Soooo… it’s been a while! But we’re still here…still standing… still loving the crazy ride of Spanish Alpujarra life. I’ve been super focused on the flow with my wuwu world of Channelling Love… but there was a significant breakthrough for our life here recently that was a whole lot of bureaucratic shenanigans, graced with the miracle at the end.
You might have heard of something called Brexit, which means that becoming a Spanish resident was paramount for us Brits. Even for a rebel like me, the thought of living life looking over my shoulder and potentially not being able to come and go freely was not going to be an option.
I went through the residency process in February and last week it was My Gorgeous Man’s turn. Passports, NIE numbers, certificates, translations, my self employment papers and everything else we could possibly think of. Copied, copied again… double checked… looked at blankly over and over… and giving in to the ‘what will be will be’ mantra. And so on a cloudy morning and with butterflies fluttering we climbed into the Landy and headed down to Motril on the coast, where the Comisaria de Polícia offices are.
We had a lovely coffee sitting in the sun, reminding ourselves that this is why we are flowing with the beaurocratic needs… and then walked down the hill to the office.
Greeted by police officers on the other side of the metal detector that no-one pays any attention to, My Gorgeous Man’s name was ticked off the list and we turned left into the large open office, filled not only with foreigners waiting for their own little miracle, but for Spanish people getting their passports.
The woman on the ‘Foreigners’ desk called MGM forward and we were A Go.
There was a lot of paper shuffling, rapid fire Spanish, and my aim was to connect and crack a smile from her. Then it was my turn to offer up my papers… and first of all I didn’t have enough copies (even though we’d initially been told they wouldn’t ask for copies of all my stuff)… and then came some Spanish that I really had to get my head around.
She was asking for updated papers to prove my self employment status which is called ‘autonomo’ here. Mmm…. and I showed her again the 036 that I had been reassured would be enough. But apparently it wasn’t… because it was dated February and it didn’t prove that I was still contributing into the system and paying tax. My heart was pumping and my brain became super focused on trying to catch any word I could latch onto to make sense of the incomprehensible jumble coming out of her mouth.
I really wished I’d stuck to my DuoLingo… or more to the point signed up for those bliddy Spanish classes.
The long and short of it was that I had to source whatever documents from the Social Security department to show I was still paying into the system. And apparently there was a building behind where we could get that done.
We took a deep breath… walked the walk of ‘not resident’ shame out of the offices and headed round the corner to get more copies and… take a deep breath for whatever awaited. We found reception… found the receptionist who didn’t really give a damn that I couldn’t fully catch what she was saying… and basically said
“No… not here.”
And after a good few attempts… I was like a little Scottish terrier who wouldn’t give up until she vaguely understood. It turned out that there was another reception further round the corner.
Off we trotted.
In we went… this time to be met with a well guarded metal detector and a security guard who thought I was was speaking anything but my version of Spanish.
Eventually we were let through… the metal arch beeped… pockets were emptied and belts taken off and papers shuffled some more… and we were pointed through to another office and reception desk. The man behind that desk looked at me as if to say… “Oooooh boy….” and then he also proceeded to say
But he almost saved the day by adding… “but you can make an appointment for tomorrow.”
Shit. tomorrow’s not today.
And he wasn’t budging. So we took the appointment, not even sure we were in the right place doing the right thing… and walked another walk of shame back to the Comisaria de Polícia.
By now, we’d phoned the lawyers office that had been helping us get ready for MGM’s residency and they were trying to get an appointment with the local Social Security office in Órgiva.. our local town. Because we figured that we would have just enough time to speed back… get documents… and speed back down before the 2pm siesta deadline when everything shuts down. But it turned out that the computer also said “No,” to their efforts… and we were left to fend for ourselves.
There was nothing left, but for us to admit we couldn’t get the documents and pray and beg that we wouldn’t have to wait another 3 months to get a residency appointment. At that point we had less than a week before the UK was potentially leaving the EU.
On our down trodden return, our woman softened on seeing our stress and she said to come back tomorrow morning with the papers as she would add us onto the official “Just let them in’ list… and that she would call us forward. She said everything was in order and it wouldn’t be a problem.
On the way back, I had the super sparkly idea to go into the office in Orgiva where I had first gone ‘autonomo’… the women there is fantastic. I can hardly understand a word she says, but she does the do and with a smile. So when I turned up unexpectedly in front of her desk… my face and energy and Spanish saying….
“I need help!”…. and she replied ‘Help is here’… and I could have hugged her there and then. I explained the situation and she started tapping away on the computer… printing things up… looking concerned at the screen… saying stuff and smiling… printing up more stuff and then handed it all over. She’d printed up everything she could think of to prove what needed to be proven… and wished me luck.
What an angel!
MGM had been left with the task of finding an elusive parking spot and meeting me in the square to then go up to the lawyers office, where we then tried to cancel the next day’s Social Security appointment down in Motril… with no luck because the computer said… you guessed it… ‘No’.. because we didn’t have a code…. but then add on to that, that I also had to cancel my own totally separate Social Security appointment in Órgiva that had been planned a while back, for the next morning, in order to pick up my health card… but I now couldn’t go to that appointment because we were having to go back to Motril to get MGM’s residency.
To this cancellation, the computer said Yes. Hallelujah.
So that was our first attempt at MGM’s Spanish residency.
Bureaucracy 1 MGM 0
Here we go.
