My on-going love/hate with Mexico.

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.



Such 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.

And friends, this is no exaggeration.


This 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.

The 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" names.

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...


We 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?

Absolutely incredible.

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.
Columbus, 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?

It's incredible.

Absolutely incredible.




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.
Godspeed.

14 comments:

  1. (Sophia is snuggling with me as I read this. She realllly wants to play with 'those girls'. ;) She wants to know why Ms. Lila has boo boos (bandaids) on her arm. And she thinks your hubby looks just like her Daddy. And she thinks Mexico is pretty. Ha.)

    Okay, now my comment:

    That beach looks AMAZING! Perfection, really.

    Sooo...can you still travel with the girls without passports? Or do you need to stress and figure this out before July? What a pain!

    This reminds me of trying to get a MI drivers license after getting married/changing my name/and moving from OH. Nightmare!Nothing paperwork wise was good enough to prove I was who I was and I lived where I said. I think it took two months and a handful of trips, along with multiple stacks of paperwork to finally get my license. Really?? The US is just as crazy at times. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, sweet Sophia. I know my girls are going to be very happy to meet her. :) Please tell her that Lila just likes to wear bandaids -- there's no boo boos under there.

      And YES! We CAN leave Mexico without the girls' Mexican passports but it's just sort of going to be a bit more complicated. Especially re-entering.

      And, that's insane that you had so much trouble about switching from Ohio to Michigan. NUTS. Red tape is annoying!

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  2. sorry for all the frustration, friend!! what a pain in the arse to have to work so hard to prove you are the mother of your children. at least the crap happened at the end of your weekend, so you were able to fully enjoy all that beautiful beachiness beforehand. :) good luck getting things sorted out!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, friend! And you're right - the beautiful beachiness was definitely enjoyed before the debacle.

      (Hope you're feeling well!)

      Delete
  3. OMG. I am so, so sorry this continues to be such a ridiculously frustrating process for you. :( I would have punched someone when they told me I had to go to OHIO to get the documentation. UGH.

    I'm glad you have some alternate plans in the works. Ugh - so frustrating!!

    On the other hand, your time in La Paz OUTSIDE the passport office looks nothing short of magical. I'm so glad you guys got the chance to unplug and have amazing family time. :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you, friend.

      And the professionals in La Paz told me that I could get the necessary paperwork at the U.S. Consulate in Cabo... except they don't offer that kind of paperwork.

      Everyone is an idiot there. It's the requirement.

      Delete
  4. I can't believe you have to go through all that!!

    That beach is so beautiful it looks alien. It's like nothing I've ever seen!!

    Your girls get cuter every day if that's even possible. :-)

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  5. I keep picturing myself in your scenarios and how bad it would be. Honestly. Can you even fathom it?

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  6. Have you explored the logistics of changing your last name again? Given that you are going to have to go through this passport renewal process again, I wonder if the hassle of changing credits cards, your passport, your social security card, and other documents might be worth it. Despite all the red tape, I think you have given your girls a great gift. Dual-citizenship could open doors for them when they are older.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed I have. It's a semi-lengthy process. Since we don't plan on living here forever, I'm hoping that a Mexican Consulate in the states has more of an understanding regarding common American naming convention and can work with us...

      We shall see.

      Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading!

      Delete
  7. UGH.

    I am sorry to hear about the passport thing. So does that mean you can't come to the states? That really sucks that there is so much red tape, paper work, changing rule, etc for kids UNDER 3 to get passports. Ridiculous.

    Can you mail the stuff to the apostille? I know for work we have to get them for certain things we do and we can mail documents to them and they are fairly quick about it. Of course, I know your mail is not the best either :(

    As for the love of Mexico, that time prior to the passport fiasco sounds AMAZING. I am so glad you had that time together as a family. Seriously, that is fantastic what you guys have been able to experience living down there and it is such a unique experience for your girls, even if they do not fully appreciate it yet!! Life changing for sure!!

    And look how much your little ones have changed! Love it! They have grown so much. And I swear I was just reading you posting about this last year and had no idea it had been a year already. CRAZY.

    I hope you manage to get everything worked out :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We can absolutely still come to the States... just might be a little tricker.

      C.'s Mom is working on helping us with the apostille process. I think that we can get them DHL'd here.

      Thanks for the comment my dear friend -- can't wait to see you when we finally get to the States. :)

      Delete
  8. Dear God. That is ridiculous! And I thought it was a pain in the ass to go from Ohio stuff (license & tags) to North Caroline and then back to Ohio, while changing last names. That was a minor inconvenience compared to this.

    BUT, does that mean you are going to be in COLUMBUS sometime? Because I live there. And I would love to see you all - even if just for lunch or something. Let me know!

    ReplyDelete

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