February 9, 2007

My Country ´Tis Of Thee...

On Monday of this week I spent a few hours in the United States. I accomplished this not by hopping on a supersonic Concorde jet to lunch in Laredo, Texas, but rather by simply going to the United States’ embassy in San José. They say that an American embassy is actually American soil, regardless of the fact that it’s physically in another country. I don’t know if that’s true, though, and I don’t really care to find out. But I’ll still treat it as a fact.
So anyhow, I was in the U.S. the other afternoon going on a wild goose chase for a Costa Rican work permit. The school that hired me sent me to the U.S. embassy, despite my protests that the U.S. embassy would have nothing to do with giving out Costa Rican work permits. That kind of task, I argued, would more likely be taken care of by the Costa Rican Ministry of Migration and Foreign-ness. But still, sometimes you have to go to stupid lengths to prove a point if your protests fall on deaf ears. Plus, it was a beautiful day, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than waiting inside a sterile, over-secured complex filled with huddled masses longing for freedom (and the huddled bureaucrats longing to deny it to them).
After a long trip just to get to the embassy, I took my number and sat down for a while. I talked to an American lady who was in the embassy to get additional pages put in her passport. She had an impressive travel resume and an impressive name to match it: her first name was Bushnell, and one of her middle names was even Bird. And this wasn’t one of those nicknames that stay within your family; all four of her exotic (or maybe just odd) names were official and on her passport. She was really nice, though, and she told me about some development projects she’d been working on in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.
Finally, after a wait that only turned out to be around a half hour, my number was called and I went up to the bulletproof teller window. There was a microphone and a speaker to allow the two parties on each side of the window to communicate, but not very well; I had to continually turn my head back and forth like a moron so that I could hear when I the microphone crackled, and to look at the person just two feet away from me when I was talking. It’s weird to think that even though this is the first impression that many Costa Ricans would get of the United States’ government, there is still a line of people waiting to try to get there.
So, the lady told me (of course) that the U.S. government had no jurisdiction over Costa Rica’s internal affairs, and that I’d have to take my inquiry to the Ministry of Migration and Foreign-ness. So I asked her if I could also get some more pages in my passport. Might as well not waste a trip to the U.S. by coming back empty-handed, I figured.
And from there the story just goes on and on. Basically, the Costa Rican folks were neither helpful nor friendly, but that’s understandable, since they work for the government. The situation is still being sorted out for the work permit, and in the meantime I’m still trying to get my permanent residency. So far, though, the fight against bureaucracy is still going tolerably well (and at this point, don’t just knock on wood; beat the living shit out of some wood for me, cause I might need all the luck I can get).

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Kristen said...

None of this bodes well for me... You've always been good at instilling confidence! Bushnell Bird's parents must've been birdwatchers! It'll all work out, I'm sure!

Sitzman said...

Shit, you responded to this posting FAST!
Good luck fighting the Eurotrash Man (or is it Der Mann...although with the accusative case, you´d be fighting DEN Mann...unless the Germans tried to fuck with you and make fighting the man an action that would require a dative article, in which case, good luck fighting DEM Mann!) Their bureaucracy probably relies less on flattery/inefficiency and more on paperwork/inefficiency.

Bb said...

When I took International Law one of the first things the professor wanted us to learn, was that embassies sit on land owned by the host country, but the laws of the host country and its jurisdiction are suspended and replaced with the foreign land's laws.