Tag Archives: becoming a permanent resident in Mexico

Getting Legal–Trip 4

immigration office sma

Well, since trip 3 was a bust (See Getting Legal–Trip 3) I needed to go back when I had enough money. I scrimped and saved, but it wasn’t enough for the trip and the documentation. So, I asked for an advance on my paycheck and we scheduled the trip.

It started out just like the others. We woke up early, although not as early as the last one, fed or moved to pasture the animals, and had our coffee. My husband had made bread the night before so that we could take a loaf with us since we didn’t have any extra cash to eat out. My son filled a water bottle and we were off. We said our prayers, this time including the successful completion of this legalization process along with a safe journey to San Miguel de Allende and back home.

My husband had cleaned the battery cables in the hope that it would give us one last trip before dying and although we had to push start again, it seemed to be running better.

We cruised through Celaya‘s transito (traffic) verification stop and were making good time. Eleven kilometers from San Miguel de Allende the truck began to shake. We were on a bridge and couldn’t pull over. The moment we could, we stopped and jumped out to check it out. Nothing under the hood seemed remiss, so my husband went under the truck. Immediately, he found the problem. La cruceta de la flecha que va pegada el eje (the joint in the back axle that holds everything together) had come loose and fallen off. Most of the pieces were still there, but one of the clips was gone, lost somewhere on the other side of the bridge.

There wasn’t anything to be done but try and piece something together and get to a yonke (junk yard) or auto parts store and see if we had enough to buy the piece with the less than $130 to spare between us. So my husband went under the truck again to attempt this death-defying feat.

Here's the dangerous curve we managed to pull off at.  Looks so innocent free of traffic  doesn't it?

Here’s the dangerous curve we managed to pull off at. Looks so innocent free of traffic doesn’t it?

I mean literally, death-defying. We were clearly off the side of the road, however since it is common for large and heavy vehicles to straddle the solid white or yellow line (See Driving Hazards–slow moving vehicles) we were in mortal danger.

I moved 100 meters or so down the road near the curve and made myself sentinel, waving cars on the line to the right. My son said I looked like I was shooing goats into the corral, but seriously, goats are easier than Mexican drivers to direct. I was sure that any minute we would be splattered to the winds, my husband, my son, me and the truck, by an 18 wheeler or tour bus barreling down the road. Talk about hair-raising!

Only one driver stopped to offer what assistance he could, but my husband thanked him and declined, deciding not to leave my son and me with the truck on the side of the road.

An hour and six near misses later, my husband crawled from out beneath Butch (the truck). He had flattened a nail to replace the missing joint and hoped it would hold. His hands visibly shaking, he started the car and we headed toward San Miguel, eyes peeled for a place to get the replacement piece.

We stopped at Banamex to make the payment of $3815 pesos, then headed to SEGOB (the Mexican Immigration Office) with the receipt. I took a number and waited. My husband came in with me to help me keep my temper with the clerks, but he needed have worried. I was so exhausted from the adrenaline rush I had from directing traffic that I didn’t want any trouble.

I had a nice conversation with a tall, elderly gentleman in line behind me. He was there for fingerprinting and had lived 13 years in México. He seemed to think my life in La Yacata was amazing. Go figure!

Finally, it was my turn. I gave la muchacha (young lady) my receipt, but she needed 3 copies of it, plus the original, so I sent my husband scurrying across the street for those while I signed and signed. I turned the copies in, she stamped them and then, obviously remembering me (or perhaps my anguished outburst) from the last trip, asked where I lived. She said if I would wait a few minutes, she would find out what the probability was that I could leave my fingerprints today as well, thus saving me another trip. So I waited.

About 10 minutes later, she came back to say that if I came back before 1 p.m. (when the office closed) I would be able to get fingerprinted. As it was only 11 a.m., we headed out to look for the truck part and see if we could get that done in the meantime.

We had to tell our son, who had waited with the truck, that we would not make it back to Moroleón before school started that afternoon. (See Homeschool Variation) He had worn his uniform and done his homework on the trip, and was a bit worried what the maestro (teacher) might say, but my husband said he would take him to school for his assignments when we arrived home.

So we set off in search of the piece. The first auto parts store had the piece, but it was too big for the make and model of our truck. The second two didn’t have the foggiest idea what my husband was asking for. The fourth place had the piece but wouldn’t sell just the clip, so $100 it was for the whole thing. My husband was pleased and ducked under the truck to do the repairs. Ten minutes later, it was fixed. With our remaining $30 pesos, we bought some oranges for lunch and some elotes (ears of corn) for later.

