Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Visa Quest

October 7th to 11th

Tunja is a university city nestled in a deep, protective valley that shields it from the worst of the weather. At 2800m (8,500ft) winds can whip up suddenly and heavy rain storms chill the bones. It’s a far cry from the 95 degree humidity of the lowlands.
Colombia is a country of climatic extremes!

We find a hotel run by yet another interesting character. ‘Freddy’ is learning English and so, is very keen to meet us!


We agree upon a price, but he is enthusiatic to the point of madness and it’s an hour before we can retreat to the room exhausted by his maniacal exuberance rather than from the day's ride. The hotel is a throwback to the 1970's - all wood panelling and parque floors, with an enormous bathroom done in lime green mosaic tiles.

As the cycle tour is now moving in a more glacial time frame, we are once again stretching the limits of our visas. We had 60 days; we now have just 17 left and a quick look at the map reveals we are only half way to Ecuador.
The flat half!

Tunja is the capital of Boyaca province, and each of the departmental capitals has a ‘DAS’ Office, the governmental wing responsible for immigration and visas.....


A bit of internet searching reveals a murky picture with opinions divided on what the exact procedure is to extend visas. Some people have had real trouble, whilst others say it’s a breeze, some say 30 days extension is the maximum, some say 60 and whether this in addition to, or instead of your current visa is also in doubt; as is the cost. The procedure and rules seem to differ from one office to another - one person even recommends donning a shirt and tie as it can help with conservative attitudes to dress codes in South America. I have cycling-gear or hiking-gear, so that option is out.

Fortunately, Freddy can’t wait to leap on the problem and sort everything out - if boundless energy was the solution, we could probably stay in Colombia for life! He arranges for a friend to accompany us to the office to help out with the bureaucracy. Unfortunately this turns out to be a curse rather than a blessing as she moves, speaks and acts in a distinctly 'mañana' fashion. Time ticks away, and even with our command of Spanish we can tell she is leaving out vital information and contradicting herself often. There is only one official who can help us and he is first 'out to lunch' and then 'in a meeting'. We write off a full day and any chances of getting a solution for now. As ever it pays to be patient and keep smiling, but this is frustrating as today is Friday, meaning a wait until Monday to get sorted here, or riding on and hitting the next office which is in the capital Bogota. We've heard horror stories concerning long queues and random officialdom in Bogota so we elect to kill a weekend here and try again on Monday.

It's not a bad decision as Saturday dawns dull and grey with freezing rain that seeps through clothing, deep into the bones. Clouds cling to the hillsides and obscure any views we might have had riding. We spend the day drinking hot chocolate and transferring wealth to local restauranteurs.

Tunja itself is way off the tourist trail, but it's a nice enough town founded in 1529 on an old indigenous site, the 'Muisca' town of Hunza. It still has many old colonial style mansion houses and churches and town streets show their age in the odd levels between pavement and doorways where newer pavings have been laid over the old....


All Colombian cities have a massive central plaza, usually called 'Plaza Bolivar' - named for the great liberator Simon Bolivar who threw out the Spanish and united most of Northern South America into a giant superstate encompassing modern day Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and parts of Peru. An imposing statue commemorates the achievements of this local hero....


The Cathedral Santiago de Tunja is a strange mix of Spanish colonial and an Islamic influenced style 'Mudejar' that developed in Spain in the 12th Century and persisted for some 400 years....


Many of the finer residences around the city display Arabic influences in their carved balconies and decorative glass screens....


It's an eclectic mix of the common workaday.....



Alongside upmarket cafe's set in a 16th century timewarp.....


Alongside some very modern shopping malls with expensive boutiques....


With the more traditional whitewashed colonial churches - already sporting Christmas decorations....


Weekends in Colombia are family days with meetings, events and entertainment happening around all of the plazas. A troupe of majorettes and tiny band members create a ferocious racket before indulgent parents....


Elsewhere there are magic shows, traditional bands and acrobats performing for crowds dividing their time between the street food and people watching.

