Sunday, April 1, 2012

Quito and the Cedula Plan, Part 1

With our residency visas approved on February 16th, the next step was to travel to Quito to get our Censo updated, and receive our Cedulas. Our plan was to leave Cuenca on the morning of March 21st by plane, and return the same day. The goal is to get our Censo information updated, and to get our Cedulas in one day, or in worse case two days. Below is how the actual plan played out.

Problem #1. The first change of plans was the result of the cost of airfare. The best rate we could find for a round-trip fare, Cuenca to Quito was $152.40 per person. Of course I waited until 72 hours before the trip to purchase tickets, so that affected to prices, but I did look forward 10 days, and never could find a lower price (in-person or on-line).

Solution #1. We decided the cost of bus tickets ($12 per person) vs. the price of airfare ($152.40 per person) was enough of an incentive to take the bus option, and travel a day early on Sunday, March 25th.

Sunday, March 25, 2012
We left at 6:40am, and eventually arrived in Quito nine hours later, but overall it was a good ride. We used Flota Imbabura bus company, and the office is in the Terminal Terrestre near the airport. The bus was clean, comfortable, and safe.We arrived in Quito at the new bus terminal south of Quito, Terminal Terrestre Quitumbe at 3:30pm. Terminal Terrestre Quitumbe is a modern, airy, and safe terminal with buses arriving, and departing 24/7 too many destinations to list. From what we have been told the old bus terminal was outdated, dirty, and very unsafe for travelers, but the new terminal was nicer than several airport terminals I have passed through in the USA. They have clearly marked signs to direct you to ticket counters, bathrooms, security, and LEGAL taxis. We took a 30 minute taxi  ($10) to our hostal called Travelers Inn, which was recommended by several members of the Ecuador Expats Group on Facebook of which we are members. Travelers Inn has hostel-type accommodations, and with available rooms with private bathrooms. Our triple room (Rm 101) included two twin beds, one full bed, a full bathroom, a small TV (no cable or Direct TV), two windows, and a closet for $45.74 per night. The shower provide very little water pressure, and depending on when you showered little or no hot water. You are not allowed to eat in your rooms, but you do get free, but slow WiFi, and breakfast is included in your room fee. We settled into our room, and later found a Papa John's three blocks from our hostal for dinner, and then returned to our room to get some rest before the busy day ahead of us on Monday.

Monday, March 26, 2012
Monday morning we woke up, ate breakfast in the dining room. The breakfast consisted of fresh fruit, croissants, juice, coffee/tea, yogurt, and eggs. It was enough to get you going in the morning, but on a scale of 1-5 (5 being Excellent), I would give it a 3 out of 5. Coffee was weak, the portions small, but the service was good. We met with our lawyer, Dra. Gabriele Espinosa in her office at 9:30am to review our account, and submit documents for our eldest daughter Courtney's Visa application. We headed out to update our Censo first with Juan, our lawyers bi-lingual assistant. It took us until 2:00pm to finally get paperwork that updated our Censo information, expiration date, but as well all know, we could not get the actual Censo Card, because Ecuador is out of the official Censo Cards. So, we have a letter stating our new information, and will be able to get our Censo Card in Cuenca once the new forms arrive. Next we took a taxi to the Registro Civil to get our Cedulas, or we had thought we would be getting our Cedulas. Eventually by the time we arrived at the office they had already given out all the numbers for the day, so were told at 2:45pm that nothing else could be done today. With nothing else to do we headed to McDonalds for a snack, and stopped at a nearby SuperMaxi for some supplies before walking (25 minutes) back to our hostel. We were disappointed, but not too upset at this point. After a siesta (one of my favorite things about Ecuador) we headed to Plaza Foch which is a collection of restaurants, cafes, bars, galleries, and hostels in the Mariscal District. We decided after looking at several menus of eating dinner at the Magic Bean (Restaurant, Cafe, and Hostel). The atmosphere was pleasant, but the food was average at best. I would try it again if I was in the area, because the menu was impressive, and it could have just been an off night. Once again we headed back to our hostel to rest for what we hope is our last day in Quito.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
At 6:45am we checked out of our hostel, and headed back to the Registro Civil to stand in line to get a number. The lined formed thirty minutes before the office opened, and after standing in line for an hour we received numbers 250, 251, and 252. Next step was to head downstairs to wait for our numbers to be called, and our lawyers assistant to show up. After waiting another two hours our numbers are called, and we head to three separate desks with our one assistant Raoul. Susan and I are at desk next to each other, but Nick (14 yr old son) is out of sight at another desk. I hand my paperwork to the person across the desk from me, and within 30 seconds she tells me my form has an error, and I will not be getting my cedula! I inquiry about the nature of the error, she informs me the word SECUNDARIA is misspelled SUCUNDARIA. Now realizing my lawyer had filled out this form, then submitted the form to the government for approval, and then reviewed it after receiving it back from the government, but NOW as I set across from the person who can give me my Cedula a misspelled word is discovered that stops the entire process in its tracks! The nice lady also tells me it will take 8-10 days to correct the error before I can return to get my Cedula. Unbeknownst to me, at the same time Susan is being told that not only does her form have the same misspelled word, but her City/Country of Birth is written in ENGLISH! And it only takes a few minutes for Nick to walk over to us to tell us that his form is messed up in the same manner as Susan's.

