Monday, September 29, 2008

Lesson #2 on Living in Spain

Be prepared to wait in lines. This morning, Tonya and I went to the police department to apply for an NIE (Número de Identificación para Extranjeros, an identification number for foreigners living in Spain).

I´d gone to the police station in La Judería last Friday afternoon to ask for information, and they told me I needed to go to the Figueroa police station. We barely made it there before they closed (at 2:00 in the afternoon! The siesta is a live and well in Córdoba). They had no more appointments that late, but it was worthwhile; I got information about the documents that were needed, as well as a copy of the form to be filled out. Therefore, we were able to come back completely prepared on Monday.

According to the advice I´d received on Friday, we showed up before 7:00 Monday morning. We´d been told that they would give out numbers at that time, and then see people in the order of their numbers. We arrived at 6:45 to find a crowd of Romanian and Moroccan nationals already waiting there. It was quite interesting to join this rough-looking group in front of a police station in an unknown neighborhood in the dark of the early morning, but we were all friends quickly enough. At 7:00...nothing. 7:15....nothing. 7:30....there was a little excitement when a policeman stepped out of the building, but he was just coming out for a smoke. Around 8:00, they finally came out and began dividing the people into groups according to nationality. We were given numbers and told to come back at 9:00, when they would begin to call us in. We found a little coffee shop to get out of the chilly breeze while we waited.

At 9:00....nothing. 9:15....they began to let Spanish nationals in. 10:00....they began to let in foreigners from other EU (European Union) countries. Around 10:45, they finally let us inside the building, into a waiting room that actually had chairs. This was a big improvement! Then came more waiting. About 11:30, we finally got to speak to someone about our NIE. She took all of our paperwork, asked a few questions, and then told us we had to pay 10€ each (as expected). When I asked if she could change a 50€ bill, she said, "I´m not the bank!" I´d thought that was rather rude, but it turned out she was being very literal. We had to leave the police station and go down the street to a bank, which took our payment and stamped our forms. When we returned to the police station, we waited some more. Finally, we went in and did the final paperwork. At 12:30, after 5 1/2 well-spent hours, we were done. All we have to do now is wait five weeks for the identification cards to arrive.


1 comment:

Searching Soul (a.k.a Darleen Pryds) said...

Ah, life in mediterranean countries...your story here is bringing me back to my first days in Rome when I had to get my permesso di sogiorno....

Also in Rome there is a supermarket where I always went for grociers. They did lots of business, so definitely had cash on hand. But try to use a larger bill, and the cashier always said, "We're not a bank." But with a little back and forth, I always got my groceries regardless of the size bill...they just needed the discussion to make the interaction proper.