Monday, September 05, 2011

Caracas Hell

Inspectoria de Servicios, is where I was ordered to report too on Monday morning (this morning) or I'd be in trouble. 

Go back 5 years, when I was issued a Venezuela residency visa. I thought I was a lucky guy. No worries for 5 years. The visa got me in and out of the country without problem. So when it was set to expire on Sept. 20, I figured I better get a new one. 

Tania and I went to the SAIME office in Puerto la Cruz, did the proper application, left my passports (old and new) and after 5 days, went back expecting things would be okay. Turns out things were NOT okay. Turns out the visa which Quality Schools International (QSI) got me was bogus, a fake, fraudulent. So now I am on the Venezuelan government's radar and was told that I better be honest and in Caracas on September 5 or I'd be in trouble. 

Before Benjamin, travel to Caracas was no big with Benjamin, everything is a big deal. We decided to go by bus to Caracas. After an air conditioning failure in the first bus, then switching the second bus, Benjamin did pretty good the first 3 hours of the trip. The second 3 hours were not so good. Its hard enough for an adult to keep their patience on a long bus ride...but Benjamin wasn't whiney, but he was not comfortable. 

After a night in a decent hotel, we make our way to the proper SAIME building in Caracas. A Hollywood set-designer couldn't think of anything more hellish. An 8 story government office building with no working elevators. Plenty of security and red-shirted workers everywhere. Tania, insisting on wearing heels this morning, up the stairs, carried the front of the stroller, while I controlled the back part while Benjamin was still seated. The office we needed was on the 3rd floor, but the stairwell we chose goes from the bottom floor, to the 2nd floor, to the 5th floor. We didn't know this until we got to the 5th floor, asked someone there, and had to use a second stairwell to go back down to the 3rd floor to find the proper office. 

Glock cutaway view
The 3rd floor office door was barred, but there was a little barred window off to the side and Tania showed the document we got from the SAIME office in Puerto la Cruz. We were let inside to the waiting room/foyer kind of place and it is truly bizarre! On one end is a red wall that says "Chain of Command" (in Spanish). Arranged in a descending diagonal is a photo of the president of Venezuela, then the minister of interior, and finally the vice minister, and there was a long broad sword as part of this arrangement. That was a strange wall, but the most weird was the "art" on the walls of this waiting room; near the door leading into the interior office was small plaque of a map of Lebanon, the kind you'd buy at a tourist shop. Then on that same wall were 2 framed posters of cut-away views of a Glock automatic handgun. I looked behind me and there was a framed poster for Beretta handguns, but with patches of the branches of the US armed forces; US Navy, US Marines, US Army, US Air Force, and US Coast Guard. It was really strange because the United States is the sworn enemy of President Hugo Chavez. I wanted to take pics of all this, really thought about it, even got my camera out (hidden from view) and was going to try to take a few, but then decided I better not. I put the camera away. 

Tania talked to the guy...of course the documents from Puerto la Cruz hadn't gotten there, and they told us to come back Wednesday or Thursday...and here I was expecting to be detained and put on a plane back to the USA today. Pffft! These guys can't even catch an illegal alien when he walks through their door!

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