July 27, 2010

5

Blue means Go

I didn’t know it was going to be such an awesome day when I woke up yesterday. Everything about it was mundane: complicated coffee, cloudy sky, a dreaded trip to immigration. In fact, I was so not looking forward to crossing to Cancun and checking on my visa, that I was considering postponing it until today, because everyone knows that Mondays in the immigration office suck.

But this little voice told me to get over it and stop being a baby and just go. So I went. And of course, they still did not have my visa even CLOSE to being ready; they were still working on people’s paperwork who had turned everything in a week before I had. And of course they told me to come back again, like, in a week. And of course I knew they were going to say that, too, so I said in a sort of nonchalant way, “But I am leaving the country. On Sunday. For more than a month.”

I totally made that up but I WANTED to leave the country and I certainly would have, if I had been allowed, so I figured it was an honest lie.

“No problem,” she said. “You can stay gone for up to 60 days.”

“But it’s going to be even longer than that,” I said.

“Oh.”

And she told me to hang on, while she went back to the Important People’s Offices. So I waited. And she came back. And she told me to wait some more, so I did, making sure to smile at her an awful lot, because I was trying to be on my very best behavior. And then she came back again, and just like that, she said, “Your visa’s been approved.”

Like, oh my god.

But you have to keep it all together in the immigration office; you can’t show much emotion, so I had to calmly go over and talk to another woman about getting an appointment to get my fingerprints done, because everything here is its own little process that takes its own little 124 days, so when I casually threw it out there again that I was going to be leaving on Sunday, she goes, “Your visa’s not going to be ready by then,” and I kind of made a face like, “That’s a bummer; isn’t it?”

And she goes, “Ah, well. Just go pay your dues at the bank and get your photos done and come back and see me.”

“Before 1 o’ clock?” I asked, trying to keep cool about it all and to not jump to the completely insane conclusion that I would actually be getting my visa that day, just like that, before they closed the office for the day.

“Yes,” she said.

And then she handed me this tiny little photo as an example of how my photos needed to look, because they are switching the visas here and they will no longer have the cool black-and-white photos in the Army green booklet, like they used to have; now they will all be on color cards, like driver’s licenses. And the example photo that she handed me, that she is obviously handing to everyone now, was this woman who I know on the island. But it was the worst worst worst photo ever of anyone and the fact that it was her, of all people, on the example photo, plus the fact that it was such a terrible likeness of her, plus the fact that I was giddy from the events transpiring in front of me made me nearly lose my cool in front of this immigration woman, and there I was, just kind of giggling and trying not to giggle and thereby making it worse. I almost explained why I was suddenly acting like a crazy person but I decided against it, because I had no idea what kind of relationship this friend in the photo had with the immigration people, so I just thanked the woman and took off out the door.

I had 30 minutes to complete this sudden mission, which was to pay my visa fees at the bank, make copies of the payment receipt (Rule No. 1 when dealing with Mexican bureaucracy: Make at least three copies of EVERYTHING), and have my new photos taken, which the guy had to shoot, like, four times, because I could not stop smiling and you are NOT allowed to smile in your photo, even though I somehow got away with it last time. I glared at the camera then, even though I was far from annoyed, and I managed to keep my eyebrows down, and I managed to shoot the worst worst worst photo of me ever, which was apparently the goal.

At about 1:03, I trotted back up to the immigration office and they had just closed but they let me back in, because I explained that my new friend at the desk on the far side of the room was making an exception for me, and an hour later, I had been fingerprinted, and everything was approved, and I had my new visa. Just like that, blue thumbs to prove it hadn’t simply been a hallucination, merely imagined as a full moon fluke.

So, there you go. I’m going home. Finally. And I can’t help but feel a twinge of sadness about leaving here, because I finally relaxed a little these last few weeks and started to enjoy it.

I guess that’s what the island wanted from me all along.

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Pep
    Jul 27 2010

    It’s been your “Groundhog Day” movie with Phil and Bill Murray

    Reply
  2. Jul 28 2010

    This reminds me a little of the time we went running through Florence trying to find a place that would take a new passport photo of me before the U.S. Consulate office closed for that afternoon so that I would be able to stay in a hotel that night. Oh my goodness, such drama. You are a pro at these situations by now!

    Reply
  3. SirenaSteve
    Jul 28 2010

    Ha! Blue thumbs covering up bloodshot eyes 🙂

    Reply
  4. Hillary
    Jul 28 2010

    I wish this photo could be your Visa photo.

    Reply

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