Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To Chile and Back

One of the first things that we needed to do to get our resident status back was go to Chile and enter again as tourists to get enough time to start our resident paperwork.  The trip there went smoothly--we went a different, shorter way--changing buses in Nazca.  It didn`t save us any time, because we had to wait almost all day in Nazca, but it was a lot easier on the body. 

We had a scare when a policeman got on and took up passports.  On seeing that our tourist visa had expired he kept asking, "Why have you waited to leave?" as if he expected to surprise into admitting a crime.  When I told him we were missionaries and it was due to delays in paperwork, he took our passports to check.  Then he came back and told us that it wasn't a simple matter of crossing the border and paying the fine, and that we would have to report to Migraciones in Tacna as soon as we got there.  This was a little scary, because in Migraciones we have encountered all sorts, from helpful people to ones who take your passport and demand a bribe to give it back!  (When I posted this on Facebook, one of our friends read it as Office of Migraines--often too true!) 

This time we encountered only helpful people in the office who were excited that we were working in Apurimac, one of the poorest regions of the country.    The only problem we encountered was that the big boss could not understand why we currently don`t have resident status.  Rather than explain the problems we had run into with corruption in the Lima office (that kind of thing never goes well)  we just said we didn`t understand it either.  Upon hearing that we will have resident status soon he decided it was due to a mistake made by Migraciones in the Lima airport.  (which is indeed part of the complicated story)

We ran into a little of the same problem when we reentered Peru from Chile.  The computer system has improved since we entered in 2008 and now we show up as both residents and tourists.  However, it only took about five minutes for the resident computer wizard to allow us to enter as tourists.  (Our old residency is not valid, it just complicates things.  It will have to be wiped out to be residents again.)

So now we are legal and on our way home again!