My Final Visa Run and Four Lovely Years

Answers to your qestions about moving to, and living in, Peru,
DC_20833

My Final Visa Run and Four Lovely Years

Postby DC_20833 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:14 am

I came to Peru on November 14, 2006 and what an adventure it has been. I am just back from my final Visa Run to Tacna and the trip really showed me how far I have pogressed and some important lessons about living here in Peru.

LESSON #1 - PERU IS PERU LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT - Peru isn`t the US, Canada, or Europe it is a developing country that has limitations. The speed and efficiency we see in the states does not replicate itself here as it does back in our native countries. We arrived in Tacna at 6:00 A.M. and I decided to head straight to the border it takes about 2 hours to leave Peru, enter Chile, exit Chile, and enter Peru again. The crossing area on the Peruvian side very understaffed and the line to get in to surrender your Tourist Visa and pay whatever fine you owed literally had almost 100 people in it. The Driver I used has been doing Visa Runs for 32 years and is actually from Chile when we arrived the Customs Official knew him by first name and we were told to pass immediately to the front of the line. My mom had literally overstayed 611 days and when they calculated the fine they literally counted the days on a calendar, they didn`t have any change so $600 was accepted to clear the matter. My mom has some mobility issues because of a stroke and you are supposed to physically present yourself on the Peru and Chile sides my mom was allowed to sit in the car while me and the driver handled the necessary procedures and the Customs Officials even sent a nurse out to the car to give her some water and sit with her on the Peruvian side. My mom while having some mobility issues but is still very active and didn`t need this service and I told them this but they literally insisted. When re-entered Peru from Chile the same service was repeated and the lady literally kissed my mom as we left and said goodbye. I have seen US Customs Officials treat older people with zero respect and it is situations like this that make so grateful that I am in Peru and not the US.

LESSON #2 - RESPECT - The Customs Officials here are very underpaid and overworked and as I left Peru I saw an incident that made me sick. Tacna is part of a tax free zone and you can buy liquor there dirt cheap and save up to 65% compared to Lima. I have been restocking my Bar with some premium liquor and I decided to buy 10 bottles of liquor. We were only up there overnight so one carryon worked but we were allowed three more bags each weighing 23 kilos so I filled the empty bags with my liquor and other goodies such as Tacna Cheese, clothes, and electronic items. When I went to check in for the flight my bags were briefly inspected by Customs and were cleared. Then right before the flight was scheduled to depart I am paged and I go down and am told to open all of my bags by Customs and I do so. I am informed that I need to declare all but 4 bottles of liquor and pay the taxes on them. I immediately appologize to the Customs Officer and tell him I will do everything to comply fully with the established laws and procedures. So he tells me to wait. Right next to me was a "lady" from the U.S. who was yelling at the Customs Officers and using profainity and I tell you it was nasty I literally thought to myself, people like this are why I am in Peru and I wish these people would stay home. I stayed out of that situation until the lady looked at me and accused me of giving the Customs Official a bribe which I had not and then I told her she was a total disgrace and made ashamed to carry a US Passport. Then I told the Customs Official the samething in Spanish and it was at this point he closed my suitcases and told me to pass. The lady never made it to the plane and her husband literally cursed me out at 35,000 feet. As I said before people like this should never get a Passport. The lesson here is remember folks we are guests here and YES it does get frustrating at times but remember the government official is only doing their job and aren`t getting rich doing it. I will ocassionally pay a bribe but only when I have done something wrong, if I am right I will stand up for myself but do it in a courteous and professional manner. RESEPCT THE PERUVIANS AND THEY WILL RESPECT US.

LESSON #3 - LEARN SPANISH OR LEAVE - Learning Spanish is NOT opitional but MANDITORY. As I have learned Spanish new doors have been opened and what used to cost s/. 100 now costs s/. 50 but it goes beyond that it is simply the right thing to do. How many of us complain about people coming to the US and not learning English? How can we come here and not learn Spansih? I will admit my Spanish isn`t perfect but it works I can be understood and sometimes I get looks and laughs but my reply is "como estas Ingles" and that gets a good laugh from our Peruvian Hosts.

LESSON#4 - GET OUT OF LIMA - Tradionally we enter Peru in Lima and yes Lima has a lot to offer but so do the smaller cities. Everyone of them I have visited has been an adventure and has a unique charm to it. I am now spending a lot of time in Tacna because of the climate and people. While the cooking skills in Tacna need some improvement there is plenty of sun, no humidity, and NO TRAFFIC and I just like the place.

LESSON#4 - PERUVIAN FRIENDS ARE IMPORTANT - When you move to a new city in the states and you need a plumber, doctor, or another professional or tradesperson you can search the Yellow Pages or contact a referral service. While the Yellow Pages do exist here no formal referral service exists so how do you find a good person? Very simple YOUR PERUVIAN FRIENDS, some of the best referrals I have gotten was from a Peruvian friend I will be very candid here and state that I have not really done that much to establish myself in the expat community because of time issues and now that I have time I will be looking towads expanding my social network within our Expat Community here. I will also admit that prior to coming to Peru I lived in Mexico and the Expat Community there was awful a real bunch of losers so YES there was a bit of a carryover but I have come to realize the EXPAT community here is very different. Friendship here is deep and last week I found myself giving ten units of blood in a 24 hour period to keep a Peruvain friends brother alive after a car accident. This Peruvian friend has been a saint and has literally bent over backwards for me so when it came time to help him and his family I did so without hesistation. His family member is now on the road to recovery and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to help him and his family in OUR crisis. The Family Matriarch told me two days ago you are no longer just a good friend you and your mother are part of our family. I tell you that JUST BLEW ME AWAY. With that said, develop friendships here slowly and upon mutual respect and trust. Also remember trust is never given it is earned.

