Friday, August 29, 2008

A Day In Cordoba

Knowing our co-workers would pick us up as soon as they dropped their daughter at school at 7:15 a.m., we were up and out the door by a little after 6:30 a.m. so we could hurry down to YPF and guzzle have some cafe con leche to help us wake up.

We had no idea what we were in for, but we knew it might be a LONG and perhaps frustrating day. Doing paperwork here is an interesting proposition, usually requiring trips to many offices, finding out there's always one more piece of paper you need (and another and another) other words, typical bureaucrazy at work. Yes, I misspelled that word on purpose because it defines for me how it's usually characterized.

But not when you have lots of people praying for you! Y'all must have some rockin' prayer power goin' down!

Not to say it was a cake walk, but WE GOT IT DONE IN A DAY -- IN HALF A DAY. Oh.My.Word!

First of all though I want to share a picture that hubby took from the window of our co-worker's van (so it's not the crispest photo). Cordoba, as well as being the provincial capital, is also the second largest city in Argentina with about a million and a half people plus all the ones like us who come in to take care of business. You can imagine what the streets were like as we were entering the city just before 8 a.m. And then we see this. These horse-drawn carts are a common sight as they pick up trash.

Anyway, the best way to explain the experience of filing the paperwork is in a time line format. So you see what a rush it was YET how God worked out the timing so that it was all accomplished before the office of Registro Civil de Provincia de Cordoba closed at 2 p.m.

8:00 a.m. In line to get a number.
8:30 a.m. We are #A80.
9:15 a.m. Our number is called. But we've been sitting there long enough to know everyone, no matter their business, is being told to go to the fourth door on the right. So we figure it's going to be another line. We are right.
9:35 a.m. We are ushered into a cubicle. We FINALLY turn over the envelopes we have been carrying like precious jewels for months. Envelopes received at the Argentinian Consulate in Chicago back in April. Envelopes with special stamps and seals which we have been ordered NOT TO OPEN by every official and every missionary in numerous communiques. Repeatedly. And now they are opened. And examined. And hubby produces his old documents from when he lived here the first twenty years of his life.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We take a break from the time line to report what a God thing it was that we found the hubby's old documents just a few months ago. The documents had been misplaced YEARS ago and only found because I'm anal careful about going through things. The hubby often said, "Throw it out. We haven't needed it for years, we don't need it now." But I can't let go of stuff that easily. So I went THROUGH EACH AND EVERY BOX OF PAPER WE HAVE EVER COLLECTED -- AND THAT WAS CONSIDERABLE.

And in the box of things from our first trip to Argentina in 1996, his various documents were tucked in among the pictures, souvenirs and receipts. Neither of us have any idea how they ended up there; just praise God that we found them!

The most important piece is his cedula, an ID issued by the federal police. It's not like the ID cards today (even has a different name) but it's still an ID card. With a traceable number in the system. And this card makes all the difference in the world. It shows he had permanent residency status then, and because he never requested that such residency be rescinded, he continues to have it! This makes our his life much easier.

If it had only been him, we would have been done then and there.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

9:35 a.m. continued The nice woman at the office of Registro Civil tells us that my paperwork is incomplete. Of course. And it will be necessary to have my birth certificate and marriage license officially translated (we have already paid for this but it was by a certified translator in the U.S. and it must be by a certified translator in Argentina.)

10:00 a.m. We fast walk the two or so blocks to the office of Traductatores Publicos de la Provincia de Cordoba. With the understanding that we can get it done there. Silly us! At that office they merely give us a 7-page listing of certified translators. Single-spaced, with one per line, that's a lot of translators!

10:20 a.m. After standing on the street making many unproductive calls, we decide to go into a little coffee shop on the corner and grab some coffee while continuing to make calls. May I just say how heavenly coffee shops smell? I have a hard time focusing on the task at hand when I am surrounded by the aroma of good coffee. Especially when they offer a little something on the menu called the Americano that includes coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, croissants, ham and cheese. Our co-worker keeps making calls while the rest of us dig in. Four hours since coffee at YPF and we are ready for more!

Did I mention the list of translators is single spaced and seven pages long? His coffee finally cold, our co-worker gives the phone to hubby. Who decides to go backwards, and is successful when he calls the very last translator on the very last last page.

10:45 a.m. We fast walk back to the van and head to meet the very nice Cecilia on the corner of Lima & Maipu by 11 a.m. She tells us she can have the translations done in one hour! While we wait we walk around the neighborhood a little. Find a Personal store (cell phone company) and try to see what they know about getting the hubby's Blackberry activated. They say we have to go to the main office downtown.

12 noon We meet Cecilia on the corner again and she hops in the van with us for the quick trip back to the office of Traductatores Publicos de la Provincia de Cordoba where she gives the lady there the translations and her ID papers and then the lady in the office gives us the necessary stamps of approval. Much cash changes hands in these transactions and we are happy to pay for such quick work! As soon as we have our stamped paperwork we say goodbye to Cecilia and fast walk back to the Registro Civil office.

12:25 p.m. We find out that now we must go to the bank and pay the necessary fees, and also make photocopies of all the work we just had done. Because they will keep the originals and certify the copies for us to keep.

