An expat Californian building a new life via the tango in Buenos Aires since 2003, including information on learning the tango and where to dance it in Buenos Aires.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Embassy Waltz

Thursday was a record cold day for the month of May in Buenos Aires, with the high at 12 degrees Celsius (53.6 Fahrenheit) and a low of 3 degrees Celsius (37.4 Fahrenheit). (Reported in Argentina's Travel Guide.) Cold, freezing cold, but still a beautiful day with bright sun and blue skies.

Ruben and I went to the U.S. Embassy to try once again to get a needed paper for Argentine Immigration so that I can get a long-term visa. (I've been working on getting enough papers to satisfy them for four years now, and still have to leave the country every three months!)

We took the bus to Palermo, and instead of walking the next three blocks to the Embassy, we took a horse-drawn carriage! I arrived at the ugly bunker of a building as if I were Cinderella attending the Embassy Ball. (Such a shame the Embassy resembles a prison and not a Belle Epoque palace like the other embassies in Buenos Aires.)

Only citizens can enter; Ruben waited for me in the park across the street.

There were no places to sit in the Consular Section, and so I took a number and stood against the wall. I waited, until I was the very last person there. The blinds went down behind the bullet-proof glass windows, and the staff went to lunch.

I went out to find Ruben half-frozen, and we warmed up with noquis (it was the 29th of the month) in the first restaurant we found, Nucha, which turned out to be excellent. Back we went, he to the cold park and me inside to take another number. At last I was told that the papers I had been required to get last year were not necessary. The papers were to prove that the person who has a birth certificate and a passport with two completely different names are both me. The papers that I had gone back to the States to get and which cost me a bundle in fees were not necessary.

On Thursday the Consulate simply contacted Social Security, and hours later I walked out of the Embassy with the required letter. I was happy that when I signed the document, I had to raise my right hand and swear in front of the Consul that it was true, that all those different names are mine. I like that. Somehow it felt honest and American; I just don't understand why I couldn't have done that in the first place: Yes, your honor, I am one and the same person! It makes so much sense that in Latin countries the women keep their maiden names and just add "de Rodriguez" or whatever. In the U.S. you can call yourself anything you want, and some of us do.

When next I go to Imigracion in Retiro with my box of papers in hand, maybe this time I will have enough of them, and the search for the Glass Slipper will be over at last.

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