A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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May 7, 2005 — I wrote some posts not long ago about how things were flowing along so smoothly towards getting our FM3 Mexican visas.

Well…

Yesterday we went back into Queretaro, to the Instituto Nacional de Migracion. It’s an hour bus ride from our village of Bernal, but from the time we leave our house and walk to the highway, wait for the bus, and take a taxi across the city of Queretaro, it’s more like two hours each way. The Migracion office does not accept phone calls asking about the status of your application.

Yesterday’s ride into town went smoothly and we got to the Migracion office around 9:00 AM, rather sleepy as the Cinco de Mayo dance downtown had gone on to the wee hours. The music stopped sometime around midnight and was then followed by the jolly sounds of a lot of people walking home up our hill. If we hadn’t had the Queretaro trip planned, we might have gone dancing ourselves.

To our surprise, the office was packed. We took a number, which was 11 numbers away from the one being served, and had a wait of almost an hour and a half. People kept pouring in (mostly Mexicans) and by the time we left, newcomers were about 25 numbers away from the current one. There were two people at the front desk, where we’ve only seen one before. It reminded me of when I was a librarian, that the day after a holiday was usually enough to almost make us wish we hadn’t had a day off!

When our turn came, we spoke with a woman whom we hadn’t met before. We were hopeful that we would get our FM3s on the spot. No such luck. Instead, we each got a letter telling us what steps we still need to take.

Kelly needs to pay the annual FM3 fee of about $100US at a bank, after buying a form at a stationery store in triplicate. We knew this routine, as we had done it already for a smaller fee to get our applications going. He also needs the financial reports I had downloaded from the internet translated into Spanish. I asked where we could get translations done and was told where in the government offices of Queretaro we could get a list of authorized translators.

The name on my letter was Rosana Lesley [my middle name] Linebarger [my father’s last name] Snow [my mother’s last name]. Hart, the last name I’ve used for 30+ years, was nowhere to be seen. Oh well, we know a Swiss man who came out Korean after getting his FM3.

I need both the things Kelly did myself, plus two more. One looks like a pretty simple matter, a form where two Mexicans sign that they know me. The other one is an offical copy of our wedding certificate, not the copy of our certificate at home that I had provided, and it had to be translated into Spanish and apostilled. I asked how to do that. The woman said go to Mexico City to the American Embassy. I said I couldn’t do that. Then she said I could go to the American consulate in San Miguel Allende, not far away. She even had a little slip of paper with the phone number for the consulate. We have 14 days to get these papers together, after which they have at least 8 days to do whatever they will do next.

Quite discouraged, we stopped at the same stationery store we had used before, to get the forms we needed to pay the bank. They were out, but sent us a few blocks away to another place that had them. We went to the Queretaro justice department, where a peaceful sit-in is going on. We walked past it without noticing what it was for, a sign of how dazed we were. We got the list of authorized translators easily, and I asked if any of them were near the downtown area. One was, and we phoned her from a pay phone. Her English was excellent, and we got directions to her house. But she couldn’t do the translation that day. So we gave up on getting everything back in to the office that day.

Then we called the US Consulate in San Miguel. Luckily, we got through on the third try. Someone there was able to tell me that they do not apostille wedding certificates and that since we got married in California, the Secretary of State in California would have to do it. Okay, no way would we be able to do it that day! In fact, we may not be able to get it before we leave.

We went and had some lunch. Kelly was cheered by finding some organic coffee beans with a grinder in a downtown coffee shop. (No, not Starbucks, but it doesn’t sound very Mexican: The Italian Coffee Company.)

On our first trip to Queretaro, there had been a restaurant owner who was very helpful about our FM3s and spoke very good English. He had said at that time that if there was anything more he could do for us, to be sure and ask. Now Kelly had an intuition to ask his advice. So we did, and he asked if we knew anyone in Sacramento who could help. Well, not there, but we do have family and friends around northern California. Our advisor suggested asking for help at that end and then using DHL rather than Fedex or UPS to get the documents sent here. We’d heard before that they were good.