We went back to SEGOB and broke our bread, peeled some oranges and drank some water, grateful for our abundance and fortune this day. At 12:30, I trotted back inside because entrance would be denied at 1 p.m. for anyone that isn’t written in the big appointment book at the front desk. Just shy of 1 p.m. the muchacha (young lady) called my name and had me leave my fingerprints on the application that would now be sent to México City for processing. She told me to check online in about 3 weeks to see when I could come and pick up my document.

I thanked her sincerely and left. We cruised through the SMA verification checkpoint and then through the Celaya verification checkpoint without incident. We arrived home, exhausted but with a feeling of accomplishment that was lacking the last trip.

One down, one more to go.

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Getting Legal–Trip 3

SEGOB office in San Miguel de Allende

SEGOB office in San Miguel de Allende

I had been aiming to make the third trek to San Miguel de Allende around the 13th of the month, thinking that time and finances would be better. However, my husband started worrying me about the trip, asking me when was the last day I could go and what I had to do in this next step and hence I started having nightmares that I had missed out on getting my papers by one day or that I completely forgot to go and then was thrown out of México. So I moved up the date of the trip, after having checked on the official website to see that my papers had been approved for the next step on the 10th of this month, a mere 12 days after I submitted them (See Getting Legal–Trip 2) I remembered seeing a sign in the office saying I had 30 days for tramites so just to be safe, we would go the 9th. Maybe even stop in San Pedro for some shoes.

My husband woke up and started marching around at 4 a.m. that morning, for who knows what reason. He was worried about taking care of the animals before we left. However, that whole process (taking Beauty and Shadow to pasture and moving Shrek and Fiona to a fresh grassy spot) took a whopping 15 minutes. The goats, chickens and ducks were not awake yet, so no point in throwing food at them so early as food lying about is an open invitation to ants.

So we left the house super early. Each of us said our prayers for a safe journey and we were off. Well, not quite. Our truck battery had decided to call it quits, so my son and I gave old Butch (the truck) a good shove to get her going and then we were off.

We stopped for gas as it doesn’t do to start a trip without a full tank (see Driving Hazards–Gas and Illumination) and the truck wouldn’t start again. Fortunately, at that hour, there was little traffic and we could push-start.

Having gotten up at an unearthly hour, my husband needed an extra cup of coffee, which then required an emergency pit-stop just before we got to Celaya. As the battery was still giving us fits, we had to give it another push to get going again.

We made it through Celaya without a transito stop (See Driving Hazards–Police stops) but we weren’t too worried since our verficación sticker (inspection sticker) was still good until the end of the month. (See Getting Legal–Trip 1)

We arrived in San Miguel de Allende at 8:30 and parked in the bus stop area near the immigration office because it was on a slight downhill slant. My husband stayed in the car in case transitos (traffic police) came cruising by and I went to stand in line.

The office opened at 9 a.m. and I marched myself to the little window for a number. I was #6, so it was only 9:30 or so when it was my turn. The business tycoon in front of me gave the girl a hard time about his papers not being ready and I was feeling smug about how my papers were all in order until she told me that although I had been approved for processing, the next step was to make the payment of $3815 pesos.

What??? I thought the next step was to leave my fingerprints to send to D.F. for approval and then the 4th step was the payment and told her as much. About this time, my husband came in (I expect to check on me) and said that it wasn’t the girl’s fault, so I shouldn’t take it out on her. I thought I was calm about it–ok, so deep down I knew I had transformed into the type of annoying ex-pat that I feel superior to when he or she starts in on the inefficiency of the Mexican immigration process. But I couldn’t help it.

So my husband took over. He asked when the last day was that I could process my papers. She looked it over and said I had about a month. She also said that it might be possible to process my fingerprints the same day as the payment so that I would not have to make another trip. She was helpful and polite. However, my blood pressure had already risen and I was having some problem getting ahold of myself.

I had canceled all my classes for the day for this trip. I had spent money I didn’t have to spare for gas for this trip. I had been awake since 4 a.m. for this trip. I didn’t have the money to make the payment today. Yaddy-yaddy-yah.

