Tuesday, January 27, 2008...Futalandia
Greg and I set off to accomplish three things:
1. Start our paperwork for our permanent visas;
2. Renew the truck plates; and
3. Check mail, and send out letters to family and friends who never write back.
The person in charge of preparing and processing our paperwork is on vacation. They cannot issue insurance renewals which are required prior to renewing plates, and the post office will not have stamps until tomorrow (and of course she cannot possibly let me pay for the stamps today and keep the mail to stamp tomorrow). We did however receive an invitation to attend Barack Obama Inauguration on January 20th. Oh well.
Getting things done in Futa requires more patience than a mother with three hyperactive children in the bathtub and a husband sitting on the couch watching football while a meatloaf burns in the oven. I am reminded of the "opening a bank account" debacle.
We opened an account with Banco Estado with our temporary visas (RUN). Even then, we got the once over and they requested everything but a pubic hair (here in Futalandia I guess they are considered public hairs) before completing the paperwork. We know that - at the time - it was not necessary or required, but they wanted to see documents for the property we owned, any utility accounts in our name, contract for the construction, paperwork from our bank in the other country. Crazy. I said screw it, I don't care..and plopped a folder full of paperwork on the bank managers desk and let him copy it. When they wanted some other absurd document, our attorney called them and had a chat. It's a classic Tuesday-Thursday Three Stooges Skit. Tuesdays the rules are this, Thursday the rules are something else, unless of course if on Wednesday, someones mother needs a new set of dentures, then you revert to the frightening and complicated Monday set of rules which are in effect and good only during odd years or during the Chinese Year of the Rat. In this case, you will be required to wear purple, turn around three times and kiss the ground, then, you will get a bank account.
And so it goes in Futalandia, where roses burst in every color, every twenty feet, on every single street and avenue. Where children come home from school for lunch, and no one would dream of going to the doctor, or bank all by themselves. Where Christmas is not about gift-giving, or ostentatious Christmas trees and decorations, but about lots of food, music, dancing, and Uncle Guido drinking too much boxed wine and falling off his horse, and everyone mingling in a big mix of great love and fun. It is a place that requires much patience and and where everyone knows how many bags of garbage you put out twice a week, and housewives sneak furtive glances across fence lines as they watch how you hang out your clothes on the line. Clothes pins, no clothes pins, double pins, pants inside out, or outside in? Technique seems to be important and discussed.
Most of the time, just as I am ready to drown myself out of sheer frustration by plunging my head in the toilet (which is low-flow and wouldn't work anyway), something happens. Bosque turns up his radio next door and I will hear him singing to his happy self as he washes out two of his four pair of socks to hang on the line. A jaunty huaso will clop by, and no matter how short, or tall, skinny or fat, or if he has teeth, or not, with that wonderful big-brim hat, and poncho, seated upon his much-loved horse and I think he is the most handsome, majestic man in the world. I cannot help but smile in my heart and think, what incredible people. And I feel okay again, although a little ashamed that I cannot cast off my other-world expectations of service and efficiency.