One thing I neglected to mention in my “I’M LEGAL!!!” post was that there was still one small, but important step left in the process – obtaining my Ecuadorian ID card or “cedula.” This is the photo ID every Ecuadorian resident has to have (pretty much used like our drivers licenses are in the states) and I had to make a trip to Guayaquil (3 hours each way) to obtain it. Although this final step should be a “no brainer,” there is truly no such thing in Ecuador! As with many things (even in the states), it often times depends on the person you get and/or their mood that day as to how easy or difficult they make the process for you. I had come from the states well prepared with the paperwork previously required for this process, but much of it has now been streamlined and eliminated. However, there are still things you bring “just in case” because you never know what they might ask you for. Also, some people had told me in the past they had to plead with them not to make them return another day to actually pick up their card. But again, as of late, the process had been reported to me to be much smoother. However, since not much has gone smoothly for me up until this point in my residency process, I was sending up many “Por favor Dios” prayers in the days leading up to the event.
As timing turned out, my friend (and one of my original “visa angels,”) Jo had another friend who received his visa the same day I did and was needing to apply for his cedula as well. So she suggested to both of us that we might want to share her taxi fare, instead of taking the bus, to make for an easier day. That was perfect for me because I wanted to use the opportunity to make some additional household purchases of things that are harder to find or more expensive in my area. My other visa angel, Tulia, was going to go along for the ride, which would have been poignant for both of them who helped me get started in this process to finish it with me, but Tulia ended up being sick. 😦
So yesterday we left Cayo at 6:30 a.m. (yikes!) for the long day. God was very gracious and allowed the finish of this long ordeal to go smoothly – the government worker required the minimalist amount of paper work, the visa office had updated me in the system and I received my ID card the same day! All in all the process only took about 2.5 hours (and most of that was just waiting my turn), which allowed for plenty of time to hit the big mall and enjoy a major shopping spree – but not before celebrating with an iced coffee (it was HOT yesterday!) and big piece of chocolate & peanut butter cake at Sweet & Coffee (better than Starbucks my friends!)
I honestly don’t think if this had not been such a major 11 month ordeal, that I could fully appreciate the feeling of finally having my residency. The elation and relief I felt when the attendant handed me that ID card made the months of headache and frustration worth it (well, almost – there are certainly a few more gray hairs in that picture as a result!)