"Listen to your gut, your sixth sense" I preach and yet the other day I failed to take my own advice. When I returned from Belize after procuring a new special visa for Residente Permanente (a story unto itself) the border official marked my FMM as if I were a tourist despite my showing the special visa. Unlike the 180 days normally granted to tourists upon entering the country, my visa allowed me one entry and 30 days to apply for a "Canje" or exchange of my special visa for a green card upon application to Immigration in town. The official was supposed to annotate my FMM with "30 days" and check the Canje block on the form. When I pointed out the error she simply checked the Canje block and told me to be on my way. My spider sense said to get a replacement. But I was still under the influence of a nasty flu. broken wrist, and barely able to summon the strength to walk from one end of the building to the other. I gave up too easily.
Fast forward a bit...As I was preparing copies of the necessary paperwork to present to the Immigration Office in town, I noted that the tiny ("Infantile" size) ID pictures in plastic wrap, electric bill, and FMM were small items that could easily fall out of the folder. Sixth sense said find a paperclip or envelope (neither of which I had). Time constraints said "just be careful".
Presenting my package to the very same Immigration official who had given me such a hard time in the past (with some all too obvious appearance of malevolent amusement on her part) the small FMM stub was not to be found. Oh, I had beautiful colour copies but no original. Not that an original would have changed my situation much anyway since the copies clearly showed I was there as a tourist not for an exchange (the "Canje"). Was it me or did the look on her face tell me she thoroughly enjoyed yet another opportunity to relegate my application to the "special" pile? Anyway, she directed me back to the border to get a replacement FMM and to make sure this time it was properly completed by whatever official I dealt with.
Time for a bit of online research as to the formalities and, most importantly, what this might cost me. I see nothing on the Immigration website but many anecdotal accounts by tourists who had lost theirs showed I was to pay for the 180-day stay (306 pesos, US$23.54) and about double that for a replacement FMM. OK, I could handle that with the cash in my pocket so off to the border I go.
So glad once again I live close to the border!!! I can't imagine the hassle if I lived hundreds of miles away. On the other hand, maybe the immigration overlords in far away cities had a better way of dealing with such situations. Then again, maybe not.
Upon arriving at the last checkpoint before the bridge to Belize I explain my situation. "Well, this is very serious," the official tells me yet with a deer in the headlights look as to what came next. A phone call summons "El Jefe", the big boss.
"Well, this is a very serious situation," he says. I silently wonder if they are trained to say this. But thankfully, no deer in the headlights look from him. In retrospect, it looked like a hint of greed. You know, like those cartoons when the dollar sign flashes where the eyes should be...
El Jefe scribbles on a piece of paper...a new FMM will cost 306 pesos for the visa and 1700 pesos (US$154.54) for the new one! "Of course," El Jefe explained, "if you do not want to pay you can go to Belize for 72 hours and return for a new FMM."
"Sadly," he continued, "I cannot let you return to Mexico without an FMM."
My beautiful full colour copy didn't stand muster. As well, if I left Mexico my special visa would be cancelled and I would have to procure a new one in Belize City. And who would dare enter the yard and feed the dogs? The decision was easy. Money exchanged hands...the receipt book, somehow missing in action, was not to be found...but the new FMM was now properly logged into the computer.
I left the border carefully guarding "my precious". I bee-lined it for the Immigration Office and turned in the new FMM. "Muy caro," I told the official. Very expensive. When I told her the price she asked for the name of the official, which I provided. Her silence told all: this was not the first time El Jefe has taken a mordida. I think she might even have been jealous.
Yet, as I write and to the best of my knowledge, my Residente Permanente package is now correct, complete, and I was told to expect resolution this coming week. We'll see!
The wet season has given over to the dry and but for an occasional early morning mist, the days are warm and sunny. Nights are still cool so the eiderdown duvet stays on the bed for now. Some preventive maintenance around the house is in on the schedule for this week and, of course, a bit of putzing around in the yard to spruce things up. I have another afternoon (or two) of book editing for a friend and some web design for another. I'm enjoying my evenings of "House MD" marathons and will soon be starting on three seasons of "Game of Thrones"; a series I've heard much about, seems to have a rabid following, yet I've never seen. Same-same for "Breaking Bad".
The other day I saw an interesting recipe on FaceBook and decided it worth a try. This one is modified from the original sufficiently I think that no special credit is due. The chicken was tender, juicy, and very, very tasty. Originally called Chili Lime Beer Chicken, I'm calling this...
DRUNKEN CHICKEN MEXICANA
12 ounces Negra Modelo*
6 TBS tomato paste
3 TBS fresh lime juice
1/4 cup sour orange
2 TBS sugar
1 TBS chili powder
½ tsp Tajin (a mix of chili, salt, lime juice, and more in powdered form)**
2 tsp garlic powder
3 TBS honey
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS minced garlic (or garlic powder to taste)
2 lbs chicken thighs
*Some would say it's a shame to use Negra Modelo in such a manner but the chicken really soaks up the flavor of the beer. It was the right thing to do. Besides, it was the only beer I had.
**Tajin is salty/spicy. Replace with more chili powder or hot sauce (to taste), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a squeeze more lime.
Whisk together all ingredients, add chicken, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove chicken, reduce marinade to thicken. Taste marinade and adjust seasonings as needed. I added a a few dashes of spicy habanero sauce.
Brush chicken on all sides with marinade, grill over hot coals and turn before charring, brush more marinade and finish cooking, adding sauce as necessary to keep moist.