i've dragged (drug?) my feet on this final step (no pun intended) for many reasons. mostly, i was scared that, because this process had been so (relatively) cheap so far, it was going to cost me an arm and a leg. there are always hidden fees. or a bribe. or some ridiculous trick at the end.
when i was informed that all government service fees would be increased beginning on february first, i jumped in the car and flew to the junta. because if it was an arm and a leg before, it would cost my first born child after friday. of course, in true dominican fashion, the one employee capable of doing my process doesn't work on mondays. could i please return on tuesday at two?
tuesdays in the pm don't work for me. but i'll be by on wednesday morning, k?
Wednesday rolls around, and, yes!, man-child is available. even better? he's got my paper already finished. except it's got a mistake and now we need to wait for his boss to authorize the change. no sweat, he and his cubicle mate were super nice and i got the low down on all the crazies that visit: mothers who are "looking for" their kids' birth certificates but don't know when they were born; a man wanting to know if his wife divorced him without his knowledge; the grandmother who came in to declare her 12 year old grandchild because the mother just never bothered to do it.
once the boss-man signed off on the letter change, i was sent to the printer to collect my new birth certificate and then i was sent outside to wait in a line. when i got to the counter, i was told i was missing our original marriage certificate. please wait in that line over there. nine people later i was given a fake certificate and sent to another line where i'd get the real thing and pay (more money).
i then re-waited the original line, was given permission to proceed and sent to the final step: cedulacion. i waited awhile, then was sent to the data entry point where a very nice lady took my information even though it was already on her screen and written on a piece of paper on her desk, but, whatever. i then fingerprinted and electronically signed. she sent me to the printer to pick up my own piece of paper, gave me a pen to sign and sent me to her boss.
who then proceeded to argue that this poor lady did the wrong process. that i wasn't possibly a new dominican citizen, and how dare she have entered all of that information without permission. and, no! you cannot vote in our country, that is reserved for people who pay taxes! how dare you, american girl!, assume that you get a real id card.
she was obviously having a bad day. so i headed back to my new friend at the front of the building who so graciously told me stories just a few hours before. crossing my fingers for grace, he was free! and he marched himself back to crazy-boss-lady to explain, after telling his mommy that he loves her and blowing her kisses no lie, that i was in fact a new citizen. and no, my parents aren't dominican. and yes, sometimes it's not a horrible thing to live here.
and just when i thought we were finished, she printed out this gem complete with seventeen last names and told me i'd be ready to go.... in a month. the government doesn't have any plastic to actually print the id cards, so i'll head back on february 28 and finally, finally be eligible for direct deposit (most important!) and medical insurance.
i am planning to write a blog post summarizing the whole process, so if you're interested, stay tuned!