Tramites is Spanish for “paperwork”. As in “You are going to stand in line for days on end, only to be told you used the wrong brand of ink pen to sign your document and will have to start all over again” paperwork. Take, for example, my morning.
We sold our big red Suburban. Although it’s kind of fun to drive something big enough to live in, we have decided in our old age to stick with smaller cars that don’t require their own ZIP code. Here in Ecuador, even though only ONE of you actually owns the car, BOTH of you have to sign if you’re going to sell it. They are serious about this. Several years ago, a young, SINGLE friend of ours was leaving the country. He needed to sell his car. They wouldn’t let him, because he couldn’t prove he wasn’t married. If you’re not laughing hysterically by now, read that sentence again. After six weeks of fruitless line-standing, he marched into my office one day and announced that he had decided that it would be easier to just find a wife and get married.
This morning, both Dan and I, along with the proud new owners of the Big Red Truck, had to go to the notary to have our signatures witnessed. I assumed that I would be a little late to work. After eight years, I should have known better. We went to the first notary’s office, where we were informed that they don’t witness signatures for vehicle purchases any more, just other signatures. I didn’t know that there was a difference between my vehicle purchase signature and my adoption signature, which was the last one I had notarized. I proceeded to spend about 5 minutes trying to picture the two signatures and figure out the difference. The fact that I spent 5 minutes on this should make you very glad you don’t live inside my head. It’s a complicated place sometimes. While I was trying to figure this out, my Sweet Hubby was trying to be somewhat more useful and find out where we could go to have a “vehicle purchase” signature notarized. Two blocks down. Convenient. We headed in that direction. This building was a slightly newer structure with 14 floors…and one elevator that would hold two small people and a cat comfortably. Actually, it had another elevator but when the guard pried the door open there was no car. Just a 40 foot drop to the bottom. We took the other one. When we arrived at the SECOND notary’s office, the secretary informed us that he wasn’t there, but he should be there in “about an hour”. Down here, that means that she has no idea where he is, he could have gone to the beach and not be planning to come back until June, and Yes, we should sit down and wait. Dan asked her if we would be first in line when he got there (we were the only ones in the office) and she said yes, unless someone else came in. Then she couldn’t guarantee it. I swear–I am not making this up. Dan proceeded to call our attorney. I thought he was arranging bail, because I was going to need it, however he was just asking her if she knew of a notary who 1) could notarize a vehicle purchase signature and 2) was usually in the office at 9:00 on a Thursday morning. She sent us to the THIRD office. This one actually required us to get in the car and drive there, as it was clear across the park, and this princesa wasn’t in the mood to walk. We arrived, found the office, and wonder of wonders, they escorted us in. After three offices, almost three hours, four secretaries, three security guards and a very nice lady who sat down with us for some reason that I still haven’t fathomed…we signed our papers. I got to work 3 hours late.
Ya’ll don’t get to complain about the DMV where you live any more. Really.