Today we brought everything we needed to apply for the fifth renewal of our FM3 to the immigration office. This is the last renewal which will fit in our visa booklets. FM3s are visas which allow us to stay in Mexico for an extended time. They have to be renewed annually. We are still considered visitors. Next year we can applyf or an FM2 which gives us official immigrant status. After five years with FM2s, we can apply for citizenship. Yikes! at that point, ojalá, we'll be 72 years old. ¡Increíble!
The immigration office used to be in a spacious, airy suite of offices on the second floor of a government building. It has been moved, supposedly temporarily, to a storefront on Calle Revolución. The guy we talked to yesterday looked really skeptical that they'd get out of it anytime soon. Anyway, we went yesterday and everything was going smoothly till we went to Banamex to pay the fees. As I've mentioned before, one brings cash to a bank to pay fees and so forth. We hadn't realized that the first workday of the month banks are jammed. Or we'd sort of realized that some days banks are jammed, but hadn't thought about when. We waited for so long to pay that not only was the immigration office closed long before we succeeded, but I also missed my beloved singing group. Anyway, we finally succeeded, so today when we went back with all our paperwork and the receipts for the fees, the application process was a piece of cake. A very pretty, friendly young woman processed our paperwork muy efficiently.
Afterwards I took the opportunity of snapping some pictures of Calle Revolución, a narrow, busy, ever-interesting street jammed with people and cars and small retail stores selling almost everything. So here's a brief tour. We'll start at the top with the least obviously interesting picture, the entrance to the supposedly temporary office of immigration. The very faint sign to the side of the metal security door has the hours. The poster urges people not to endanger themselves by trying to cross illegally to the US. Those are the only indications that there is anything having to do with immigration here. Everyone has to squeeze through that small door set in the big one. As you can see, it is quite small. The office is actually a bit nicer on the inside, having been painted white, with a nice floor and posters and pictures on the walls.
Here we're looking across the street from just below the immigration office.
A newspaper stand. Note the number of dailies available. I recently read that competition for newspapers in Mexico still comes from radios...even more than TV and MUCH more than the internet. Obviously, newspapers are still quite popular.
A tacos al pastor place and clothing and electronics stores.
Ferreteria Globo, in English, Globe Hardware:
The picture below is of niños reyes being sold in a papeleria. They may be on sale since yesterday was Dia de la Candelaria. February 2 is the final of three days related to the coming of the Christ Child. The first, of course, is Christmas itself when the baby Jesus appears in a manger. The second is January 6, or Epiphany, when Jesus is visited by the three kings (and which is the day, traditionally for children to get their gifts in Mexico) and the third is Dia de Candelaria when Jesus (el niño rey) was presented in the temple, all dressed up. You can find an explanation in English here, where it says something I didn't realize before: at the time of Christ's birth, Jews considered mothers to be "unclean" for forty days after giving birth, so it was not until the fortieth day that babies could be brought to the temple to I guess be blessed. (Nothing is said here about when the baby would be circumcised.) Anyway, in our area of Mexico, the niño rey is dressed in beautiful clothes, kind of like baptism clothes, as you can see below.
I was subjected to some teasing about all this. We were hoping to have some friends over on January 6, but the book I was indexing had been subjected to delays and then needed immediately anyway (not uncommon) so I called very apologetically to postpone the get-together a few days. On January 6, it is traditional at the meal to serve a rosca, a circular cake, inside of which are baked small figures of Jesus. The person who finds himself with one is supposed to host the fiesta for Candelaria on February 2. Our friends said I was trying to get out of having to provide a second party on the chance I'd bet the one to find the figurine. Hadn't thought of that. We did have a second party, but I didn't give it. February 1 was Doña J's 50th birthday, and as you might expect, she did the cooking for her own party....but she had help cleaning up.
Anyway, finally here is the picture of the niños reyes (the sign beneath the niños advertises colored sand for sale. This is a papelería-craft store):
In our area, there are seed stores, but they don't sell seeds for planting, they sell dried peppers, herbs and spices, nuts and lots of different kinds of beans, all in bins of one sort or another. They also now sell various grocery items. Below is a picture of a big one:
In the ferreteria below, you can see hanging from the ceiling the jugs people use to transport fresh milk in and sell it from.
A mercería, or sewing store which also (as many do) sells craft materials:
A vendor at a side door of the church:
Looking up Revolución from the cross street where it ends. This street passes in front of the cathedral, Parque Benito Juarez and some fine old government buildings with beautiful murals on the inside. Also, you can see the pretty young woman holding a coke bottle. She is the traffic cop at this intersection. All the traffic cops at intersections around El Centro are pretty young women.
And this is the end of our walk down Revolución.