Dia do Todos os Santos

I showed up at Sr. Santos’ office this morning at 9am sharp. Today was the day that we would clear up the issues with the export paperwork and I would be on my way.

Sr. Santos began by explaining to me that the computer wanted me to have a CPF (an ID, similar to our Social Security number.) But as a tourist, I couldn’t get one. He was going to try to help me.

We walked over to the CPF office, and then across the street to where a guy rested in the shade of a car. Some negotiations occurred, and the guy pulled a number of printouts from the back of his car. Each contained a CPF, name, address, and other information for someone. “Ooooh” I thought, “This is interesting.” The guy wanted R$200 for one of these IDs, which Sr. Santos thought was way too expensive. We left.

Sr. Santos explained to me that the guy worked in the office in charge of entering deaths into the computer. Sometimes he’ll skip the death entry and instead steal the person’s identity to sell on the black market. This didn’t surprise me… it happens in the US… but his dealing this information across from his office was pretty bold.

We went back to the CPF office and ascended to an impressively high floor. After a suitable wait, we were shown into the office of the head of Port Control. Sr. Santos gave my lament, and this guy seemed genuinely concerned. He said that he would call down to Brasilia and try to find a way to fix the problem. Hopefully, he said, he would have an answer for us late that afternoon.

The easiest fix seems to be to change the declared value of my car from US$25,000 to US$10,000. That’s the cut-off for a clause that allows foreigners to export personal luggage after a journey. The big question is whether this sort of value adjustment is allowed. Sr. Santos argued forcibly that a Volkswagen made in 1991 can’t possibly be worth $25,000. I chimed in that I’d set a high value for insurance purposes. The port controller nodded.

Then I got the really bad news. Today is Wednesday, and tomorrow is a national holiday. (Dia do Todos os Santos, or All Saints Day. Sort of like Memorial Day in the States.) To give people a long weekend, Friday is also a non-work day. Nothing would happen with my car until Monday. I would have to wait in Olinda another week.

Looking on the bright side, this means I’ll probably get to finally meet Larry and Will when they reach here with my old travelling companions. I look forward to that. Also, Olinda is a nice place to be stuck. An artist colony, scenic, World Heritage Site, and a very low danger potential. The pousada is cheap (R$50 / night). Given my druthers I’d rather be on my way home to my family, but I won’t go totally insane here.

I have a week to go, so I need to find reading material. (I read voraciously… and in situations like this, it keeps me sane.) Supposedly there are some bookstores here stocking English-language books. I’ll also have time for other things, such as wandering the galleries of Olinda.


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