Tuesday, July 5, 2011

There's a Guy for That

Dealing with bureaucracy anywhere can be challenging, but especially so in Mexico. The problem is if there are any rules no one quite seems to know what they are; or the rules change every week. Gringos here spend an inordinate amount of time worriedly exchanging information, passed along like that game of telephone and so in the end totally wrong, about the latest regulations for, say, owning a foreign car in Mexico or getting your visa renewed. You can go to official government websites that Google will adventurously translate from Spanish to English for you only to find the person working the desk at the local office will have completely different\outdated\up-dated information and you haven’t brought the right paperwork or enough money for the fee. I know someone who got her car impounded a week ago over a regulation she didn’t know existed.
The answer, I’ve discovered, is to find someone who knows a guy. (And before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, I’m speaking generically, of course: the "guy" could be a woman.)
I’m a pretty independent person and for the most part like to take care of business myself. But now I’m having to learn a whole new way of doing things. When I wanted to change my status from tourist to resident, I looked up the info and thought I knew what documentation I needed and how many copies to make of it. Then I would just take it to the immigration office and file my application. Hah! Before I actually embarked on this foolish endeavor, my friend Eleanor took me firmly in hand and said I was not to attempt this myself; she had a guy for that.
Apollinaire came to the house, filled in all the paperwork for me (which was in Spanish way beyond my reading a menu/getting directions level of comprehension); held up a white sheet for a back-drop and took the right size and type of photo; and then took it all away to file for me. A week later he called and asked me to meet him at the immigration office. We walked to the head of the line, where he greeted the official by name. She scrutinized my driver’s license, fingerprinted me, and handed me my laminated FM3 visa in the space of about 10 minutes. When I saw a number of bewildered looking gringos wandering around the building with manila envelopes clutched in their sweaty hands, I was really glad I had a guy. (By the way: only a month old, this visa type of visa was phased out in June and no one really knows that implies for those of us holding one!)
The next step was getting my stuff into the country. With my new visa I had six months to bring my personal household goods into Mexico without incurring import fees. But to do so, you have to make a list of every single item you want to import in both Spanish and English. I’ve heard some horror stories about things that happen at customs. I mostly had a lot of boxes and had long since forgotten what was in them.

Itemising this stuff would have been a challenge.


Man: Did I need a guy for that! Enter Mario of Goldenbear moving.  He picked up my stuff in California and delivered it to my door in Pozos. He took care of everything that needed to be done at the border for me, no questions asked.  


Mario (r.) the guy for getting your stuff here.

So whether you have furniture that needs refinishing; clothes that need altering; or are looking for health insurance, a cell phone, or a massage, you just have to ask around because for sure someone will have a guy for that.
But now I have a dilemma.  My new old house needs a bathroom make-over. The floor is covered with death-trap high gloss tiles, the paint is peeling off the walls, and the unenclosed shower wets everything in the entire room except the person standing under it. (But it does have a lovely vintage sink.)

This great old sink will find a place in
the new bathroom

Fortunately, I know what to do because I have a guy for that in the guise of my friend Ruth, a wonderful designer. She came up with great ideas and made an architect’s rendering that I now need someone to execute. And that’s the problem. Everyone I speak to in my new home town has a guy for that. There’s a plethora of go-to guys in Pozos.

Designer "guy" Ruth came up with this incredible plan
for my bathroom. Now I just need a guy to do it.

Do I go with the guy who’s worked in the states and understands Gringoese? Or do I opt for the guy who does great work but speaks no English? Or the guy who’s apparently totally hot and who cares what he speaks? Or the one who’s really cheap? And this is a small town so will anyone be offended if I don’t choose their guy?
I need someone to help me decide what to do. Is there a guy for that?

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