Ecuadorian bureaucracy is a joy for which there are apparently no limits.
It started at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where you need a mountain of paperwork, every ‘i’ dotted and every ‘t’ crossed, to obtain your visa.
It continued today in spectacular fashion.
Last week we successfully obtained our full visas via the embassy in Quito.
That involved a trip to the bank and a trip to buy a folder (had to be blue and a specific size) and an envelope (had to be yellow and a specific size)
This morning we were to meet at 9.30am to travel to another official building to obtain our residence cards.
The cards allow us to pay local prices for products and tourism and also allow us to remain in the country for up to a year.
But first I need to tell you about Herman (pronounced ‘Er-mann’)
Er-mann is Monika’s assistant. He speaks fluent German because he lived in Germany for about seven years.
Now, Er-mann didn’t particularly like Germany. If there was a problem, he didn’t see hundreds of chattery people descending on him, as they would in Ecuador.
Similarly, when he went to parties, people stood around and drank. They didn’t salsa at the drop of a hat.
But there were two things Er-mann loved about Germany. He loved their timekeeping and he loved their efficiency.
Unfortunately, Er-mann is the most prompt man in Ecuador.
And that causes problems.
By 9.45am this morning we were thinking about being ready, but Monika was still ensuring our paperwork was correct.
By 10am we were ready to leave. Er-mann was meant to be driving us. He had been stressing and stropping for about half an hour.
He was nowhere to be seen.
Once we realised Er-mann had abandoned us (taking Pam with him, because she was the only one who was ready) Monika had to drive us.
She was on typically hilarious form.
“I cannot believe Er-mann,” she laughed.
“Always he want things to happen at the right time.
“But it is really not important. It really does not matter.
“What is going to happen in ten minutes, half an hour?
“Everything will wait.
“In Ecuador everything wait. It is better for our hair.”
That probably explains why I’m growing quite fond of this country.
Unfortunately, we ran into a protest on the road to the embassy. Thousands of people, chanting about their right to clean water, swarmed around our car with their placards and we just had to wait.
Maybe Er-mann had the right idea after all.
Still, while we were waiting for our residency cards, Monika invited us to Pa-ool’s first communion on Saturday. It’s going to be a massive family party.
Only trouble is, we need to get him a gift.
I know Ruth is giving him a new bible and some rosary beads.
I just don’t know where I’m going to get an Arsenal shirt before then, or better, a copy of Roger Federer’s autobiography.