Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Round One: All smiles
Warning: The majority of the French in this post is wrong.
The first trip to the prefecture was a success. A good 90% of stories involving the prefecture are laced with a healthy dose of horrors, hours wasted, documents rejected, flaming hoops jumped through, but we had a smooth first encounter. We were in and out in an hour and a half, one hour of that time was spent waiting for the one clerk who supposedly spoke decent English to return from lunch. One of my biggest concerns was the wait, it seems that most people are there for a minimum of three hours, Gretchen was there for almost five. I was mainly worried about how to keep the troops from revolting so we came laden with books, video ipods and gameboys, ready to set up camp. We weren't there long enough for me to stop sweating from the 30 degree temperature between the inside and outside before my number was called, literally five minutes.
I got through the first two or three questions; she asked for my passport, i gave it to her, she asked if the kids were there i said "oui" and pointed behind me, she asked me where i lived, "J'habite en onzeme arondissment", then she flipped to my visa and let fly with two or three paragraphs worth of unknown words while pointing to the date. I knew it had expired two days ago. I fell back on the old "Je ne parle pas francais bon". Still smiling plesently my lady went for backup and founda co worker that possesed a good knowledge of at least two dozen english words(more then the number of french words i know if you subtract the curse words). I think i managed to explain that the rest of the families visa's expired in another week and i had been perating with that date in mind(it could have been that i opened chloe's passport and pointed to the date on her visa). Somehow they, quite pleasently, tagteamed an explination that the English speaking clerk was at lunch and i would have to wait for an hour, either that or they were dumpingme(the nonfrench speaking ass hat) on the new girl. I gathered up my novels worth of documents and took a seat.
Almost exactly an hour later i was called back to the window where the very cute, miniuly english speaking clerk greeted mein French and then asked for several things all in french. After a few minutes of typing she asked for my picture, in english, and then disappeared. A few minutes later she returned with my three month visa extention(if the internet is to be believed this is the way it works, you get an extension every three months for a year and then you get a real long term visa). She then set up an appointment for me in french and explained to me what i would have to bring(everything i had with me right then). I then asked in my half English half French patois if the kids had to be there and she said NO!! This is good news, i hope she really understood my question. I then thanked her profusely and wished her a bon semane and she told me "good by, have a nice day" in perfect English!!
p.s. It took me three tries to find out how much money was in my account at the bank. The try that worked was in spanish; Combien euros(point to account number raise eyebrows questioningly).
I'm on a roll.