Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sellado y Servido (stamped and served) or Test = Failed

We could not decide what to call this post so included both titles.

We realized last week that we actually need to renew our visa before the end of the month, so we had to make another trip to the city to request an extension of our 90 day visa.  We debated going to Mexico but thought we could at least have more fun in Guatemala City (Mexico is hot and not much to do in Tapachula).  This visa renewal was actually a test for us which did not end up in our favor and became a GWA moment(Guatemala Wins Again); however, it was worth the effort. 
Fijese (Well, you see) we went to Honduras in May via plane and had to re-enter the country via the airport where we received a 90 day visa extension.  We were not sure we would get one, but we did .  So we decided to take the chance and see what would happen if we calculated our visa renewal on the 90 days from the time we returned from Honduras in May rather than renewing 90 days from our last re-entry from Mexico in March.  The rule is you must renew your visa every 90 days and you have the choice of renewing in Guatemala City by requesting an extension or by leaving the country (the trick is you must go to any country other than Honduras, El Salvador or Nicaragua which are "open" borders for turism).  We know this but wanted to see if we could get by.......
Well, the result is they will figure it out and realize that your 90 day renewal is not valid (even though they stamped you in at customs with the usual 90-day authorization),  and will deem you as exceeding your 90 day visa and charge you a fine.  We ended up being 30 days over our legal 90 day visa, so we had to pay the fine and then they reduced our next visa extension by 30 days.  The reduction was fine as we leave for the US before the visa expires.  The good news is pay the fine and everyone is happy, which we already knew would be the case from other stories of missionaries, but we needed to know what would happen with the Honduras trip - now we know, although not the good news we were hoping for.  :)  Now we have been stamped and served and we are legal again.

As a result, our visa renewal time turned into a second night in the city but we were able to work out the clinic schedule with our partners in Chichi.  We decided to do a scouting trip on the way back, so left Guatemala City to travel to Joyobaj via San Juan Sacatepequez to Pachalum and then to Santa Cruz del Quiche and then Chichi.  The trip was about 5 hours total with a couple of rest stops.  From Guatemala City to Pachalum, the road was paved the entire way and took about 2.5 hours but due to road conditions between Pachalum and Joyobaj, that trip was about an hour or more.  Defintely driving from Chichi to Los Encuentros to Guatemala is much faster.  The trip was beautiful but very windey and all mountain, think highway from Los Encuentros but much more windey (there would be quite a bit of car sickness on this road!).  San Juan was very interested as this is the place to buy furniture - basic, fancy, you name it, they have it.  We counted at least 50 stores.  If living in Joyobaj, toss up in time to drive to Chichi and then to the capital or going through Pachalum and San Juan Sacatepequez.

We also crossed the river Montagua on a temporary bridge was the water from the rains in May appear to have double the size of the river and taken whole sections of the highway. 

Now I think we have traveled pretty much every way to be able to get to Chichi from the city.   The last one we traveled was through Chimaltenango to San Martin Jilotepeque which we would not recommend.  It is or at least was passible but bad roads, longer and a scary wood bridge.

Good day, learned something, fun adventure, now back in Chichi.

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