Never Expect it the Same Way Twice

Productivity for us here in Italy seems to be more a product of serendipity than careful planning. It’s not that we don’t plan exhaustively. But sometimes things turn out better when we just go with the flow. Our internet has been grinding to a halt fairly often lately. We can get reliable dial-up, which us O.K. for email and other more basic tasks. But we cannot send large attachments, and forget about Skype calls (we don’t have a home phone, and we’ve been trying to set up quite a lot of things for our trip to the U.S.)., or web-conferencing.

We had a web-conference scheduled for Thursday evening, which we were forced to cancel. However, just as we were finishing up on the internet around 8:30, when we would normally have been out on our walk, we received an email from Julio. He’s our translator, and was letting us know that he could meet us at the Tribunale in the morning to certify the translations of Raj’s, Axa’s and my birth certificates and our corrected marriage certificate.

We had already been planning a trip to Cuneo to buy all the oats, wheat, and spelt we would need for the rest of the time we are here before our trip. So we took an earlier bus this morning. I discovered halfway here that Raj’s birth certificate had only been half translated. So the rest of the translation is courtesy of babelfish.

When we did the translations in Saluzzo, there was some confusion over whether we would need the 14 euro marca da bollo or the the 1.55 one. In the end, it was quite a coup that the very kind lady at the Tribunale let us use the cheap ones, saving us nearly 200 euros. So today we thought we’d be smart and just buy the cheap marca da bollos beforehand. We had our old translation with the cheap marca da bollo on it, and we figured they would just assume that was the right one and let us do it.

No such luck. We briefly considered taking the bus up to Saluzzo to have them done there (at least Tony considered it), but ultimately decided that we’d just bite the bullet and buy four 14.62 marca da bollos. That was ten times what we’d planned on spending (and we’re already skipping gelato days and not buying cheese so our money will last till we leave for the States in a month. Read our Hong Kong travelogue for how close we’re willing to get to running out of money in foreign countries).

We already had Julio print out the translations at home, since our printer is out of ink and we can’t afford an ink cartridge. While we were waiting for him, we bought our grains. We had an extra half-hour, so we dropped in on the Questura to innocently ask if we could do my Carta di Soggiorno there instead of through the postal system. We walked through three waiting rooms full of people. The man at the desk was polite, but I think he must have been laughing underneath his serious response that no, I couldn’t do that (or anything by just waltzing into the Questura). These sorts of bureaucratic procedures must be paid for by endless hours in waiting rooms (on top of the literal payment in the special currency of marca da bollos).

The Prefettura, where I will apply for citizenship once Tony gets his, was across the street. I thought I would pop in there and maybe pick up the proper forms so I could get started on my application (which includes obtaining a criminal record from every country in which I have resided after the age of 18. Luckily for me that’s only the U.S. and Chile). However, I didn’t even make it past the waiting rooms in there. It was obvious that everyone in them had set aside at least the entire morning, and probably the whole day to accomplish their object. Ah, Italy!

We did make it home finally with our certified translations, grains, and three crates of peaches.