Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009: Trip to immigration this morning

Today was much more frustrating than yesterday, although much shorter. We left at 9:45, got photocopies made of the paperwork from yesterday, and were at immigration by just past 10:00. Marie, Lukas, and Katie stayed outside on the rocks under the trees and Helen and I waited in the hallway, where an old man gave me a seat, then a younger woman gave the old man a seat, and everyone was very friendly and talking with Helen. After about half an hour, it was my turn. The lady at the reception desk said that Mrs. Maria is not there and won't be back until December 1st, please come back in December. I said that they must have the file, though--could somebody else help me, please? She sighed, called a colleague, and I got to go into an inner office.
At this point, Helen started fussing, refused to nurse, didn't want to play with anything, and eventually started screaming. She has a very loud, piercing scream. While she was screaming and I was trying to talk with the lady, Katie came in, took her shoes off, and started to roll around on the floor, and when I told her to put her shoes on and stand up, she had a temper tantrum. I sat her on a chair, not particularly gently, and kept trying to talk with the lady who didn't feel particularly responsible for me.

She first tried to tell me that I need to apply for a yellow slip. I explained that we had applied in JANUARY, that we had been there FOUR times already. She finally looked for--and found--our file, and said that I need medical insurance for my "babies". (The Greek word that actually means "baby" is used for children of all ages, and Greek-speakers, even those quite fluent in English, tend to use the word "baby" in English, rather than child. Lukas and Katie do NOT like it when they say that to them, but I digress.) I said, "Yes, I have the E106 here, and the Cypriot medical card." She wasn't the slightest bit interested in the E106, but took the medical card off to photocopy.

Then she came back and said accusingly, "I need to see the E106." I smiled and handed her the E106, which she took off to photocopy.

Then she came back again (Helen was still screaming, by the way, but Katie had gone back outside to Marie and Lukas) and said, "Now we can send your application to Nikosia." I said, "My application has already been SENT to Nikosia, and returned to you here. Mrs. Maria called me and said that I only need to provide proof of medical insurance for the children, then I can be given the yellow slip." She said no, since I'm American, my paperwork all has to be done in Nikosia, they can't do anything here in Larnaka. However, the lady who is doing Mrs. Maria's work at the moment will be in on Monday, so I can come again on Monday as of 7:30, if I want. But everything will HAVE to be sent to Nikosia, and they now have everything required, so there's really no reason for me to come back in on Monday. I asked how long it will take (as last time we were at this point, they said up to five months), and she said one week.

With Helen still screaming, I finally said okay, and left. I got all the children in the car, Helen finally nursed and calmed down, and then I left all the children in the car and went back in. (I ignored lines and simply walked into the inner office.) I asked if it would be possible for ME to go to Nikosia, and she said yes, of course, and gave me a slip of paper with the address. Not having much faith in addresses in the meantime (not to mention that there is no place to look up addresses in Cyprus...), I asked her if she could show me on the map where the immigration office in Nikosia is. She said yes, of course, and she and another colleague spent a very long time looking and my map and pointing out streets that they knew and having some long discussion of which I basically only understood the prepositions and conjuctions (while useful bits of speech, they don't help much in following a conversation), and finally told me no, they couldn't. I asked if they could then give me my paperwork, please, so that I could take it to Nikosia, and they said no, they will send it, that they have to send it to the police there. This made NO sense to me, I explained again that Mrs. Maria had said that everything is done, they were just waiting for the children's medical insurance, but she wasn't particularly interested. I explained that I hope to go to Germany at the beginning of December (oh yeah--that's another story, except that there really isn't one yet, since without the yellow slip, I can't go) and that I'm running out of time, and she said again, "One week."

I went back and sat in the car for a long time, with my head on the steering wheel, ignoring the children's fussing, etc., then finally left, and was home again by 11:15. Jörn called around 12:00 and I told him the story, and he's going to go in Monday morning at 7:30. But at that point, my paperwork will probably all have been sent to Nikosia anyway.

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