Monthly Archives: January 2015

INM IMSS INAPAM IRS

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I have faced a few challenges this past year. And four of them have something in common. They all begin with the letter “I”.

First came INM. Mounds of paperwork and unnecessary photocopies, redundant photos and fingerprints, and several visits to Migracion here in Guadalajara as well as a visit to the Mexican Consulate in McAllen, Texas.

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Several months later, I was the proud recipient of a residente temporal tarjeta. But that was only the beginning!

Next it was time to apply for health insurance. What? That long complicated number on the tarjeta is not my CURP number? I need another number? Of course! More photocopies and photos! And then I magically receive this number on the internet days later.

On to IMSS. CURP number, documents translated from English into Spanish, photocopies, photos, malfunctioning computers in government offices…….. I think that about covers it. 

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If you want to read more about these experiences, check some of my past blog posts. The “It’s Complicated” series address the health insurance issue. “Finally” deals with the visa process.

In Mexico you can apply for an INAPAM card when you reach the age of sixty. This card entitles you to a variety of discounts, the main one being transportation for me. And they even gave me a new name on this card! And it has a lovely (not) photo of me as well as a fingerprint. By the way Kyle, your name and phone number appear on this card as an emergency contact. Please don’t change your number. I don’t want to go through this ordeal again either anytime soon. Too much paperwork and translated documentation. Oh, and thank you for being my number one son!

The fourth hurdle is the IRS in the USA. I have published two books with an American company. But I am a Canadian, a foreign author. Changes in legislation necessitate that I apply for a tax number or my publisher will withhold a ridiculously high percentage of royalties. A nuisance, but no problem. The form is completed and then submitted.

Weeks later I receive a letter informing me that they require additional information confirming my identity as a Canadian citizen. The two pieces of identification must contain photos. And they request original documents. No photocopies for this country. And the documents are my passport and my driver’s license.

So here I am living in Guadalajara and they expect me to forward these original documents to them. Anyone who lives in Mexico will clearly understand how ludicrous an idea this is!

The letter also provided a phone number in the contact info. But it’s Friday! Apparently the weekend starts early in Austin, Texas. Oh well, there’s always Monday………..

 

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The Ocean The Moon And Chocolate

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I was walking through Centro this morning on my way home from school and decided to treat myself to a donut at Croissants Alfredo. It’s not a Tim Horton’s Boston Creme, but it was a tasty sugar donut and still warm from the oven. I then parked myself on a bench and observed the people around me.

On a blanket sat a group of inflatable penguins, guarded by an old man in a baseball cap, cigarette dangling from his mouth.

Next to him was another blanket watched over by two men gobbling down tacos. Their treasure was several bottles of knock-off perfumes and colognes.

And then a child no older than ten years approached me selling candies and gum, followed closely behind by an old woman hobbling on two canes.

Yes, Guadalajara is a fascinating city. Apparently there are no laws or regulations regarding what you can sell and where you are allowed to sell it. Claim a space on the sidewalk and display your wares.

And this applies to buildings as well. There are no zoning bylaws. Pay the rent and do whatever you want. A restaurant, a pharmacy, a laundromat, a school, a gift shop, a clothing shop, a church…….above, below or next to a house.

Aside from teaching ESL here in Guadalajara and people watching, I am an aspiring writer. Although I have kept personal journals off and on throughout the years, I actually published a book six years ago.

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And my second book will be live as soon as I can figure out how to download the sign-off forms and master an electronic signature. Actually I thought I had done this. But hours have passed and several emails have been sent back and forth. And one form stubbornly refuses to download and be electronically signed. Grrrrrr……….. Those of you who know me well are probably laughing by now. Especially my friend Laura, my computer guru back in Winnipeg, and my friend Craig who is somewhere between here and Cambodia right now. People jokingly refer to me as technologically challenged or technologically impaired. But I prefer the way in which one of my current housemates expressed it today. I am just not computer savvy!

However, it turns out that I have been unable to download and electronically sign the form because it is locked on my publisher’s end for viewing only. So that means that I really have mastered the art of downloading and saving PDF files and electronically saving them. After all it did work for one of the forms. Hah!

I think it’s time to vent my frustration, or become more frustrated, not exactly sure which. Candy Crush Saga here I come! And if anyone has some tips on how to pass Level 765, please pass them my way……..

 

 

Tennison Miller

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Who is the world is Tennison Miller and why am I writing about her? She hinted at it one day, so here it is.

