Sharon and I are officially Ecuadorian residents. After 7 months we finally received our Cedula in Quito yesterday. A Cedula is a national identity card and every Ecuadorian has to have one (even babies). You have to apply in person with all your paperwork. Every "i " dotted and every "t" crossed. Plus everything has to match your birth certifiicate, Passport and Censo card. Plus your signature has to be the same on everyone of those documents.
For a moment imagine your worst DMV experience and then think of standing in line at 7:30 am with 800 other applicants trying to see 15 examiners without networked computers to answer questions (all in Spanish), fingerprinted, photographed and one mens room and one ladies room for all those people.
How's the DMV looking now?
Actually the day turned out to be two since our flight from Cuenca was late and we arrived in Quito at 10:30 am and could not get a number for our finger printing. It was the best people watching day of my life. All social and ethnic groups were represented and the costumes and babies were mesmorizing.
I think the reason Sharon and I are flourishing in Ecuador is because we realize that we are living in a 3rd world country but experiencing 1st world life experiences.
Here is an example. During the Cedula process our Ecuadorian examiner could not understand why Sharon did not have my last name. Even though our marriage license was in the pack of papers. I could not explain in my very rudimentary Spanish that it was "esta bien" (OK) for women in the U.S. to keep their maiden name. It looked for a moment that our application was going to be held up. Up stepped a complete stranger in the waiting room to volunteer to translate and in 2 minutes the problem was solved. Bernice was from Cuenca and she is also a hairdresser. She gave Sharon her card and now we have a potential new hairdresser.
Almost without exception the Ecuadorians we have met are friendly, and eager to help us in every aspect of adjusting to life in South America.
We didn't see a lot of Quito. The population is 4 times the size of Cuenca with all the traffic problems that a city with 2 million people would experience. It was refreshing to go into the mall and experience all the stores that an American city would take for granted.