Thursday, April 15, 2010

Another "Adventure" - Part Three

As we approached the Chilean side of the border, we were puzzled about whether we had to park or simply drive through a checkpoint. We asked instructions from the nearest police officer, who informed us that all passengers had to leave the vehicle and stand in line with pertinent paperwork. Our tribe tumbled out of the van and we tried to encourage some semblance of order as we approached the waiting area.

Unfortunately the double stroller for the little boys did not fit in the car this trip, so we had Ian in an umbrella stroller and Alec in a sling on my hip. The latter proved quite cumbersome when we reached the window and began having our documents checked by the agent! I would try to reach into my purse or through the slot to handle paperwork and without my arm to restrain him our little chubby guy would start to topple backwards. When I say "chubby" I mean "chubby" and the weight on my neck and shoulders was tiring and distracting. Eventually Pedro and I discovered that if we stood very close to one another, Alec could rest against his daddy and not fall out of the sling while I was otherwise occupied. But oh, how I wished for that stroller!

Some of the documents we had included were not needed for this step; others we hadn't included were; but eventually we were able to show everything that was requested. New birth certificates for Ian and Alec had arrived literally days before, which we brought in a folder along with birth certificates for each of our other children as well as our own birth certificates and marriage certificate. Here in Chile families have what they call a "libreta de matrimonio" (booklet of marriage) which records the couple's marriage, birth of children, death of family members, etc. Apparently it is similar in appearance to a passport and certainly sounds a lot less complicated than what we carry around. Thankfully, however, the agent did not question our birth certificates from four different states, two different countries and in two foreign languages!

It was frustrating to try and hear the agent from behind his glass window as we stood outside in the night breeze. Also, our older kids were quite antsy after the long ride and we were continually trying to reign them in and keep them away from the curb where cars would eventually pass through once their occupants were cleared to go.

Finally, the first agent approved us and we were sent to the next window. Here we found ourselves nearly turned away for a reason we had not anticipated. Rather than accepting Pedro's US passport, as the other agent had, this agent requested his Chilean identity card. If you know anything of our paperwork woes you might remember that Pedro's carnet has been expired for quite some time thanks to one woman's campaign against foreign names with suffixes. He has been in-process to get a new residency card and subsequently a new carnet for a number of months with no immediate end in sight. Because of this expiration, the agent behind window number two did not want to allow our group to drive through to Tacna. I explained the situation as clearly as I could and stated that we had been told by the Civil Registry office that everything would be okay as long as Pedro's paperwork was "en tramite" (in-process.)

"Everything is okay for their office," she retorted. "But not for ours." Aaargh! Can you say one hand, other hand?? Finally she hesitatingly agreed to let us through, remarking pointedly that "let's hope you come back." I almost laughed and said to her: "Ma'am, we have a home in Chile and are traveling with FIVE children. There is no way we want to stay in Peru with all these kids!"

At this point Pedro was told to head back to the car with his forms and the rest of us were told to wait at the opposite corner for his arrival. Our friend Martha accompanied us on this trip and I was appreciative of the extra set of arms as we attempted to coordinate potty breaks and watch little kids and keep hyper big kids out of trouble until Daddy appeared!

At last he pulled up and we crowded back into the van without worrying about seatbelts, since the Peruvian checkpoint was just shortly up the road ...

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Once your (collective) permanencia comes through, you can get a libreta de familia, too. (How's that for a Spanish-English sentence that only Chile-dwellers can understand?)