Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Trini Tuesday-You've come a long way, baby!

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, Calypso was born in Trinidad. She is quite proud of this fact and used to regularly inform people she could grow up to be either President of the USA or PM of Trinidad and Tobago. It's hard to believe, but 13 years ago this week Calypso was born a dual citizen. As I shared 2 weeks ago, we came back to the States for a brief visit when she was only a few weeks old.

Preparing for a return trip to the US in a few short weeks was not exactly an easy task. We needed a birth certificate, a Consular Report of the Birth of a US Citizen Abroad, and a passport. Doesn't sound too bad, right? Oh, you poor deluded readers, every bit as innocent as I was. Take my hand, I'll walk you through it.

First is the birth certificate. In order to get a Trini birth certificate you have to register the birth in the town where it occured. To do so you have to carry certain denominations of postage stamps to the Register's Office. Then the local register pulls out a giant volume into which he must handwrite all the pertinent information. After it is entered accurately therein, he must then make a handwritten copy without mistake which will serve as the temporary birth certificate. The permanent certificate can only be obtained after the huge volume is filled and sent to Port of Spain. Then you get more postage stamps and haul yourself to town to get your permanent certificate. Did I mention the register had to make about 6 copies before he got it right for our temporary copy?

After we had the temporary birth certificate we had to go to the American embassy to get the Consular Report of the Birth of a US Citizen Abroad. Could the US Goverment possibly come up with a longer title for this thing??? So we schlep off to town, arrive at the embassy with our own passports, the birth certificate and the kids and find ourselves at the end of one looooooooooooooong line of people waiting to apply for visas. Some official saw our white faces and asked if we were Americans. We said yes and were immedoately ushered inside the embassy. I had some serious twinges of guilt over that but I also had a toddler and a newborn so I was also rather grateful. I have to say the most unfriendly people I encountered on the island, bar none, were the Americans who worked at the embassy. It made me want to rattle them and say, 'Smile dammit! Don't be so nasty! You represent us all!'

After procuring the document of the everlasting title we headed off for a passport photo. Calypso was all of two weeks old. Rules state the subject of a passport photo must have her eyes open. Now, dear reader allow me to ask...have you ever tried to get a 2 week old to keep eyes open for a photo? This is no easy task, let me tell you! We waited in another line then when it was our turn we spent 20 minutes and God only knows how much film trying to capture the elusive gaze of a newborn. Jostling Calypso on my lap, Diana singing to her, Daddy tickling her, keyrings being dangled and jangled, fingers snapping, hands clapping, we exhausted our repetoire of tricks. Fortunately, the photographer found it all really amusing and was laughing through it or I think I may have just given up. Finally, success!!!

With our hard earned passport pics we headed BACK to the embassy and all the shiny, happy people. We filled out the necessary forms and begged them to put a rush on the processing. Humorless fellow countrymen glared through glass as if I'd asked them to personally hand deliver the passport to my front door on a silver tray. Fortunately, the passport did arrive in time for our planned departure. We had seriously thought about getting a Trini passport for Calypso as well because we thought she'd really like being able to see it when she was older but we couldn't cope with any more bureaucracy.

The last time Calypso got to use her passport she was 2 years old so she doesn't have any of her own memories of Trinidad. She enjoys the photo albums. She has loved when Trini friends have come to visit us. She asks how soon we can go back. I've been back several times. The last time was in 2002. I promised then I wouldn't go back again until I could afford to take all the kids. I'm really hoping that next summer I'll be able to manage that. At least when I renew her passport this time she'll be able to keep her eyes open.

passport (2)

Calypso is my gregarious, musical girl. The child could keep time to music before she could walk and she has a natural 'wine' I sometimes have to tone down. She LOVES Trini food and hates cold weather. She is always looking for a fete (party) and is very style conscious and always well groomed. De gyal is meh real Trini chile in truth!

Happy Birthday, Calypso! Happy Trini Tuesday!


steve said...

Wow getting a birth certificate was not an easy thing was it??

Love your Tuesday lessons:-}

Fred said...

Indeed, Happy Birthday to Calypso.

snavy said...

A very happy birthday Calypso!! She's so cute!!

LOL @ document of the everlasting title!!

OMG!! When I had to get copies of the girl's birth certificates, I had to leave my apartment, walk across the parking lot into the back entrance of city hall and climb 4 steps!! It was hell!!!

lecram sinun said...

Happy Birthday, Calypso!

Immigration and embassies... I've had more of my share of those.

Logophile said...

Paperwork in the US has people so spoiled here.
Gettin ANYTHING done in Greece or Italy was torturous, days in line, go here go there, go back to the first place to have the fee paid at the second place verified then to the third place so they can give you the form you have to take to the fourth place then back to the first place....

barefoot_mistress said...

Happy Birthday to your

"real Trini chile in truth!"

Know the feeling....American dad, Canadian mom, born in Ethiopia, which is now Eritrea.....Ack! Im so confused!

Happy Birthday Calypso

MyUtopia said...

Awe what a cute baby picture. I have a friend whos kids all have dual citizenship in different countries with only the U.S. in common.

Addict said...

What a beautiful child!

M said...

What did MOM's do before BLOGS??!!

Now the whole world can celebrate Calypso's story!(-:

She has a great expression on her face in the picture! She looks like she is the one in control and she is saying, "Fine, I will open my eyes, but take the picture quick. I have a busy baby schedule of napping, giggling, eating,etc,etc."

ttfootball said...

LOL! Lime ur funny as hell!
Don't u just LOVE Trinidad?! it's freakin awesome! Experiences like this are annoying but somehow endearing I think... you laugh about it afterwards. That picture is real cute. NExt time u go back u should try getting one of the new COMPUTERISED cetificates! ;-)

Happy Birthday Calypso :-)

60 and counting said...

I can sympathise. I went through the same type crap in Indonesia except I had to go to Court to swear he was my son, just for the birth certificate, as well as all the other time wasting by both Governments. Indonesian and Australian.
It all took just over three months.

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