Last Friday my little family of four took our annual trip to the capital of our state: La Paz, Baja California Sur, in attempt to
beg for obtain Vivienne’s Mexican passport renewal. (NOTE: This is not a new application for a passport. Instead, this is her third passport in as many years.) Now, in years past our trips to the SRE office (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores) have driven me to either cry, curse or drink.
My girls have both Mexican and American birth certificates and therefore Mexican and American passports.
The United States first issued the girls’ passports shortly after their births. These passports are valid for 5 years. In fact, we just had to renew Lila’s American passport and it was as simple as a quick walk down to the U.S. Consulate’s office, filling out a quick form, turning in passport pictures, paying $55 and boom… the passport showed up 3 weeks later.)
|We drive from San Jose del Cabo North to La Paz. La Paz is the capital of our state. Hence the star icon.|
Not so in Mexico, dear amigos. Not so. Ain’t nothin’ that easy here.
In Mexico the government will only issue a minor’s passport in one-year intervals until the child is 3-years-old. Does it make sense? I mean honestly, it does. A kiddo changes quite a lot in the first few years of life and obviously the passport photo of a newborn means nothing when the kid is 4. So, since 2010 we’ve been making our annual trip to La Paz to renew our little hijas’ passports. On the bright side, this is the year when we have the opportunity to renew WeeVee’s passport for either 1, 3 or 6 years.
Um, six years! YES, please!
Last year we renewed Lila’s passport for 6 years, so this year’s trip revolved solely around Vivienne. Unfortunately last year she was only only 2-years-old at the time we renewed so were forced to return to the passport office again in 2014.
Each year, this trip is eventful for a bevy of reasons. (See my previous posts at the end of this post.)
The most persistent and consistent issue is that each year the required documents needed to prove my daughters’ Mexican-based births took place IN Mexico (eye roll) and that I am their actual parent (another eye roll) proves to be INFURIATING. Blood pressure rises. Anger happens. I sweat. It’s not good. Ever.
You see, when you have a baby in Mexico the paperwork demanded by the civil registry MANDATES that you use your maiden name on ALL birth documentation. EVEN if you got married and changed your name.
In theory, this isn’t a big deal since Mexican women don’t change their names when they get married. (LEARN FROM THIS, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.)
I, on the other hand, changed my last name when I got married back in 2003. In short, that simple change to promote family unity has made for a LOT of issues when trying to prove that I am my daughters’ mama. (I wish I had known back in 2003 when I married my dreamboat that I would one day live in Mexico and have children here. Name would not have been changed. Who knew, ya’ll?)
I’ve had many documents, statements and declarations written in English, translated into Spanish, notarized by both a Mexican and American notary and also apostilled to prove that I am my maiden name and that I am their mother. (An apostille is a sort of authentication/seal that the countries participating in the Hague Convention have agreed to accept internationally. See more here.)
So, last year was a breeze. It was our best.year.ever. We were in and out of this gross little office (which was a vast improvement from the previous office that had open electrical outlets and crumbling concrete walls and NO AIR CONDITIONING) in 2.5 hours!
So this is how this year panned out.
First, the passport pictures that we had taken a week before our appointment.
The rules for Mexican passport photos are:
1.) No smiling.
2.) No hair obscuring the forehead.
3.) No hair covering ears.
4.) White background.
AND, we’ve noticed in years past that when we dress our children in the same outfit that we got their pictures taken in while in Cabo, we were good to go and had no problems at the passport office. If the girls were wearing different clothes than what is in their photos on the day of the passport appointment, we have been denied and made to go get new photos in one of the many entrepreneurial passport support huts surrounding the passport office.
