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.


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