Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life     
            A day. Not an ordinary day. No connection to music or movie. A day plowing through bureaucratic formalities. Still, if one has a mind to connect the dots, a good day.

            With Carlos, driver and interpreter, our first stop was the much visited immigration office where I’m now on a first name basis with Amelia, Sophia and Ogla. I’ve left reams of paperwork, copies of numerous invasive documents, fingerprints, mug shot and much of my money.

Today’s task was simple—I would pick up my temporary residency card, good for the next four years. Rapido. Sign in, wait for the green card to walk its way forward from a mysterious back room, sign out. Half hour maximum.

Dubious benefits of all my time and effort? I can plan my trips home to suit my schedule, not the government’s mandatory six month limit. And I sail through customs on my return trips.

Next stop, the DIF office. Don’t ask. I cannot tell you what DIF means. My purpose is to acquire a senior identification card so I can ride cross-country Mexican buses at half price.

Mazatlan is a large city. A man at the first DIF office sent us to the second office near the main post office in Centro Historico. The ancient building is being remodeled. A woman sent us to the third office, a rabbit warren of a room packed with people waiting for Jaime, the man at the table in the corner, to walk us through the paperwork. Take a number. 16.

Carlos isn’t shy. He pushed to the front to verify that we needed to have two copies of my passport, my residency card, not even an hour in my wallet, my telephone bill to prove my address. plus color photos, several.

Two blocks over and one block up, I handed over my documents for copies. Carlos suggested that I have another form made, a national registration identification that everyone in Mexico carries. Now that I had my temporary residency card, the folks at the papeleria could make my ID card.  Fifteen minutes.

From there we hiked two more blocks, crossed the street to the Kodak shop for a color photo, no smile, straight ahead. Fifteen minutes.  

With a fistful of copies and six grim mug shots in hand, we walked back to the DIF office where number 14 was being processed. No kidding, this room was small. Perhaps 9’X9’. With a dozen folding chairs in two rows, and a small wooden desk in the corner opposite the entrance where Jaime, the man processing people through the maze of paper, sat on one side; the client on the other.

Nothing was private. We all listened.  Perhaps Jaime is a stand-up comedian in his off time. He obviously is a man who loves what he is doing and he loves people. I was the only gringa in the room. But I could understand enough to catch the general drift.

When my turn at the table came, Jaime switched to English. I answered the questions in Spanglish where possible. People waiting caught the general drift.

This office is for seniors so a section of questions concerned my health. Now there is a file that states I have a good heart, liver, lungs, and blood. I didn’t bother mentioning replacement parts.

When I leave the house, I always take my walking stick. It is a lovely piece of alder, peeled sections alternating with barked sections, a scarf tied near the top.  Jaime asked if I used my stick for dancing. Dancing?

Ah, the Old Woman Dance, a marvelous fun traditional fiesta dance with scary “old women” bent over their canes, dancing to increasingly faster music. Everybody in the room burst into laughter.

From Jaime’s table, I entered an even smaller back room where Ophelia pasted my photos onto forms, typed up a card, pasted a photo onto the card, and sent us to have the card copied and laminated.

When we exited the large building, I looked up. Across the street, in a direct line from the exit, was a papeleria where we could have had both copies and photos done earlier. So we crossed the street and had my form copied and laminated. Minutes here, there, ate the day.

I now carry three official forms of identification should I get lost in Mexico and not remember who I am!

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

November 5, 2015

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