The interesting thing about official business in Spain, as I found out when applying for my visa, is that the culture has different expectations and responsibilities are spread differently in society. So, when I discovered that I already
had an NIE number assigned to me, I was thrilled. Getting the NIE can be a royal pain in the neck, because it is kind of like a social security number, but used for much, much more. My NIE was included in a letter that was sent to me in Spain in care of my friends who live here. (Oh, and I needed MORE passport-size photos. Had to have them made, too… and that was probably the fastest and easiest part of my day!)
Here’s the thing: I had to take the original letter to the bank and pay €15.15 for an official approval of the document. In the US, I would never think of going to a bank for a governmental function greater than a notary, but here, the rules are different, right?
So far, so good. With my completed paperwork in hand, off my friend Cristian and I go, because now I’m totally ready to get my official identification card. NIE: Check. Receipt for paying? Check. Visa? Check. Copies of my passport? Check. Passport-size photos? Check.
“Well, sorry,” the policeman at the door said. “You need to come back tomorrow to get your paperwork finalized.”*
Furthermore, without the card, I couldn’t apply for a phone service plan, either, even though I had all of the correct information (or so I thought). But that’s a story for another day!
On the positive side of things, I got a chance to see some of the city, practice my Spanish, see my friend Jose and introduce him to Cristian, and walk around the downtown area of Valencia. The weather was sublime, the company excellent, and the adventure underway. Everything else is an inconvenience, and that’s all the power I am going to give it.
*This is an estimate of a five-minute rapid-fire conversation in Spanish that was navigated, thankfully, through my friend and the policeman, completely and efficiently ignoring me. Probably the best approach for everyone.