(Kindly note that in years past when the power-hungry document checker decides you need new photos you sometimes lose your place in line and must start all over again. It’s
So here’s Minnie/Vivienne.
|And notice that black accordion binder on the left? That’s “additional documentation” that I just might need.|
- our American passports
- our visas
- her Mexican passport
- my birth certificate
- translation of my birth certificate
- my marriage license
- a translation of my marriage license
- her Mexican birth certificate (NEVER TAKE ANY AMERICAN DOCUMENTS to the passport office – they do not want to see them)
- her birth record given to us by the hospital
- her CURP (her Mexican social security number)
- and the column on the right? LETTERS proving that I was the one who gave birth to her from her pediatrician who was there when she was born AND my obstetrician. AND copies of their licenses AND invoices from the hospital proving that I was there. 🙂
What does all of this mean? Inconvenience.
It also means GETTING OUT OF LINE AND SCHLEPPING all of your documents and your kids in 90-degree heat TO GET IN LINE IN ANOTHER BUILDING TO MAKE A COPY THAT IS ONLY SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT THAN THE COPY YOU JUST SUBMITTED.
Sometimes I understand why my dear Mexican friends choose to have their babies in the States. I bet it’s easier there.
So off to La Paz we went on Thursday night after swim class. We had an 8 a.m. appointment the next morning and didn’t want to wake up at 4:30 a.m. for the drive so we decided to make a night of it.
But then again, only on the Baja can you see this, too.
So we made it to our hotel. (Vivi threw up about 5 minutes before we got to the hotel. Motion sickness seems to be a pervasive issue for her. More sighing.) And everyone was happy, especially these two who fell asleep watching Nick Jr. in Spanish.
The next morning we were up and at ’em.
Look at the new office! (It’s the white part.) It was BIGGER and AIR CONDITIONED and this year the kids didn’t have to wait outsize in the blazing sun with Craig because there was ROOM for them inside!
This picture makes me smile because this is how I parent.
“Just stand there and smile.”
“But the sun is burning my eyes!”
“BUT I CAN’T SEE.”
Our appointment was at 8:00 a.m. and we were promptly ushered in at exactly (gasp! on time!) 8:00 a.m. The lovely man whom I remembered from last year accepted my paperwork and some of the additional documentation that I brought with us (thanks to my dear friend’s unfortunate experience a few days before I was forewarned and prepared) and he was kind.
He gives me the passport form that I must fill out in his presence s-l-o-w-l-y and I run to an empty chair and start copying from my cheat sheet that I pre-filled out before I came. If you make a single mistake… if your pen hesitates for too long… if you leave any extra mark on the form they turn you down and again… you must re-fill out the form and you… lose your space in line.
I write the first page perfectly. GO ME!
I get to the second page and my hand cramps up like I’m in some sort of passport-form-Olympic trial and I hesitate and I transpose Craig’s passport numbers incorrectly!
[slaps forehead! Doh!]
I smile at the man, “Tengo un error.”
He smiles. Hands me a new form.
AH! I fill it both sides as quickly.and.as.calmly.as.I.possibly.can.
I turn the whole documentation packet in to the LOVELY lady at the second desk and she is… seriously… lovely. She’s the same woman that I remember from my previous visits. She takes some time going over my paperwork and I explain to her the naming issue, give her my apostilled documents and translations, everything…
Meanwhile, Minnie and her sister wait. And play.
At this point, I’m nervous… but she takes my finger prints and the husband’s and Vivienne’s.
Good sign, no?
I just want to go home with this passport and BE DONE because we are so close to not having to return to this office for five more years.
We wait a few more minutes, and again, a super-nice guy takes more information and gives us a little slip from a top of a larger pile of slips that tells us to call and come back in 8 days for her passport.
That was it.
By the looks of things, that’s the new routine. You don’t get your passport on the same day anymore? I knew the guy who was ahead of me in line. He’s also from Cabo and he’s Mexican and he didn’t leave with his daughter’s passport either. It appears that the rule is the same for everyone. Liberty and justice for all? Maybe at the passport office today.
SO. We did all that we could do. I felt good. And my fingers are crossed that in a week, we will be approved and we can go get her passport.
Is it annoying to make the drive twice? Yes.
But do I get as amped up about things as I used to? No.
