Friday, June 15, 2012

Renovación... and Renewal

Our trip to the Oficina de Extranjeros (the Foreigners Office) was a piece of cake this morning (more like a chocolate-chocolate chip muffin and macadamia nut cookie really).


July 12 will mark the beginning of our second year in Spain. We need to renew our residency cards for another two years. Once again, San Geraldo — and I do sincerely mean San Geraldo — filled out the applications and prepared all our paperwork. Everything was neatly organized (forms, passport copies, financial statements, proof of insurance) and paper-clipped. The information that Jerry had found online turned out to be exactly correct. No surprises. Except that when we arrived at the office we had visited three times last year in the Plaza de España, we were told by a very pleasant woman that, for renewals, we needed to walk to another office at the opposite side of the Plaza. Not a problem.

So, we followed the U-shaped terrace to the opposite side. On the way, at the center point, we came upon a trio of supposedly Peruvian musicians, playing music of the Andes (pan flute and all), wearing the garb and full headdresses of Native Americans... perhaps Plains Indians from South Dakota. Really. I didn't have any change in my pocket, so I snuck a very quick and blurry shot from far away.


After passing the Pseudo-Lakota-Sioux-Incas-on-Pan-Flutes-Probably-Made-in-China, we reached the other office, went through security, took numbers, and sat for about 10 minutes in the small lobby. We were then warmly welcomed at a desk and proceeded to submit Jerry's beautifully organized, stapled, and clipped documents. The man cursorily glanced at everything and stamped/dated/initialed the renewal (renovación) application. He couldn't understand the need for all the paperclips. I told him Jerry used to be a librarian. The man laughed and said, "Ah. Very organized." I thought, 'yeah, but you should see his desk." He returned all the paperclips to Jerry and rubber-banded the entire package. I removed the paperclips from my documents as I handed over each section. That was it. We will receive a letter in the mail within 30 days. We then have to go pay a fee and our new cards will be processed. We spoke with one person at an information desk, two security guards, and one application processor. Everyone was kind, friendly, and helpful.


So, what do two Americans in Sevilla do to celebrate when another bureaucratic process goes well? They go to Starbucks! Sad, I know, but it was already really hot outside (while we waited in the lobby, I could actually feel the steam coming off Jerry's body). Starbucks was the first air-conditioned place we hit on the way home.

We had our favorite mango frappuccinos (small, which Starbucks calls "tall" and that drives me crazy; I remember one time asking for a small soda at McDonalds and being told, "We don't have small." I thought she meant they were out of small cups. But they had simply renamed the sizes. "We have medium, large, and extra-large," I was told as if I were a complete idiot. "So, give me the 'medium,' " I muttered and then clarified, "the smallest one you have.").

Jerry couldn't pass up a chocolate-chocolate chip muffin (and it was actually fresh this time) and, to be polite, I joined him by ordering a macadamia nut cookie. We cooled off in air-conditioned splendor before continuing our walk home.

We changed into shorts and T-shirts and, of course, headed over to Emperador Trajano for our usual breakfast (even though we had both already had our healthy at-home breakfasts of yogurt and fruit), I had even had a protein bar before leaving the house. Then came Starbucks. But, after all that, it wasn't even 10:30, and we couldn't truly begin our day without café con leche. And, as long as we were having café con leche, wasn't it easier to just say, "De siempre" (the usual)? We thought so.


  1. Ay! que pecado...Starbucks in España? That was like the time I was in Paris with my ex-wife and she insisted in going to McDonalds.
    In any case, it seems like you just walk and eat and you are enjoying this tremendously.
    About works sometimes, doesn't it?

    1. Raulito:
      Oh, I have to admit I've been to McDonald's in England and Germany (but not for a long time). Shameful. But, even worse, Jerry and I have been to Burger King a few times in Sevilla.

      Yes, nothing wrong with bureaucracy when it works!

  2. I refuse to play that game: whenever I go into Starbucks for coffee (usually because there isn't a much cheaper, better brewed McDonald's coffee to be had anywhere nearby), I always politely ask for a small coffee. So far, they've never corrected me and it would be better that they never do. :-) Starbucks is now offering a much less burned version of coffee that I like very much, so there's that.

    I loved the Plaza de Espana on both my trips to Sevilla. It really is a very special, exuberantly designed and beautifully decorated place.

    1. Will:
      Here, I ordered two small (in Spanish) Frapuccinos. She knew exactly what I meant and didn't give me any attitude. I did see attitude in our old Starbucks in Irvine when someone said small or medium.

      I can't get enough of the Plaza de España!

  3. Yes, yes, that Plaza is so grand! (and I mean that grand in English, not French... or Spanish missing an e :))

    I'm so glad for you that this all went so very smoothly! What a relief! And... Jerry is my kind of guy (well, you know what I mean)-- paperclips and organized papers! and he was a librarian! I really thought hard about being a librarian (but, I decided that I might end up stuck archiving in a dark corner somewhere, and knew that I needed a more lively career:))

    Good for you guys! More fun, officially!

    1. Judith:
      Jerry was mostly director of libraries in his career. So, he didn't spend any time archiving in dark corners; he wouldn't have liked those dark corners. But he started off as a cataloguer and does have that way of thinking.

  4. Passing off Native Americans from the North America as Peruvians is just WRONG! It's a shame the actors in costumes and war bonnets couldn't have demonstrated an authentic chant or dance. But then, the costumes weren't very authentic either.
    I'm always struck by the cleanliness of the streets and plazas in your pictures. Are the Spanish much neater people than Americans or do you tidy up before you snap the shot?

    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      Traditional Peruvian Indian costume is not as unusual-looking here. So, I guess it's a marketing ploy! Very strange to see along with that music.

      The City of Sevilla does an amazing job of keeping the streets clean (with no help from me... except that I don't add to their work).

  5. It seems the residency renewal goes way more smoothly in Sevilla than it does in Madrid! I've gone to the office a couple of times to inquire about stuff and everyone's just so much more laid back. How are you guys living here legally? What's your reason for being here on the forms? I'm here with a student residency card and to be able to change that to a work residency card I have to have had the student card for 3 years. I'm just finishing year 2, so after this upcoming academic year, I'll look for work in Sevilla, but I'm dying to know how you guys are here. Sigh...extranjería always scares me.

    1. Brittany:
      We have retirement (non-work) visas, which I have a feeling are easier. Added to the requirements for us is proof that we can afford to live here without working and that we won't be a burden on the State for our living needs.

      Interesting your comparison with Madrid. When we originally applied for our residency visas, given where we were living in California at the time, we had to work through Spain's Los Angeles Consulate. We found them to be amazing. Clear, pleasant, helpful, with step-by-step instructions and prompt answers to our questions via email. We knew someone working at the same time through another Spanish Consulate in the USA and his experience was the polar opposite.

  6. I'm sure those "Native Americans" were long gone when you headed home in the heat. Great costumes.

    There's nothing wrong with a little taste of home.

    1. Stew:
      Oh, those guys were still performing when we left. The tourists were just arriving! It was kind of a taste of home. The last time we were in NYC, Peruvian musicians were performing on the subway (but don't tell anyone; it's against the law). They, however, were dressed like Peruvian musicians.


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