On how I’ll end up owing the Brazilian government 828 Reais ($416). Part I.

I am not supposed to be in Brazil right now. I should have left like a few days ago. Or rather, quite a few few days ago.

Not because I don’t want to be here any longer. In fact, I love this country and want to stay as long as I can. And that’s where the whole problem started in the first place. With me wanting to stay here for as long as possible. Because ‘for as long as possible’ did not turn out to be as long as I thought it was…

Let me explain from the beginning.

From the moment I entered Brazil via Rio Grande do Sul in early September 2012 I knew I had 90 days and it clearly stated on the back of my entry slip that I had the opportunity to extend for another 90, should I wish to. I wasn’t quite sure at that point whether I would need another 90 days in Brazil. I was more than pleased with the 90 that I had. And since I kinda take it one day at a time, I figured I would worry about the extension should I cross that bridge.

I was in Sorocaba (in São Paulo state) at the beginning of November and it became clear to me that I was going to need more time to explore this huge country. So I visited the local Polícia Federal (PF) to gather information on what I exactly needed to do to get this extension. The not-so-friendly-looking-lady behind the desk gave me a tiny piece of paper which listed all the documents I needed to show them, the amount of tax I needed to pay and how I needed to go about paying that fee.

I took that piece of paper and left the office and sat outside for awhile. Hmmm…these guys sure as hell do need a lot of proof and what not. Better get started.

1. Documentos necessários:
 
  • Formulário de Prorrogação de Prazo de Estada devidamente preenchido (They had a copy of the application form for extension at the office. Check.)
  • Documento de viagem válido: Passaporte, Cédula de Identidade (I had a valid passport. Check.)
  • Cartão de Entrada e Saída, recebido e preenchido na chegada ao país (I had the entry slip. Check.)
  • Outros documentos e comprovantes que o agente de imigração entender necessários (comprovante de local de hospedagem, comprovação de meios de subsistência no prazo em que pretende ficar no país, passagem de volta, etc.) (Hmmm…this is where things got a bit more tricky. Since I was moving around all the time - hopping from one couch to another - it was kinda tough to give a fixed address, but I was sure my current hosts wouldn’t mind me using their address. Check. As for proof that I had the means to support myself for another 3 months, I had to use my creative skills. I did not own any bank- or credit cards, nor bank accounts for that matter. But I used to do, so I quickly photoshopped an old statement and voilà, I had a wopping 3000 Euros on my non-existing bank account. That non-existing money should be enough credit to sustain myself for another 90 days in Brazil. As for the return ticket home: obviously I didn’t have a return ticket. I always set out with a one-way ticket. So after a little bit more magic in Photoshop, I had a return flight for the end of February 2013. 
That was it for the documents. There was only more thing left to do…and that was to show them some money. 


2. Pagamento da taxa correspondente por meio de GRU (Guia de Recolhimento da União). Obedecendo-se às seguintes regras: Código 140090 Taxa PEDIDO DE PRORROGAÇÃO DE PRAZO DE ESTADA - R$ 67,00 

Unfortunately, by the time I finished faking gathering all the documents needed, the banks (Caixa) were all closed. So I had to wait till the next day to finish the last part of the requirements.

So, next day I got up early because the PF only attends foreigners between 9 - 11:00. I wanted to make it to the mall early, because that’s where the exchange office was where I had to exchange my Dollars for Reais, which I then had to take to a Caixa and pay that to the PF in Sorocaba. It all sounded easier than it really was.

For starters, the mall only opened at 10:00. But the exchange office opened at 10:30 and the lady was clearly taking her time opening the desk and counting money. By the time I finished exchanging my money, it was close to 10:45. Now I needed to find a Caixa. I was told there was one outside of the mall, some hundred meters down the road over the bridge. I ran over there. Waited. And waited. And waited a bit more. When my number was called, I paid the 67 Reais, got my receipt and made my way back to the road. I was about 5 kms away from the PF. Maybe a 10 minute busride if I’m lucky. I intended to catch a bus at first, but since I was already like 300 hours too late, I stuck my thumb out and tried to hitch
inside the city. Not exactly the easiest thing to achieve - any hitchhiker who has ever tried it will agree. Well, luckily for me, the first vehicle that passed actually stopped!

It was a bus.

But not the right bus. It wasn’t the one passing in front of the PF. The driver was nice enough, however, to let me hitch a ride with him and drops me off about 1 km away from the PF. Just to prove once again that hitching inside cities does work sometimes - even on busses. Once I got off, I started running and tried not to look at my watch (I don’t have one anyways). Soaked in sweat I arrived at the PF where I was told by the security guard that it’s 11:29…and that I was too late. I would have to come back the next day.

Damn it. All the trouble I went through this morning. I just wanted to get this whole extension thing over and done with today. I didn’t want to make this journey again tomorrow. I asked the guard if it really wasn’t possible to just speak for a few minutes with the officer in charge of the foreigners helpdesk. He said no.

Disappointed, I turned away. And as I was about to leave, I glanced to my side and recognized the not-so-friendly-looking-lady from yesterday about 50 meters away smoking a cigarette. I waved to her. She was looking in my direction. But didn’t acknowledge me. Just stared. No wave back. Not a smile. I don’t think she even blinked.

I asked the guard if I could go up to her and speak with her since she helped me the day before. He said I could try, but didn’t seem convinced that the lady would help me this time.

I ran up to her - all wavingly and smily - hoping to melt her frozen heart. As I got closer, I noticed her putting her cigarette out and rushing to enter the building, but I caught her just in time.

- Hi, I’m that girl from yesterday asking for an extension. I have all the documents now. Can you please process my application? Please?

She told me to come back during office hours. I begged a little bit more, Again she told me to come back tomorrow.

- Please? Please? I come from far and went through a lot of trouble gathering all the documents and paying the tax… Please, please, please?

Eventually ice-queen caved in.

Yes!

I was just a tee bit worried about my faked documents, but before she even took a look at them she asked me if I really wanted to extend today?

- Yes I do.

- You do understand that if you extend today, the extension will start from today and not when your current 90 days end (my first 90 days would end on the 2nd of December - and today was the 9th of November)?

- Oh. I thought that the extension would start from the day the first 90 days ends?

- No, it doesn’t work like that.

- Oh.

The lady adviced me to wait a few more weeks and then return to the PF for the extension. I asked if it would be a problem that I wouldn’t be returning to the same PF (the one in Sorocaba), but going to another PF closer to wherever the hell I would be in about 2 week’s time. She said it wouldn’t be a problem.

Well, I guess all that trouble I went through yesterday rushing to falsificate the documents and today rushing to change the money to pay the tax and hitching a bus to the PF was all for…nothing…but if waiting a few weeks meant I would be maximizing my current 90 days and the next 90, then it would all be worth it in the end…

Right?