Today I decided to pay my Mexican Health Insurance; it is a yearly thing and I joined it because I wanted a back up in case of emergency like an accident or some other disaster would befall me. I’m getting on in years now and a fall could be a serious situation so the Mexican Health Insurance is there to pick up the pieces so to speak.
I had to travel to Mexicali which is about two hours away and find the IMSS office to go through the maze to pay my premium. I got there after negotiation the city traffic which wasn’t to bad for a thursday morning. I just had to remember which statue I had to turn right at, there are several traffic circles in Mexicali also known as roundabouts for our English friends and Glorietas for our Mexican friends. Navigating these traffic mazes while looking for the right statue is always so much fun as traffic gets down right hairy in these things and one might get trapped into going around and around again. This morning the traffic minions were with me and “Lo and Behold” there was the familiar statue and I was in the almost correct lane to make a righthand turn. This time there was no horn blowing or single figure salutes so all went well with that turn!
I proceeded down the avenue that I never learned the name of until I got to the IMSS office. Thank the government official who ordered the new sign I can actually see it now from the street but of course being a city street no left turn permitted so I had to go to the next light and make a U-turn, I’m still not sure if that is permitted or not. I proceed to try and enter the parking lot and of course true to my form I found myself to the dismay of the guard going in the out with him waving his arms in disgust at my ignorance ! Oh well I got in and found a parking space, then the fun begins.
I have a little Spanish but under stress I tend to get things mixed up or not understood at all and today was no different. I got my number from the receptionist and was told in Spanish that I would be going to window 22 when my number came up, and there came the problem! My number didn’t come up! I sat and then sat some more I even moved close to the window with number 22 on it and still my number didn’t come up. I saw other people go there and leave but my number didn’t come up on the screen. I finally waved at the man in the window and he called me over looked at my number and did the latin shrug like “oh well shit happens” after a comedy of pantomime, broken Spanish mine and broken English his, he sent me to window 3. And there again my number didn’t come up ! I did my best to look pathetic and or worried and a young lady took mercy on me and called me to the wind sans my number. She was puzzled by this no number thing and wanted to know who sent me there I point to 22 and said in Spanish window 22. Where upon I was sent back to my seat to sit some more while she and then a man typed and discussed my case or maybe they were discussing where to have lunch, how would I know?
finally, I’m called to the window and I confirmed it was time to take some documents to the bank and pay for my insurance and return. It seems in Mexico this is the way things are done you first process documents get more documents take said documents to a bank sometimes to a specific bank and only that bank and other times you’re given a choice of banks. Today I got a choice of banks. I chose HSBC bank as that was close to this office and I had been there before. Mexican banks are so much better now than years ago they have lines and folks follow the lines and mostly stay in line. Years ago this was not the case; like I said things are so much better now. My turn came and without any problem other then the sadness of giving up my money I paid 7540 pesos and returned to the IMSS office to find that almost everyone had departed. I got worried; did the nice man who helped me leave? Will the new official understand what I’m doing how do I explain all this in my broken Spanish, plus I had to go to the bathroom ! Which do I do ? Go to the bathroom and hope someone will be there to assist me when I get done or take a chance that I can hold it until later? I took chance I didn’t want to have to come back another day and start over. I went back to window 22 and there was a new official he looked at my papers like “What the hell is this Gringa doing here?” But, he found documents laying there with my name on it that showed that I was a client and he stamped and stapled and typed away until suddenly I was in possession of my new contract for IMSS ! TA-DA good for another year ! I celebrated by having lunch ! Oh yes I did get to use the bathroom, just in time too!