"Here," she said. "Use this."
We met Hanzel in front of Banco Nacional, and drove a block to the attorney's office. (The town of Siquirres encompasses about five square blocks.) The afternoon before, when Hanzel called to make the appointment, I asked how much it would cost and was quoted 40,000 colones ($80). I said it was too much, in spite of the fact that I didn't know if there were any other attorneys in town, and Hanzel spoke into his cell phone again . Then how about 20,000 colones ($40)? I said okay and gave the money to Hanzel, not realizing we would be with him at the attorney's office. The attorney was pleasant, accommodating, and seemed impressed that I knew the scientific genus and species (ateles geoffroyi) when he typed up the affidavit. Alexa and I took turns using the restroom, and Hanzel paid the attorney. My favorite part of the story? Hanzel volunteered the fact that the attorney only charged $30 because it was a worthy cause. (He did ask if he could keep the extra $10 for gas for his motorcycle since he had made two extra trips to town and Alexa, being Alexa, said he could have $5.)
"I need to talk to you ladies," he said before heading down the long stairway and out the door. Alexa and I looked at each other.
"Don't lie, but don't tell them we have the monkeys," I suggested. Alexa agreed.
But he already knew. His niece, who cleaned rooms at the hotel, heard Lolita chirping after we left and immediately called MINAET.
Which is a wonderful thing. I wouldn't want it any other way. But I was REALLY thankful that we had spent the previous afternoon at MINAET and were back again. He was very nice, and eventually found phone chargers for our dying cell phones. And the morning dragged into the afternoon.
At the rate things were going, the paperwork really was going to take a week. The boss said every word out loud as he typed it, and he typed at glacial speed. At some point Alexa pulled up a chair next to him and started dictating.
The room was hot, and in addition to not having any hair accoutrements on our day-trip-turned-into-overnight, I didn't have deodorant and was wearing yesterday's clothes. Plus I had nothing to do except stare at the wall clock as the hours passed, since gnawing on the edge of the wooden table didn't seem politically correct.
At noon, which was check-out time, Alexa called the hotel and asked for a grace period. And at 1:30 we FINALLY went back for the monkeys. (I had made two trips to check up on them and feed Lolita in the interim.)
"I just have a sixth grade education," Alexa later said, "and I was telling him what to write."