Why? Because of this. There’s “Kylee Before.” She was filled with anxiety and fear and frustration and anger and nervousness. And, well, there’s “Kylee After“. She doesn’t get so riled up, she goes with the flow a bit more than ever before. Life’s too short to be perpetually mad at the system.
So, we made a weekend of it and went for breakfast.
The ladies wearing our sunglasses.
And then we headed to our family’s happy place. We’ve visited this beach for the past few years and, well… it’s perfect.
We arrived at Balandra.
I love that we’ve lived in Mexico long enough that visiting this beach evokes both familiar and excited emotions. I remember Lila’s first experience here. She was appalled with the water lapping up on her. She didn’t love the sand, either.
This place has come to be our home… I digress. That’s another post for another day.
It’s a little slice of heaven. Really.
This beach is no joke. It’s so calm and perfect and lovely and tranquil and relaxing.
I parked it on that blanket for quite a while, just listening to my ladies laughing while I read.
And I bought this cute bag because I’m a sucker for beach vendors — of which there were only one. And he was kind and nice. He was trying to convince me to buy a different bag that was more neutral and went with everything. I was like, “Um, have we met? I’ll take that colorful one. Gracias y buen dia.”
On the beach are palm-frond “umbrellas” called palapas.
This iphone photo pleases me so much. (All of these pics are from my phone.)
It was just awesome.
It’s funny how stressful this trip used to be for me.
My priorities have shifted and I actually look forward to it now.
These sweets girls.
My how they’ve grown.
Here they are in 2014.
Be still my heart.
So we were all pretty tired after the beach.
After a nap, we went out to dinner at a new place that was so ridiculously good.
This one, kept cracking us up.
She really is my heart. She’s growing up to be such a kind and funny and witty kid.
I love that little pickle.
And then there’s this little one who’s in that whining and crying phase. Pushing us and pushing us… but then again, making us smile.
So after dinner we were on a search for ice cream.
No, the entire town doesn’t look like this, but I kind of liked this random side-street door. So, obviously I made my kids pose in front of it.
We found the ice cream and it was delicious. And we sat on a bench on the board walk and ate.
Lila spilled the majority of her melting ice cream down her dress and Vivi didn’t speak more then 2 words because she was too busy eating.
Not a bad view.
Especially not a bad view while eating ice cream.
So the next morning we woke up and the ladies took a quick dip.
And we ate breakfast. (I would eat chilaquiles every day if I could.)
And these two?
So this trip that used to pain me and give me ulcers and make me shake my fist at this country — was lovely.
Life is so much more than the tasks we must undertake,
it’s about the experiences we have while we’re doing them.
I could complain for days about my previous passport experiences, but eh, it’s not important.
What is important is that I am here typing this post and that I got to spend time with my family.
Let’s keep it real:
Sure, Vivi barfed in the car and drove us crazy and cried about 15 times a day for no reason.
And sure, Lila kept asking us if we were lost and if we were there yet and what we were going to do next.
And absolutely, I paid virtually no attention to the map and just figured we would wing it thus frustrating my co-pilot at least 5 times.
And sure, the first restaurant we wanted to eat at we couldn’t find. And yep, the second one we couldn’t find either.
And of course there was construction in the middle of the street with no signs to indicate where to go and of course few streets had street signs.
BUT, it was beautiful. And our Spanish worked perfectly. And we visited a beach that few other people ever will. And we laughed at the ladies and slept well and all.was.good.
Life is good.
It really is.
So now, let’s see if we get that passport in a week.
Resources for ex-pats living in Mexico who need Mexican passports for themselves or for Mexico-born children:
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 has changed is now on Ignacio Ramierez on the corner. See photo above.
6.2.14 – called. Passport not ready. Why? Because. Better luck tomorrow.
6.5.14 – called. Passport still not ready. Why? Because. “Call back in 5 minutes.” (I called back and she didn’t answer.)
6.9.14 – called. Passport not ready – but talked to man in charge. He assured me her passport would be ready before we travel.
6.11.14 – called. Passport is READY! She knew who I was when I called, told me to pick it up between 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Fingers crossed.