Thursday, November 20, 2008

volunteering isn't as easy as one might think!

So I had an appointment today with a volunteer coordinator and they want $200 plus $14/day to find somewhere for me to volunteer. Payable in advance, non-refundable if I don't like it. Minimum commitment six weeks. That's close to $800.00. sheesh. it's cheaper than that to live and not work! I wish it weren't so hard to find something that didn't feel like a rip off.

So, I am just going to head out into the world on Monday I've decided. I was going to leave earlier this week but Ruby wanted me to stay and see if any of the volunteer stuff would come through because they are friends of hers. It will be difficult to explain to her that I don't want this help from her friend. I am going to head down to the coast and see what I can find for myself down there. At the least, there are many hostels that you can work at and stay and eat for free, so that would be pretty good. I can last as long as my money, so anything I can do to extend it, extends the trip.

I have also been trying to figure out exactly what's going on with the new visa laws and nobody seems to be able to help. Even in the same immigration office, there are different stories about what is going on and nobody knows.
So one or none of these things may be true.
1. I can renew my tourist visa for another three months if I want to.
2. I can not renew my tourist visa and I have to leave the country for six months before coming back.
3. I can not renew my tourist visa and I have to leave the country for a year before coming back.

I can live with number two, and I'm going to proceed as though it were true, and leave here in January so that I can come back in July and take a flight home for a visit, but if number three is true, then I wont be able to use that ticket back because you can only change it for up to a year from when you flew the first time, which would be October 21, and obviously not a year out of the country. There must be a way to get back into the country to take a plane flight, but so far, no answers.

Any of the really good looking volunteer options require a minimum commitment of three months, which is impossible given the three month visa thing, but they haven't changed their rules yet, so I think that pretty soon, they are going to be very hard up for volunteers. Who knows what will happen?

Mostly I am really enjoying this journey and I'm glad to be in this country and my Spanish is improving considerably, but today I am frustrated. Regardless of how the visa laws go, I will leave Quito on Monday so that I don't feel like I'm still waiting around for something to happen. It's not like I didn't know that Latin American countries work this way, and didn't expect to be frustrated in this manner, but that doesn't take away the frustration!

I got a cell phone yesterday. That was a fun process, and took most of the afternoon, but I was pleased that I was able to conduct such business in Spanish and negotiate. Good for me! Although it will really only be good for me for receiving calls from the US and calling locally as calls to the US are $.49 per minute, non-negotiable, but it's useful to have anyway. And there are 'cabinas' on every block (places that you can call - usually about $.10 per minute) that I use to call the US, so that's pretty good.

Deciding where to go next is fun. Which country??? I am thinking of Colombia as I keep hearing only wonderful things about it if you stay out of the parts of the country they tell you to stay out of. I have no problem with this, I don' t need to get dead. Fun to start that research.

Okay, love to you all! mj.

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