A Lesson in Inefficiency

“Take this document, and go register with the Federal Police.”  The consulate worker’s instructions seemed so simple.  Little did I know that my experience with the Brazilian Counsulate in Chicago was only the beginning of a lesson in inefficiency.

Step 1 Visit the Federal Police.

On Friday afternoon, Julia, the other student teacher, and I loaded into the Combie van along with a few of the other missionaries here for an adventure to visit the Federal Police.  We had all the documentation we needed to register our temporary visas.  Or so we thought. We quickly learned that this was only the beginning of the adventure.  We left the Federal Police armed with a list and an optimistic attitude.

Step 2. Get online.

First, we needed to get online and hunt through our documentation to fill out two forms.  We print these two forms out, and they show us how much we owe the Government.

Step 3. Pay the bill.

Here in Brasil, you pay all of your bills at the loteria.  Phone bill. Electric bill. Any bill you pay, you get to go stand in a (usually very long) line in the basement of the local Lider or Biggie Benny and take care of it there.   We are fortunate enough to avoid the line and pay right away.  We then get a receipt which we are instructed to take to the Federal Police.

Step 4. Fotos.

Because the two pictures on our passports and visas weren’t enough, we were required to get a different picture taken.  For that, we head over to Castanheiras, the local mall.  We visit a small shop and leave with about ten 3X4 centimeter pictures of ourselves.

Step 5. Paperwork.

There’s MORE paperwork to fill out!  It’s all in Portuguese, but I navigate my way through it fairly well.  I don’t know as much as I would like, but I’m surprised at how easily I figure out what information they’re asking for.  I even write the date correctly, remembering to put the date before the month.

Step 6. Visit the Federal Police.

We load into Tara’s truck to visit the Federal Police again, hoping that we’ve successfully completed our objective, which, is basically an application for an ID card which will certainly not be finished by the time we leave here.  We present all of our documentation, and leave our fingerprints in 3 different places.  Fortunately, ours is a very successful trip, and we leave about an hour and a half later with a thin scrap of paper (the temporary ID card) to prove it!

This is just one of the humorous examples that leaves me in wonder that our Visas were processed at all.  As a person with an affinity for efficiency, it’s been an adventure learning to adjust to this culture.  I’m loving figuring out how things work here.  It’s nice to have to call the waiter over for the check, rather than to feel as though he’s pushing you out the door, and it’s nice to have the clerks at the grocery store cart my groceries for us and not be annoyed if it takes us a while to get out to the car.  It’s nice to relax.  To know that if we miss the first bus, another will be along sometime.  It’s nice to forget what time it is. I’m loving the slower pace of things here.

However, you won’t find me complaining the first time I see that Starbucks Barista hurry to fix me a Grande Raspberry White Mocha in less than 3 minutes.

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