This post has been rated slightly melodramatic and lengthy, but valid.
At one point this past weekend I exclaimed that I was in LOVE with Mexico.
Then, less than 24 hours – I was in HATE with Mexico.
is life on the Baja. It’s a constant waffling; a vacillation between
overwhelming contentment at the amazingness (not a word) of living in
one of the most incredible vacation destinations on the planet and
seething frustration and anger for living in a country seemingly void of
regulation, ethics, punctuality, Target stores, a proper mailing system and common sense.
past weekend we embarked on what has become our annual journey to the
capital of Baja California Sur, La Paz, in attempt to renew our
daughters’ Mexican passports. As you may know, our daughters were born in Baja California Sur and therefore have both American and Mexican passports. I’ve written about this process before.
Take a peek at last year’s journey here.
Keep in mind that we’ve been denied once (boo) and granted passports once (hooray!).
Also, keep in mind that children aged 1-3-years-old must RENEW THEIR PASSPORTS EVERY YEAR until they’re 3. (Because obviously toddlers are the biggest terrorist threat a country could have and checking their paperwork on an annual basis is time well spent.)
Last year on our “Journey-to-La-Paz-Passport-Weekend-Extravaganza” the girls were so small. Harken back with me, will you?
|Lila, Almost 2.|
|Vivi, 4 months old.|
And also last year, after a struggle, we actually walked away with two
passports for Lila and Vivienne from the notoriously difficult ONLY passport office in our state.
So this year, I again prepped for the
girls’ Mexican passport RENEWAL process. (Keep in mind, I thought
[ignorantly], “This is a renewal. This has got to be easier than last year. The girls are already in the system. IT.IS.A.RENEWAL.”)
The paperwork, still, is RIDICULOUS. For both girls I had prepared:
|Pardon the blurry-ness|
- Copies of their current passports (1st and last page copied on the same piece of paper) and their originals
- Copies of our current U.S. passports (every page) along with the 1st and last pages on the same piece of paper and the originals
- Copies of our FM2 (visas) with front and back of card on same page
- Original letters and copies from the girls’ pediatrician stating
that they are in good health and up-to-date on vaccines. Letter must
include their photo, be in a certain template and boast the stamp of the
doctor particularly placed on the girls photos.
- Copies of their pediatrician’s license
- Deposit Slip and copies of deposit slips showing that we paid for the passports before the appointment date
- Birth certificates and copies of both girls
- And, my favorite: photos of the girls, not smiling, on a WHITE
background (make certain it’s not off-white or they’ll reject the
photos), no earrings, hair tucked behind their ears, from the shoulder
up. (Now is a fun time to mention that the photo place here in town says on their door that they open at 9 a.m., but they really mean 10 a.m. So they get there around 10:30 a.m. And they close at 4 and aren’t open on weekends. Convenience. They’re all about convenience for their customers. Yet another thing that makes this entire process so much fun. YAY, MEXICO!)
AND, because we’re a particularly “fun” case – I have to take
with me this document we had created last year by a Mexican attorney that explains who I am; that I am my daughters’ mother.
What? Why wouldn’t they believe that I’m my children’s mother?
Because when I married Craig in the U.S. I changed
my name and got rid of my maiden name and took on Craig’s last name. This means my U.S. passport and Mexican visa are in my CURRENT name — with my maiden name no where in sight. Now, why did I change my name and eliminate my maiden name? Well, first because I had NO IDEA THAT I WOULD EVER BE MOVING TO MEXICO WHERE THIS WOULD BE AN ISSUE and secondly, because I desperately wanted to ensure that one day Craig, myself and our future children would have the
same last name.
It didn’t work out that way.
naming convention in Mexico is such that Lila and Vivienne both legally
have my maiden name and Craig’s last name as part of their full “legal”
SO, this key-document I have consists of a summary explaining this issue (in Spanish), translated copies
of my marriage license and my birth certificate, along with some other
info, witnesses signatures, etc. This document, along with original
documents, did the trick last year and the passport office begrudgingly
issued the girls’ their passports and believed that I was the girls’ Mama.
SO, after all of this was prepared we got ready and left…
packed into the car and drove the 2.5 hours to La Paz on a recently
beautifully-paved four-lane highway. It was amazing. No more white-knuckle, two-lane, semi-dodging. It was lovely.
We stopped for lunch in Todos Santos at Hotel California and it was so cold (65?) that we had to wear sweatshirts and I bought a long-sleeved shirt because I was freezing.
Wuss, I know.
Then we got to our hotel, and the sisters played. Saturday was awesome.
|(Um, she’s almost 3.)|
|Vivi is smiling.|
|My little Mexican snowmen.|
And then Sunday?
Oh, Sunday was AMAZING.
I’m willing to say it was one of my favorite days I’ve ever had in Mexico.
After much encouragement from two friends, we finally made it to Balandra beach. It’s like no other beach I’ve ever seen in Baja California Sur.
|9 am – we were the only ones there.|
It was calm, beautiful, clear water…
|All this? At it’s deepest point it was maybe 4 feet?|
|Crystal clear POOL DIAMONDS in the OCEAN.|
It’s awfully cliche, but it was a bit of heaven here on earth.
And the girls loved it, too.
|Sweet Vivi and her Daddy. The water was like a refreshing bath with zero undertow|
|The play area. Complete with small tide pool.|
|A little friend.|
|Look closely. That’s us kayaking.|
|Lila wanted to “go on the boat” and she did great.|
It was incredible. We took a ton more photos – but I’ll spare you seeing me in a two-piece.
Let’s just say, it was love.
Love at first sight.
So, all that “Mexico love” not surprisingly ended in “Mexico hate” the next morning.
I’ll say it simply:
We woke up.
Went to our appointment at 8:45 a.m.
Talked to the first man at the desk.
He looked at our paperwork. Showed it to the “decision makers / rogue law jerks” in the back room and then came out and told me that the regulations had changed in the last year (???) and that the document that was GOOD ENOUGH last year to prove that I was my daughters’ mother was NOT GOOD ENOUGH THIS YEAR.
I pleaded my case. A few times. Calmly. (In Español.)
Then I asked what I could bring to them that they’d accept.
They want an apostilled birth certificate from me. And an apostilled official translation.
And, for good measure I’ll need an apostilled marriage license and an apostilled official translation of that license.
[Insert heavy sigh and air-punching. And swearing. And a fit.]
What is an apostille? It’s an “form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries
that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961.” See here. They cost $5.
Where can one get an apostilled birth certificate and marriage license on short notice? Why, since it’s a state service and not a federal service, I can’t get it at our local U.S. consulate, instead – one can get get an apostilled birth certificate and marriage license in one’s home state’s capital building.
Ah yes, Ohio.
So, no passports for the ladies AGAIN. I’m working on Plan B, C and F.
It’s all so frustrating.
There are times when I miss the standards and laws and regulations of the States.
But then again, there are times when I look around and realize that all of this, this whole living in a different country thing?
Looky there, the post is over with and I’m back to loving this place again.
The love/hate continues…
Resources for ex-pats living in Mexico who need Mexican passports:
Click here to make an online appointment at an SRE (Secretaria Reclaciones de Exteriores) office.
Click here for information on how to get your first Mexican passport.
Click here for information on how to get a renewal Mexican passport
Click here for the cost(s) of Mexican passports.
Click here for the various forms to be completed to obtain your Mexican passport.
Click here to see the various Mexican passport locations in Mexico.
The SRE office in La Paz is located on Marquez de Leon between Ignacio Ramierez and Guillermo Prieto on the left side of the road. It’s a royal blue building located about 100 ft. back from the street.
|Office is the blue building on the right.|