Problem #2: Obviously, the form required for our Cedulas is filled with errors, and these errors have resulted in another problem as we seek our Cedulas.

Solution #2: We leave the Registro Civil, and head by taxi to another office to try to get the forms corrected. After two more hours of sitting in another office, our lawyer, and I approach a lady to beg her to correct our forms on the spot instead of letting them go through the proper process (8-10 days). We convince her, and the changes are made. All that has to happen now is for the corrected forms to be signed, and sent back to the Registro Civil.

So, we have done all we can at this point, so our lawyer tells us to have lunch, and she will call us in two hours to tell us what happens next. Crepes and Waffles is a restaurant we chose for lunch, and enjoyed some unique spins on crepes (Nick and I), and waffles (Susan). Reasonably priced place, with a large menu, and a lot of vegetarian choices which is important for Susan. Next we walked to the nearby mall to hang out until our lawyer was to call.

Problem #3: Our lawyer called eventually (hour late), and told me that the government had not sent the form to the Registro Civil office yet, and it looked like they may not do it until the following day. At this point we make a visit to her office to discuss a possible change in lawyers.

Solution #3: Well, I meet alone with our lawyer to discuss our displeasure with the course of events throughout the entire visa process which has caused us one unnecessary trip to Quito already not to mention the unnecessary 12-IX Visa needed to allow the 30 days required to submit our applications for residency. In the end after much debate, we agreed on a fee reduction to compensate us for the errors on her and her staffs part.

We leave our lawyers office at 5:30pm, tired, frustrated, angry, and in need of a place to spend two more nights in hopes we can get our Cedulas on Thursday. I decided we had already made the commitment to close Moca in order for us to make the trip, and no one wanted to return to Quito again, so I decided to roll the dice to see if we could salvage our trip to Quito.

Coming soon....
Quito and the Cedula Plan, Part 2


  1. Oh I am sooo sorry you had all these issues. It is really so costly and time consuming and absolutely frustrating when the error comes down to your legal representative.

    I am glad that Gabriella gave you the discount, she should know by now that she needs to hire good folks and then have another person cross check the documents. Rushing just makes it all go slower.

  2. This is insane, seems that a spelling error would be a petty reason.
    We wish you all well, and love reading about what is going on.
    We hope your next trip is smooth, and error free.

  3. Watching for the next part. The process is so frustrating and vague until a t is not crossed or a minute spelling error is missed. Sorry you are having such a difficult, costly time.

  4. Thank you all for your nice comments.

  5. Tis the way of the land folks! Civil servants are in fear of their jobs that may be lost due to some (minor)error on their part. Therefore every T must be crossed and every I properly dotted. I know that it must be frustrating and at times costly to experience this system, but so satisfying when it's over.

    1. We respect the civil service employees stance. It is our lawyer who was responsible for the errors, and we have no problems with the civil servants. We actually liked the way they stood their ground, and demanded the correct paperwork to be submitted by our lawyer.

  6. Susan, you mentioned your 'unnecessary 12-IX visa', could you explain?

    1. Hi Terri,

      The reason is wasn't needed is we entered Ecuador on a 90-day tourist visa, and gave our information to our lawyer with sufficient time to file our Pensioner Visa application with the required 30 days left on our tourist visa as required by the Immigration Department. But, due to two different mistakes by our lawyer we had to get a 12-IX Visa to have the 30-days required to submit our Pensioner Visa application, and thus the added expense of the 12-IX Visa ($390), and a trip to Quito for the three of us. I hope this answers your questions.

  7. I almost used Gabriela, but noticed her lack of communication and spoke to her about it. In my opinion, she is very expensive and not that good. I told her so...

    1. When we started the process of moving to Cuenca a year ago Gabriela was highly recommended, but I think her earlier success, and rule changes have caused some kinks in her way of doing things.

  8. Steve, you are very diplomatic.... Do you have any more info on when censo cards are available....