May 7, 2009

Bribes, Bombs, and Baperwork

The Hagermans are back among the Land of the Legal today. After another full day of running here and there and everywhere, making endless copies, trying to understand the legal terms the government officials were using, and avoiding bombs, we finally got permission to stay another 6 months here in Paraguay! YAY!

Despite that it was pretty nerve-wracking, I always enjoy the opportunity to talk with the people working. It's nothing like what I'm used to. I don't have to elaborate on what a normal visit to the South Carolina Dept of Motor Vehicles to do something simple like change your address on your driver's license can be like. I'm sure you're familiar with "customer service" as we know it.

Well, I've found it different in a good way here. Granted, it makes for a longer wait time, but the workers (even in government offices) tend to smile back if you smile at them, and when you start a conversation--and you know I always do--they TALK BACK! So I had some great discussions during the hours we waited today, including political talk, God's plan, Paraguayan food, the education system, acts of charity, blah, blah, blah. I loved it.

At one point, I shared with a nice clerk that I was glad the Visas would be resolved today, since we were very nervous about driving around without proper papers. He quickly said, without breaking a smile, "You should have just kept your 25,000 guaranis on your lap." He was making a reference to the fact that if you're stopped by a policeman (and they're constantly making traffic stops, finding some random reason to give you a ticket), you can bribe your way out of anything. You don't even have to try. It's offered to you right out in the open. I was just in shock that he said 25,000. Any bribe we've ever been offered started at least at 200,000! I guess that's the "speshu price fo you!"

And yes, we did manage to avoid the bombs. They're like an everyday thing downtown now. The day before, one had been placed on the very corner we had to do most of our business, but the day we were there, the bomb was a few blocks away. We saw all the commotion and the police in their gear, but we avoided any real delays, and again, no one was hurt. It seems these are all joke bombs, some say, just making loud noises and upsetting people's day. Some predict they are warning bombs. We always see "demonstraciones" (strikes) when driving downtown, so it's obvious some folks are unhappy, but no one has yet claimed ownership of the joke bombs. I did try to take pictures for you, but Ken wouldn't let us get close enough to the activity. Sometimes he's so adult-like!

So the moral of the story is, keep 25,000 on your lap and smile a lot, even if you have to spend a whole lot of days and more money than you think is fair, to get permission to remain in a country you really like a lot.

1 comment:

  1. Whew! Definitely glad you will still be there when we get there in July..hehe! Would hate to come all that way to see you guys and you be! Luv ya...and keep safe!


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