So we set off at about 10:15am knowing in advance that the immigration office in Chapala closes at 1:00pm. It's only 107 kms (66 miles) but there's no direct easy way to get there and much of the north shore of Lake Chapala is congested with traffic. Can't for the life of us figure out why so many expats figure that's a good spot to spend the winter! Yeah, I know...perfect weather and close to Guadalajara airport. But we also saw so many American and Canadian plated vehicles so lots of people drive as well. I dunno, it's just not our thing. Don't see the attraction at all compared to many other spots. I guess people like to be with their own kind or something. Each to their own, I suppose.
Only 107 kms (66 miles) but it took us about an hour and forty five minutes!
We had no problem finding the immigration office. There were about a dozen people waiting and you had to sign your name on a sheet and wait to be called. But it turns out that many of the people there were actually "facilitators" who are paid to help gringos get their papers in order to get permanent visitor status or other immigration cards. Eventually, our name was called and we went up to the counter. Chris and Juan are both fluent in Spanish, so it was helpful to have them with us, but it turned out that the officer behind the counter spoke some English which was not surprising given the area we were in.
It turns out that you have to actually apply to replace your lost or stolen tourist permit online! So he gave us the instructions and the forms to pay for it. Yes, we have to pay the same 295 pesos each ($23.60) that we had paid for the original ones. Not a big deal, but frustrating nonetheless.
But then after you apply for replacement online you have to wait for it to be approved. That should take about 10 days they say, but with Christmas holidays I expect it will be longer than that.
In the meantime, we are still without a tourist card. I asked the officer what to do if we are asked for it by police, and he said "just show them your passport". Okay. So in other words it's not really important to begin with! And it's true that in all of our travels in Mexico, the only time we've ever needed it was to turn it back in when we leave the country.
So it seems to me that after we file the forms online, and pay the fees at the bank, that we can then go to any INM office in Mexico and get our permits. I don't think we'll be making any more special trips to do that, so we'll get it done at some point over the next couple of months.
For anybody who ever may need it, here's the link to the online application to replace your permits...
From there, we went to a solar business. Chris and Juan have bought a 235 watt solar panel for their travel trailer and they need a charge controller. Very simple item to get in the U.S. or Canada, but not so simple (and more costly) if you need one in Mexico. We had seen the place on our way and it was only a short walk from the immigration office. But they didn't have the one in stock that they need, so Chris is going to try and order one online and have it shipped to Barb's daughter who is flying down here for Christmas.
We stopped for "birria" on the way back. This is a type of stew made out of goat. Served with tortillas and salsa, it's a nice lunch. We split a plate, which at 70 pesos ($5.60) per plate it was a little on the pricey side, but that's another thing that happens in gringo areas...the prices tend to be a little higher.
Anyhow, we had a good day even though we didn't really accomplish what we wanted to. But Chris and Juan had never been to the Chapala and Ajijic are so it was good for them to see the place. Made it back to Hacienda Contreras in time for happy hour and decorating the Christmas tree in the rec room.
Didn't take an pictures all day!