I live in shared housing here in Tlaquepaque and it is an amazing experience. We share far more than a house together. My housemates come from all over the world, bringing their culture and languages along with them. Stimulating conversations abound and we have incredible adventures together here in Mexico.

Tennison arrived here three weeks ago, along with her bubbling personality and contagious enthusiasm. She hales from Noosa, Australia and has always lived only moments from the beach. Now how awesome is that?

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Her first morning here off we went to Jahanve for breakfast. Then we strolled through Centro Tlaquepaque and the Jardin Hidalgo. In the evening we went to an Advent and Carol service at a church.

The next day Tennison began her four hour days of studying Spanish at a language institute, in preparation for her five month university program in Queretero beginning this month. That’s right. “Uni” as she calls it. Tennison is only 19.

While here Tennison attempted to explore Tonola and museums in Centro Guadalajara. Yes, attempted. Not all buses marked 275B go to Tonola. Instead Tennison found herself in St. Martin. And one day in Centro both museums she had chosen were closed. But she did strike up a lively conversation with a Viet Nam war vet, so all was not lost.

And Tennison actually did make it to Tonola. She was on her way back home from the old bus station and missed her stop and wound up in Tonola at night when the markets were closed.

Kidding aside, we sipped many a cappuccino at Jahanve together and I introduced her to authentic Mexican churros. She told me a lot about her life in Australia, and introduced me to extremely useful jargon such as “budgie smugglers.”

Tennison was delighted with the decorative Christmas tree near El Parian, and I took this selfie.

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We also went to El Lugar Secreto to hear a Mexican band singing British rock. And Tennison ventured out to Ajijic one day on her own.

On New Years Eve we prepared a great dinner for our housemates and friends and rang in 2015. Here she is serving up her yummy brownies.

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And all too soon her time in Tlaquepaque was up and it was onward to Queretero. But there was more drama here too. After unsuccessfully purchasing a bus ticket on the internet, Tennison went to Oxxo. To her dismay, when she examined her ticket when she got home it was for 1:30 am not pm as she had requested. So off she went to Central Nueva to exchange her ticket, as Oxxo wouldn’t do it. She returned home later in the day, happy as a lark, clutching her new ticket.

The next day we walked to the corner and along came an empty taxi, unusual for this neighborhood. And Tennison was soon on her way to Central Nueva.

Hours later I received a What’s App message from her. The bus had arrived in Guadalajara late, and it was also oversold. There was no seat for her! So she had to wait another two hours for the next bus.

And the house is so quiet now. I miss her infectious laughter and bright smile. And I will definitely have to go and visit her before she returns to Australia. Tennison is beyond a doubt one of the most fantastic housemates I have ever had.

Have a fabulous time in Queretero Tennison! Many more adventures await you here in Mexico.

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New Years Eve Nostalgia

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New Years Eve Nostalgia

Another new year has begun with the arrival of 2015. This is a time when people reflect upon their lives and propose various resolutions for the future. It’s also a nostalgic time of year for me.

I remember vividly New Years Eve of 1996. We were in San Antonio, Texas. We had a lovely dinner at Marie Callenders and brought a pie back to our condo. We had one of our friendly family card games. At midnight we toasted 1997 with champagne and watched on television a hotel in Las Vegas being blown up. But it’s a bittersweet memory as it was the last winter vacation we took together as a family. It was also the last time we all rang in a new year together. My children were now teenagers and wanted to spend New Years Eve with their own friends instead. 

My first New Years Eve in Mexico in 2010 marked the end of my train trip through the mountains up north. Our tour group had a delicious dinner in the dining room of the hotel in El Fuerte where Zorro was filmed. We then watched some amazing fireworks.

The next year I was back in Culiacan with my Mexican family.

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The following year I was in Mexico City with Angie and her family. I met these wonderful people when I was on my train trip two years before.

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Last year I welcomed 2014 with my neighbors. And this year I rang in 2015 with my housemates and friends.

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We had a lovely dinner together, chatting and listening to music. And at midnight we toasted 2015………Mexico, The Netherlands, Australia and Canada represented.

Toasting 2015

As for my own resolutions, I have but one. I am determined that 2015 will be the best year ever. I eagerly anticipate the many adventures that lie ahead in the future. I will not stress over the past but will remain rooted in the present.

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Feliz Ano Nuevo! Happy New Year!