Today I was supposed to wake up ready to kick some butt and work through my long hit list. Instead I woke up ready to bury my head in my pillows and constantly deny it was morning….
I went down for some breakfast motivation and the place was packed. There was a large organised tour for doctors from the US. Some were students, some were specialising, some were already qualified. I found myself a space at one of the tables and started talking. It was really interesting to hear the range and knowledge of the people around me. It almost made me miss working….almost!!!
After breakfast I put in the dreaded call to the travel agent to try and get my flight mess sorted out. Naturally they were about as helpful as a chocolate teapot and said they would have to get back to me within the hour. So, I got my coat (of course it was raining outside) and started to work through my list. First things first, laundry!
Even though I hadn’t had my call about my flights, I thought it best to be prepared with the information about getting a visa so I traipsed off in the rain to the Cuban embassy. When I got there I attempted in my best Spanish to ask the policeman who then hit me with a torrent of Spanish. Eventually after some hand gestures and blank stares he got me to the Cuban consulate where I could see a beautiful Spanish sign about a visa.
Thank goodness I had an app for that! Knowing what I needed, my mission really began.
- I needed my passport – easy except it was back at the hostel
- I needed a copy of said passport – again easy, I already had a copy from when I sent a parcel home in Peru
- I needed a passport photo – it would have been easy as I had been prepared before I left, but this donut had accidentally sent them home with some paperwork in above mentioned parcel in Lima, doh!
- I needed a completed form – more difficult…I wasn’t even sure where to find the form
- I needed copies of my flight and accommodation details – very difficult as the flights were currently the problem with the travel agency and my accommodation won’t be confirmed until I get picked up.
Nothing like a challenge. Another 45 minute walk ensued back to the hostel to get my documents. I asked there about where I could get printouts. I had to wander for 10 minutes to find an appropriate internet café, work with the slow WiFi to get to my emails and print out what documentation I had. I then googled to find an appropriate form which I completed. So, step 1, 2, 4 and 5 were sorted.
I wandered further in the rain to find somewhere for a photo. Looking like a drowned rat, this was the perfect time for that obviously! Luckily I found a very helpful Spanish speaking guy who understood my Spanglish perfectly and it was super cheap. I was now armed and dangerous with step 3.
My next problem. This had taken me a while to sort and the walk was 45 minutes…I only had an hour until the consulate closed. I needed to get a taxi. The first two kicked me back out, but the third finally agreed to take me. Between us, we held a translator conversation (we both had ones on our phones). The traffic was horrendous and the weather was pretty bad. I made it to the consulate at 12:45pm. I was super proud of myself and knocked on the door ready to hand it all over!
They took my passport off me and I was made to wait outside at first. Everyone was very serious, not a smile to be seen anywhere. They were fully suited and booted with little walkie talkies and all spoke complete Spanish. I started to get butterflies. 5 minutes later I was escorted to a seat in a busy waiting room. No one in the waiting room even looked up. There was a dead weighted silence over the room. I fidgeted like a toddler on the naughty step.
Eventually I was called to the front. The guy at the counter asked me in English if I spoke Spanish. With relief I replied I was better in English…..I had a hope of getting this sorted if someone could actually speak English!!!! I then informed I had the wrong form with a silence to follow. After a couple of seconds of me staring blankly he told me to wait a minute and brought me the correct form. It was in Spanish but I told him that was fine. I was instructed to complete it as quickly as possible and come back. He took my money, my passport and my copies. I swear my handwriting was the worst I had ever seen it….it was like I was sitting an exam!
I returned the document and was told to take a seat again. Everyone was called, given the documentation and left. It was 1:30pm and I was sat alone.
Finally I was called forward. I was starting to develop a cold sweat and feel like I had done something wrong. The butterflies in my stomach had trampolines! Very calmly the guy asked me to sign two Spanish documents (which I did without question….I could have been signing my life away!). He then slid the all precious tourist card across the desk to me and gruffly told me it was for me and to have a nice trip. I think I actually skipped out of the building!!!!
I contacted my travel agents (useless!) And asked them to sort my flights as soon as possible as I was ready to leave.
I walked back in the rain, stopping at the supermarket to picked up water, food and the last bits from my list. I was starving now the butterflies had vacated. Walking along the street with my shopping bag I saw the funniest sign….
Apparently Godzilla is in Quito….this kept me chuckling all the way back to the hostel.
After collecting my washing, my list was complete. In celebration I had an exciting night of getting into my pyjamas early, putting on a face mask, eating junk food and watching my trashy TV series that I have fallen behind on whilst travelling….I know how to live it up!