Sunday, April 24, 2011

Internet Friends

I started to ask if I am the only one who thinks of the people I have read about in their blog posts as friends, but then I realized that I have seen similar thoughts on those very posts. It just seems so strange when I am talking to someone in person and I say, "I have this friend who lives in Reynosa and the other day she had trouble with the police and the narcos just trying to get home." or "I have this friend who is pregnant with her second baby and just two years ago she was saying she couldn't imagine having one." Sometimes I quote this guy I know who studies Spanish and Chinese and is like a really cool teacher we all wish we had had in high school but never did. There are so many of you out there that I read and feel like I know. I used to wait for that wave of homesickness, of culture shock, to hit but it hasn't. I think one reason is that I have so many friends that are in the same boat.

Here in Texcoco I have only met one other American, and I have one student who speaks English well enough to speak slowly with me in English, my husband doesn't speak more than a few phrases in English, so all my English use is here on the computer. I talk to my oldest daughter almost daily, and my dad once a week or so, my mom doesn't chat so we trade emails a few times a month, and then there are all my friends- Leslie(food, farmville and kids), Rita(glad you are in Texas now), Lindy(she so looks like Chino), Amanda(s)(babies and babies), Melissa (really want a tat), Chrissy (and Keith), etc. and teacher Bob (love all your research). If I didn't read all these little blogs about you all I would feel really isolated, but as it is I feel like I am part of a really cool, caring group of friends who are so interesting. Just want to say Thank You all for sharing a part of your lives with me.

OMG the Mexican Government is just as screwy as the US Government!!! or how to get your FM2 and go crazy at the same time.

I promised Dad that I would let you guys know what happened with immigration. It is long and if you get bored skip on down to the end.

To start with I will retell (briefly) what happened in 2009. XX and XXX owed me quite a bit in back rent and when XXXX got his SSI back payment they sent me what they owed, about $2000. (this is dollars, all other amounts are in pesos) I talked to Kovy in Tuxtepec and we agreed that I would take a bus down to Tuxtepec and we would go to Veracruz which is the nearest INM (Instituto Nacional de Migraccion.) I left at an unGodly hour with Frank's Aunt More (Carmen) who works in DF. We took the bus from Texcoco to DF and when we got there I managed to leave the bus without my black shoulder bag. I noticed within minutes and ran all the way from one side of the terminal to the other but alas, too late. The driver or the man who cleans them had already managed to steal it. I vote for the driver, but who knows. We spent about an hour looking for it in trash cans and bathrooms, and when the bus arrived in Texcoco they supposedly did a thorough search. I think the driver hid it under his seat and then tossed it out the window on the drive back. I had about 16000 pesos hidden in different parts of it along with my medicine, driver's license, photos, etc. H
e also stole my cigarettes so two men ran to find the crying guerra cigarettes and coffee. Men are so nice to blondes here. So Frank's aunt lent me the money to come back to Texcoco. A little detour here- after about an hour of checking trash cans etc. the head honcho asked me what else he could do to help me. I explained that I wanted to check the men's room that the drivers, etc. use. As he walked me to the restroom he patted me on the shoulder and said, "No llores, ud. es muy bonita." What???? I don't care. I WANT MY MONEY!!! I didn't reply but when we returned Frank's aunt asked me "Que paso?" Guess my mouth was still hanging open. lol MEN!!!

I still had $6000 that I had left with my consuegra, so a couple days later I left again. Got to Tuxtepec without problems, got to Veracruz with Kovy, no problem. Left really, really early because INM is only open 9-1. Got to the INM (very long way from the bus station) and they were closed for Carneval. The guard outside said they would be open Thursday so we went back to Tuxtepec. Thursday we left really, really early and paid to take the city bus, and they were closed again. So we walked around and went home. So Monday, ditto... and they were open. The woman in the INM said they couldn't do it because we live in Oaxaca (idiot, it's federal and can be done in any INM office, but as you will see no one knows anything.) She said we could go upstairs and talk to some people there who were from Oax. I have no idea who or why, but we went. The guy there seemed to know what he was talking about, more or less, but they wanted my marriage to be registered in Tuxtepec although the paper he gave me had nothing about that
. I asked how much it would all be in the end and he said it would be about $5000. By then, with paying for travel, I had about $3000 left. Fast forward to this year. I have been trying to save for the past 2 years and finally have $5000. I had a friend call INM to find out how much my fine would be. The woman said she didn't know. I had him call and ask how they figure it and what I needed to have and do to get my FM2. Different woman, she didn't know. In all he called about 10 times over a few weeks, no one knows anything. Then his wife tried (different day), the woman told her I needed to fill out a form on the internet site or they wouldn't help me at the office and that it would give me a number when I sent it and with that number I should come to the office. I filled it out but no number. Kovy came to help me with the papers and to go to the office with me. He called and told them it didn't give me a number and the woman said "number? what number? just come in."

