maandag, september 27, 2004

Go Fetch, pt. II

Today the Dutch government played "go fetch" with us again. We were asked to visit our Embassies. Again. In Amsterdam. For documents we have already provided. One of the four things they have asked for is our affidavits of non-marriage. (For those of you who haven't heard of these, you're not alone. In most European countries, you can look up whether a person is married or not. Since we don't have a way in Britain or the U.S. to prove that we're not married, the countries here rely on an affidavit of non-marriage. Basically, we pay our Embassies money, then they ask us if we're married. We say no. They ask us if we promise we're not married. We say yes, we promise. Then they give us an affidavit that says that we promise that we're not married.)

So, this morning we took the bus to the train station and took an early train to Amsterdam so we would get everything done by noon, when the Embassies shut down.

Once in Amsterdam, we got off the train and took a tram to the closest stop to the British Consulate. We then trudged about a mile to the Consulate, where Ian obtained his Affidavit of Non-Marriage.

It was, of course, raining. I know the building doesn't look like much from this photo, but it is nice. The street is pleasant and the Consulate's staff is very cordial. They even allowed me to go in with Ian.

When the guy with hand-held metal detector came over to me before I went into the building, I spread my legs and held out my arms. He smiled and said, "You're not at the American Embassy. You don't need to do that."

They even let me take my camera inside. After we had talked with the vice-consul and Ian promised that he was unmarried, we went to this window where he paid 48 Euro and picked up the affidavit.

We thought that maybe a croissant would take the chill out of the rain, so we crossed the street and went in to a bakery.

Ian looked at all of these wonderful things and got a chocolate-chip cookie. Sometimes I wonder about him...

Full of sugar and starches, we walked back to the tram stop, boarded it and made our way to the American Embassy.

We got off the tram,

and made our way to this building.

We stood at the gate and announced ourselves to someone we couldn't see, told them I wanted an affidavit of non-marriage, then were let inside the gate to the sidewalk on the other side of the gate.

Once inside the gate, we saw there was a line of people waiting to be called inside the building, one at a time, through what resembled a prison door. Unlike at the British Embassy, no one was joking here. This was serious business.

Sorry - that's all the pictures from my Embassy. They took my camera once we got inside that prison door. Once inside, I was asked to pay about 20 Euro, handed a blank affidavit of non-marriage form and told to fill it out. I did, then handed it back in. A while later, my name was called. I was asked if I promised I wasn't married. I said I promised. I was then given the form back with a signature of the equivalent of a notary and we were out of there.

We went back to the street and waited for a tram to take us back to the station. (The U.S. Embassy was, at least, across the street from the tram line...)

We got to the train station in Amsterdam,

and noticed it was about noon.

We took the train and got off in Utrecht,

And immediately got onto a bus that took us to this place - the equivalent of a city government building.

This is the front of the building. I think this was the third time we had been here.

On the ground floor, we got two certificates (one each) to show where we lived. They cost 10 Euro each. When we give them to the government, the government will be able to deduce that we live together - a requirement for my residency. (Yes, we know it was the government that gave them to us in the first place. What, have you never played this game before?)

After going upstairs to get the temporary residency stamp in my passport extended,

we went home. Six hours after we left (and, after the cost of bus, tram and train tickets, a little more than a hundred Euros later), we had two more documents and one more stamp to add to our collection.

Tuesday, we get to go to The Hague to get them legalized. (I'll explain that later...)

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