Sometimes you just have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re going to just have to let some days go when you live on Tenerife. Days when you line up against the forces of bureaucracy with the strongest weapons in your arsenal to hand and know that they simply aren’t enough. Days that you know you might as well bare your neck to the beast and say:
“On you go, get it over with. Bleed me dry.”
You should have deduced by now that I’m not a fan of dealing with ‘the system’ here; an ironic state of affairs given one of my previous work personas. To anyone I ever uttered the words:
“Sorry, but you need to fill in another form before you can get any money,”
Enjoy the fact that for eternity I will be doomed to walk the corridors of hell’s Ayuntamiento looking for one more form to fill in as a penance.
Today we prepared for another clash with the beast and despite photocopying ever official document we had and reading up on procedures courtesy of Tenerife Lifeline and The Tenerife Forum, the dreaded feeling that somebody would find something wrong with our documentation just wouldn’t shift.
Chanting a mantra of ‘just be cool however long it takes, whatever happens,’ we set off for the first stop in our paper chase of Puerto; the Ayuntamiento (town hall) just after 9 am.
There was nobody waiting at the window where customers queue to get their empadramientos (a document which shows you live in that municipality and entitles you to reduced parking etc and one that we needed to register for a ‘Certficado de rigistro de Ciudadano de la Unión’).
Within a few minutes a girl assistant came over to us, printed out the forms we wanted and helpfully told us the receptionist would print copies as well. Transaction complete in under 10 minutes.
Next stop was the police station, a bit of a trek through Puerto’s old fishing
Quarter. There’s always a queue outside the police station. I never see anyone actually being brought in for questioning, or anything interesting like the time we were caught in the middle of an attempted breakout by a Maasai warrior in a hell hole of a police station in Africa (but that’s another story). No, in Puerto’s police station the queues are made up of people waiting to carry out administrative tasks. This morning there were only about 20 people in front of us but, as there was no ticket system, it was unclear how the 4 admin officers behind the desks would know whose turn it was. I could see chaos looming and our ‘just be cool’ mantra being chucked out of the window the minute any one of the officers shouted “siguente” and there was a free for all to get seen next.
And then something unexpected happened. One of the woman officers shouted ‘extranjeros’ (foreigners) and nobody moved. We hesitantly shuffled forwards and she motioned for us to sit down.
Andy handed over the forms we’d printed off from the government website, our passports with a copy of each and then our empadramientos and our photographs which the woman waved away.
“I don’t need those,” she smiled.
“We’d prefer if you sent the certificate to our post-box if that’s possible?” Andy asked remembering that someone had said that it would take about 5 days to process.
“It’s not necessary, don’t worry about it,” another smile.
Meanwhile I was shuffling a doorstep sized wad of papers.
“Don’t you want to see this?” I pushed some documents forward.
“Or this?” I tried another.
She hit a button on her keyboard, printed off two documents, asked us to check the details, and then sign them.
“That’s it,” she handed us a form. “Take this to the bank just up the road, pay the fee and bring the stamped copy back.”
We did what she said and within twenty minutes of us entering the police station we emerged triumphant with our ‘certificados’, declaring Puerto to be the most efficient municipality on Tenerife.
The sun was shining and the temperature had shot up a few degrees (thanks to calima) and we’d just experienced in Tenerife terms what had amounted to a minor miracle – a quick, efficient, pain free encounter with bureaucracy.
It’s almost worth opening a bottle of cava to celebrate.