Efforts to get myself a NIE number (Numero de Identidad de Extranjero) are progressing, though progressing only in the same way that continental drift is. The NIE is the obligatory identity card cum national insurance registration all of us EU immigrants have to have. I'm told I need to carry it with me at all times (my passport too) and should I get stopped in the street by a pair of bored policemen initiating a routine check failure to have one or other of these items about my person may result in several hours down at the nick. It happens apparently.
As my plans here include the notion of trying to flog some paintings on street corners I figure getting myself fixed up with all the right documentation is probably prudent. At least then, as they confiscate my stuff I can wave my ID card at them before I get the time honoured kicking for good measure.
Of course this being Spain it's already taken me two trips into town to get as far as I have - which is merely to get myself a copy of the correct form. Not bad going I'd say considering on the first trip I made to the police comisaria office I got told I was in the wrong place (naturally) and I'd need to go and visit the nearest British Embassy. They thought there was possibly one in Sevilla, but failing that 'there's definitely one in Madrid'. Ok, well thanks for that. Helpful, not.
I found an official who was willing to listen to what I actually wanted and she informed me that though the comisaria used to be the correct place to visit for getting this sort of thing done it no longer was. I was indeed in the wrong place. More promisingly though the place I needed to go visit was conveniently at the other end of town. She gave me an address but no map or helpful tips on how to get there. I went home and left it for the next day as I was already too depressed to continue on. Anectdotal evidence from those who had gone through this procedure already told of 5 or 6 hour long waits, over several days, in sweaty offices and I wasn't in the mood.
Name: Dohren, Derek
Distinguishing features: irritated, bemused, befuddled, top of head missing.
So, next day, in probably the most violent and sustained period of rain here to date, I walked 2 miles across the city looking for the right place, a place I was fully expecting to turn out to actually be another wrong place.
I eventually found it, some sort of local government office, went in through the security body scanner, and was confronted by a waiting throng of about 50 people, all of them clearly of various nationalities. I informed Mr. Security what I was requiring and he asked me where I was from. 'Liverpool, England' I said and handed him my passport. He gave me a form, which I subsequently learned was the official NIE application form. I was then given a ticket with a number on, told to sit down, and then informed that when my ticket number appeared on the big screen on the wall (he pointed at the big screen on the wall to emphasise this point) I should proceed through those doors there (he pointed again at those doors there) and go and sit at that desk there, the one with 'number 11' above it (he lengthened his arm to full capacity to indicate desk number 11).
I sat down and prepared myself for a wasted day. Bizzarely, I'd only been sat for 3 seconds when my number popped up on the screen. Clearly it was a trap and I looked around to see if anyone else moved. No one did so I got up and went in through the doors to go and sit at desk number 11 like I'd been told. Obviously it can't have been my turn already but I thought I'd plead ignorance - my number was up on the board after all.
No one was behind the desk 'serving' but several people were being seen to at other desks. One of the female Vogons at one of the desks, a hatchet faced harridan clearly having a bad day, shouted something over to me. I deduced from the tone (though I couldn't understand a word she said) that she was asking 'oi, what the feck do you think you're playing at?' I ignored her. Within a few more seconds another fembot appeared and sat down at my desk. I showed her the NIE form and she laughed. 'No, no, no' she said, shaking her head. I didn't have the will or the vocabulary to argue with her and waited to see what city she was going to send me to next. Obviously the downturn in events was my own fault for being lucky enough to be seen to so quickly.
As it happened though it wasn't so bad. She got out a calendar instead and told me to come back on February 23rd, at 10 o'clock. It was a 2010 calendar too. There was nothing else to be said on the matter and that was that. I felt quietly pleased that steady, if unspectacular progress, is relentlessly being made. My tectonic plate may well be another half centimetre nearer to colliding with the Spanish NIE shelf by next Tuesday. Who knows?
I'll keep you posted on how that goes then. I'm assuming I fill out the form before I return though doubtless the office will be closed all day of the 23rd owing to some saint's day or other.