Monday, October 17, 2011

Streetcorner Lawyers

Since Maya was born, we've spent quite a few hours at various government agencies getting all her papers in order so that we can travel to the U.S. next week.  For example:
  1. We had to go to the Managua city government to get her Nicaraguan birth certificate.
  2. With that in hand, we went to the U.S. Embassy to apply for her U.S. passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
  3. Following that we went to the Nica immigration office to apply for her Nica passport.
  4. And finally we returned today to apply for her exit visa, which is required for all children leaving the country (except tourists) as an anti-child trafficking measure.
Good times, good times!  Every time we go to the Nica immigration office there is always a big group of people at the gates shouting abogado! abogado! -- which is Spanish for "lawyer."  Until today we hadn't needed the services of these streetcorner lawyers, and had been kind of hoping to avoid such complications.  But for the exit visa we had to submit a lawyer-signed and notarized letter from Maya's parents (i.e. us) with the details about her trip out of the country.  So... across the street we went to a little sidewalk tent where a real live lawyer had set up shop with a copy machine and three old manual typewriters.
Ten minutes later we had our official document to submit in exchange for Maya's exit visa.  Just another little example of how things are done a little differently down here.  Bureaucracies, it seems, are kind of universal all around the world and the main difference we've seen here in Nicaragua is that you often have to go to 3 or 4 different buildings to collect all the various pieces of paper you need.  No one-stop shopping.  In such a situation, you can imagine suddenly feeling the need to have an abogado on your side.

When we return to Nicaragua we'll likely be spending more time in the immigration office as we apply for residency, but for now, we seem to have emerged unscathed with all the needed stamps and papers.

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