Tuesday, June 25, 2013

We Are Not Defeated!

It’s not exactly a win, I admit. We last left off two weeks ago when we were told of the necessity for original letters of guarantee, notarized and then legalized. While I’m familiar with originals and notaries, I had no idea what is involved in getting something “legalized.”

We picked up the 1st guarantor letter from the bus station which had arrived from Santiago two weeks earlier. We took a taxi to the Baha'i Center and picked up the 2nd guarantor letter which had been found and notarized the day before. We then went to the office that has my stomach in knots each time I think about it: immigration.

It occurred to me sometime during the 3 hours that I stood in line to get yet another made-up bureaucratic stamp that my immense frustrations with this process were because of an intense amount of distrust in the world.
At some point along the line, someone is going to have to be trustworthy and the other person is going to have to trust. Baha'u'llah writes,
"Trustworthiness is the greatest portal leading unto the tranquility and security of the people. In truth the stability of every affair hath depended and doth depend upon it. All the domains of power, of grandeur and of wealth are illumined by its light.
That, to me, means that without truth, we ain't got nothin', baby. Just a whole lotta pain and darkness. Not following? Here's a real-life example of what happens in a system without trust:

I need a birth certificate to prove some piece of my identity.
It has to be issued within three months of when I use it. (check one)
It must be apostilled by another government agency. (check two)
It has to be translated by an official translator. (why don't we have a universal language yet?)
The translation has to be notarized. (check three)
The notary requires an apostille as well. (check four)
Then the consulate says its all okay. (check five)
Then the immigration office says it has to be translated by a Dominican. (check six, an especially infuriating one)
But not before making 62,000 copies of each. Or something close.

As we celebrated each step forward in line, Josh & I chatted with everyone. We commiserated. And, guess what? Ours was not the most painful story.
Then we made it to the door (which means you're only about 7 spots away from the front of the line!) and were randomly asked if we'd paid our impuesto (tax). Nope. What's that?
Oh, the service we're in line to receive? We have to pay for it at a bank and bring the receipt. They don't take your money here (another truthfulness check?). While Josh ran to the closest bank (not close), I stood in line answering the same question over and over again (Why didn't you just ask?), then was told he didn't actually have to go to the bank. I ran to catch him walking away.

"Wait!" I yelled. "They say you can get one of those receipts here."
"Where?" he turned around and walked back to the line with me.
ArmyDude who was in charge of keeping everyone in line (quite literally), pointed the place out to Josh. "Just there."
"All I see is a cafeteria," Josh responded, squinting his eyes.
The National Police Officer we'd been talking to about the pervasiveness of corruption pointed as well, but to no avail. Josh couldn't figure out where they were talking about.
ArmyDude took him by the arm and walked him straight to a scruffy looking guy in a white t-shirt who promptly pulled out a stack of bank receipts from his pocket and began smoothing them out. Yes. The National Police Officer and the fully uniformed, on the clock ArmyDude had led Josh to the ticket scalper of the immigration office. Between the extra high price and not wanting to be screwed over for another technicality in this long process, Josh started walking to the bank. Again.
I stayed in line whilst slowly letting each person behind me to go in front of me as I waited for Josh to return with another absolutely necessary slip of paper. He returned, triumphant (and noted that his name and passport number were put on each of the bank receipts confirming the TicketScalper avoidance a good call).

End result? We got one letter legalized. The other letter didn't mention the same notary number as the actual notary number used on the stamp (that was the letter creathed back in December in Santiago with a friend willing to stand behind us and the one lawyer we've paid because the letter can only be created by a legitimate lawyer). Made useless in one fell swoop.
"So, we're done for today then, yes?" I turned to Josh, eager to leave already.
"Nah. Let's try the numberless window."
I laughed. But he was serious.
After ping-ponging between several windows as is requisite of any immigration office visit, we ended up at the numberless window, of course. She cannot be avoided. 
I opted to stay hidden behind a pole and a crowd of people. No, seriously. I hid. 
Josh left the window with a smile on his face.
"They accepted the translations," and he was serious.
"What?! So, do we have our residency?"
He chuckled, "No, we have to make all these copies first." He handed me a post-it note with a list of copies to be made that equaled no fewer than 130.
"Okay. Then what?" Because that sounded way too simple.
"I'm not sure. I even handed her the letter that didn't get legalized and she said 'That'll do'."
I was genuinely surprised. And delighted. And feeling ever-so-justified in hiding my face.
We got to 96 of the 130 copies before the office closed. Forced to go home.
Or to Wendy's.

1 comment:

  1. I feel bad for you with all that running around! Too bad we're not in SD yet, we could've done something fun