Not Feeling Completely Renewed

I’m in the process of renewal but I’m not completely there yet. More specifically, San Geraldo and I made some progress this morning on our residency card renewals. It wasn’t without its chuckles, grumbles, and mystification.

Before I tell you about that, however, I want to share a photo of what I found to be a charming sculpture in Los Remedios. The sculpture is called “Muchachas al Sol” (“Girls in the Sun”). It was completed in 1963 and was the first modern monument erected in Sevilla.

Antonio Cano, a sculptor originally from Granada, was hired to design the piece for the neighborhood across the river from the Cigar Factory, but it wasn’t very well received by conservatives, which included many art critics, and protests were held to keep it from being so openly displayed. Puritans? It wound up being shuttled around the city for years, spending some time hidden in the trees of Maria Luisa Park, before finally being installed in 1981 in Los Remedios. The girls are sitting in the sun drying tobacco leaves. I don’t know if the real “cigar women” actually performed this task topless, but they were known for being a bit, well let’s just say, morally relaxed. Remember “Carmen”? In any case, these two certainly look relaxed and refreshed. The only ones in our house looking relaxed and refreshed right now are the cats.


As I started to tell you above, San Geraldo and I returned to the Foreigners Office this morning. We got up before 8. By 9 we were at the Plaza de España with everything we thought we’d need (and more) to submit the second round of documents for our residency card renewals. There was a very short line inside. We received our numbers and were called within a few minutes. This time, we were sent into a large office that last year was dedicated to work visas and the like. I was confused, but went where we were called. A very nice young guy sat at a desk. He laughed when he saw our passports and our multiple stacks of papers. He said, “Why do Americans always bring so many copies? We only need one.” I told him that when we submitted our original visa paperwork in Los Angeles, we were told to bring two copies of each item, only to discover when we were there that we needed three or four of certain items. Fortunately we had been warned about this and San Geraldo had come prepared with extras, just in case. We now take no chances.


The nice bureaucrat took our papers and immediately said, “Uh oh.” The first of the three requirements in the letter we had received was a complete copy of our passports. We didn’t give this any thought. We (San Geraldo) have copied the insides of our passports several times now. No problem. Well, yes, problem. This time they really did want a complete copy — every single page, including all the blanks. I snuck a peek to my left at San Geraldo (because I could feel steam coming from that direction). He looked like he could blow a gasket at any moment. Fortunately, the guy behind the desk was very pleasant. He told us we should just go get the copies and come right back. We wouldn’t have to wait when we returned. I asked if he knew where the nearest copy shop was. Oh, it was nearby. “Just the other side of the park.” Hmmm. I asked, “On Calle Menendez Pelayo?” He said, “Yes.”


San Geraldo and I had copies done there when we were staying at the hotel last year. Trust me, it’s not really nearby. It’s a big park. At a brisk pace, it would take more than 15 minutes, which meant we had probably 40 minutes of walking roundtrip, plus waiting for the copies (and the store seemed to always have a backlog). I didn’t tell that to San Geraldo until we got outside. I suggested we take a cab. He said he was willing to walk. I said, we could start walking and then see what he thought. But we’d definitely take a cab back. Then, shocker, the newsstand immediately across the street from the Plaza de España had a sandwich sign that said “We do PHOTOCOPIES”… in Spanish and English (the sign that is; obviously the photocopies come out in whatever language they start in). We walked up and told the guy inside the kiosk that he was our savior. He laughed. If he was Catholic (which is fairly likely), he didn’t appear to be offended. Thank god! Oops. Well, never mind.


We left a few minutes later with our copies, and didn’t wait more than a moment before seeing our friendly bureaucrat again. Everything was in order. The next step? In about a month (more or less), we will receive a letter to return to the office to pick up another document to take to the bank so we can pay another small fee. Then, we return again to the Foreigners Office with that stamped form, our passports, and new photos. Then they will process everything. About a month after that (more or less), we will return to the Foreigners Office to pick up our new cards.


Geez, as they say in South Dakota. Geez, as they say in New York. (Can you hear the difference?) We began the renewal process in early June. Our old cards expired mid-July. We should have our new cards some time in November — more or less. If San Geraldo wants or needs to leave the country any time before then, he’ll have to go through the process I recently went through (and wrote about) to obtain a “return authorization.” I’m hoping we’ll have our new cards before my authorization expires in November. We should have our new two-year cards just in time to start the renewal process for the next two-year cards (OK, I exaggerate). After that it supposedly gets easier. As they say in Spanish, “Ja!” (Which sounds the same in English, “Ha!”)

Oh, do me a favor. Please don’t ask San Geraldo how he’s feeling about any of this.


Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

34 thoughts on “Not Feeling Completely Renewed”

  1. At least you can see the light at the end of the tunnel…Carlos' aunt (Savannah's father) has applied for a US visa three times: once to come to their wedding, the other for the birth of the baby and the third time for the Christening. They had to hold the Baptism in Colombia because the American Consulate denied her the visa a third time and each time they kept her $150.00. Now, this is so illogical because here is a woman in her sixties, who owns her home, has a car and is a retired school teacher with a generous pension. What makes these clowns think that she would even want to stay and work or become a public burden?
    Bureaucracy sometimes is preferable to bigotry.

    1. Raulito:
      I've heard the horror stories about the process in the States. For us, this has simply been bureaucracy. Nothing awful like you describe. Yes, bureaucracy is definitely preferable to bigotry.

  2. Hello Mitch:
    We think the Cano sculpture wonderful and so pleased to learn that it is at last seeing the proper light of day.

    There are times, and this is one of them, when we are thankful for being part of the European Union. At least that spares us Residency cards.

    1. Jane and Lance:
      I spotted the Cano sculpture from a distance and had to cross a busy roundabout to reach it (no pedestrian areas around it). I really found it enchanting. I knew nothing about him. He was apparently a very prolific artist. Something else to learn about!

      Oh, the residency process can really be draining. I look forward to the day we will no longer have to jump through all the hoops. For me now, it's all worth it and makes for good stories. Jerry is a bit worn down from it right now. But, if it weren't for all his research and work, I don't think I ever could have seen the process through from the start in California. Just the thought of it overwhelmed me.

  3. It's just a thought but, do any of the bureaucratters have any idea what all of this nonsense is actually, really and truly achieving in terms of the real world? Are massive checks being triggered on you two at each stage by each new form? Have you notices grey men driving grey Smart Cars, tailing you or going through your litter trays?

    Not that my blood is boiling on your behalf or anything, but, well – it's all just so much make-work unquestioned idiocy! Come the revolution, when I am in charge of the universe, this will all change …

    1. Owl Wood:
      I try not to think too deeply about any of this. I DID wonder today if someone will actually be doing a whole bunch of research on our comings and goings once they have those copies of our passports. It's all very strange, but my understanding is the United States makes it much more difficult (and in most cases impossible) for "foreigners" to do what Spain is allowing us to do (albeit slowly).

      I was going to say you'd have my vote. But I guess when you take over the universe, I won't have any choice anyway.

  4. The bureaucrats certainly aren't making it easy for you, are they? Is this a way to keep non natives out of Spain? I've never lived in a different country so this might be normal, but it does seem extreme.

    1. Stephen:
      To be honest, although it's been slow and confusing, it hasn't been the nightmare many people describe. And from people I know who have done the same or attempted to do the same to enter the United States to live, Spain makes it easy!

  5. I was going to ask if you had to do this every year, but you answered my question……..too bad it's every two years and not every five years. What an incredibly waste of energy……..

    1. Carole:
      Oh, it gives me something to write about! The first card was a temporary residency card for 1 year. The second is for 2 years. The third is for 2 years. After that, we can apply for permanent residency cards I think. Life will be much easier at that point (well that part of life at least)!

  6. Paper-shufflers are the same the world over! They have in-baskets and out-baskets that direct stuff to the other paper-shuffler's in-baskets and out-baskets…well, you get my drift.

    I love that stupified look that cats get when they're caught in the act!

  7. When you are through, perhaps there should be statues of you and San Geraldo in the park across the street, running, floating on air, your hands clutching myriad copies, your faces lifted to the sun…


  8. Tried to comment on your last (?) blog… the 3 mile walk… got kicked off the internet… left Maine…. Now, we're in NY and I can get on the internet…. but forgot what I was going to write! Damn! I hate when that happens! Bill's deciding which "immersion plan" (live in – learn Spanish) he wants so when he does that I'm going to have a bunch of questions for you.

  9. Just stumbled across your blog via Ms Sparrow. The cake looks divine, your cat is awesome, and I'm relieved there's someone around who's moved more than I have! 🙂

    1. Knatolee:
      Thanks for finding me! The cake was so good and so are the cats.

      Interestingly, I only lived in two places until the age of 17. My father had wanderlust; my mother did not.

      I just visited your blog for the first time and love it. Will stop back to say "hi" and will be a regular visitor from now on!

  10. What a palava! Just to live where you choose. We are such sheep caught up in the barbed wire fence of beauracracy! Only two years, better start filling in those forms 🙂

  11. It sounds like an on-going process to me! And probably should be looked at in this way….just to stay a little ahead? maybe?
    In the big scheme of things I suppose, I KNOW if your posts are any indication, that this hassle is well worth it to you both to be able to stay in Sevilla.

  12. I still have all my documents and copies from the Greencard process to the Citizenship. Will not get rid of them. You never know!! San G. needs some fruit forward wine dahling!

    1. Nubian:
      Wow. You had to get a green card just to move from the Bronx to Oregon. San Geraldo had a very little gin tonic last night. He's not big on fruit forward (well, not in wine at least).

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