Our first mistake was to try and multi-task. First stop was to turn left and head to Lanjarón council offices for me to get yet more legalised copies of my passport and residency … this time for my driving license that has now been lost in the Spanish system for almost 5 months… yup… I’m still driving illegally. We had felt confident that this would be the easy part of the day… and yet… we came up against the first ‘No’… because the right people weren’t there to stamp and sign.
Oooookaaaaay… Breathe. And pray this wasn’t a sign of things to come.
So we decided that seeing as we had to drive through Orgiva to get to the police station in Motril… I would jump out at the traffic lights… leap into the council offices there and try and get the elusive signatures and stamps… which had to be taken to the lawyers office today because he would be going up to Traffico in Granada the next day to work driving license miracles.
It was a good idea… but it didn’t work, because the head honcho had popped out for half an hour.
I legged it up into the plaza to see MGM waiting on one of the iron benches again… and there was nothing for it but to head down to Motril and see what awaited us there. Hopefully MGM’s residency.
More deep breaths.
We walk straight into the Comisaria de Policia, round the side of the metal detector… and into the office… to see loads of people and an empty desk.
I could feel MGM’s energy shift from anxiety to frustration, resignation and “I f’ing knew it wouldn’t be that easy’. And I went into super calm and silent mode as is my way.
There was however a young man at the ‘Foreigners’ desk and he was under siege from everything and everyone trying to get his attention and grab the chair in front of him as soon as it was vacated. It was an ‘effing’ free for all… and as I felt MGM seething beside me… I knew I didn’t have the courage to go and barge in.
After quite a while, where another Brit walked away smiling with her prized green card… an interpreter with 5 Chinese teenagers came and went with different papers each time… a middle eastern woman made it to the desk and left the desk… looking totally lost and was then be saved by another woman who managed to translate a bit for her…. and another man secured the prized seat and got his answers…. MGM suddenly jumped up and forward as the man left… and we finally got an acknowledgement from the harassed officer behind the desk.
We were told to wait.
We didn’t have an appointment and he didn’t know our story from yesterday.
One step closer.
And then, not long after, from round the corner, appeared our angel. Yup… she’d been on a break and appeared from round the back, still chewing… and boy… did our hearts lift. By now we were sat in the front row with great big signs on our foreheads saying “SEE US!!!” We were beaten into her chairs by a speedy gonzales and I could feel MGM’s frustration and blood pressure rise even more… but also there was huge relief at the same time because hopefully she would remember who we were from yesterday. There’s an advantage to having 1k of purple dreads in your hair… you don’t tend to blend into the background.
When you come from a country that is obsessed with queues and everything being done in order and in a ‘proper’ manner… the randomness and apparent chaos of official procedures can be a huge challenge. Having lived in Brazil, this office was a piece of piss for me… and having the ‘it’ll all work out in the end’ approach… makes it a whole lot less stressful… but, admittedly, I do lack the ‘ooomph’ to push to the front of queues, all the same. I could have ended up sitting there for hours if MGM hadn’t done the initial deed for us.
But we didn’t need to push forward in the end… because out of the blue MGM’s name was called… and we leapt into action and sat our glad assess down in those prized positions opposite the ‘angel of Spanish residency.’ I handed all my new pieces of paper over with pride and a prayer. They were shuffled, examined and looked over with an eagle eye and there was a glimmer of approval and a slight nod, which flooded me with relief.
And then, it happened.
Just like that.
MGM was handed over that precious small green card.
I have to admit that I wanted to jump up and cheer and make a fuss… but I didn’t. We did lots of Cheshire cat grins and ‘Gracias-es’ and we both felt it really important to show how delighted we were to be living and now both fully resident here in Spain.
This is our home…. and we LOVE it!
I also resisted skipping out the office and we settled for the obligatory “Now resident” photo shoot in front of the police station.
Instead of going somewhere to celebrate, we very sensibly and locially decided to run the gauntlet back to Orgiva to try and get the legalised copies of the documents I needed to reapply, redirect, and just frisking send me my Spanish driving license… puleeeeeeeeez!
And we were treated the stunning views as we headed back up into the mountains… and reminded yet again of why we had chosen to live here!
Having failed earlier in the day, I was determined this was going to be second time lucky… and I went into the Orgiva town office, armed with a smile and google translate and the determination to just get it done. Again… MGM was tasked with parking the impossible and I jumped out at the traffic lights to go into the council offices and try my luck.
And hey presto…. “the man he say YES!!”
And that meant a swift happy walk up the main street to find MGM on a bench again in the plaza and then heading into the lawyers office to get my driving license changeover form, submitted… again. I have to admit that I’m having a bit of a sense of humour failure about having handed over my UK driving license in good faith… and not getting the Spanish one in return. Surely, this would be 4th time lucky.…
It remains to be seen.
Once in the office… we had a bit of a wait while another British couple were going through the process of getting their driving licenses sorted. I resisted the temptation of saying anything along the lines of an ironic ‘Gooooood Luuuuuck’ as they filled in their paperwork. Meanwhile, at the other desk, I was able to cancel the Social Security appointment for my health card, that had been remade for me, without telling me… but on a day that I would be working.
And after that… there was nothing for it, but to head straight to our favourite restaurant, Venta Maria, for some great food and atmosphere and… celebratory vino blanco y cerveza.
And right now… MGM is plucking up the courage to send off his driving license… because he’s now illegal… as a Spanish resident driving on a UK license in a Spanish car. My social security appointment is set for next week… and while I’ve since received a document to allow me to drive without the Spanish license card… we’re holding our breath in anticipation of the real thing miraculously appearing within the next 3 weeks.
And it will.
Because we all know that miracles ARE the new reality.
Hasta luego my lovelies… until the next time!