Peru has been an adventure for me and continues to amaze me. I came here to ONLY visit a friend with my mom who had taught him in High School. My mom had a major stroke and has now fully recovered thanks to the great doctors at San Felipe and Anglo Americana Clinics. One Peruvian friend told me Peru is your adopted country and I agree with that. I think my Peruvian experience can be summarized in the following words, "When in Rome be Roman and when in Peru be Peruvian."


american_in_lima
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Re: My Final Visa Run and Four Lovely Years

Postby american_in_lima » Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:59 am

Great perspective on Peru. I agree about learning Spanish. It will enrich the experience more than any other thing you can do here.

Glad to hear your experiences.

"El Peru soy yo"
Regards,

George
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Re: My Final Visa Run and Four Lovely Years

Postby polomasta » Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:30 pm

great list!

I've found myself getting frustrated a number of times with things here in Peru (mainly business stuff that is just at a whole other level in the US) and but then think through all of the awesome things about this country and it makes me happy again to be here.

Learning spanish is definitely a must, along with learning as much as you can from your Peruvian friends about how much stuff should *really* cost.
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Re: My Final Visa Run and Four Lovely Years

Postby Remigius » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:35 pm

DC_20833:

Nice list. Don't agree with everything, but still good to hear somebody with a positive view. I agree that you always need to treat people with respect, but unfortunately, and that goes for all public institutions, being underpaid and overworked is an excuse for some. Others simply get late for work every day, sit with a long face behind the counter, go for 2 hours out for lunch and generally don't give a damn about you or your problem. One day a girl from the immigration service came to my door to do a verification check. She was so nice and spontaneous that my wife and I kept talking about her for over a week. I mean, us being astounded by one single girl accentuates how unmotivated the attention is in Peru.
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Re: My Final Visa Run and Four Lovely Years

Postby Remigius » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:43 pm

polomasta wrote:Learning spanish is definitely a must


Sure, who hasn't sweat when the taxi driver was making a phone call and you didn't have a clue what he was talking about.
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Re: My Final Visa Run and Four Lovely Years

Postby Serionlv » Mon Nov 08, 2010 10:04 pm

Thanks for this post. I just spent a miserable day at aduanas in Callao trying to get my things out. The whole process has been an ordeal. Tomorrow the taxes will be assessed. My mood was a bit off.

But the woman in the office was courteous and professional. Even after the fourth revision of my papers...

Thanks for reminding me why I moved here and putting it all into perspective.
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Re: My Final Visa Run and Four Lovely Years

Postby mwallach » Tue Nov 09, 2010 12:09 am

Thank you for the post. It truly was a joy to read. It was timely for me as well since I am making my first border run next week. How quickly 6 months goes by.

Your border run post prompts a question. I have read other border run posts about needing to go the consulate after exiting and then returning. Yours seemed like you walked out, did some shopping and returned. Would you clear up the process for me please?

I will be flying down next week and intend to stay overnight before I return. Any hints, tips, or outright instructions on the process would be helpful. Thank you in advance.

Mark
http://gringoinperu.blogspot.com/
J Mark Wallach
http://gringoinperu.blogspot.com/
[email protected]
IM: j.mark.wallach (Skype)
Peru Cell: 945 274 341
www.tqeperu.com
DC_20833

Re: My Final Visa Run and Four Lovely Years

Postby DC_20833 » Tue Nov 09, 2010 4:38 am

mwallach wrote:Thank you for the post. It truly was a joy to read. It was timely for me as well since I am making my first border run next week. How quickly 6 months goes by.

Your border run post prompts a question. I have read other border run posts about needing to go the consulate after exiting and then returning. Yours seemed like you walked out, did some shopping and returned. Would you clear up the process for me please?

I will be flying down next week and intend to stay overnight before I return. Any hints, tips, or outright instructions on the process would be helpful. Thank you in advance.

Mark
http://gringoinperu.blogspot.com/


The two border runs we have done were very simple. You checkout of Peru and then check into Chile and go right back out of Chile back into Peru. If you haven`t overstayed it is quite easy. If want to avoid lines arrive at the border around midnight. Try using the Hotel Dorando for your hotel I like the place.
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Re: My Final Visa Run and Four Lovely Years

Postby mwallach » Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:18 am

Thank you DC. I appreciate your clearing that up for me. I was given 183 days when I got here May 20th. So I should be ok on my stay. my only concern is the amount of time i have spent here this year.

Reading the site DIGEMIN site I am not sure if I will have a problem. I was here from Dec 09 through mid Feb. Then I went back to the states. I returned to Peru for 4 days in April. Then back to the states. I returned again May 20th until now. So for the year I have been here over 8 months without violating my visas. I have read that you can be here a maximum of 6 months. But I think that is per trip. So I believe getting back in will be ok. If not I will need to explore Chili....jajajajaja.

Thank you again DC,

Mark
http://gringoinperu.blogspot.com/
J Mark Wallach
http://gringoinperu.blogspot.com/
[email protected]
IM: j.mark.wallach (Skype)
Peru Cell: 945 274 341
www.tqeperu.com
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Re: My Final Visa Run and Four Lovely Years

Postby naturegirl » Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:05 am

Where are you off to next?

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