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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Process, Process, PROCESS!!!!!!

I needed to get the paperwork on my 'new' 2003 Chevy Grand Vitara 4 x4 legalized and the title changed over to my name.   Yeah, I decided to switch to a 4x4 so I can go places the Peugeot is not really designed for, haul construction junk, and toss my dog in the back.   Anyway, experiencing the nightmare, stress, and lonnnng process it took when registering my Peugeot in Guayaquil, I cringed at the thought of doing it again with the GV, but in Cuenca.   Now, you'd THINK the process would be the same regardless of what province you're in.   But, as  many people keep reminding me...don't THINK when in Ecuador.

I was also concerned about my limited Spanish capabilities when it comes to dealing with bureaucracy and non-English speaking processors.   But, a Peruvian friend of mine who lives near Loja (about 3 hours drive south of CUE) said he would be happy to shepherd me through the process as he knows where to go, has contacts, and speaks English.  YEA!!!   Off Gracie and I went on a 3-day jaunt out of town.

Roberto lives high in the hills above Malacatos, about 40 km outside of Loja, towards Vilcabamba...a well-known retirement area for Ex-Pats.   Vilcabamba, nestled in a beautiful valley surrounded by tall hills, is also known for the fact there are more people who live to be 100 or over there, than anywhere else in EC.  Both Malacatos (about 9 km from Vilcabamba) are small villages with no more than a couple thousand people, spread out over a broad area.   It was wonderful to sit outside above the town and hear no more than crickets chirping.  No car alarms, no dogs barking, no house alarms, no horns honking.

We drove into Loja the next day, arriving about 11am to start the 'ugh' process.
  • First, to the Notary (who, in EC, must be lawyers) to notarize a bunch of documents regarding the sale.
  • Then to a copy place to make copies for the Notary.  In EC, NO ONE uses their own machines to make copies for you....you have to go somewhere else and pay to get them.
  • Back to the Notary.  Ooops, a document is missing.  
  • Back to the copier to find the missing document...not there
  • Back to the Notary.  Ooops, he had it all along.  Pay $20 Notary fee.
  • Then, to the Police to get their blessing that all is in order.   They inspected the documents.  Ooops, there's a name in the Notary's statement block that shouldn't be there.  The Notary copied and pasted text and altered it, but forgot to delete one line.
  • Back to the Notary for correction.
  • Back to the Police to have the car inspected.  The line of cars wasn't too long.  We had to wait awhile for the engine to cool down because they apply scotch tape to lift off the imprinted numbers on the engine to validate all the numbers jive.   While waiting, the inspector started removing the tint film off my rear window.   I thought he was trying to get to a number on the glass, but he completely removed all the tint without saying a thing.   Roberto asked him why.  The inspector said it was illegal.   Funny, you'd think (oops, there I go again) he would inform us of that and either make us take it off, or at least disclose the fact he's going to do it BEFORE doing it.  The car passed inspection, which involves verifying all the lights work, wipers work, tire tread is ok, #'s match, and that I have a fire extinguisher, medical kit, and roadside reflectors stashed in the car (if not, there were plenty of lurkers willing to sell you one).
  • Now to the SRI (don't remember what it stands for) to register the car.  We're running out of time and traffic was jammed in downtown Loja.    Roberto leaps out and heads to the SRI while I slowly drive in circles around the central plaza.  8 circles later and 2 loops around another area (I got tired of the plaza), Roberto emerged.   He paid about $75, but not at the SRI.  You see, many agencies in EC don't handle $$.   You have to go to the bank and the bank accesses their system, takes the $$, gives you a receipt, then you go BACK to the original place (in this case the SRI) and show them you paid so they can finalize their process.
  • BACK to the Police to get the Matricula (equivilant of a Title) in my name.  The lady at the processing window inspects all the documents and informs us I cannot legalize the GV using a Passport alone.  I must have my Cedula, which is the national ID card everyone has, that I've been waiting for 8 months to get but Quito doesn't have their sh_t together.  We argue with her stating I already purchased the Peugeot AND a house using my passport for cripes sake, and WHY are we just now hearing this when everyone up to that point looked at my Passport and never uttered a word????  Wouldn't budge.   She suggested we wait about 5 minutes and we could talk to the boss about it.   We waited.  I never saw her summon anyone.
  • No one showed up.  We decided we would have to come back the next day and started to leave.  But, Roberto recognized the boss arriving back at the Police station in his car.....which looked  EXACTLY like mine.   He was with a lady.  I jokingly made a comment that he's probably just coming back from a tryst with his mistress at a local motel. 
  • Robert nabbed him as he exited his car and told him the story.  He confirmed that indeed the rules require a Cedula....apparently the rules changed recently.  But, he could authorize an override with his signature. 
  • With his signature on the documents we raced back inside to the same lady who 'helped' us before.   She informed us it was too late.  It was 5pm closing time!!!!    Roberto pleaded and pleaded with her claiming I had a flight to catch and we had been at this process for SIX hours and we wouldn't have been late if it hadn't be for the screwups that had happened....and it would only take her 5 minutes to finish it up.  This went on for awhile...no, No, NO.   But, she finally gave in and processed us, though it took more like 10-15 minutes and $46.50 in fees. 
  • I thought I would 'reward' her with a $20 bill.  Roberto slipped it inside a document.  When she was finished, he tried to hand it to her but she waved it off saying no, no, no.   We realized there were probably cameras on everyone.   My FIRST try at bribing/paying off someone failed!!  LOL  So, I scribbled on a large pad of paper 'Muchas Gracias' with a big heart complete with arrow going thru it and a smiley face and pressed it against the window as we turned to leave.  She and the other women giggled.
The car is legal now...I have my Matricula.  Even though I didn't do all the legwork, I was stressed and had not one ounce of patience left in me.  It wasn't until I chug-a-lugged a big glass of red wine at a resort in Vilcabamba where we went for dinner, that I began to calm down.  

Poor Roberto.....he was a saint, I was an ass.


The Car

The Saint


  1. So even Robert, an Ecuadorean, found the process exasperating (frustrating, senseless?)? Wow, it sounds like a nightmare, though less of one if you had a friend helping you. Thanks for your recounting of your experiences. I'm enjoying your blog.

  2. Saint Robert is Peruvian...so the fact he navigated the EC process demonstrates his divine nature!


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Palma, Mallorca, Spain
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Spain, in the city of Palma on the island of Mallorca in the middle of the Mediterranean sea!! I moved from the USA to Cuenca, Ecuador, South America and lived there for 7 years before moving here to Spain in early 2018. To read about my adventures in Ecuador, check out my other blog "Ahhh Cuenca!!". I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live in Europe....across the pond.

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