A week ago we filled out the paperwork (or rather, had it filled out for us) to renew our Non-Immigrant Resident visas, aka FM3s. Yesterday was the day we were supposed to go down and pick them up at the immigration office. There are fewer people at immigration if you arrive shortly after they open. So, since I also had to drop off an empty propane bottle for filling by 9:00 (or at least that's how I understood it), we ate a very light breakfast, loaded up our paperwork and the propane bottle and headed out.
Right off the bat, we ran into a snag. Seems that I had either bad information or had misunderheard the information. At any rate, the propane place didn't open until 9:30 and bottles had to be dropped off either by 10:30 or the day before. Since it was only 8:30 I wasn't about to stand around and wait so we schlepped the empty back to the boat and started out again. I'll wait and drop the bottle off next week. I was hoping that this minor setback wasn't a prologue of how the day was to go.
We got down to INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración) by about 9:30, signed in, took a number and sat down. When I started pulling my papers out, the guy at the check-in desk came over and asked to see them. Then he told me that you could only pick documents up between 11:00 and 2:00. Oh. Okay. Well I guess we'll just wander around, maybe get a little breakfast.
Off we went. We were looking for somewhere to eat when we happened across this little grocery store that had a couple tables out front as well as a couple inside. There was a small kitchen and the sign said "Desayuno" (Breakfast) so we stopped in.
Lulu ordered huevos con jamón (eggs with ham) and I had huevos rancheros. We each got a cup of hot water and our choice of Nescafe regular or decaffeinated instant coffee. Both our orders came with refried beans and a big hunk of cobija cheese. The food was tasty and cheap and managed to help us while away at least a few minutes while we waited for 11:00 to roll around.
After breakfast, we decided to stroll around this part of town, down by the ferry terminal. We'd never really spent any time here so everything was new. One of the interesting finds was Lulu's castle.
A little more wandering and finally it was close enough to 11:00 to return to INM. When we got there, there were already quite a few folks waiting to pick up documents. Maybe we should have arrived earlier and gotten a number and waited there instead of wandering around after breakfast. But then, we may have never discovered Lulu's castle. I drew number 7 which didn't seem too bad. We took a seat and waited. After awhile I heard them call "Numero seis." Hey, cool, we're next. So I sat on the edge of my seat in anticipation and waited. And waited some more. And then waited a little while longer. Finally they called out "Numero nueve." Did she say "nueve"? That can't be right. I'm sure I didn't miss hearing "siete". While #9 was at the window, a guy who was number eight started getting pretty obnoxious. He complained in a loud voice how they should just shuffle the cards if the numbers didn't mean anything and obviously the system was broken if, indeed there even was a system. Made me proud to be a gringo as I put as much distance between him and I as I could. The good-natured check-in guy, who may or may not have understood English, seemed to be the main target of this guy's sarcasm. Eventually check-in guy picked up the phone. I have no idea who he called but I hope he was calling the girls in back and asking them to put numero ocho at the bottom of the pile.
Next we heard "Numero trece." That's when it dawned on me how it worked. At the front desk where you turn your paperwork in and ask questions, they take each number in turn. But at the document pick-up window they seem to work in bunches of documents. They may have a stack that covers numbers 4 through 10 but that doesn't mean they take them in order. You know you'll be called sometime before the next batch is processed, but, even though you may be number 4, your packet may be last of the batch. So numbers 5-10 might get called before you do.
Ultimately we heard "Numero siete". We went up, had out thumbprints taken, signed a bunch of places and then walked out with our brand new, good until February 22, 2013 FM3s. Numero ocho was still waiting when we left. Now that we've been here a year, we also got something called a CURP number. You have to have this number before you can get the Mexican national health insurance that costs about $250 (US) a year for basic coverage. Now I can also get my "geezer" card. Armed with an FM3 and identification showing you're at least 60, you can get a government-issued card that gives you discounts in all kinds of places for all kinds of stuff. Need to start working on getting the health insurance and the geezer card.
Once we were finished at INM, we walked back to the mercado to catch the bus back to the marina. We've been meaning to buy some huaraches for awhile now and this seemed like as good a time as any. We checked one booth outside but he didn't have anything that fit that we liked. Inside, we happened on a couple of huarache shops right next door to each other. I went in one and, unbeknownst to me, Lulu went in the other. I found some I liked and tried a pair on. Perfect fit first time. How much? 190 pesos. Hmmm... I don't know. I might look around a few other booths first. OK, for you, 180 pesos. Well, being the world-class haggler that I'm not, this sounded good to me so I agreed. Then I also got a pair each for my Mom and Dad. About this time I heard Lulu say "I got some." She'd apparently been doing her own shopping next door. She paid a little more than I did but still, the price range was about $13.00 - $15.00 (US) so I'm not complaining.
Did I talk about Yolanda's before? If not, it's a little lunch shack set up on property inside the condo/marina complex. Originally set up for the local workers, some of the cruisers have discovered it. We learned about something in Mazatlán that we don't remember seeing in La Paz. It's called "comida corrida" and is essentially the "special of the day". Yolanda makes anywhere from one to comidas each day.
Comida corrida today was croquetes de camarón (shrimp croquettes) served with rice and beans and a huge cup of agua de limón. Very satisfying and just the thing to tide us over until the shrimp pizza Lulu fixed for dinner. Hmmm. I wonder if all this shrimp is good for you? Is shrimp a big cholesterol contributor or anything? Sure hope not because tonight I'm fixing shrimp and grits for dinner.
Right now, Lulu and I are just sitting around, listening to music and waiting to head to town later. We have appointments at 3:00 and 4:00 to have our teeth cleaned and checked. So, even if we keel over from clogged arteries, at least we'll go out with nice clean smiles on our faces.