Oh, and thankfully the Banco de Cordoba two blocks away is open until 1:30 because the one at the office of Registro Civil closed at 12:30.

12:40 p.m. Fast walk to bank and pay fees; find a photocopy place next door and have the copies made. And see that Spring has come to the city. 1:00 p.m. Return to office of Registro Civil only to find out the four-page copy of my birth certificate and translation is missing the actual copy of the birth certificate. Our co-worker runs out to do that. And I find that they thought for a bit that I was my hubby's sister because we have the same last name. It is not done that way here. So my national identity card will use the name found on my birth certificate. It will seem weird to go by my maiden name after 29 years of being married!

While waiting for our co-worker to return, the clerk completes the paperwork on me and begins on my hubby. Where is the copy of his cedula? What do you mean? No one said anything about a copy of that! (This is all in Spanish so I am not alerted to the fact that yet another piece of paper is lacking. I am blissfully unaware of the hubby's rising frustration.) One of the ladies in the office, in a show of compassion, says she'll just do it, it would be a shame to make us run out yet again. And so it is done. Just like that. Then we cannot find the hubby's photo that had been included in that sealed and stamped envelope from the Consulate. It had been in there when initially opened but now it is nowhere to be found. Aaaargh! But no worry, says the clerk waiting on us. Just bring us a photo when you come to pick up your DNI.

You mean we're done?! It is 1:40 p.m.

Yes, just come back in six months.

Six months?

Yes, and until then you use your passport (in my case), or cedula (in hubby's case), and these two pieces of paper that show your DNIs are in process.

We leave the office in a daze. We are DONE! Incredible. Amazing. Did that really just happen? "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!"

Our co-workers rejoice with us and we decide we have all earned a good lunch break! And we are not far from one of our favorite places: Las Tinajas, which is sort of like Old Country Buffet on steroids. They have a seafood station where you can get what you want cooked to order. Also a parrilla for beef or chicken grilled to order. And a pasta bar where your choice of pasta is cooked fresh along with the sauce you want. Oh, and don't forget the dessert station where crepes can be filled with a wide variety of possibilities. Plus the traditional buffets, of course.


Where to start? My co-worker is standing by the seafood station. She offers to share mariscada, a combination of fresh seafood cooked in a cream sauce. Yes, that is a little octopus on there. Not sure if I've ever had it before. It's a little chewy but the cream sauce is so heavenly that I don't mind. Yum!

My daughter, who loves pasta with a passion, will swoon when she sees the pasta station. Nine, count 'em: NINE, different fresh pastas you can choose from. I have hubby help me with ordering 'cause I'm not exactly sure what to ask for. And don't wanna be messin' with language barriers when it comes to food! I have ricotta ravioli with alfredo sauce and a bit of red sauce drizzled around the edge for color, and topped with a nice mound of freshly grated cheese. Pasta with alfredo is one of my comfort foods. And this is exceptionally good!

I sit for a while, trying to catch my breath enough to eat dessert. Because there is homemade flan. And I am a fan of the flan. The hubby has no problem tucking into dessert. In fact, he can't decide on one so he chooses three. Obviously we are suffering.

From an abundance of blessings!!!

(Yes, I have a small piece of flan but unfortunately cannot finish it all.)

We are not far from the central office of Personal so we meander over after lunch. We are too full at that point for anything beyond a meander. It is fun to walk along the streets closed to vehicle traffic. Much time is spent in Personal but nothing is accomplished. It appears the Blackberry may not function here. It's supposed to be a simple exchange of SIM cards, but that is not working. There is one more thing to try, but we are not hopeful.

At 5 p.m. we are on our way back to the van when we spot a plastics store. Plastic products of every kind, in every color, beckon us. I don't know if anyone else could get so excited about buying two little tubs, but it will make washing dishes in the apartment so much easier! We also buy a dish drain, a bucket, a squeegy on a long handle (they clean tile floors with this and a floor cloth), a laundry basket and a scrub brush.

A veritable plastic extravaganza!

Then a brief moratorium on shopping is called while we rush around getting some things for the co-workers' son. This remarkable young man is attending Word of Life Bible Institute in Buenos Aires AND doing a university course online. He needs his parents to pick up some syllabi from the campus bookstore and it works out well since we are not far from the campus at this point.

By 6:30 p.m. we are back to shopping:
Roberto Basualdo for cleaning supplies, paper products, and personal care items. Similar to a Sam's Club in layout and prices. I am totally ready for serious cleaning at our house now!
Makro is also like Sam's Club but with food and appliances and office supplies. I buy a toaster oven and an iron. And some groceries.
Wal-Mart nets the remainder of the groceries we need.

And at 10:15 p.m. our co-workers are helping unload and carry all that stuff down to the apartment. A long but OH SO SATISFYING day!


rita said...

What were you doing up at 3:26 AM after a day like that? Excited no doubt!
Thanks for telling the fascinating tale!

86 My Social Life said...

To-do list:
1. save money for plane ticket.
2. lose weight in advance so I can eat copious amounts of pasta and meat!

love, Tina

Kim said...

the time stamp on blogger is set for Pacific Standard Time -- four hours earlier than Argentina. I don't know how to change that :-(