The other day, the other new teachers and I had to go to the local police station to get fingerprinted to begin the process of obtaining our residency in Costa Rica. We each got a substitute for the morning, but my friend who was covering my class warned me that it would probably take all day. If you've heard or read about my experience getting fingerprinted for my work visa documents, you can understand why I was a little nervous about going on this journey. Luckily, a package from my mom had just arrived, so I had some magazines to take with me to stay entertained during the anticipated lengthy wait.
To begin this residency paperwork, we had to bring along several official documents and six passport-sized photos of ourselves. Luckily, everyone had remembered all of their documents, and the technology teacher had taken and printed our photos, so we were on our way. Upon our arrival at the station, we were ushered into some tiny offices, where we were fingerprinted and interviewed about our family history, our purpose for living here, any distinguishing scars or tattoos, etc. Everything was going pretty smoothly, until the woman conducting my friend EA's interview rejected EA's paperwork because her photos were printed on the wrong kind of paper. Mind you, everyone else's photos were accepted, and they were all on the same type of paper as EA's. It took us quite a while to figure out exactly what the issue was, but we finally realized that EA would need to get her photos re-taken in order for her paperwork to be accepted.
When we left the station, the other members of our group were nowhere to be found, so we left the secured area to find a place where EA could get her picture taken and printed on the correct paper. (We later learned that they had gone off to get some food without us. ?!?!) So anyway, as we were walking on the street, we heard a shrill whistle behind us, and turned around to see what was going on. A man was standing about 50 yards away, waving in our direction, but since we didn't recognize him, we turned and kept walking in the other direction. After hearing another whistle, we thought that maybe he was trying to get our attention. As it turned out, he was in fact trying to get us to go over to his little street-side photo shop. We walked over to find out what was what, and he showed us where EA could follow him down a little alley and stand against a white wall to pose for her picture. It was all very strange, and we're still not sure how he knew that EA needed a new set of photos...
At that point, FG, the man who drove us from school to the station, strolled over to see what was going on. I explained (probably in very poor Spanish) what was going down and why EA was following a stranger down an alley instead of getting fingerprinted. FG checked out the guy and gave his approval for the photo op. During the photo shoot, I realized that the white wall that EA was standing in front of was actually the outside of a beautiful church, so I took the opportunity to check it out. By the time our new friend had finished developing EA's photos in his little bucket o'toxins, our other co-workers had meandered back from their meal, and we all escorted her back to finish her interview. Amazingly, even with that delay, we still got back a little ahead of schedule.
A few days later, I got a letter from "the lawyer" (still not sure who this person is), saying that my residency paperwork was on hold due to my photos being printed on the wrong kind of paper. Luckily, I had received my school pictures the day before, so I just sent him some of those. They're more cloudypastel-ish than they are official passport-like (think Glamour Shots by Deb, a la Napolean Dynamite), so I'm keeping my fingers that they will work!