Friday, October 30, 2009

The Quest for an Immigration Stamp

Let me tell you the story of a man. He was a fool who did not decide to get an immigration stamp because he wanted to save five minutes and didn't think it was necessary.

The man is me, in case you didn't catch that.

So in San Cristóbal, a city about three hours from the border, there is a migration center. I set out to find it one morning, probably about a two-three mile walk. It wasn't bad. San Cristóbal is a really neat city, and I found it with relatively no difficulty. But it was closed. I'd have to come back on Monday. So, I canceled my trip to the Palenque ruins, which is really too bad because I've heard they are awesome. But... I really just wanted to get legal and not worry about it.

A nice little creek on the way to the Migration Center. It looks sort of like Asia, huh?

Monday morning I started walking to the migration center for a second time. It was probably a bit after 7AM. Here's the odd thing. I made friends on the way, and I have no idea why.

I noticed, when I first started walking, that there were two dogs roaming the streets. One of them walked not far from me, peeing on everything to mark his territory. The other one was bigger and would smell the other dog's pee and try to pee on top of it (sometimes), but he followed the other dog the whole time and it seemed they were friends. I really was intrigued.

So this continues, for a long time. They took several turns away from me and many times I thought that was the end, but come one more block they'd find me. Yet the strangest thing about it was that they never looked at me directly and usually walked about twenty feet away. Finally, after about two miles, one looked up at me occasionally and walked close by. This happened right after we encountered another dog and they chased him away. I'm not sure if I was finally accepted into their dog gang or what, but there was a whole lot of unspoken communication going on that I wasn't aware of.

Nevertheless, eventually I reached the migration center and we had to part ways. But did they leave? No... It turned out I'd have to wait another hour for the place to open, so I sat down and the dogs took a nap right next to me. Really, it's so funny how quick dogs are to take possession of things.

My two loyal companions.

So, waiting in the migration center, the doors finally open and I'm allowed inside. It opened at 9AM, however the head-lady finally decides to stroll in at 9:30, as if nothing was the matter. Seriously? Well, I didn't even talk to her. The secretary tells me that they don't have immigration stamps at this migration center. I sort of want to scream, "Why not?!" But, instead I am nice and she helps me write a note I can give to anyone if they give me trouble on my way back to the border. Yes, I had to take a bus three hours back to the border to do something that literally did not take five minutes. I don't even think I filled out the whole form. The old man didn't notice.

And then to just sprinkle sugar on a lovely day, they didn't even check my passport at the first checkpoint! The guy poked his head in the taxi I was taking and did not even notice me. Was I hiding? No, I was not. Fortunately for my sanity, I learned that there are checkpoints all over, between every big city and I was checked later. I learned that they check people randomly, and it really depends a great deal about your expression and stance as they search the bus. That's a great system right there.


Donna said...

am glad you are legal!
Love you, Mom

Rachel Plunkett said...

you got to love dogs.

Keli said...

the Dogs are soooo cute the yellow one has lab in him and the other one has some German shepherd in him!! awwww soo cute miss ya jake!