Friday, April 3, 2009

We're Old (and we can prove it!)

We've long been told, since coming here, that folks age 60 and over are entitled to a senior card that offers discounts at a wide variety of places in the Yucatan and all of Mexico.  We decided to finally go and get one ourselves.
Of course the internet provides many of the answers we seek, so we looked and found information on this perk that is available to Mexicans and non-Mexicans alike.
It's called INAPAM which stands for El Instituto de las Personas Adultas Mayores, and we did find an article about how to obtain one at a Yucatan blog which was posted last October.
It listed the following requirements for non-Mexicans:

1. FM 2 or FM 3 (over 60 years old) plus a copy of the first page.
2. Recent photo (size infantile).
3. 15 pesos for card lamination and discount pamphlet.
4. Fill out application blanks and sign on back.
5. Clerk makes card.  You check and sign. Forefinger print on card.  He laminates.

I'm here to tell you, these directions are already outdated.  There is more (and less) to it than this and it is an interesting story.  So come along into the wonderful world of the Mexican bureaucracy which, it turns out, has a purpose and a method to its seeming madness.
This is the sign of the INAPAM office in Merida where you go to get the card, like we did using the directions listed above.

 The nice people there said, "Not so fast.  You need a CURP".  This puzzled us and the nice man who was talking to us obviously read confusion in our expat faces and scribbled an address:  "Calle 65 y 64 Registo Civil".  "In Centro?", I queried already knowing the dreaded answer. " SI!  Centro!"
We'll come back here later, after we've discussed the CURP.

The CURP comes from La Clave Unica de Registro de Poblacion and is a document that serves as a one-stop i.d. for all social services.  When you think about it, it's a great idea.  Instead of each government agency having it's own number attached to your name, there's just one number and it's base on several things like your age, gender, nationality, state you live in, birth date, etc.  The CURP is used by the government health system, the military, you name it.  It's also needed to get the INAPAM card.
So it was off the to CURP office which was surprisingly easy to find.  It's on Calle 65 just west  past the intersection of 64 on the south side of the street.

There are two public parking lots on the same block, so parking did not present a problem.  Going in the door, the women behind the desk quickly sized us up and asked, "FM2, FM3?"  "Si!", we cleverly retorted in our finest Spanish, and they directed us to the line at the far end of the courtyard.

As far as lines go, this one wasn't bad.  And, once at the desk, all we had to do is fork over our FM3s and passports and after some quick computer typing on the clerks part, a CURP was spit out of the laser printer and we were on our way.  Cost: Nothing.

Here's what a CURP looks like:
So, with CURPs in our hot little hands it was back to the INAPAM office.  This office is not easy to find.  When they say it is on Calle 59 between Ave Itzaes and Calle 56, that's not entirely accurate.  While driving west on Itzaes go PAST Calle 59 one more block.  You'll see a creamy yellow building on your right and take the next right when at the end of the building onto a very wide street.  Then you will see this impressive edifice:
It looks like it used to be a prison.  Maybe it still is.  The INAPAM office isn't here, it is behind us.  But I liked this picture anyway so I wanted to include it.  Beware that parking is at a premium and a walk of several blocks back to the office may await you as it did us.
THIS is the entrance to the INAPAM office:
And this is the entrance/waiting area:
There, you sit outside at a table with a couple of amiable hombres who have the forms.  They ask you the questions, in Spanish of course, and fill out the forms for you.  It's basically a big survey.  They want to know pretty much everything about you.  Are your parents still living?  How many bedrooms in your house?  What do you like to do for fun?  How's your health?  Do you have a gas oven?  I'm not making these up.  So anyway, when you are done with this, you put your address and phone number on the form, hand over your passport and FM3 (you don't need to bring a copy) and wait your turn to go into the office.
Once in the office, you take a seat in front of a camera (no need to bring a photo infantile size).
You all know my model, Indra, right?
And they don't take a finger print, they take all fingers and both thumbs...
While this is going on, the man behind the desk is also busy taking scans of your passport and FM3.
And then its sign here, and here, and here, he presses the magic button and out pops....
Another official i.d. card sporting yet another unflattering photograph that governmental agencies specialize in.  Or maybe that's just the way I look.
Cost: Nothing.
Also, you do have to ask for the booklet containing a listing of all the discount goodies we can get as old people.  It looks like this:
The discounts include doctors, pharmacies, pizza parlors, theaters, transportation such as buses, and on and on.  The cost of the booklet: $10 pesos, and they ask to see your INAPAM card...the one they just handed you.
So there you have it.  We've done all the leg work so all you have to do is make it to 60, and maybe by that time all of my directions will be outdated too.

More later,