May 21, 2007

La Gringa gets her ID card

The small double doors to the left are for the migration office.
There is no indication whatsoever that this is a government office.

I just renewed my official Honduran residency card. Yes, I am a "legal." Although I'm sure it was a lot easier than it is for immigrants to the U.S., I'll have to say that getting this card took a lot of time, money, and effort so I really value it. Once a bank employee misplaced my card and suggested I come back the next day to see IF they found it. I sat down and said, "I'm not leaving until you find it."

I don't know why this renewal always stresses me out, but it does. I guess it was the fact that the rules changed the first few times. I was never entirely sure where to go, or what documents they would ask for, or how many copies they would need. There's no website where you can go find out such things.

And then there is always the chance that they'll spell my name or something wrong and it will take me 10-15 years to get it corrected, like some of the Hondurans I know who have just changed the name that they use because it is easier than getting their name changed on their ID card. Seriously. I know three people like this − I wonder how many there are?

Foreign residents used to only have to renew every two years, but now it is every year for some reason. Probably the fees. I'll bet most residents would gladly pay double if they only had to do it every two years, especially since there are only three cities in the entire country where it can be done and it requires a minimum of two trips to get the new card.

Every single year I have to take copies of my official Honduran documents down to the migration office to get the card. I don't know why they need copies of the same documents over and over again. Imagine the employee's time, not to mention filing space they would save, if only they could rely on the fact that the employee who issued my original card five years ago did actually see and file away copies of those official documents. It's kind of like if you had to prove every single year that you owned your car in order to get an annual license plate sticker.

I had to be re-fingerprinted this year for some reason. They took fingerprints the first time and never asked for them again until now. Unlike for certain other Honduran documents, they don't use digital fingerprints. Yuck! Look at that ink!

I also asked for and was granted a new photo. Wait! Before you start thinking that I was pouting because I didn't look "pretty" in my photo, I have to tell you that the photo was so distorted that I didn't look "human" in that photo. It appeared that the camera took a square photo which was then stretched to fit the rectangular space on the ID card.

I looked like a potato head and you really couldn't even tell if I was a Mr. Potato Head or a Mrs. Potato Head. Seriously. Well, the clerk was kind enough to take a new photo and even showed it to me on the computer screen first. But when she gave me the card − same thing! At least with this one you can tell that I am definitely a Mrs. Potato Head.

Anyway, I'm legal for yet another year and it feels good.

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