GringoPost | Ecuador: Recommendation for Monica Gonzaga, facilitator

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Recommendation for Monica Gonzaga, facilitator

The long and short of this recommendation is that Monica quite literally saved us. We didn't actually contact her or engage her services (though we absolutely will do so in future), but nonetheless she was the person who prevented disaster.

I may post the whole nightmarish story later (after a xanax maybe) but suffice to say, we had engaged an attorney/facilitator in September because our Spanish is very limited (we're learning!) and I have no interest in going back and forth to Machala. I know everyone has their (strong) opinions on how everyone should do the visa thing etc. but that's not the point of this post.

The point is that, when our previously helpful attorney ghosted us when it came time to actually apply -and other options were just as costly but required that we make the trip ourselves anyway -we decided to just do it ourselves since we had all the documents already and many people have said how simple it is (I'm glad that was the case for some people, we were not so lucky).
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When we ended up having to go to Machala after all, Monica was the person that saved us when the one item in our application we weren't worried about (insurance) turned out to be unacceptable. We bought insurance here about 45 days ago specifically for the purposes of the visa process and I know, for sure, that many, many people have had this insurance accepted for various visa/residency applications at multiple ministries. So, this isn't about bad insurance. Frankly, I think this about the girl who took our application getting a kickback from her friend who sells insurance; but I digress.

When we finally got our appointment, we were tersely told that even though everything else was in order, and our insurance is good in Ecuador (and the world), it is inadmissible because it has to be from an Ecuadorian company. Again, I don't know if this is a new rule that they sprung on us or if this woman just didn't like us or what. But, given that our T3 expired on Nov 21 (today) and we were only DIYing this process out of desperation, having someone tell us, at 4pm on Friday, that we can't apply is a death sentence.

Somehow, we got lucky, and Monica happened to be there dropping off docs for a client. She saw me in distress and just stepped right in to see what could be done. She stayed with us for hours. She negotiated with the woman, she asked what could be done, she explained that the only reason we were applying so last minute was because someone else was supposed to have handled this weeks ago but disappeared, the insurance was purchased here and has been accepted all over the country. She asked if we could come back and apply on Monday with new insurance. We were told we couldn't come back to apply Monday because the system was being changed and then on Tuesday we would have overstayed and be kicked out. So, it was literally now or never.

When the woman told us the only option was to buy new insurance right this minute and submit it (and conveniently had the business card and cell phone number of an agent down the street...hmmmmmm), Monica called her amazing friend to come escort us and help us with the process while she (Monica) stayed at the Ministry to keep the office open - like she just stayed there insisting that they not leave until we returned. Since the insurance company doesn't allow those without an Ecuador bank account to pay monthly premiums, Monica offered to let us use her bank account (I am still flabbergasted by this generosity) until we obtained residency and could get our own so we wouldn't have to pay upfront. I didn't want to take advantage of her kindness, so I forked over $650 for a six-month policy (the minimum allowable), making this 90 day extension the most expensive visa I have ever had to pay for in all my years of travel.

The insurance agent knew we were coming, but 'rush' wasn't in her vocabulary, so we still didn't make it back to the Ministry before it closed. However, Monica was so insistent that the woman at the Ministry agreed to have the security guard put our new insurance docs in our file on her desk so that she could process it first thing Monday morning. We had already paid the application fee and have receipts, so this was the best we could hope for given the nightmarish circumstances.

In all seriousness, without Monica and her amazing friend, we would be packing our bags right now and paying for a hugely expensive last-minute flight, breaking our lease on our amazing apartment, and giving up the wonderful life we've built here already. Yes, we could come back in 9 months, but I don't think the Ministry looks super kindly on near-overstays when they consider residency applications. I prepared as well and as early as anyone reasonably could have, and still it wasn't enough - and I'm a suuuuper Type A person, so you know I researched the heck out of every last document and requirement, the universe was just not totally on our side that day.

I know this is a long one, but the lengths to which Monica and her friend went to help people who weren't their clients (or even paying) was truly humbling. I cannot thank them enough (and will definitely be treating them to dinner and drinks as a thank you, and engaging their services for all future immigration processes).

If you don't speak fluent Spanish, don't have a complete understanding of the system and all the changes, or are on a short time line, just call Monica. Frankly, I've been in contact with multiple other facilitators and while they talked a good game and have successfully helped many people, Monica was the one who, when it really mattered, was helpful, kind, generous, and steadfast through the most stressful moments of my life (ok, top five).

Thank you Monica, for keeping us in our new home. You're an angel.

Address: Cuenca

Contact information: monicagonzaga.facilitator@gmail.com 098 384 1691

Recommended by Claire Boyte-White:  voluntaryhobo@gmail.com