Archive | December, 2014

On our way

20 Dec

First hurdle cleared. Checked into AQP with 12 bags(!) plus our backpacks and no extra bagagge fees thanks to Peruvian Airlines’ rule when continuing international. Pray for success in Lima, too!

T minus 2

18 Dec

It’s hard to believe we’re only 2 days from leaving Peru. We plan to return exactly as we came, with suitcases only. We’ve sold all the big stuff and have had several informal sales in our kitchen when Peruvian friends asked, “oh, do you have stuff for sale?” That has led to some awkward moments negotiating with people we’ve never met for things like silverware. Everybody loves a good sale, but Vicki is one tough negotiator. We got 40-50% back even on things like kitchen utensils. On the big stuff (beds, fridge, etc.) we thankfully did even better, as missionaries who work with the orphanages will be renting our apartment after us. They are moving from a furnished apartment so they needed lots of stuff. We’re really thankful for the Lord’s provision in this way. We had a wonderful lunch with them today, which was very helpful since Vicki closed the kitchen yesterday 🙂

At the kids’ suggestion, we sat down and ate at Papa John’s tonight for the last time in probably many years. “What,” you say, “no more Papa?” No, it’s not that! It’s that you can’t sit down and eat at PJ’s in the States, but here you can. The place was absolutely hopping tonight and both pizzas (it was two for one night, of course) came out together and were delicious.

We’ve closed out all accounts except one, my cell phone with Claro. Yesterday a friend tried to do it over the phone and was told I could only cancel in person, so today I went to the office and discovered to my horror that the distributor who signed me up for the plan put me on an 18-month contract without my knowledge for which I supposedly received a Motorola phone! Now there is a $150+ early termination fee. It would be very easy just to walk (fly) away, but our friend Daniel who signed our letter of guarantee for Immigration would probably not be too happy with me. After discussing the situation with Claro for the better part of an hour, I went to the distributor, who told me that they had fired the representative who sold me the plan for problems like these but that his boss would be in tomorrow and she would resolve the problem. I truly don’t have time for this with less than 48 hours to departure, but will have to make time. If the distributor doesn’t fix it, I will have to file a fraud affidavit with Claro, which in their own words is a giant pain and takes at least 15 days. But we do have enough info to start that process tomorrow if necessary, and I could go to the notary–one last time–to get a power of attorney for a friend to finish the process. “When does it stop?”, I wonder, and I have this sinking feeling that the morass of Peruvian bureaucracy is somehow going to follow me all the way to the USA. Actually, I already know it will because I’m still the majority shareholder in the Peruvian company I started to do mission projects. But I do think it will be easier to deal with said bureaucracy at arm’s (or ocean’s) length.

Pray for us. We’re not home yet (queue Steven Curtis Chapman).

An epic day

11 Dec

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) version: Four separate visits to Immigration, two visits to Registros Públicos, two trips home to do paperwork, one visit to the notary, one trip to the national bank, and one family walk to McDonald’s for McFlurries after dinner. It was a TWELVE taxi day, a new personal record. But in the end, we’ve all canceled our residency and are cleared to leave on Dec 21st. We are very thankful to have this out of way. It puts our minds at ease now and ensures I won’t have problems visiting later as a tourist.

Tedious version: It was very much the usual rollercoaster. We started off at the bank office in Sachaca first thing this morning, which was well worth the taxi fare and the 15 minutes we waited there. At all the other branches we passed today, the line stretched out the door for two city blocks (~80 people). The woman at Immigration was really quite efficient. After initially asking if we had copies of our itinerary (not a requirement, I pointed out successfully), she offered to let us leave our passports and paperwork there and retrieve them later today. “Fantastic!” I thought. So I moved on to Registros Públicos only to find out they still didn’t have our paperwork. “Come back this afternoon.” Then Immigration called my cell and said I was missing a notarized letter for each child guaranteeing payment of all their debts and taxes in Peru. Seriously? Fortunately, I could be the guarantor so I didn’t have to call our Peruvian friend who is the guarantor for Vicki and I (and the kids, too, by way of me, for we had to make three more copies of his letter of guarantee to go along with ours). Remember the transitive property from algebra? There is a logic to it. It would just be helpful to know these things in advance, for I had prepared exactly what the Web site AND a previous visit to Immigration told me to prepare. (Actually, there’s not a lot of logic in guaranteeing debts and taxes for minors before they can leave the country).

