Monday afternoon I went to the Federal Police to renew my foreigner’s registration card. When a non-Brazilian enters the country on a longer-term visa, you have 30 days to register. Upon completing the registration, the Federal Police gives you a slip of paper saying that your resident ID card is being processed. “Come back in six months,” they tell you, “and your card will be ready.” Well, you’ll go back after six months to see if your card is ready. It won’t be, so they will stamp your slip of paper and it will be valid for three more months. “Come back then. I’m sure it will be ready then…” So you show up again, and they stamp your paper one last time… “Oops. It looks like your visa is just about to expire. Why should you get an ID card if your visa is going to run out. We’ll just stamp it one more time.”
So my ID slip is a ratty piece of paper I’ve carried in my wallet for over 9 months – folded and a bit nasty. My picture is stapled to it, there are multiple stamps covering the front and the back… This is what I have to pull out when a police officer asks for my ID and harasses me for living in the favela. They stare at it in disbelief – it looks like an old receipt I dug out of the trash.
While I was at the Federal Police, I ran into Jenna, who was also there registering. She had been waiting in line for hours (and would continue to wait for a few more – that day I was thankful I just needed an extension…) and had met, as she always seems to do, some new friends. I walked over to Jenna to say hi, and noticed that the girl she introduced me to was really cute. She seemed friendly, had a nice smile, so as I left, I surreptitiously called Jenna on her cell phone and asked her to get nice girl’s phone number (after, of course, a little questioning and probing…)
The next day, Jenna called me up on the phone… “You know that girl from the Federal Police?”
“So she’s super-involved in a cult.”
I guess sometimes you just can’t win…