Alien Bureaucracy, Part #3July 30, 2007
So, on day two of this adventure we spent the morning checking through files for additional paperwork and then rushing round town on errands.
First stop, the bank for a statement. Nicosia wanted evidence that we had funds here and apparently the information we provided last year would no longer do. The first time we were asked for bank statements we provided photocopied, well, bank statements only to be told they weren’t acceptable. After a fairly tortuous conversation we discovered that when officials ask for a bank statement what they actually mean is a statement from the bank. Bank statement … statement from bank … really, you have to wonder how we could be so stupid as to confuse the two ;-)
Just so you know a statement from the bank is actually a letter detailing the balance of all accounts held at the close of business on the day in question. Over the last year we’ve had to ask for about a dozen or so, each time queueing at the bak counter to request the statement and then being redirected behind the counter, to the staff-only side, to an available admin person who types up the statement. During the 10 or 15 minutes it takes to produce we get a great chance to peak at the behind the scenes operation … the cash drawers stuffed with thousands or tens of thousands of pounds … the individual staff safes, each with the key in the lock so it doesn’t get misplaced and so on. Safe to say that banking Cypriot style is a little different from UK retail banking!
Once we had our latest bank statement sorry, statement from the bank we set off for the insurance company to renew our medical insurance. The Nicosia folks spotted that it was about to expire so asked for evidence that we were still covered. We believe that our medical insurance is so comprehensive that it would just about cover us for a broken leg, maybe two but not much beyond that. It is cheap, but essentially useless, but Nicosia insist that we must have it. We seriously considered a more extensive, and expensive, policy but were told that it would not be acceptable.
Why? Well, only the cheap and pointless policy includes Repatriation of Mortal Remains as one of the benefits. Cyprus is running out of cemetery space and there are no cremation facilities on the island. Should we come to any harm the government would rather like our bodies to be returned the UK so they can find space for us. Shipping dead bodies is rather expensive so to make sure it happens we need the useless policy to ensure we have cover.
So, with evidence of our insurance and with a nice letter from the bank and a bunch of other stuff we jumped in the car and headed back to Nicosia. Only 45 minutes this time as we knew exactly where to go – passed the Spanish Embassy, hang a left at the Circus Performers …
… only to find that it was closed. It seemed we had missed the essential notice (in 10 point font) stating that they didn’t actually open for that sole afternoon in July and August. Somehow the 45 minute drive back home seemed to take longer.
Day 3 of this saga dawned bright and sunny (no surprise there then) but sadly we were a little less sunny being weary of the drive to Nicosia and yet more obstacles and delays. However we set out determined to give it our best shot.
Up the motorway, passed the Spanish embassy, left at the Circus Performers and into the office by 9:05am only to find 35 people already there. Do they wait outside for opening hours?? Left hand queue, right next to the 10 point font “no afternoons in July & August” sign and a patient forty minutes to get to the front of the queue. The same woman from Day 1 took our paperwork, told us to take a seat and then disappeared into the back office.
Just two hours later we were summoned back to the counter to answer a minor query and then half an hour after that we were able to sign for our yellow (used to be pink) slips. Success at last.
Now, where did we put the car file?