So back to Immigration to retrieve my ID card, which I would need at the notary, then home to print the letters and visit the notary, then off to Immigration for the third time. This time I offered to come back later and went home for lunch. After getting in a little work at home, I returned to Immigration a fourth time but got sent out again to make copies in duplicate of everything: passports, ID cards, forms, letters, copies of the guarantor’s ID, etc. This took about an hour on foot, after which I returned to the office a final time, surrendered all our residence cards and received all of our passports with our exit date stamped and signed in each. Then off to Registros Públicos 5 minutes before closing, which at last had our paperwork. My heart sank when the clerk asked, “Your ID card, please.” Of course, I had just surrendered it to Immigration. Thankfully, she accepted my American passport as proof of identity. But alas, it was too late to file a new form with the documents they had finally just handed me. Fortunately, our Peruvian manager can now do this by himself. Registros Públicos is really one of the worst offices in Peru. They delight in inane technicalities (one friend’s document was rejected because his handwriting was too square–he has been trying to get a real estate transaction registered since May) and every time you submit a document, you have to wait at least a week, usually two, for the privilege of interacting with their genius.

On the way home, I got another call from Immigration. “We’re missing one copy of Daniel’s passport.” I was nearly speechless. Thankfully, the official said I could scan it and send via email. As I said, she has been very efficient and thoughtful. We are very thankful for that. The Arequipa office has been very good to us overall, and if I’m going to wait in line, I much prefer the pleasant, dry climate of AQP to the hot and sticky (or cold and damp) office in Lima. Furthermore, it is much more pleasant to interact over a desk than bending over to speak through a 4-inch hole in a glass window. I actually think the Immigration experience in Arequipa is superior to what most foreigners encounter in the US. It is much faster and much cheaper, as you don’t have to pay a lawyer to do it all. And taxis are cheaper than lawyers, at least in Peru.

The waiting game

10 Dec

Please pray for us tomorrow as Vicki and I go to Immigration to cancel our residency in order to avoid future problems when we come back as tourists or future residents. We have had a number of setbacks. We began the process of installing a new manager for the Peruvian company on October 29. The first act was rejected on a technicality. The second was also rejected because we did not explicitly reject the first after it was already rejected by Registros Públicos. Each submission involves about a two week wait. Last week, we formally rejected both filings and they told us it would take eight more days to clear so that we could pick up our original papers and turn right around and submit the exact same papers with another payment and another two week wait. Yesterday, the online system showed that it was ready to pick up (early!) so we went to Registros Públicos only to find out that the papers were coming from another office so it would therefore be another day. At this point, it appears there is no possibility that the new manager will be installed before we leave. We hope this does not interfere with our ability to cancel our residency, as the preferred method is to present a letter of guarantee from the company, not an individual.

This afternoon at 3:30, I went to the national bank to make payments associated with canceling our residency so that we could go first thing tomorrow to Immigration. I thought it was strange that there was no line at the bank and then discovered the reason: the national bank was closed. There were four well-armed policemen standing in front. No explanation was given, only that all locations were closed and it would be open tomorrow. We hope the bank is indeed open tomorrow and that this is not a worker strike. If so, it may well make it impossible to cancel our residency before leaving in 10 days. Immigration closes early for the holidays, so tomorrow and Friday may be our last shot to get this done. We couldn’t do it any earlier because you only get 10 days to leave once you’ve cancelled. Failing that, we should still be to come home for Christmas because our residence cards are paid up, but canceling them all later would be a royal pain as it can’t be done from the US.

As I said, we covet your prayers. On the bright side, we enjoyed a nice Mexican dinner tonight as a family at one of the very few Mexican restaurants in Arequipa. Believe it or not, Mexican food is a lot better and more abundant in the US (and I’m not just talking Tex-Mex), but this place in Umacollo is a pleasant find. Also on the bright side, we have sold almost everything in our house and won’t even have to move much of it as the new tenants are buying it. This is a great relief! Vicki says she’s closing the kitchen next Wed so we can sell every last pot, pan, and piece of silverware. We might look a little hungry when we get back to the States 🙂