You Deserve a Medal

We have heard many stories in our Spanish visa journey. First, with our initial applications and then with our renewals. It’s always fun! But things are changing with COVID and the visa renewal processes. So I thought I would outline what we’re experiencing here.

First of all, we’ve heard that they’re going to ask for proof of having paid tax in the country for all those who are officially tax residents (reside more than 183 days per year). It’s been loosey-goosey in the enforcement of this for foreign residents. No more. It’s understandable. With so many out of work and drawing benefits, and with tax revenues down as all the tourists stayed away this year, they need the money. And if you’re going to live in a country, you should contribute to their tax system that pays for the health system, social security, roads, schools, the fire department. Stuff that makes life work, and bearable for the citizenry – especially in times like these.

But we were just notified – outside the renewal cycle – that we need to provide a fresh marriage certificate (apostilled) to prove we are still married. Wait, what? I mean, I know we’ve been locked up together, almost exclusively, for the past 6 months. Have there been tough days? Oh, yes! Some intermittent harsh words exchanged? ‘You changing out of those pajamas this week?’ or ‘Perhaps using a napkin may extend the life of that t-shirt past breakfast.’ Stuff like that. Days when we needed space, but there was none to be had? I knew it was bad when I started eyeing the roof top of a neighboring building and wondered if I timed it just right, and got a running start in the kitchen, if I could make it across the gap.

So, I get it. In the eyes of the Spanish Government there is a good chance that a)We’ve decided to call it quits. Or b)One of us is no longer breathing – and it wouldn’t have been Covid related. But I don’t get how a fresh marriage certificate – all the way from Washington State – would prove that we are, or are not, still together. Especially, since in the US they don’t link your marriage certificate to your divorce papers. It’s not a thing.

However, getting a fresh marriage certificate all the way from over here (stamped and certified/apostilled with a date in the last 3 months) is like finding a four leaf clover in the desert. Sure – you can order the marriage certificate. Wait for it to arrive – in this time of the US post office processing at a snails pace. But then you have to turn around and send it all the way back to the US to the Secretary of States office to get it apostilled. Then wait for the US mail to get it back. That’s a big time suck and we don’t have that kind of time to comply. And I’ve never done that from here before. But this is where the pros help.

Our Spanish lawyer got to sleuthing and she found out from the US embassy in Madrid that we could call one number back home and they would take care of it all for us – although the person on the other end of the phone in the US didn’t know this, and we went round and round for 30 minutes as I explained, repeatedly, that I am in Europe, and having her just mail me the unapostilled certificate didn’t solve my problem. Finally, I figured out that she was concerned ‘it is expensive to have us (the service) do the entire thing for you.’ I assured her that I would mine leprechaun gold at the end of a rainbow, and send it to her, if she did this for me. At long last, after a looong hold, she got it taken care of and we are in business. My advice on paying for good advice, and a good lawyer, in a foreign country is truer than ever before. Believe me.

So now we will get the proper, official docs sent off to satisfy the authorities. We are still legal residents of Spain. We have an apartment in Valencia – and pretty much everything we own is there – so we need to comply. We filed our Spanish taxes in total and on time, so no worries on that front. And, it turns out, we’re still married – after all this time. I’m sure the apostilled marriage certificate will tell us so. If you can survive a pandemic locked together in El Compartimento, you deserve more than a visa. You deserve a medal.

Update: It occurs to me why they may be asking for another certified copy of our marriage certificate. We’ve been asked so many times – at Drs appts, the eye glass place, anywhere we are together and are asked our full names – if we are brother and sister. We look nothing alike but this is because, in Spain, women do not have the same name as their husbands. Upon marriage, they keep all their own names. Their names include their mother’s and father’s last names. Maybe they think we are siblings instead of husband and wife. I don’t know if this is the reason but I woke up this am and it was the thought that popped into my head. You can read about Spanish naming conventions here

7 thoughts on “You Deserve a Medal

  • I hope you both are doing okay – I’m concerned that you and/or Jeff are sick. It’s especially troubling when there is no comment from you after last night’s shit-show. Here’s to good health!

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    • You’re so nice. I have been sick. Don’t want to worry anyone. This thing has rented a room inside me. I keep trying to think of it like walking a Camino. There will be hills and valleys. Good days and bad. But it makes you appreciate the view from the top. I just need to keep going. Eventually, I’ll get to my own personal Santiago and Covid’s aftermath will be in my rearview mirror.

      As to the debate, I was up watching it. Couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night. I’m not sure anyone needs me to provide my take. Ok, I’ll say a little – we are all so exhausted. No matter your take – conservative or liberal. Left, right, or centre. Can we take any more of the constant onslaught of a school yard bully every single day? We need to find ways to talk to each other. And listen. A person who can’t listen, prioritize empathy, can’t lead us to a brighter future. Take religion & stances on abortion rights aside. We need a leader who can bring us together to solve big problems. Without ego. With humility and kindness- seeing citizens as human beings with families – parents, kids, friends. A leader who knows they aren’t the expert on everything so they engage actual experts and take their advice to protect the nation.

      It was interesting watching reactions by TV voter panels that included actual undecided voters. I found some perspectives disturbing. We need to stop the mythology that biz is more important than ppl. That the average person is just a sucker who follows the rules that the rich don’t need to concern themselves with. Money isn’t a blessing bestowed by God to the righteous/good. Believing this demonizes the poor, sick and less fortunate. I’m not a religious person but the Bible says something along the lines of ‘Its easier for a camel to pass thru the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven’. I think in America we’ve confused $ with goodness or love. And so many look at adjacency to ppl they perceive to be successful, hoping it will rub off on them. They want to be inside the club. ‘If I was rich I wouldn’t want to pay taxes either. ‘ Even though them winning the lottery will never happen. As though our obligations to each other to pay our share is only for those who are fools.

      I fear for my country. For our hearts as we look at each other with contempt. Will we choose the path to stretch & reach out to our neighbors? Or will we take our current leader’s example and turn away from each other in our greatest hour of need?

      I guess I had a few things to say, after all. I’ll lay down and rest now.

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      • I was afraid it was impacts from your Covid experience. I really appreciate you sharing your trials with this. I hear people say “I’m not afraid of C19”. Sheesh. I’m most afraid of the after-effects and the unknowns. I told someone recently about your experience with losing your Spanish – they were shocked. I wish that along with deaths and recoveries, the data would show the # of people continuing to deal with the after-effects.

        I couldn’t watch the debate. I had the Rioja glass of wine and a hot chocolate chip cookie just out of the oven but I bailed after 15 minutes. I.Just.Could.Not.

        It would be interesting to know if those who believe their proximity to wealth will be their’s through osmosis, are also those who say “I won!” at the casino but never look at what it cost them?

        I’m glad you have access to a view as you recover – or hunker down – as times change. Take care ❤️

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    • We got recommendations from others and we’ve used 2 different firms. One in Valencia and the other in Barcelona. We like Escura as an end to end firm who covers fiscal, contracts, immigration – soup to nuts as an ala carte. In our experience, they have displayed deep knowledge and their prices are reasonable.

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