For all new parents, let this be a lesson on filling out your child's birth certificate!
My mother was born "Concepcion Gracelia Samayoa Quiros". For some reason which she has conveniently blamed on my deceased father, she wrote her name as "Concha Samayoa" on my birth certificate. A name she hated and only used by her brothers to tease her when she was a child.
My father who was born in Denmark, was christened Benth, the Danish version of "Ben." So his birth certificate along with my mother's do not match what is on mine. Ben and Concha do not sync with Ben and Concepcion.
In order to get my export license to sell coffee stateside, I must first obtain my Salvadoran identity which is available to me as a matter-of-course because my mother is Salvadoran. The document is called a DUI, not to be confused with the other form of DUI (drinking under the influence), equally nightmarish.
My uncle and I drove to DUI Central in San Salvador last week, only to be told of the obvious name discrepancy which I secretly hoped they would not notice. They told us we could get my mother's birth certificate amended at the local town hall back in Santiago de Maria and bring it back. That proved fruitless. The city hall told us we needed an attorney to add "Concha" to her list of names. None were willing and those that were, wanted close to $300 for their seal of approval. We found out later, that would not have worked anyway.
In the meantime, we headed over the Coffee Council to see what steps are needed to obtain an export permit. It's endless. The folks at the council were very helpful, especially Senor Tomas Bonilla who has taken great steps to make it happen for me.
We explained the problem getting my DUI, and Senor Bonilla said they could possibly issue a one-time permit for my shipment leaving this Saturday bound for Chicago. We would need to register the name of the coffee first at the Registry of Names. We headed over there where they would not accept my application without my DUI. I finally put it in my uncle's name and can change it later. The fee was $20, but you have to go to a bank to pay the fee and then return to the office with your receipt. Who thought of this one? It took two and half hours, and we were presented with a one-inch stack of stapled documents.
We made several other stops in the city and our last was to pick up some papaya trees for the finca. The Taiwanese government is sponsoring a special program with papayas. I signed up and they gave me 25 free trees to try out to be followed by several hundred if they adapt to the area.
Nuve who recently had puppies has not been the best mother. Less than attentive, 2 of the 6 puppies expired, one disappeared, and one was given to Samuel (son of Juanita). I was told about the dead puppies on Friday morning by Vigil, but Beto said they had been given away. A lot of double talk. The puppies were in a frightful state as Carlito was convinced they had fleas, and had doused them in a powder turning them bright purple. I had a home for the two remaining pups and before anything else happened to them, I told Beto to deliver them to their new homes right away. I suggested he use the large blue plastic box in the greenhouse that the papaya trees had come in to transport the puppies. I had told Juana to put the box in the first greenhouse near the house until I could find time to have them planted. She put them in the second greenhouse near the animal pens. When I went with Beto to retrieve the box which was sitting on the ground, something looked out of place. I did a double take and realized I had 25 black bags with soil and no papaya trees. My three remaining rabbits which I have been asking the guys to sell for the past two months had papaya for breakfast. I was mortified as I had signed for the trees and how would I explain they were gobbled up overnight. I yelled at Beto to fetch a corn sack, round up the rabbits, and get rid of them that instant. Don't sell them, set them free, or keep them around for dinner. Take them to the restaurant in town and fill all the rabbit tunnels with rocks. It took all five guys to round up the rabbits and Beto finally took off. The puppies were crying and the corn sack was jumping around in the back of the truck as he pulled away.
After Beto returned, my uncle and I headed back to San Salvador which is 75 miles each way. We were headed to Ministry of Foreign Affairs in hopes of getting some help with my DUI. The first clerk took a cursory glance and told us we had to go to court where I could present my case before a judge to testify that my mother is also known as "Concha." My uncle kept pushing and got the attention of Senora Genoveva who immediately took an interest in my case. She spoke perfect English and ushered us to their in-house attorney. After an hour of examining all my documents, he declared that the Consulate General in San Francisco would have to create an Apostille stating that my mother is known to the world as "Concha", attach it to my birth certificate, and have it sent to him. Since my father is dead, my uncle and I can swear under oath, that "Benth" is also known as "Ben."
We called my mother in SF and told her what she needed to do. She would have to obtain a fresh copy of my birth certificate as the attorney told me my copy was too worn. I gave her the number of the Consulate General and told her to arrange a time to meet with him. He told her in addition to my birth certificate, she would need to present her birth certificate, her passport, and two Spanish speaking witnesses with proper ID's, not related, to swear to her "Concha" identity. This set my mother a bit over the edge as she does not know any Spanish speaking people in SF that are not family. We set the SF relatives on alert to find two people post haste and headed back to the coffee council.
The coffee council told me I would need to write a letter of appeal first for their in-house attorney to decide if they would issue me the temporary export permit. We had to wait until today for their decision.
This morning, Monday, we made the drive once again in high spirits as they called and said they were working on the papers. When we arrived, they presented a pile of forms that needed to be completed and then emailed to them, but could not be done in their office. We headed to a mall with a cyber cafe, completed the forms, and waited until 2pm when we were told to call them back. In the meantime, my mother called to say she could not find her birth certificate. I had a copy which we had scanned and sent to the Consulate General in SF as a pdf attachment. They never got it, and later that day, we ended up faxing it. We checked in with my mother again, who had not yet found the two witnesses who are supposed to present themselves tomorrow morning. I couldn't' believe she didn't know anyone and found myself near tears as we headed back to Tecapan. I browsed through my phone book and suddenly came across the name of an acquaintance in SF that I had not spoken to in over a year. Could I do it? With no shame, I called him up and asked him for the big favor. Would he pick up my mother, be a witness, and bring along another one? Fortunately, he knows the Consulate General, understood my predicament, and was more than willing to help out.
On the way home, the Consulate General called me and said he had not used an Apostille in over 20 years. My mother would have to take the documents that he was going to create to the U.S. courthouse in SF to have them authenticated. Oh boy, I thought, Mom will freeze up at this one. My uncle, always so quick to come up with solutions, called Genoveva at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She told us not to worry. She would call the Consulate General herself and get it straightened out. As far as I know, everyone is meeting there on Wednesday at 1pm for the Concha pow-wow. A close friend of mine is arriving here on Friday and will be bringing the precious documents. We've hired a guard.
Tomorrow, my uncle and I are headed back to the capital. Fingers crossed, angels hovering, we will return home having registered with the tax board, Ministry of Agriculture, and have the temporary export license in our hands. Nothing so far has gone as planned, and I doubt tomorrow will be an exception. I don't really care at this point how many more hoops we need to jump through, as long as we succeed.
If anyone has read this far, I should like to say that this is not normally how I would have handled this shipment of goods. In other words, finalizing a sale before having my ducks in a row. I can only defend myself by saying that I was promised the use of an export permit by a close friend which proved to have been revoked pending some past due payments, and I had no idea of how difficult it would be to get my DUI. You live and learn. The upside, once I have all the documents, it should only take another two weeks.
In the shipment of coffee headed for Chicago are 75lbs. of green coffee. They have been pre-sold by my buyer and I would like the end user to know that they boys here on La Finca have been sorting them bean by bean for the past two days. This is normally handled by a sorting machine. The one locally available, is down for repairs. There are always broken bits, a few darker beans, and some whitish ones that must be removed to ensure uniformity in high quality coffee. It's tedious work and I made sure Juana kept the boys supplied with endless cups of coffee and pastries. They seemed quite happy to take a break from the fields.
So that's it for now. Wish me luck again!