Monday morning we hit the DAS office just as it opens, leaving no time for anyone to 'go to lunch' or 'organise meetings'. It turns out that we could have spent our time last Friday talking to the photographers set up in small shops opposite DAS. They produce the passport sized photos needed for all sorts of documentation and seem to know the process better than the government officials. They help us out and direct us to the bank where our fee is paid directly into the correct governmental account - presumably to stop any cash changing hands and encouraging corruption. It turns out that things couldn't be simpler! The DAS official is expecting us and asks us how we know Freddy. She's a friend of his and walks us between offices to obtain forms, have our fingerprints taken(!), check photos and paperwork and suddenly, one hour and US$35 later we have our visas!

In South America many things seem to be done at the discretion of an individual official and it pays to be nice! Patience and big smiles win the day as we get the maximum 60 days allowed; set to start after our current visas expire - meaning we don't lose those 17 days.

We see it as 77 days for the price of 60 and celebrate by wasting one of them exploring Tunja's cafe culture and further enriching grateful restaurant owners....

16 comments:

llq said...

I agree with many points. But in some areas, I feel we need to be more aggressive. Just my opinion. Love ya. wedding dresses with sleeves!?! iPad Accessories Louboutin Shoes christian louboutin fur boots. Simple Wedding Dresses

Unnati Aranya Apartments Noida said...

Very nice article... .many thanks.
apartments in noida
flats in noida
property in noida
aranya in noida

Anonymous said...

[url=http://buyaccutaneorderpillsonline.com/#9255]order accutane[/url] - buy cheap accutane , http://buyaccutaneorderpillsonline.com/#10998 cheap accutane

Anonymous said...

[url=http://buyaccutaneorderpillsonline.com/#4906]generic accutane[/url] - accutane without prescription , http://buyaccutaneorderpillsonline.com/#13792 order accutane

Anonymous said...

[url=http://buyaccutaneorderpillsonline.com/#4849]buy accutane[/url] - buy accutane , http://buyaccutaneorderpillsonline.com/#10957 accutane online

Anonymous said...

[url=http://buyonlinelasixone.com/#4395]generic lasix[/url] - buy lasix , http://buyonlinelasixone.com/#6930 lasix cost

Anonymous said...

soccer jerseys, reebok outlet, louis vuitton, converse shoes, celine handbags, chi flat iron, mcm handbags, new balance shoes, ralph lauren, lululemon, yoga pants, soccer shoes, louboutin, air max, timberland, rolex watches, herve leger, louis vuitton, lancel, ugg boots, jimmy choo, supra shoes, north face outlet, p90x3, tn pas cher, karen millen, mont blanc, nfl jerseys, ugg boots, vans, nike air max, hogan, insanity, beats by dre, juicy couture outlet, bottega, ugg boots, abercrombie and fitch, birkin bag, mulberry, ralph lauren, valentino, nike free, oakley, marc jacobs, ghd, ray ban, asics gel, hollister, montre homme, ferragamo shoes

Anonymous said...

michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses, nike shoes, nike air max, air jordan, air max, polo ralph lauren, polo ralph lauren outlet, louboutin, oakley sunglasses, air max, true religion outlet, gucci outlet, true religion, coach purses, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton handbags, oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, longchamp outlet, nike free, nike air max, coach factory outlet, burberry outlet online, nike free, true religion jeans, jordan shoes, burberry outlet online, toms shoes, ray ban, louis vuitton outlet online, oakley sunglasses, kate spade outlet, prada handbags, longchamp, tiffany and co, coach factory, coach outlet, tory burch outlet, louboutin, chanel handbags, michael kors outlet, coach outlet store

San Su said...

biodiesel equipment supplier
waste plastic to oil plant manufacturer
Waste tire pyrolysis equipment
Biodiesel fuel product
Cracking equipment

hats caps manufacture
baseball cap for sale
snapbacks for sale
wholesale winter hat
children hat for sale

RFID tag Supplier
NFC labels factory
NFC Tag
RFID Label
RFID Card

Libin Huang said...

michael kors bags
prada outlet
jordan shoes 2015
hermes outlet
michael kors handbags
michael kors outlet
lebron james shoes
cheap jordans
michael kors factory store
michael kors handbags clearance
links of london jewellery
beats by dre
lacoste pas cher
toms shoes
fitflop clearance
longchamp handbags
air jordan 13
cheap nfl jerseys
michael kors outlet
tods shoes
toms outlet
cheap nfl jersey
nike air max uk
swarovski outlet
louis vuitton outlet
swarovski outlet
ray-ban sunglasses
jordan shoes
juicy couture outlet
calvin klein underwear
kobe shoes
cheap jordans
cheap snapbacks
louis vuitton outlet store
new balance shoes

dong dong23 said...

