Starting early in the morning, Sergio and I raced into town intent on finishing all of the outstanding paperwork on my Siambretta motorscooter. We had prepared our paperwork the evening before and could see that we were now very close. So at around 8.30am in the morning we walked into the main government building armed with our paperwork.
Sergio getting into the car armed with yerba mate and thermos.
The Bad News
The first thing that was needed was to line up and pay two different taxes. The line only had about 8 people in it so it did not take long before we were at the counter. Here, the lady punched in numerous items on her keyboard and eventually presented us with two papers, one a bill for $3.50 and the other was for $7.00 pesos. We could not pay these here however, but had to go instead to the cashiers and line up to pay there.
It was a new employee working at the cashiers who served us. A superior officer with his thermos and yerba mate in hand, was standing behind guiding him. To pay the fee we passed over a $20 peso note after our bills were scanned, and the new man was instructed to key this amount into the computer system and then press enter.
At that point, the experienced officer leaned over and pointed out how the system had worked out the change owing and was now displaying this on the screen. "Look at that!" He exclaimed. "Isn’t that marvelous! It tells you exactly what you need to give them." And he shook his head with wonder at the incredible power of this technologically driven system.
Waiting in line in a shop to photocopy documents. Virtually every shop has a photocopier, probably a result of paperwork sagas.
Having obtained our last outstanding paper we went to the required desk where we needed to present them all. The lady received us and looked through our paperwork. She stopped on the way through, pointing out one of our photocopies. "This must be certified as a true copy." She said. We were told that there is no other way around it.
Solving the Problem
Deflated, we headed out of the building and straight to the office of our Escribana who can do these sorts of things. Unfortunately she was not there yet, and a call to her mobile phone revealed that she would be another half an hour. So we pulled out our mate and sat down on the side of the road to wait. While we waited, I taught Sergio some of the essentials about taking photos, knowing that he was soon going to receive his very first camera.
Showing Sergio how to take surreptitious photos of people.
We watched the cars, bikes, motorbikes and horses and carts wander by as we enjoyed our yerba mate and chatted about all sorts of things. Before long a whole hour had passed by and there was still no sign of our Escribana. After calling her cell phone once again we discover that she was already in her office. Somehow she had arrived without us seeing her.
Our escribana could not sign the papers directly, as she was not at the level that allowed her to do that, and yet we needed these papers signed as soon as possible. So we asked her if it was possible to get them done immediately, and she kindly agreed.
Enjoying yerba mate while we wait for our Escribana.
We traveled in Sergio’s car to her normal place of work and then waited by the car while she went up to the office. She returned empty handed. There was nobody present that could sign the papers until midday. This was a great disappointment, and we explained our dilemma to her, asking if there was any other way of getting the papers signed. She agreed to visit some of her original employers who also may be able to help.
On visiting this new location, our Escribana returned with our papers signed and ready to hand over. We thanked her profusely (even though I will have to pay for that privilege anyway), dropped her back at her office, and returned to the main governmental office to finish our paperwork.
The main government office that we have visited countless times.
What we were about to do was finalize almost two weeks of waiting and paperwork. All of this paperwork and waiting was actually just to get one more paper for our primary objective of transferring the motorbike over to Sergio’s name. It has been a lot of work for one piece of paper.
Walking back into the building, the lines of waiting people stretched for almost half of the building length. We were now very familiar with all of the sections, desks, offices, lines, cashiers, and other places that had occupied our time during this whole process, and walked directly to the place we needed to be. There was no line here. Our paperwork was complete now, and we knew it. We handed it over to the lady at the desk and she carefully looked through it all once again. Yes, it was complete.
Are We Done Yet?
We were then handed another form to fill out. My heart sank, but then I realised that this form was something that we were to fill out here and now. Sergio filled in the form, signed it just as he had signed dozens of other forms before it, and handed it back to the lady. It was done. She accepted it.
One of the horses and carts that passed us while we were waiting.
With this piece of paper we will then be able to continue the main process and hopefully finish today. We watched as she put all of our papers together on a pile of mounting paperwork, presumably containing dozens of similar papers. She then reached into her folder and pulled out a small strip of paper, tore it in half and handed us one part. "Come back on Friday," she tells us.
Once again the paperwork saga drags on. Perhaps on Friday I will be able to get that paper, or perhaps there are more steps yet. Each list that we are given only gives us a little bit of information. Sometimes those steps listed can take a long time to achieve and hide within themselves dozens upon dozens of other steps. So far what I have learned about doing things here in Argentina is that you must have patience. Lots of patience.
And time. Lots of time.