One thing I learned in the military is that planning any maneuver without good intelligence will always lead to disaster. That was my problem on Monday. I thought I was going to encounter the same cheery dental office that served as the consulate in the 1960s. I did not expect the Mexican equivalent of a DMV office gone wild.
And then Paty came to the rescue in my comments section. She obtained her FM3 in Portland, and encountered what could be called -- difficulties. She pointed out that I had almost found the correct room on my own.
Her intelligence briefing told me: "If you want to try it again, the correct office is located off the second waiting room. As you enter the front door turn right into the second waiting room, then right again into the opening of a hallway running east/west. The first door on the hallway is the correct office. If the door is closed, just knock and enter."
With that type of detail, I headed north with confidence that I would at least start the process, and find out if there was anything else that I needed to get my FM3.
Everything was exactly as Paty told me. The two rooms. The hallway. The office. And there behind the desk was one of the most pleasant people I have ever met.
She looked at my application. She accepted my passport copies and photographs. She assured me that my retirement orders from federal service would suffice even though only one payment had been deposited.
But I needed three more documents. First, I had forgotten to sign my passport, so my copies were inadequate. That I could easily fix.
Second, I needed to get my retirement orders notarized and then get an apostille from the Secretary of State's office. The notary, of course, merely notarizes that the copy I am providing is a copy of the original in my possession. But that was easy, and the apostille was only $10. (One question I did not ask is if I am required to hand over the notarized original, what will I use when I get to Manzanillo? I may need to get another notarized-apostilled copy.)
Third, I needed a notarized letter from the Oregon State Police that I do not have a criminal history. I stopped by the office today to be fingerprinted and to pay $58 for a letter that I am supposed to receive within a week.
I hope it shows up before then because I have an appointment to get my FM3 at 1:30 next Friday in Portland.
Jennifer Rose has been urging me to get my FM3 in Portland because it has one of the simplest procedures. Based on my experience today, she is absolutely correct.
I did not need a Monty Hall on Friday. I simply chose door 1 -- and I am about to be a winner.