Cheered by his kindness, we walked to the home office of the translator. We got a bit confused by her directions but people in the neighborhood pointed us in the right direction. She turned out to be very knowledgeable and helpful. She showed us an Apostille from the California Secretary of State which she had for someone else. While you can live your whole life in the US without ever hearing the word apostille, it’s much used internationally: it is a way that documents from one country are stated to be valid for other countries. She also looked over our downloaded bank statements and pointed out several reasons why they would likely not be acceptable even if translated. We agreed to see what a friend at home could find and then email her the jpg files.

Well, that was all we could do. We had walked two or three miles around the downtown area in getting that much done. We grabbed some cold drinks and then got a taxi back to the bus station. The taxi driver had more of an air of a professional man than most of them do, and his clothing suggested that too. I asked how long he had been driving a taxi and he said a year and a half. He confirmed that he had a professional background though he didn’t say what, and he said the Mexican equivalent of “You do what you gotta do.” It certainly put our own troubles in perspective.

We thought we were leaving Bernal day after tomorrow, to return to the US. We aren’t. I guess that’s a silver lining, but at present I’m in overwhelm. I am pretty happy with the way Kelly and I are dealing with this. Usually if one of us is discouraged, the other one can help.

I do believe that things happen for a reason. The reason here may turn out to be simply that dealing with bureaucracy calls for being more patient than is my style. We’ll see. It’s possible that Kelly might get his FM3 and mine would have to wait till we come back.

I’d better mention that every Migracion office has its own way of doing things. We were not asked for apostilled birth certificates, for example, which some offices have required. Other people have breezed through this process.

8 Comments from the old blog:

  • At May 08, 2005 8:57 AM, Blogger BillieS said…

    Rosana, I hate to tell you this story but we got our FM3’s at the Mexican consulate in Houston. Took 3 bank statements, passport, check, photos, filled out their form. Left it all and came back the next day to pick up the new FM3. Then when we arrived in San Miguel, we went and registered at immigration here. We had to have proof of housing which I think was an electric bill. When I registered I also needed a letter from my husband stating that I lived with him and our marriage license which isn’t an official one but one of the pretty ones that you get when you marry.

    Paula is the secretary at the Mexican Consulate here in SMA and she knows everything so if you need help she is a good one to talk to. Her English is very good too.

    I’m sorry you are having a problem with this. My husband speaks pretty good Spanish but when you get into something like this you realize how much you miss in the translation and also you realize how little we understand of the culture in this beautiful, friendly country.

  • At May 08, 2005 10:36 AM, Blogger BillieS said…

    oops, I meant to write that Paula is the secretary at the American consulate in SMA.

  • At May 14, 2005 9:47 PM, Blogger Rosana Hart said…

    I got a private email too from a friend who had easily gotten an FM-3 in another city. Oh well, I guess lessons in patience were what we needed just then! AND we do know our way around Queretaro a lot better.

  • At May 16, 2005 10:18 AM, Blogger Abundio and Ruth said…

    Interesting! We’re dealing with the Consulate in Chicago – I will say that they are probably very efficient at what they do. But it is like pulling teeth getting information from them!! We did the menaje de casa and had a few errors, which they apparently weren’t going to tell us what they were until one of the men finally told us. They also told us I can’t apply for my FM3 until I’m in the country (we’ll be in San Luis Potosi). I do have one question – when I’m gathering up my information, do I have to provide my divorce papers too? My birth certificate has a different name than my marriage license. Thank you so much for putting this process up and explaining apostille!!!

  • At May 16, 2005 3:35 PM, Blogger Rosana Hart said…

    Will you need your divorce papers? Good question, Ruthie, and you’re not going to like my answer…

    It depends. On unknown factors.

    To be on the totally safe side, you would have an apostilled birth certificate, an apostilled divorce certificate, and an apostilled wedding certificate for your current marriage.

    But if you had all those documents (after considerable time and expense), they might not want one of them!

    It depends.

    But I’m not surprised at your being told you will need to apply for your FM3 in Mexico. I read on the excellent membership forum mexconnect.com, that various people had been told the process was becoming more one to be done in Mexico itself.

    Best wishes, and here’s hoping you have such an easy time of it that there is no story to it at all!

  • At May 16, 2005 3:37 PM, Blogger Rosana Hart said…

    Oh, and I meant to say too, I certainly wouldn’t trot out the divorce certificate unless they asked for it. But I would have it along.

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