So the next day we left early, took the combi to Texcoco, the bus to DF, and three transfers on the Metro, walked about 20-30 blocks (we are talking hours), got there and the woman said "Where is your number? If your don't have your number you have to go do it on your computer again." But I continued to ask questions, and questions, and questions until she finally gave us a list of what we needed to get and she did say to just go ahead and bring it all, not just the things for the "areglazacion" of my status. And she said that we needed to register our marriage with the Registro Civil in Texcoco who would want a notarized copy of the translation but that for immigration the translation I had was fine. So home again, home again, jiggedy, jig.

The next day we went to Texcoco, found a notary and got that set up. I said to Kovy, "Let's check that we really need to get it all notarized ($300) so we went to the Registro Civil (where Jen and Frank got married) and had to talk to the "big man."
He said notarized wasn't good enough for him, he wanted someone "reconocido" so I asked who was reconocido, he said he didn't know. (which is funny if you understand spanish) But he wanted a "perito" and he sent us to the procuduria, which I don't know exactly what it is but it is on the other side of town and a looooong walk and has absolutely nothing to do with civil matters or peritos traduceres. They did say that the Registro had the authority to accept whatever he wanted to with or without notarization or translation. I was not happy so I insisted that we walk back and ask the judge (?) exactly what the hell he wanted and where to get it. That is not exactly how we asked him, but only because I let Kovy do most of the talking. We asked him who he considered reconocido enough for him and he finally called a friend, a female judge (I think), who must have yelled at him from his responses. She evidently didn't know either and he finally told me to look on the internet for one in DF.

I spent the weekend, between classes, looking online, finally I found a list of Peritos Traduceres for DF. Since neither of us knows anything about DF we had no idea where any of them were. Kovy called a few and the ones that would give us a price said it would be at least $1000. Monday my friend Carlos came over and told us a couple were close to the Metro. We called one and she said we could send it by email; so Kovy ran to the cyber (internet cafe w/o the cafe part) and scanned the papers onto a flash drive. I emailed it and by that night she sent us the price-$300. Yea. They took until Friday to get it done but had it ready and waiting when Kovy got there Friday morning. She even gave us two cute calendars. Kovy even got back in time to meet me in Texcoco and we went to the Registro again. This time we had everything.

But, no. Mr. Pain-in-the-tush said he needed to keep my original marriage certificate and apostile. I gently explained to him that although I would give him an original marriage certificate and an original "perito package" with the stamped copies of each and stamped translation of each and stamped certificate from the perito all sealed together with the pretty purple ribbon and sealed, signed, etc. I could not let him have the only apostile since he knew the whole purpose was to do it for immigration. (Forgot the part where he told us the first time we were there that the federal laws don't apply in Texcoco since we have our own laws here.) He insisted and I gently refused. Again I explained that since the only way to get another apostile would be to get it in Indianapolis, we could not let him have it for his files. I reminded him that he had sent us all over town and had us spend quite a bit of money and time to get the certified translation, and that Kovy had gone to DF to get it at his request and that I didn't see any reason he would need more than a certified copy since he could see that it matched the original and that we were only registering the marriage not getting married. He had to have the original. At that point I asked him if there was any reason why it would have to be registered in Texcoco or if it could be done in another municipal. He said that it could be done anywhere in Edo. Mex., although I suspect it could actually be done anywhere in Mexico. Then I quit being my usual sweet self and said, "Que bueno, vamonos porque esta es una pinche porqueria."

