Sunday, January 9, 2011

Catching my Breath and… Oh, for a CAR!

What a week! I needed glasses and a new prescription. So when I had to go to San Juan del Rio a week or so before Christmas, I noticed an optometrist and, since the exam was free, decided on the spot to be tested. My reading glasses were almost unusable they were so scratched. I worked on the computer with MUCH difficulty given the state of my glasses. I had tried bifocals: they’d given me a headache. So I actually use two pairs, one for distance, another for reading and computer work. I had accidentally rolled my computer chair over the distance glasses with devastating results as you can imagine. I needed both glasses.

Test done, I was told to pick up both on December 23rd. A trip to San Juan takes some 20 minutes by car. Public transportation involves a bus to the bus depot in Tequisquiapan, and another one to San Juan. Taking into account waiting times, a trip to San Juan takes about half a day, more if I have to go to more than one store. When I tried on the new reading glasses, I saw letters dancing. Text absolutely illegible. It turned out that the lab had installed the wrong prescription. The optometrist, after a short talk with the lab attendant, decided to send for the prescription to Mexico City. My new glasses would not be ready until after January 6th! I have them now and can finally attend to my blogs. Now that you know, I’m hoping you’ll excuse my tardiness.

Then my FM3 (resident’s visa valid for one year) was to expire some time in February, or so I thought… However, I had forgotten that in fact, I had received my visa in January, February being the deadline for LAST year! There are new rules meant to simplify the visa renewal. And yes, renewal is a breeze. However, I was 2 days away from the deadline. Minor panic. Thankfully, now I could apply online, did, and was given a number to follow on the procedure with a trip to Querétaro. No problem. I would go between Christmas and New Year. A call to Querétaro informed me that the immigration office (INM) would be closed from December 20th to January 3rd. Another think imposed on yours truly. I headed for Querétaro on January 4th. By the way, a trip to Querétaro by car takes about 45 minutes.

Fortunately, the INM receives seniors in priority, which would save me time as I had to get photos taken at a studio and had also to head to a bank to pay the fee. Last year, the whole shebang had required some 3 trips after the initial one! I had checked what the requirements were for renewal and found info from another blogger but for another state.  Each state is given a bit of leeway in their requirements making it impossible to find out in advance what they were for Querétaro. I had called and been told that I would find out at the counter. End of discussion. Well!

Last Tuesday, I left on the 7:30 AM bus to Tequis, connected to the bus to Querétaro, took a taxi to the INM, (which incidentally, is open only until 1 PM), got the info, got my papers checked (all ok), took another taxi to downtown for the photos and the bank, hopped into yet another one to the INM, and made it on time. Later, with a bite to eat and a short shopping session at Walmart for stuff that I can’t find in Tequis, and I was back a few minutes short of 5 PM. A trip by car would have meant doing everything in half the time.

BTW, bus travel in Mexico is pretty fantastic. The Deluxe Class is not available between Tequis and Querétaro, but even in the only one available, there is a movie, the seating is very comfortable and the ride smooth and air conditioned. Also, with my Seniors card, I pay only half the price of the ticket on buses.

But, Oh… for a car! However, given the state of my retiree income, I have the choice between building a house (little) or buying a car (used), but not until I’m done paying for the lot at the end of January. I will admit that contemplating building a house with my limited income would be a pipe dream elsewhere North of the border. So, I am indeed very grateful. I’ll be “vehicular” in the future, near or far.

Because guess what? I’m going for the house!

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