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Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Rancho Las Brisas

B & B 001          Renovations y Riyato comir 036

                                               Calle La Bocana #17      Renovations y Riyato comir 038

     Lotificacion La Bocana

          Habitacion Privada


     Renovations y Riyato comir 040           Renovations y Riyato comir 041

                                                 P I S C I N A

Renovations y Riyato comir 019           B & B 004

Dia    $25.00                          Dia y Noche    $40.00

Telephono: 7636-8844           English: 7993-0811



The Canadian Embassy EH! + Walmart, San Salvador style

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Yesterday was an interesting experience in contrasts between the way governments/civil servants from (supposedly) 1st & 3rd world (yeah I know that’s politically correct) operate.

The 40 minute or so drive in to the city was more interesting as there are now 5 manhole covers missing, instead of the 3 last week (price of scrap is up) to play dodgem with.

Now when I applied for my visa extension, at the Dirección General de Migraión y Extranjeria, on Thursday I was told it would be ready on Friday at 3:00pm, I replied that I would wait until Monday morning as I had to go to the Canadian embassy & that would save me a trip into the city, which was agreed to. However upon arrival I noticed that the pickup slip had 3:00 pm written on it, it is common practice at most embassies around the world to have visa pickup at 3:00pm the day following application, so someone had automatically put that time down. The same lady officer that had taken my information Thursday, the one in the office with passable English skills, said she would check if I could get it before the stated time, came back & said it would be ready in about 1/2hr, which it was. Will bet dollars to donuts that had that been a Canadian office, I would have had to return at 3:00.

Just a note here that security was nothing special, just a guard with a sidearm at the gate checking passports & the inevitable guard with the 12 gauge in the courtyard, same as McDonalds or anywhere else. Later in the day noticed an office of Migración upstairs at the Walmart plaza, with no extra security. Must be making the offices more accessible, as last year it was necessary to go all the way downtown to the Goubernario Central for extensions.

So leaving the Migración office we drive the 4 or 5 blocks to the Centro Fianciero Gigante the home of the Embassy of Canada in San Salvador. Now this is pretty cool, it’s a new bank building so state-of-the-art, you drive up to security where they give you a pass + a ticket with a parking spot # on it, embassy’s on level 3 so drive up to 3rd level where security shows you the parking spot.

You then enter the building from the parking garage, where you pass security where you get a pass to the lobby area. OK now we have gone through primary security at the parking garage entrance with the 12 gauge toting guard, through 3 parking levels with 3-4 guards showing you where to park, well it is a financial center after all, then another check at the lobby entrance.

Now it gets really bizarre & paranoid beyond belief! Oh yeah on the way through the lobby is a bank of elevators, one marked Embassy of Israel, with an innocuous dude in a suit standing buy it.

Now off to the right are 3 heavily armed Policai Nacional Civil wearing body armour guarding a metal detector through one must walk beltless & shoeless (shades of US/ Brit airports) after being relieved of ones cell phone which is put in a locker.

You are now allowed in a waiting room where you are faced with a monkey in a cage, well a person (with the brains of a monkey) behind a (bullet proof?) glass wall with a sliding tray to put documents in & a microphone to talk into. Once you have convinced her you need to talk to someone with more than a grade 4 education, she tells you to wait but that there are 4 ahead of you. Yep 4 people all right, all members of the same family, DUH!

After a while & ahead of the “4” Salvadorians (touch of racism?) I am called to the “interview room” a cubbyhole with a couple chairs facing another window, behind which sits another monkey in a cage. Actually the only difference from visiting a prisoner is the absence of the phone receiver.

Can’t have the elite embassy staff in close contact with the unwashed masses, especially, when they have the nerve to venture out of the great country of Canada now, can we!

Must give credit where credit is due, the dude had answers to my questions (whether they will satisfy the Salvadorian government remains to be seen) & gave me the forms, very nicely printed with in both English & French (DUH Spanish country dude), to give to Policia Nacional Civil, División Técnica y cientifica so they could fingerprint me to the satisfaction of the ArseCMP (de hossmen), who would upon receipt of fingerprints + an International Money Order $26.75 CDN will then do a criminal check. The embassy will also certify my QC birth certificate, which the lawyer says is no good (think he’s full of it, we shall see) + bank letter for the mere pittance of $50 USD EACH!

As it was lunch time when we left the embassy we followed the crowd of workers from the floor out to the parking garage where there were 3 or 4  concessions selling burgers,hot dogs/pizza for a couple bucks or less & pop machines 50 cents. Booths were placed along one wall with open windows, kind of neat of course wouldn’t be allowed in Canada (health dept surely would dream up some retarded reason).

Upon leaving the embassy one the rented swat team kindly gave us detailed directions to their division that did the fingerprinting, which was a good thing due to a lack of street signs on some of the backstreets.  Once there we were checked in & given directions to the office where everyone was very cordial & as they were just returning from lunch, a short wait led to being led upstairs, printed & walked out with a friendly goodbye with a definite of course there’s no charge!

When we got back to the car there were 2 officers leaning on it talking, when I got out I had locked my door but, much to their amusement, had  neglected to roll up the window, a good laugh was had by all.

Just goes to show how a Canadian can be treated with respect in his adopted country but like shit in his own (embassy is Canadian soil)! Definitely NO regrets about my decision to leave!

Needed some printer ink & was still on a quest for a bug zapper light so headed for the Multi-Plaza & the new Wally-mart where I made 2 visits at once, First & Last! Don’t get me wrong I love Walmart’s one stop low price shopping for everything from boots to batteries to bongos but this one was a rip-off. First thing I noticed upon entering the store was 2, 2.5 litre bottles of Coca Cola selling for $2.75, now they can be bought at Super Selectos in La Libertad any day for $2.35 or downtown at Depansur Familar for around $2.20. Checked prices on a couple other things that I had recently purchased in El Puerto & there wasn’t enough difference to say so. They had Good Year tires for $48.99 but couldn’t see where they were made but it was apparent from the quality of the finish they were Chinese crap.

Went over to the computer aisle, the cheapest netbook was $400+ & not an ACER in sight, hp, Toshiba & Samsung only, bought my ACER in a San Antonio Walmart for $250 + tax back in May. Decided then & there that if I can’t find it locally in La Libertad, I don’t need it & can live without it!

Found my printer ink at Office Depot where my BMO debit card came up tilt, used local bank debit no problemo & BMO worked at ATM around the corner??

Quest for bug zapper ended upstairs in the ferretera Casa de la Herramienta (a play on words that doesn’t translate) for $13.95 with of course NO tax. That small space (mall space is expensive everywhere) was just crammed with goodies, as close to Princess Auto as I’ve seen elsewhere.  It’s a local chain with a store in Santa Tecla, only 15 minutes up the hill from La Libertad so can go there so that would be basically still shopping locally.

On the way home about 1/2 way between Santa Tecla & El Puerto there are a couple roadside furniture makers, noticed a nice rocking chair a couple times so stopped to check them out, asked $60 but finally settled for $55, good thing I drive a Kia so could load it & bring it home. Renovations y Riyato comir 023

So ended a trip from the Playa to the local Big Smoke!

OK not looking good for the credibility of the Embassy of Crapanada, instructions were “get an International Money Order for CDN $26.75—-” Went to a branch of every bank today, including HSBC & Scotia Bank, no way any would have anything to do with Canadian Tire funny money—see what lame excuse the monkey in the cage comes up with tomorrow & what the morons say to do.

No wonder the lawyer said “it’s almost impossible for Canadians to get residency”. We have to deal with mental midgets to try to get documentation!:(