynesia, as north Americans are only allowed 3 months there, we also need to apply for a long-stay visa, at the French Embassy, somewhere along the way. 
It will be a test to see how I do with all this paperwork.  The burning question will be, “will my visits to the hairdressers need to be more frequent?” as I envision a greater number of grey hairs in my near future. 

No comments:

Post a Comment