louis vuitton handbags
coach outlet
hollister clothing
ray-ban sunglasses
adidas shoes
kevin durant shoes 8
rolex submariner
christian louboutin outlet
tiffany outlet
air max 90
gucci
michael kors handbags
cheap ray ban sunglasses
nike outlet store
louis vuitton outlet
air jordan retro
jordan 11s
jordan 3
cheap jordans
true religion
polo ralph lauren
louis vuitton outlet
tory burch outlet
louis vuitton outlet
cheap jordan shoes
louis vuitton handbags
fitflops sale clearance
jordan 8
oakley vault
hollister outlet
tiffany and co
timberland boots
coach outlet online
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet
mont blanc pens
pandora jewelry
michael kors handbags
nike roshe runs
true religion jeans
20166.4wengdongdong

艾丰 said...

jianbin0618
mulberry bags
cheap oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet
longchamp outlet
polo ralph lauren
longchamp handbags
mulberry handbags sale
cazal sunglasses
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton pas cher
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors online
gucci sunglasses
longchamp outlet
adidas outlet
mulberry uk
polo ralph lauren
polo ralph lauren
babyliss pro
louis vuitton bags
michael kors outlet online
mont blanc outlet
prada handbags
louboutin pas cher
cheap mlb jerseys
celine outlet
ray ban sunglasses
toms outlet
true religion outlet
true religion jeans
longchamp handbags
reebok shoes
coach outlet
adidas uk store

Chenzhen 20160303chenzhen said...

yeezy boost
burberry outlet canada
tiffany and co outlet
christian louboutin uk
instyler max
louis vuitton bags
asics gel kayano
michael kors outlet online
michael kors outlet online
oakley sunglasses
pandora jewelry outlet
michael kors outlet online
canada goose jackets
timberland boots outlet
ghd hair dryer
adidas shoes
hollister clothing
louis vuitton pas cher
oakley sunglasses outlet
nike huarache
adidas superstar white
hermes outlet
tiffany jewelry outlet
coach outlet online
abercrombie outlet
omega
black timberland boots
nike running shoes
armani exchange
michael kors outlet online
ray ban outlet
coach outlet online
kate spade uk
north face outlet
nike tn pas cher
nike huarache black
versace sunglasses
kobe bryant shoes
nike blazer
stan smith adidas
chenzhen2016618

Gege Dai said...

adidas uk
michael kors uk
cheap canada goose jackets
canada goose jackets
ray ban sunglasses sale
soccer jerseys
chaussure louboutin
cartier watches
michael kors outlet
nike free run
michael kors handbags
tory burch outlet online
swarovski outlet
longchamp bag
iphone case uk
hollister shirts
cheap ray ban sunglasses
ralph lauren polo
instyler ionic styler
ugg outlet online
nike free 5.0
michael kors factory outlet
cheap michael kors handbags
true religion jeans
true religion jeans
longchamp bags
ralph lauren,polo ralph lauren,ralph lauren outlet,ralph lauren italia,ralph lauren sito ufficiale
oakley sunglasses
coach outlet clearance
oakley sunglasses uk
air max 90
tory burch outlet online
michael kors outlet clearance
louis vuitton handbags outlet
ugg boots
canada goose outlet
michael kors outlet clearance
0805jianxiang

chenlina said...

air jordan 13
coach outlet
coach outlet online
timberland boots
louis vuitton handbags
nike outlet store
coach outlet
uggs outlet
celine outlet
jordan 3 infrared
cheap rolex watches
adidas yeezy 350
tods shoes
louis vuitton outlet
cheap uggs
coach factory outlet
michael kors outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
retro jordans
ugg boot uk
ghd hair straighteners
jordan 3
canada goose coat
canada goose sale
asics shoes
toms outlet
ray ban wayfarer
canada goose jackets
cheap uggs
coach outlet
north face outlet
coach outlet
toms outlet
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton paris
uggs sale
jordan 8s
louis vuitton
nike air max pas cher
abercrombie kids
chenlina20160831

cara menggugurkan kandungan said...

This blog is so nice to me. I will continue to come here again and again. Visit my link as well. Good luck
obat aborsi