Hallelujah! The lady from the Spanish Consulate in Houston called and let us know that our NIEs were on their way! Thank goodness everything was going to work out just in time. I breathed a huge sigh of relief!
I was really starting to get worried about the NIEs because they hadn’t shown up yet. Lucas, our lawyer in Spain said that he would be at the foreigners office in Almeria and would check on them for us. It turns out that they had been issued, which was a good thing; but more time passed and they STILL didn’t show up, which was a bad thing.
I decided that I should call the Spanish Consulate in Houston and see if they had any information for me. This turned out to be quite an interesting conversation.
First, the lady who answered the phone simply said, “Diga me.” which threw me off because I guess I was expecting “hello” but this is a normal phone answering phrase. It struck me as “Yo, talk to me!” but like I said, I’ve come to realize that this is quite normal. I figured I’d better be sweet and polite because whoever was on the other end of the line could have lots of control over our much needed NIEs, and even if her gruff voice sounded a lot like she just snuffed out her cigarette butt into her desktop, she was probably super nice.
“Hello,” I started sweetly. “I called in mid October about getting my N.I. E. and –”
“Yeah,” she said, cutting me off. “And it was probably ME you talk to when you called, so… what about it??”
“Uhhhh… no, I don’t believe it was you, I spoke to before…” (Mainly because the woman I spoke to before was nice and sweet and YOU are mean and scary!)
So I go through the whole story about sending in the paperwork and not hearing anything and being concerned because we were purchasing property and knew that was impossible without the numbers, but that I know the numbers have been issued–
“WHO?!?” she cut me off again. “Who TOLD you the numbers have been issue? WHO?”
“My lawyer in Spain went to the foreigners office and saw that the numbers had–”
“WHEN?!?” you see the pattern here. “WHEN. Were. The. Numbers. ISSUE??”
If possible to cower via telephone, I was cowering. I told her the date, and then it was as if she had been sprinkled with magic fairy dust and all of a sudden her temperament changed into this syrupy sweet person with a cooing voice. “Well then hunnnny, don’ worrrry. It’s fiiiiine. You have nothing to worry about darrrling.” and then quite simply: “It will come in the next Deeeplomatic Pouch.”
“Oh. When will that arrive?”
“Who knows?? One week? TWO weeks?? It depends. Maybe they have something to send, maybe not. But don’ worrrry, hunnny. I will call you when it comes.”
And that was pretty much it. I spent the majority of the time on the phone covering my mouth because as scary as she was I was afraid that I might laugh out loud at the craziness of this conversation. You know when something bad is happening and you laugh out of nervousness? That’s how I was on the phone, but I was worried that she would hear me laugh and find our NIE paperwork in the next “Diplomatic Pouch” and tear it to shreds “by accident.”
I breathed a small sigh of relief and we continued the wait for the NIEs.
Now, buying property in Spain is not all that complicated, really. Even for a foreigner. You do however need an Foreign Identification Number — a Número de Identificación de Extranjero or NIE. (Pronounced Neeyuh by those “in the Know.”) This number is muy importante for any foreigner wanting to purchase property, a car, or even a cell phone.
Unfortunately I was not one of those who were “in the know” and so I did not know that I needed to make sure that we had NIEs before the purchase. Our estate agent emailed and let me know that we needed to apply in person at the foreigners office in Almeria or we could give power of attorney to the Spanish lawyer (when we finally chose one) and they could apply for us. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but giving a stranger power of attorney worries me, so I decided to do a little Googling and see if there was another option.
Oh Happy Day! I found out that we could apply via mail through the Spanish Consulate and the NIEs would be processed without us having to be in Spain in person. This was glorious good news because applying in person is one thing, but then you apparently have to wait and then return to the foreigners office to collect the NIE paperwork; and this would require way more vacation time than we had! I saw that there was a Spanish Consulate right here in downtown Dallas, so I took a personal day from work and planned to get down there lickety split to get the ball rolling. I didn’t actually CALL the Spanish consulate office, because it seemed easy enough to get to according to my bff GoogleMaps… (**cue ominous foreshadowing music here**)
I drove down to Dallas and followed the directions EXACTLY, but this building did not seem to contain the Spanish Consulate office. I went in one entrance and then another. I went up one staircase and then another. It started reminding me of this clip from one of my favorite movies “What’s Up, Doc” in which Eunice Burns get dropped off in a shady warehouse district…
Okay, so it wasn’t THAT shady, but it was awkward because I’d go up some stairs and then end up in the middle of an allergist’s waiting room with sniffy itchy people; then I walked into the middle of an architect’s office full of drafting tables… Those were two of the nicer places I burst in to, but the rest of the building was rather run-down. This really wasn’t the best part of town, so I figured I’d better high tail it back to my car and call the consulate.
I called the office and the entire recorded menu was in, of course, Spanish. I did recognize para Ingles push one, so luckily I spoke to someone who spoke to me in English. This was not a time to try out my weak Spanish vocabulary! The woman was so very nice and told me that this office in Dallas was not the main consulate office for Spain. This one dealt with more touristy things (my words, not hers) and that the office in Houston would have to process our NIEs. Yikes! Houston!! Have no fear, she said (well, again my words, not hers, exactly) we could do all of it via mail. Whew! What a relief! The nice lady told me it would be a couple of weeks and it would all be taken care of. This was the middle of October, so if our offer was accepted, we should have plenty of time to arrange a closing without dragging it on forever.
I got everything I needed in order, downloaded and printed off the NIE forms, wrote my $14 check, and dropped it in the mail. Curt was a little less worried about getting it done immediately, but I was too paranoid that it would be my procrastination that could hold things up, so I wanted to get it taken care of ASAP. He got all his stuff in the mail within the week, and then we just played the waiting game again.