Back to DF on Monday, again. Before we go I go get my pictures done. Little tiny pictures that are really expensive. $100! But they don't take too long at least. This time I decided to try without registering anything and see what happened. I had the copy of my tramite (the online paperwork) and it had a number. yea! Past the first gatekeeper. Stand in line for the people who "do" the papers. After about an hour we get to the next point. The girl was, like everyone else we have dealt with there, very nice. Why they have about 5 or 6 people and 15 windows I don't know but at least they are nice when you finally get to one. She checked our papers and I was glad I had the list from the first lady because several times she started to ask for other things, but checked the list I had and went back to checking everything else. My passport was issued 12-29-2005 and expires 12-28-2015, it is tiny and I read it as 12-29 & 12-29. Can I change it? No you have to resubmit online. We get to the door and the guard is locking it, it is 12:45. Can we run out and print the paper and come right back? No, the minute you walk out the door is locked.

Next day, same place. We wait in line and finally get to the front. Different girl but still pretty nice. She checks all the papers. Good, good, ah, where is your letter about why you are late? Ok, you mean the letter that was really long explaining everything in detail, that the other girl didn't want and Kovy was really upset about, the one I threw away last night? Can I add it on to the other letter I have about why I want my papers? No, it can be hand-written though. So I try to write what I wrote at the top of this email in Spanish, rapidly, standing at the counter with about 50 waiting people glaring at my back as I hold up the line. Give it to the girl and she puts all the copies in a folder and says thanks. Whoa! "Now what? How much is the fine?"  "I don't know.""How do I pay?" "I don't know." "How do they figure it? Do they do a flat fine? monthly? yearly?" "I don't know." "How can I pay it if I don't know how much it is?" "In 20-30 days they will send you a message online. Then you will be given a date for your interview and then they will tell you." So we left.

 On April 19th I check my online INM link and it says, "Please present yourself to any INM office." So on the 20th Lupe, Carlos' wife, and I go back. This time I have to go to a different line. Wait, wait, wait. I have to show my passport 'cause there are so many other people who look like me (they have a copy of my passport and my photos) and want to pay my fines or be arrested or whatever. She comes back with a bunch of papers and gives me three. Interview? That was it. Hmmmm. One tells me my case # and window "A"; one that says "blah, bl-blah, blah (but in Spanish) you need a letter from your husband saying that he wants you here, why, and that he will support you financially (which we gave them already, but do-able), blah, blah,blah, and you need to pay $2800 within 5 days and return with the receipt, blah, bl-blah, you need to pay $669 within 5 days and return with the receipt, blah, blah; last one says "blah, blah, blah, not a serious crime, blah, blah, blah, you need to pay $5380 within 5 days and return with the receipt." "Just step over to the cashier and he will give you what you need." Ok, I was still trying to read the papers. Lupe explained the gist of it and we stepped toward the cashier who isn't there. I asked Lupe what happens if I can't pay within 5 days. She doesn't know and the cashier isn't there so we step back to the girl and ask her(we waited a few minutes with a really weird guy who reeked of garlic and kept standing really close to Lupe and breathing garlic.) No problem, just write a letter and they will probably give me an extension. Address? No, just wait in the line to give it to the paper people again. So I find a blank sheet of paper, steal a pen from a waiting area and Lupe writes me a letter. Then we get in line. We waited at least an hour and a half.
Hahaha, fooled them this time, we are locked in and not leaving, hahaha. Finally we give it to a girl. How will I know if I get an extension? Go back to window "A" in the other area. The girl at window "A" says that she is sure they will give me an extension and it will be for 15 days. :(  Wow, big help, guys. And if I still don't have enough I can come back in person and write another letter and they may give me 15 more days. Ok, and how am I supposed to pay since the man who gives you the payment sheet is not in his booth (which she can see from her counter) because he is on vacation for Holy Week. "You can get it online." Just go to their website and just do like the poster beside her shows.  But it isn't at all like the poster. The first thing the web form wants to know is if I am a moral person or a physical person. I thought I was both and have no clue how to go from there. So here I am with all my papers finally in (and my marriage not registered) with $5000 in the bank and nothing in my pocket and they want $8849. At least I have another 11 or 16 days depending on how you figure it.

If you made it through all that go take a break and drink some tea. Love you.