SOUTH African casa-amigo Adriaan and I arrived at Lima Interpol to see a crowd of Venezuelans mingled in front of the front walls. We could skip through the gate. I felt uncomfortable – as if I was benefiting from white privilege, but as it was made clear to me thatI was in a different part of the process and didn’t need to be in that line.
We entered an air-conditioned room with seats. The few people in there were either waiting by filling out forms or getting their fingerprints printed. Each of the housemates had a different process. The Canadian’s process seemed the most complicated. She is still in Lima. I wonder if we will ever get her back.
The South Africans seem to be really easy, so it seemed. But what complicated my process as an Australian was I had to pay my fee online to the Australian Federal Police. The Peruvian Interpol form gave me the link to pay (which wasn’t quite accurate).
I hadn’t paid the fee yet so I didn’t think I could continue the process, so I tried getting my passport back. They explained to me in Spanish (even though they couldn’t really understand) that I would have to wait for it. After a few attempts at trying to find someone who spoke English, and probably being a real nuisance, I managed to get an administrator from my workplace on Whatsapp to communicate with the officers.
I felt dumb as the officers made gestures at me to follow the process. I mistook one gesture to mean ‘sit down’ but it actually meant ‘follow me’. The officers colluded and said ‘Australiano’ a lot with smirks on their faces as each took turns taking me to each process. I thought these were friendly ‘hey, he is exotic’ smirks but the officers really weren’t interested at my attempts to flirt in terrible Spanish.
They took me to a room filled with dentists who told me to lay down. They checked my teeth in two seconds and told me to stand.
Then they all spoke to each other for ages as I stood uncertain. “You can go!” the chief dentist said. Then an officer grabbed my hands and gently pushed my fingers in ink and put them on two pieces of paper. He put the papers in two envelopes while I could clean my hands.
They let me leave within two hours. Adriaan and I walked to the nearby mall and celebrated in a restaurant next to a TGI Friday. We drank a bottle of refreshing Chica Morada just as my sister messaged from Australia.
“Good evening,” she said.
“Buenas tardes, hermana hermosa. Como estas?” I wrote, first checking with Adriaan that hermana did mean ‘sister’. Then I sent a selfie. “I am drinking Chica Morada. It is made of purple corn.”
“Very nice,” she wrote. “I am at work. Wish I was drinking purple corn.”
It must have been the dehydration and trying to sleep on an overnight bus, but for some reason I found this hilarious.
The process had not finished.
I still had to pay the Australian Federal Police $99 Aus dollars (245 soles and expensive for application standards). I tried paying online because I needed the receipt to continue the process, but because it’s a fingerprint application it needs to be sent by snail mail. I filled the printed documents and copied my identity papers, and then had to find the Peruvian equivalent of a post office. A friend helped me through the process but paying express post to Australia cost me 270 soles! Owch!