We went back this morning and joined the line outside immigration today at 7:00am. The line was already approaching 60 people long.
When it opened at 7.30, most of us filed into the migration section (far back down the hall on the left) and got our number. The line there was simple and organized. Once all the numbers were gone, there seemed to no longer be any organization, just people waiting around and latecomers tyring to figure out what to do.
We got our number and began the long wait, about 2.5 hours for our number to be called.
The form we got yesterday was not the only form we were supposed to have. Apparently we were to REGISTER with immigration (a different set of requirements), and then ask for the extension (the set of requirements I had yesterday). That meant that I needed to have two more passport fotos, and another copy of my passport.
Since we expected that we’d be waiting a while for our number to be called, i went on an expedition to find a place that would make the fotos. After walking around several blocks in Calidonia this morning, i finally found a place to get the fotos: the little street vendor selling pastries across the street has a little side business making carnet photos. I found it only because i saw a flash, not because it was advertised on a sign.
While waiting, we saw several people making their first visit — and discovering that all the numbers for the day were gone. That was us yesterday.
Eventually, our number was called. I was registered with immigration in an easy interview process, basically demographic information for their computer. He took my complete copy of my passport and my carnet photos.
I was fingerprinted, and then told to go pay my $1.00 processing fee at the cashier’s box (another line). When i returned to present my receipt, my passport was returned to me and then I was directed to go to the line for the tourist extension.
Since i had given away my only copy of my passport, i had to go make a new one before visiting the desk for the prorroga. While getting the copy made, I was presented with yet a third list of requirements for the prorroga, some of which we didn’t have.
I sat down with a person who took all my copies of everything I had brought, and he just scanned it over. Didn’t seem important to him that I was missing a local utility bill. He stamped my application, asked me to bring him a copy of the application, and then told me to come back on Wednesday.
This whole zoo of a process took about 5 hours.
No complaints, just telling my story. It’s panama and I don’t expect excellent customer service.