Her Juggling Feet

everybody's a nobody. and nobody's perfect.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

How I Learned to Flow

To the border and back again, though this time, I return to Londrina with a tidy bar code on my passport that gives me 3 more months in Brasil.

I breathe a big, deep sigh of relief.

It all started innocently enough. My friend and fellow Caravanero, Heriberto, and I were instructed to go to the Brasilian consulate in Argentina, fill out a renewal application, pay a fee, and get our three month extension. Heriberto had just three more days to get his extension, otherwise he had to leave the country. I, on the other hand, had two weeks, so the situation wasn´t as dire. So on Monday evening, we left for Foz do Iguacu on an overnight bus.

We both wake up the following morning to the bus driver leaning into our sleeping faces, booming in Portuguese that we´ve arrived in Foz, and that we´re the last people on the bus.

We wake up. Breakfast is papaya and pineapple in the depot, and then we take our first of two buses into Argentina. We then take our second breakfast at a tea shop, where we befriend a young boy, and invite him to eat with us. He has no parents, no siblings, just an aunt. I put on my clown nose and do a short three-ball routine for him.

From there, to the consulate. We wait, we wait, we wait--and our number is called! We explain our situation, our passports are taken for review, and Heriberto and I sit back and wait some more. And then, the silly plot thickens. I am called back, and from what I can understand from the Brasilian official and what he is pointing at on my passport, the Chicago consulate (where I applied for my original visa) wrote one word in Portuguese that says that my visa is unrenewable. Meaning that in two weeks, I am on a plane back to the US.

I want to cry. Or punch something.

Not only that, but we are instructed that this consulate doesn´t do extensions, and that we really need to go back to Brasil to a federal police center. And maybe, maybe, I could talk my way into getting an extension there, but the consulate official wouldn´t promise anything.

Before we headed back to Brasil, we found ourselves in a tiny shop that sells indigenous goods--not the kind that is sold at every tourist trap, but really beautiful, one-of-a-kind things. We strike up a conversation with the Argentinian man that runs the store, and it´s refreshing to talk with him. I notice that he is reading the Spanish version of the Alquemist and take it as a good sign.

The rest of the afternoon is spent on buses, at the border, and then back in Brasil, trying to locate the federal police station. We arrive, hot, sweaty, laden with our backpacks, at 4pm, thinking that there is still an hour until they closed (what the Argentinian consulate said). Never trust anyone with time! The station closed at 3pm.

We couldn´t really do anything more for the day in regards to our visas, so we focused our energy on finding the Casa Do Teatro, where we performed at the first time the Caravan was in Foz. We didn´t have an address or a phone number. We just got on a bus that took us to the city center, asked around, and managed to stumble upon it. Though it was closed too. However, we ran into one of the workers who said it would be okay to sleep on the balcony for the night.

We ate at a churrascaria, which is sort of a buffet-type Brasilian restaurant that serves lots and lots of meat. The buffet had a lovely array of salad items, so I ate well. Just before we left, a group of 20-something men come in, not saying a word, just gesturing prominently. I didn´t think anything of it until one man caught my eye--he is pantomining his heart thumping, then pats his face and bats his eyelashes. I realized that he was deaf. I also realized that he was flirting with me.

There was something about it that felt very innocent and sweet, so I chose to play along, though probably with very red cheeks. Heriberto handed me one of our clown noses, so I put it on, turned around, and winked at him. He grinned, and pantomined taking the nose off and touching his cheek. Well, shoot, what the heck! Heri and I were ready to leave anyway, so on our way out, I went over and gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. We were both laughing. He kissed his hand and put it on his heart. I pretended to flutter and faint. And that was all.

I am sharing this because I continue to realize that I can connect with people on so many different levels. What happens when you don´t have words--anything and everything!

The next day we returned to the police center. I was a bit of a bag of nerves, as I chose to cross my fingers in the hopes that they wouldn´t discover the blasted Word on my passport limiting my ability to extend my stay. So far, so good. They gave us both a list of items we needed to gather and present to the police, including a return ticket out of the country, the reference of a Brasilian individual, and photocopies of about ten different things. We had none of this, thus commencing a wild goose chase to track down all said items. As I have yet to resolve my flight back to the US, I ended up purchasing a bus pass to Asuncion, Paraguay, the cheapest ticket I could find. I don´t really have any intentions of going there at the moment, but come September 6th, I have options. One, anyway.

Gathering everything took the rest of the afternoon and evening, so we had to return the next day to present everything. We were the only ones in the waiting room, yet the process seemed to take forever. I was almost completely convinced that I would be sent back to the US--the wording was so blaringly obvious, now that I knew what it said. How could they not notice.

Through this process, I discovered how deep my desire is to stay with the Caravan. Yet I made peace with whatever decision that was going to be made.

Yet...yet...YET!!! For some miracle I can´t explain, only trust, the police center didn´t see the restriction, and instead gave me the maximum extension. Heri and I shouted and danced as soon as we left earshot of the building.

So. I stay for 3 more months.

I feel rejuvenated, clear, grateful.


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