Sunday, March 22, 2015

VIII. Menos Muchas Cajas y Dos Meses Más

Miscellaneous items headed for
Goodwill. Post-it, like those scattered
throughout our apartment, here identifies 
the box by its Spanish name, “caja".
Many Boxes Fewer and Two More Months

At o’dark hundred this morning, by careful insomniacal calculation, with all the pillow crumpling and obsessive repetitiveness that implies, I figured that Pragmatic Spouse and I have delivered 27 boxes of our unwanted household items to the neighborhood Goodwill over the past two weeks. These are not, however, your hefty dehumidifier-sized boxes, but rather those smallish 12X750ml cajas de vino you can sometimes pick up at Trader Joe’s—empty, sadly, of their Purple Moon, Green Fin, Bogle, or the willfully provocative Ménage à Trois.

All that is in addition to many misbegotten objects too big for the boxes, miscellaneous items I’ve foisted off on my hard-working former colleagues, and couch and coffee table dispatched to Daughter #2 for her sophisticated new digs. And then there are multiple piles mostly of my making, as well as much of our furniture, that are awaiting the daughters’ further selection. 

Plus what’s gone in the dumpster. All gone, or almost there; we've been minimalizing.

As far as the other two categories (store or ship) that guide our sorting, looking around our apartment’s office and bedroom now, I count three similarly sized TJ boxes, five Rubbermaid Roughneck 18-gallon totes, and one large handmade cedar chest—all full of items we’ve elected to keep.

The majority, by far, of these containers, along with bed and a few favored pieces of furniture, and car, and items to be named later, will be parked at a nearby Money Saver Mini-Storage at least until next spring. 

Considering the length of our projected stay, only relatively few—packable—things will be excess baggaged aboard our Alaska and AeroMexico flight.

All items that will likely not be included in our furnished casa, and that we will absolutely need sometime over the next year, and that will actually be more difficult and expensive to buy than ship—a very modest amount of clothing, couple of appliances and some kitchen gear, plus a few cherished, identity-confirming objects—will wing their way south via Pay-Through-Your-Nose Dispatch.

It always appears like not too much more remains to be sorted, but the project also seems infinitely expandable, and the storage locker down by the laundry room has yet to encounter my gimlet gaze. All of this activity, of course, is in preparation for our move to Mexico which is now exactly eight weeks away. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

VII. Real, de Verdad

The very last luna llena on the eve of our departure from Ajijic. We've been busy
in the four weeks since our return to the States.
Just in the past week, our move to Mexico has gotten really real, really fast. 

First—last weekend—there was the flurry of emails among me and my Bring-It-On wife stateside, and an incredibly responsive rental agent in Ajijic, as well as an Aces Ex-pat Couple down there with whom we’ve recently made friends. In addition to the gratifying social interactions, the takeaway was that 1) we’re most likely not going to finalize our housing until we’re boots on the ground (and Sra. Lopez is a good person to know), and 2) there are a few desirable places available now to rent, and there will likely be many more by mid-May.

Next—as just chronicled—we’ve cracked the visa barrier! It can be done! By any of us with even a scintilla more than 1) half a brain, and 2) an income stream sadly indicative of drug-addled prime earning years. The visa is for Residencia Temporal, meaning that after bringing its ink-barely-dry self to some friendly bureaucrats in Mexico within 30 days of our plane touching down on the GDL runway, and each paying US$200 plus (!), we’re good to go in Me-ji-co for one year, renewable three more times until we graduate to Residencia Permanente.

I think that's the way it works...Anyway, and finally:

Drum roll please—thanks to my BIOMF wife we now have our ONE-WAY tickets reserved to Guadalajara May 17th on Alaska and AeroMexico Airlines. Sure, we’ve got travel insurance, but we’ve also got a target date. 

And the boxes of surplus giveaways accumulate, and Goodwill receipts for said boxes pile up. And it won't be long before we'll have no more than enough toilet paper in the cupboard to see us out.

De verdad!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

VI. En la Casa de la Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores

It’s been three weeks since we got back from a scouting trip to our Little Corner of Love—Rinconcito de Amor (AKA Ajijic, Jalisco, MX). This morning I went to the Mexican consulate to turn in the documents I’d collected in order to qualify for whatever type of visa we’re supposed to have in order to move there.

Mexican Consulate in Seattle, not far from the bar where
my wife and I first met .
Regarding that, our ex-pat friend had recently told us of a new visa law replacing all the old ones—new regulations, for one thing, about how much money you must be able to prove that you have before you cross the border. Mexico doesn't want us coming down there just to suck off its generous social benefits.

So, to be ahead of the curve, I went online and ordered a $14.95 ebook that laid out all the new regs in clear and voluminous detail. I didn’t understand it, exactly, but I read it.

Next—back here in Seattle, now—I checked out the local consulate’s website. I clicked on “Requirements From [sic] Retiring in Mexico” to see that they did not seem to align with what I’d just read in that book I’d bought. The Washington State Patrol, for one thing, had never heard of a locally required “Letter of Good Conduct”. Other stuff, too—a notarized what? It makes my brain tired just trying to think about it all.

Numerous calls to the consulate went to voicemail, and many emails asking for clarification went unanswered—oh, except for a single email response that asked for my phone number. “So I’ll know not to accidentally dial it!” I guess.

I saw this logo a lot on the TV looping
informational messages in the waiting
A little research led me to the conclusion that each consulate is its own little domain—Seattle is different from Portland is different from Phoenix, etc. I decided to just gather what was possible and made the most sense, take them downtown and figure I’d have to come back again, no matter what.


Without having to press the buzzer for admittance too many times, nor feeling like I stood out too much (being one of two obvious gringos among the 30 or 40 gathered in a used-to-be-trendy part of downtown), and without having to wait too long (Thank God! No baño!!), a good-natured gentleman beckoned me to approach the counter and looked carefully through my gleanings such as the fact that I’ve never been convicted of any crime in Washington State, but another local 68-year-old male with a similar name has (viz. a 1972 hit-and-run about which I'd like to know more). 

Anyway, he told me to come back tomorrow with more of this and I don't need that, and—we’ll see...

My hot-off-the-press Temporary Residence visa--
pasted into my passport with presumably critical numbers 
digitally removed--I keep looking at it, strangely proud as if 
it's brand new clothes all laid out for the first day of school.
UPDATE: It didn't take much more to convince Sr. Diaz and his fine-looking crew of my visa-worthiness. I just brought in all of last year's IRS-1099s and downloaded proof of some modest investments.

The consulate, by the way, is one of the nicer places in which I've ever cooled my heels--exposed brick and a lot of organic looking wood beams, low incandescent plus natural light, friendly clients and (not too) frolicsome children, even a row of white flowering plums popping into bloom just outside the bank of windows.

It did take a couple of hours, though, for all the paperwork to go through, and for the digital camera to be fixed, and when Sr. Diaz informed me that the visa couldn't be imprinted and officialized for yet another hour, my heart sank and I mumbled something pitiful about coming back next week, maybe with mi esposa. But after leaving for a refreshing sandwich, I returned and explained my change of plans with, "Cuando tengo hambre, no puedo pensar muy recto". "When I'm hungry, I can't think straight", is what I think I said. There were smiles all around.