Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Daily Report: Immigration Sunshine And Rain

I was up at 5:30 this morning. I must have drank some of the local water yesterday. (That's my own personal euphemism... come up with your own for it.) I wound up getting a little dehydrated and drank a bunch of orange juice, and felt better... but throughout the day, I was still not cool.

Work in the morning was a little bit off. One of my new-but-old accounts has this doctor who dictates so badly, I actually stopped working for 45 minutes to see if his jobs would go to another person. They didn't, and I had to transcribe them myself. (Imagine a drunk Kentucky redneck mumbling and really slurring his speech, but speaking twice as fast as a normal person would.)

For lunch, Epril and I went out to La Roma (see below), hoping to meet up with some of the local expatriates, but nobody was there. We tried to stop by Over The Top, another Wednesday-afternoon expatriate hangout, after lunch, but everybody had already gone home.

The next stop was the immigration bureau in Cagayan De Oro, where I extended my visa. Epril's last visit to immigration was in Pattaya, where she was stared at and glared at by pissed-off-looking Thai men in stern uniforms. Remembering this, she didn't even want to go inside the CDO immigration... until I came out and actually dragged her inside.

What a difference. In the small, second-floor office space, a kind older lady behind the counter directed me to fill out some forms, and even gave me her pen to do so. Then a pretty lady named Sunshine (her real name) directed me to get some photocopies of my passport, and had me sit down and wait.

One of the guys behind the counter and I started chatting, and he asked me questions that coming from a Thai immigration agent would have had me in a cold sweat. These people were so nice in comparison.

Anyway, the process took a little longer than I expected... about 45 minutes. The cost for the initial extension was 3,080 pesos. The cost for the second extension will be a little less, and the cost for each additional extension will be less than the second. (I'm not sure how the pricing scheme works.)

The visa extension is thus: Your first visa on arrival at the airport (assuming you don't already have a tourist visa from a Filipino consulate in advance) is 21 days. Your first extension to that visa turns it from a 21-day visa into a 60-day visa — in other words, you get a 39-day extension. Each extension after that is for 60 days, and according to the guy behind the desk, this can be done repeatedly for up to 2 years before you have to actually do what we in Thailand would have called a "visa run" out of the country and back.

Oh: Don't go to CDO Immigration in shorts, sleeveless shirts, or sandals. You will not be served. There is a big sign that says so right on the door.

Rain soaks a bicycle taxi
in Cagayan De Oro.
When Epril and I finished at CDO Immigration, we found that it was raining. I rode in the steady drizzle, but two-thirds of the way home, the skies really opened up, and we pulled over and took refuge in a small restaurant and had some Cokes and watched a group of little boys playing in the rain.

After about 15 minutes or so, the rain lessened, and I drove the rest of the way home, still arriving soaked to the skin.

I spent the afternoon working.

At about 8:00, Epril, Susan and I went to SM Mall to do grocery shopping. On the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before Easter, everything in the Philippines is closed. Epril's family (without her father, whose boss wouldn't let him leave the fishing trawler in a distant port to go be with his family) is coming to my house for the weekend, so I also bought some DVD's (kids movies and such) to keep us entertained.

I was surprised to find that I couldn't buy ham steak in SM. Maybe they have it elsewhere in CDO, but they didn't have it there. We bought 1,000 pesos worth of bath towels, I treated myself to some brie (yeah... you can get that, but no ham), and discovered some frozen pizzas for sale for 59 pesos ($1.50). Everybody should be happy through the Easter weekend; I have enough beer.

At the DVD store, I actually found a copy of Cirque De Soleil's "Allegria" for sale. Epril and I spent the evening watching that, which thrilled us both. I just love the circus.


DAGO said...

About the Dehydration; WATER that is the only way to hydrate, juices, icedtea, non of that works man. I see guys dropping all the time because they have thick heads.

Jil Wrinkle said...

"Dropping" "Thick heads" Jesus, all I did was pooped a bunch and felt thirsty and drank orange juice, and you have to come on here and act like my life is in danger and I'm stupid.

You can be so weird sometimes Dago. Seriously man.

Anonymous said...

Maybe La Roma didn't quite agree with your belly !!! Who knows how clean the kitchen and/or the silverware is. Or there could have been something in the food that just didn't agree with you.

And I think OJ is perfectly acceptable for rehydrating - maybe even better than water, since there is also sugar in it.

Personally, I would have grabbed a beer - the alcohol would have killed the bugs in the belly - or maybe not - but it would have been fun to try.


BTW - I like the new blog.