By noon on Thursday we have called the agent twice today. He sent a text to give him some time, and that he would call us. We are watching TV (not much to do here). We are sighing from time to time, and our stomachs frequently gurgle in unison. We have been managing with one meal a day, in the afternoon, with leftovers for later in the evening, or the next morning. We are getting hungry, and naturally we are irritable.
We want the agent to freaking return our money, and the title, so we can make some kind of alternative plan. The waiting has become excruciating, and it’s hard to see the humor in the situation any more. We say all kinds of brave things to each other, but still, we are pretty much stuck here. Now the agent says he’ll come here talk over the situation. But when will he come? Just like every other day, that is the question. When? Cuando? Cuando? Cuando?
The hotel manager called his friend who still works at the agency. He says that today, January 6, is the first day of something called Amparo, which changes the fees for importation; that yesterday it would have cost about $4,000 to import Foxy (because it is a commercial vehicle? because of its weight? he didn’t make it clear). He says that today the fees will be much lower. We wonder – why didn’t our agent give us this information?
WILL Chon and Gail get the much-needed permit? WILL the agent turn out to be just an innocent beginner with no juice? IS he an agent at all? HAVE they been robbed? That’s pretty much what we’ve been thinking about.
We just can’t stay here any longer.
Chon paid for yet another night here. He visited with the hotel manager, who, as it turns out, used to be a customs agent. Up until now, the comments have all been soothing, like “Oh, it happens sometimes – we get desperate travelers sitting here in the lobby, just waiting,” and “Boy, you’ve been waiting a long time, but there have been others who have waited this long, too.”
But last night the manager said that this smells fishy – he suspects that the agency has NOT received our money, and the papers are NOT in the queue. I myself have had images of movies where the temptation of so much money was just too much, and the agent/person “borrowed” it. It was, after all, right before Kings’ Day, when the entire Catholic world gives gifts. Anyway, we plan to confront the agent, or go to the agency ourselves – we found out which one it is (there are many, possibly hundreds of them in the phone book.)
We really must settle this. We really must leave. This is where we need to be:
There’s our truck, parked in front of room 107. Chon says he’s going to write Symphony 107.
Tomorrow it will have been a week staying in Hotel Estrella Dorada Internacional. We have spoken with the agent several more times. A few minutes ago he told us that the agency he is using had electrical problems today, and that they had been without electricity all morning. He offered to take us there so we would believe him, and that this is the longest it has ever taken him to get a new registration. He told us to trust him, and that he had worked on it all day. He said this is very bad for his business, as he works through referrals. We probably will never have many opportunities to recommend anyone for this job, but he’s right; we probably would not refer anyone to him.
By now all the employees here know about our plight. We’re practically family! We are friends with the cook, Don David, who confided yesterday that he is in love with Alma, who works the front desk. The manager, Jorge, is acquainted with Samuel, our agent, and says he is known for his alacrity and efficiency(!). Alma has four children from her previous marriage with a car collector who often left them without food because he spent so much money on cars. Rocio also works the front desk.
Literally everyone here knows about registering cars, as the hotel gets most of its business from people who are registering their cars have other customs business. Everyone knows at least one agent, and now we know that the agents work on their own, usually for one certain customs company. You can do it yourself without an agent. Yes, we could have done without an agent, if we had only known…