Up until now, “global warming” is a topic that I’ve chosen to avoid, at least in public forums like Facebook and on my blog. For the sake of the environment, our family has been using fewer plastic bags; Luis goes to buy bread each morning with a fabric tote made by Aunt Sarah and I ask my vegetable ladies to tumble my carrots, beets and other hard veggies straight into my market bag instead of putting them in a flimsy little 1 cent plastic bag first. We’re also trying to not use Styrofoam plates & cups when we host events. This was a bit of a challenge at our recent beach retreat where we had over 50 people present, but with everyone washing and storing their own utensils until the next meal, it worked! However, I’m not naive enough to think that our family’s personal habits really have any effect on “global warming,” either in causing it or in slowing it down.
But this week I DID discover a direct correlation between human actions and global warming, and I personally added a few extra degrees of heat to the atmosphere.
I have two Peruvian government-related tasks hanging over my head (renewing my driver’s license and fixing a mistake on Luis’ Peruvian ID card), and I decided that this would be a good week to begin working on them. Knowing these things wouldn’t happen quickly, I set aside every afternoon as well as a few mornings this week, and I also grabbed a small notebook so I could jot down how many offices I visit to do what in the U.S. is usually a simple task. I was curious for my own sake about exactly how much time we spend dealing with government red tape, and I thought you might also appreciate getting a better idea of what life overseas can be like. Here’s what has happened so far:
DAY 1 – MONDAY, February 18
- I drove to the Transportes office where I need to renew my driver’s license. There was a huge line all the way down the block, so I drove to the RENIEC (government registry) office where I hope to fix the mistake on Luis’ Peruvian ID card. This is a rather serious mistake; on the back of his card in the space for the mother’s name, I am listed as Rachel McDonald Hummel, a name that I have never used. This causes problems every time the boys and I travel without Ade, because I cannot prove that I am Luis’ mom. The man at the front desk didn’t know how to handle my problem, so he told me to come back in one hour to talk to the supervisor. TIME SPENT on license: 5 min. – TIME SPENT on ID card: 30 min.
- Back to the Transportes office to see about my driver’s license. The line was still out the door, so I went to the market and bought some of those vegetables without plastic bags. My small part in fighting global warming was canceled out by the heat of irritation that had started radiating from my head. TIME SPENT on license: 5 min.
- Back to Transportes again. No line, but the waiting room was packed full of people. I asked the guard standing at the door where I could go to ask a question about how to change my name and ID number when I renew my drivers’ license. (I recently completed my Peruvian citizenship process and need to make sure that all of my documents match.) The guard sent me to an information window; the lady there didn’t know what to do so she sent me to another window where the young man looked at my old visa card, my new Peruvian ID card, and the license that I need to renew. He told me there would be no problem in automatically switching all of the information, and he sent me off to do the medical exam. I found out later that what he told me was not true. TIME SPENT on license: 10 min. (not counting all of the time wasted in driving around and going to the market)
- Walked across the street to check out the Medico places. I thought I could do the exam right then, but it turns out that I need to get an appointment for later in the week, and I also didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay for the exam. TIME SPENT on license: 5 min.
- Back to the RENIEC office for Luis’ ID card. Another room full of people, but since I was not waiting in line for one of the typical services, I was sent right away to talk to the lady in charge. She was somewhat helpful, although she couldn’t really do anything to help. (Does that even make sense?) She told me to go to a Notary to get a special letter requesting the name change…. even though the original problem originated in the RENIEC office. TIME SPENT on ID card: 15 min. DAY 2 – TUESDAY, February 19
- Tuesday afternoon I drove back to the Medico offices and found a place that gave me an appointment for Thursday morning. The exam costs approximately $60.00. Thankfully I didn’t pay for it right then. TIME SPENT on license: 15 min.
- Then I walked across the street to an annex of the National Bank, and I paid two separate license fees totaling about $13.00. I’m very glad that there is an annex near the Transportes office, so I didn’t have to stand in a line like the one that is often at the downtown bank! I need to make sure to keep the receipts for when I go back to Transportes. TIME SPENT on license: 15 min.
- Back to the RENIEC office for Luis, where I walked right past a long line of people and straight into the Administrator’s office and explained my problem. He really didn’t want to help me, but I didn’t volunteer to leave his office, so we discussed a few options that sounded like they might work. TIME SPENT on ID card: 30 min.
- Stood in line at the National Bank so I could pay a $4.80 fee to try to get Luis a corrected ID card. TIME SPENT on ID card: 20 min. DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY, February 20
- Luis & I went to a local photo shop to get 6 passport-sized pictures taken for his ID card. He was happy because his hair looked cool! I was happy because this is all the red tape stuff we had to do for the day. TIME SPENT on ID card: 20 min.
Thus ends the first 3 days of unwinding government red tape for 2 different processes. Here’s the summary of office visits & time spent:
Luis’s ID card: 5 visits to different offices / banks; Time spent – 2 hrs. 25 min.
Driver’s License: 6 visits to different offices / banks; Time spent – 55 min.
Driving / walking / taxiing around town: at least 3 hours!
TOTAL TIME spent on red tape: 6 hours, 20 min. (and nothing is even close to being resolved!)
Amount of ozone depleted because of the irritation radiating directly from me: I’m not sure, but I think I could feel some of Mt. Huascaran’s ice melting!
In the meantime, someone from the municipal government came to the house asking to see our building permit, which is close to 15 years old and was only valid for the 2 years that we were building the house. Ade can’t find it, so he has to go down TO the Municipalidad with a letter soliciting a copy of this document FROM the Municipalidad, so he can then take it back TO the Municipalidad in order to prove that we built our house legally! How’s that for circular reasoning? But don’t worry, I’m not going to add this “adventure” to my list of red tape experiences on the blog.
Check back later (read this post) to see if I’m able to plow through all of my own red tape before Huascaran completely melts!