Last week, we went to the Foreigners Office to get information on our awaited residency card renewals (submitted in June). We were told that we were within the normal time range. Since I plan to visit the Dowager Duchess in the meantime, I asked what I need to do to ensure that I will be allowed back into Spain (without a current card). It went like this:
The guy at the desk was very nice and said I needed a re-entry application. He said I could only get that form from the woman at the other desk. I gasped. It was La Rubia (“The Blond” — the foul bureaucrat we had to deal with last year when we arrived in Sevilla). So, we waited in line for La Rubia, who San Geraldo noticed was being consistently nasty to everyone who approached her desk. I made excuses for her. Then it was our turn. Before I even said why we were there, she saw the copies of the renewal forms (already processed) in my hand and pointed to the information desk telling me to talk to him. She called, “Next.” I said, firmly, “I already spoke with him and he told me I need to get a re-entry application from you.” She went through files, gave me three forms, and in rapid Andalusian Spanish told me what to do. I told her my Spanish was a bit slow and I asked her to clarify next steps. She flourished everything at me and said, still in her rushed, Andalusian Spanish, “It’s simple!” She told me to pay at the bank with one form (I had already understood that) and then go to the police department with everything. “The police?” I asked. “Yes. It’s simple!” she muttered. She again looked behind me and called, “Next!”
|JUST OUTSIDE THE GATES OF MARIA LUISA PARK AND THE PLAZA DE ESPAÑA.
I WAS SO TEMPTED TO STOP FOR A DRINK.
Once we were home, San Geraldo went online and read that I could take the forms to any police station. I went to the bank Tuesday and paid my 10 euros. That was simple. I then went to the nearest police station, a new and beautiful building on La Alameda. The very pleasant cop looked at my paperwork and told me only one station in Sevilla did that; I needed to go to the police in Los Remedios. On a good day, that’s at least a 35-minute walk. We’re not having good days right now. Yesterday was over 110F. Also, it’s August. They’re not open in the afternoon and it was already 12:30. It had become a little less simple. But today was supposed to be significantly cooler (only about 98F), so I’d get an early start and all would be fine.
|HOW HOT WAS IT? SEVILLA ERECTS GIANT AWNINGS ALL OVER TOWN TO PROVIDE
SOME SMALL RELIEF FROM THE SUMMER SUN. THIS IS JUST A FEW BLOCKS FROM OUR HOUSE.
This morning after breakfast, I took a cab to Los Remedios. When I entered, a very pleasant woman met me in the hall and I showed her what I had. She said, no problem, take a seat. About 10 minutes later a man came out. He smelled like booze but (or perhaps, therefore) he was also very pleasant. I showed him what I had. He said I needed to go to the office where I started my renewal process in Plaza de España. I told him they said I needed to go to the police and that the police in La Alameda said I needed to go here. He said, no, not for this. I tried every way I could — without flat out saying, “You’re drunk! Do you even know what you’re talking about?!?” — to confirm that his information was correct. And then I politely left the office. Simple, my ass!
COLOMBIA IS IN AMERICA, TOO
Before I spoke with the boozer, I listened to another staff person (sober and very kind) trying to assist the woman who had arrived just before me. She had brought in a document signed by her husband who was from Colombia. I heard the staff person explain that the document was not the correct one. It was for citizens of the United States of America. She snapped, “Colombia is in America!” He said, “No. Colombia is in South America.” “Exactly,” she replied. He continued, “The United States of America is in North America. And this form is only for citizens of the United States of America.” She said, “It’s all America! It’s one continent. Like Europe.” “Well, no,” he said. But she was insistent and continued, “Spain is in Europe. Colombia is in America. Brazil is in America.” The poor man simply smiled and asked her to have a seat. When I left, the woman was on the phone with her husband, ranting, “These people don’t know basic geography.” This all occurred in Spanish and I understood every word. I wanted to tell her how proud I was (and that she needed to get a different form for her husband to sign), but I thought better of it.
BACK TO SIMPLE
I took a cab to the renewal office in Plaza de España. I didn’t even have to wait to speak with someone. I was told I needed to go the other end of Plaza de España to the Foreigners Office (remember, this was the Renewal Office). I said, “Do I have to? I really like this office so much better.” The man at the desk laughed and said, “I wouldn’t want to go there either. I don’t even want to work in that office.” But, off I went. I waited in line and was hugely relieved to not see La Rubia sitting at one of the two desks. I showed my paperwork and I was given a number and sent to the office across the hall, where I sat down to wait.
Although we all had numbers, no numbers were called (the machine is in another room), so we self-policed. I waited just a few minutes before being waved over to a desk. I told the man why I was there. He asked a question and I answered it. I apologized that my Spanish was not good. He said in clear and precise Spanish, “Please, compared to what I hear all day, you’re Spanish is exceptional.” He stamped a bunch of things, looked me up in the database, shuffled papers around, asked me some questions, took copies of things from me, gave them back, took them again, and then asked me when I wanted to return to the office next week. Really? I’m heading back into the lion’s den Monday at 1:30. I will supposedly be leaving with the document I need for travel.
|HEADING HOME. THE MOAT PROTECTING THE OLD TOBACCO FACTORY.
(NOW THE UNIVERSITY OF SEVILLA — THE FACTORY, NOT THE MOAT.)
I bought another bottle of water, walked home, and took pictures along the way. So glad it’s only going to be around 98F today, especially since it’s currently 104.
The only simple thing about this entire process? The unfortunate woman with the husband from Colombia, America.
|AND NOW I’M GOING TO TAKE A LESSON FROM THE CATS.
EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO FIND SAN GERALDO.