My husband took hold of my arm and escorted me from the building. He pointed out that being upset wouldn’t change a thing. Since when has he been the paragon of virtue in the patience department? I certainly didn’t need any lessons from him. So I sat in silence and stewed in my own juices until we got to Celaya in mourning for my new shoes.

In Celaya, of course, there was a traffic stop for verification stickers, but we breezed through without incident. I started to calm down a bit. We stopped in San Pedro as we had planned. I didn’t see any shoes I liked, so I felt a little better about that loss.

Then we went to the roadside buffet we liked, but again I was out of luck. Usually, I get rice, beans, and huevos rancheros or nopales, but today everything was pork. Pork in mole. Pork in tomatillo salsa. Pork in red sauce. Blah! So just beans and rice for me thank you. Disappointing. Then the pushing of the truck took longer since there was no incline and my son and I huffed and puffed nearly 1/8 of a mile until it started, but it did start and we made it home safely.

I suggested that next time we pray for a safe journey and successful completion of the task at hand. Perhaps we had not been specific enough in our prayers. I was so tired and down that I took an afternoon siesta that afternoon. Maybe the next trip would be better.

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Getting Legal–Trip 2

SEGOB the immigration office in San Miguel de Allende

SEGOB the immigration office in San Miguel de Allende

Having been told by the powers that be on my first trip (See Getting Legal–Trip 1) to San Miguel de Allende that I could not turn in my paperwork until the 2nd of the following month, the day that my Mexican identification expired, I had to make a second trip, a mere 7 days later. We filled up the tank and checked the truck for problems that might cause delays. Our battery in the truck was causing us some worry. There were times when it would start just fine and other times when we would have to give the truck a good push down a hill to get it going. Well, there wasn’t enough money in the budget for a new battery this trip, so it would have to behave or else.

We also bought the inspection sticker whose lack thereof was the reason we were stopped twice by transitos (traffic police) in Celaya on the previous trip. We didn’t get the truck inspected–no one does. We just paid the inspection center mechanic and he gave us the sticker and we put it on the truck window. It cost $250 pesos and has to be replaced in August, but it would do for this trip.

So we started out not quite as early in the morning since we would need to stop at the bank before we went to the immigration office. We were not stopped in Celaya either coming or going although we saw the same transitos that stopped us for the mordida the week before. I wanted to wave and blow kisses, but then we might have been stopped on some other pretext and we were really short of cash. So I restrained myself.

We stopped at Banamex and I jumped out, leaving the truck running in case the truck battery decided to go on strike. I went in with the paper I had been given by the office next to immigration and paid my $1000 pesos and got a receipt. Then we headed to immigration. We parked on the small incline near the office and hoped that no one would park in front of us, just in case we needed a running start.

I was number 8, so I was pretty sure we’d be out of there by 12:00, but you never can tell. While waiting, we watched the parade of men in the holding room being given their bathroom breaks. There were about 8 of them. My husband determined on the basis of their dark coloring and short statue that they were probably from Guatemala and had been picked up trying to cross México for the U.S. The immigration officer carried no weapons but a billy club and there seemed little risk of the detainees making a break for it.

While we waited, one elderly British lady marched up to the desk and even though the clerk told her she had to take a number, went ahead with her problem anyway. I suppose he figured it would take less time to answer her question than to try to get her to take a number, so he told her that since she had lost her CURP (an identification number given to residents and citizens of México) she could go to the web site and print a new one herself. She was content with that answer and breezed out.

Then it was my turn. I had neglected to make a copy of my receipt from the bank, but the clerk was feeling agreeable that morning and made a copy for me in the office. That was nice of her. Then I had to wait a bit because she didn’t know the password to the computer, but it wasn’t long. I was given a sheet that registered that I had a tramite (open case file) and could check via internet en 8 días (a week) to see if it had returned from D.F. (México City) with approval or not. If my application was missing some sort of documentation, I would have to return to SMA to present the missing documentation. If everything was hunky dory, then I would have to return to SMA to put my fingerprints on the application form.

Much to our relief, the truck started right up. We headed towards home with the hope that we would have enough cash left to eat in San Pedro, a small town with numerous buffet options, even a Chinese restaurant. We had just enough for some yummy beans, cactus, rice and taquitos and two bottles of water. We drank one and saved the second for after the grass cutting–it’s thirsty work that!

Disaster free, we arrived home just in time for my son to get changed and head to school for the afternoon. Qué alivio!

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