Monday, August 27, 2012

Noise Makes It Better Somehow

Not to mention belligerence.

Gringo Screaming: Examples: "These people are so damned slow!" "They're all a bunch of liars." "I want my coffee RIGHT NOW!" "These people won't even speak English. They can but they won't!"

Put another way, being a loud, obnoxious asshole in someone else's country.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Let's March Around For Awhile

Act now, complain now, self-justify later.

German Time: Also known as "Tiempo Alemán", being on time, referring to "German time", or "gringo time" which is seen as being exact. Which, in turn, is a baffling concept for those who think that time "is" rather than that it may get away somehow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Ecuadorean Immigration Policy

Some nose tweaking required.

You may have heard of Julian Assange, international gadfly, Australian editor, activist, political talk show host, computer programmer, publisher, journalist, and spider-hole hider.

You may have heard that he is now hanging out in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

You may think that he is trying to avoid extradition to some country or other, and this is the story that is being spread.

The truth is that Ecuador is simply trying to debug its immigration system.

For a few years now locations in Ecuador have been listed among the most desirable places to retire. But there are problems. Not with the various cities per se, but with the immigration system and residency process.

Sometimes it takes many months or even years to get residency approved.

People run in circles, going from office to office, with no noticeable result, except to frustrate themselves to distraction. Some have been sent "back home" to fetch this document or that, a signature, a notary seal or whatever, only to find, when they return to Ecuador, that they got the wrong one, or that the rules have changed in their absence.

In the past year two heads of the Ecuadorean immigration system have been fired for corruption.

Lower-to-mid-level staff have been shuffled, hired, fired, re-hired, and so on, until no one knows any more what the heck is going on. Least of all the gringo geezers who simply want a place to plunk their butts and spend some retirement checks.

This is where Assange comes in.

See, when debugging a new system, it's always best to start with the worst possible case. Because that's the one that will kick up the most problems. And not only the most obvious ones, but the subtle ones as well.

What better way to hack the new process than with a hacker sought internationally for possible sex crimes and a bit of friendly interrogation, enhancement-wise?

So here comes President Rafael Correa granting asylum to Assange, right in the middle of London for the whole world to watch. You've got police crawling all over the place, TV cameras buzzing day and night, surveillance crews going at it like crazy, and what could be a better test scenario?

So Correa condemns Britain for threatening to invade the embassy and seize Mr Assange. He calls it "intolerable".

He says his government is "open to dialog", while insisting that Britain is maintaining an "intransigent" position.

And so on and on.

Now here's the kicker.

See, Correa and his government, using new rules and tools for immigration, now have to "transmit" so to speak, Mr Assange from the U.K. to Ecuador.

If they can manage this, then shuffling any old duffer anywhere in the world over to Ecuador will be like child's play.

Mr Assange's dramatic London balcony tango was only a diversion meant to build dramatic tension. Expect another such occurrence soon, but one during which Mr Assange will vanish in a puff of smoke, possibly accompanied by a few sparks to titillate the TV audience, after which he will reappear in Quito, mere milliseconds later.

If nothing else, this could revolutionize international travel, though you might have no choice of destinations other than Ecuador.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, also got into the act, appearing on his own balcony flapping his arms and hyperventilating the way he does, claiming that everyone is welcome to seek asylum in his country as well, but aides managed to tie him up and drag him back inside before he hurt himself.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Avocado And Me

Don't talk to me about fruit salad. Just don't anymore.

I got frustrated trying to figure out the residency requirements for a small Latin American country, so I decided to hire an attorney.

Down there they call them "abogados". I eventually found out why. Because of the resemblance to fruits and vegetables.

Which is why, for me, the term is now "avocado".

I held off asking real, meaty questions until I hired him, to be fair.

His fee was US$800, with half up front, and half on completion. Everyone recommended him. Even that expert guy who runs the forum I've been a member of for almost four years. Even him, and he's been around. Said something like he'd trust this avocado with his life, if it came to that.

So I told him to let me know when he got the money I wired him, which he didn't. But one of his emails sort of indicated that we were actually now on business terms, so I got into the nuts and bolts.

See, there is a lot of weird stuff, and if I were coming into my country instead of trying to leave it, I'd see different weird stuff, but it would be weird. Like some I just heard today. Like you can't have been associated with the German NAZI party in the 1930s and 1940s. Like that.

If you were, then you can't become a U.S. citizen.

So, especially, there is a medical requirement for this other country. I read the law. Even with my primitive Spanish I could get through it. The law mentions a "medical certificate".

So I asked, what?

Is there one, or a form, and please send me a copy of it or them and of the administrative rule that spells out in detail what the deal is so I can understand what I actually have to do here, because the law obviously says nothing.

Because if I can find a physician who will even talk to me without the comfort of medical insurance, I can't say I need to be pronounced clean and fit. That would be like a big ear of corn walking into the pig sty and saying "Howdy, fellas! Let's be friends!" Dangerous. I could get run through every test and procedure there is, and be getting bills from unknown labs for decades.

Seven days go by. During which I receive lots of email silence.

On the eighth day I send another message repeating the above, and I get a response that says basically I have to be in good health and free of diseases. And I should follow the link he sent to see what worked for someone else.

Which told me as much as you get from what I've written so far. Zip-doodle. I should be in good health and free of diseases.


I knew about the thing that worked for someone else but so effing what?

I wanted real information from someone whose whole business is in immigration and residency. So I wrote again.

You know. Asking the usual. What does "being in good health" mean, EXACTLY, and WHICH diseases? Exactly.

And the response I got was kinda like silence. So much like silence that it was exactly the same.

You know, like he forgot how email works.

Maybe that happens to him.

Maybe it's all because he's an avocado and has only so much fruit-filled energy available.

So after another four or five days, guess what?

I tried again, apologizing for breaking in on what must be a hectic schedule and all, but saying that I really needed specifics, and this was the fourth time I'd asked and all, and I did need to get exact, precise answers, as I'd said before.

And he did reply this time, saying I needed to be in good health and free of contagious diseases.

You know, I checked. I went to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They must have some kind of list. Nope. No comprehensive list of contagious diseases.

I did find a long list somewhere, about 200 of them. Things like HIV, tuberculosis, and leprosy, to mention the three that stood out. Which are in no way contagious, and barely communicable. So crap.

Right, I told him he was absolutely useless. Which is true.

And he was fired, which was true. Still is.

And that I know more than he does. At least based on our communication, which is reasonable, because he supplied no information.

You know, really, saying "try getting a letter like this because it worked for that other guy" seems less than professional quality service.

Yeah, so I'm not going there. Not near him, not near that country.

You have to deal with the consulate closest to where you were born for your birth certificate, and at least one more consulate if you're not living where you were born.

And the consulates do not do email or answer the phone, and they possibly keep the doors locked. If they actually do have offices. No one seems to know.

And though there is another way, which involves going through the Washington, D.C. consulate, which requires that you first go through an office of the U.S. State Department, that recently changed so you have to do something else now on top of that to get your documents past, by, under, through, or around the State Department, and then they finally get to what seems the only consulate in the country that can actually do anything.

And then you sort of have to start over in-country, but need all this preliminary work following you like an angry storm of endless papers and pain.

So I'm going to do something else, and I hope that's where this blog can really start.

But it will be a few weeks yet.