It was now a little after 4:30. Marco brought my file over and laid it on top of a file cabinet. “Do you understand Portuguese well?” he asked. That was not a good sign.
He told me that I was supposed to have registered myself before 30 days were up. I tried to convince him that it wasn’t my fault, that it was really the fault of the Brazilian Consulate in Brazil. He was having none of that, however. He told me that if he sent it in then, the file would go to Brasilia and be sent right back. SHOULDN’T THEY ALREADY HAVE ALL OF MY INFO IN BRASILIA? I wanted to ask. But unfortunately that is not how things are done in Brazil. I couldn’t yell and complain my way out of things – I needed a friend in Brasilia, or a federal police agent boyfriend, or some other ‘in.’ I had none of the above.
“Here’s the thing,” Marco told me (I am paraphrasing). “You are probably going to have to pay a fine.”
“OK,” I said. I had been prepared for that. I brought extra money. I just wanted to get out of there.
“But,” Marco said – and this was a big ‘but’ – “you need to talk to the person over there.” He pointed across the hallway. Nobody was sitting at the desk. “But” – yet another ‘but’ – “she already left for the day. You are going to have to come back tomorrow. Very early.”
“I have to come back tomorrow?” I asked, hoping that my Portuguese comprehension wasn’t actually as good as I had thought. “Tomorrow? Very early?”
“Tomorrow, get here early and go talk to the woman who sits over there. Then come back over, find your file” – he stuffed it in the ‘L’ folder as he spoke – “and I’ll be able to finish it.”
I left the office wanting to cry. I actually almost went into the bathroom to do so, but I was worried that I would miss the next bus and what I wanted most of all was to be back in Copacabana. By now it was 5 pm and the sun was preparing to set (It's winter here!). I had lost the whole day waiting in the waiting room, only to be told I had to come back the next day.