Thursday, March 14, 2013
it's all about the car
Fernando checked with Don Elias who assure him that the car would be ready on Wednesday morning at 9 AM. So the Che-RO-kee was in front of the house at that hour and we drove off to Tecoman, hopes high, to get the car. Lo and behold, it was ready, golpes gone, new paint job, clean as a whistle. That was step one in the great car sage.
Step two was today. We drove up to Colima to the Toyota agency for a 45,000 mile check. I had called for a sita and had been given 9:15 as the appointment time. We arrived, got checked in, and when asked for a taxi to take us in to town, were told that the agency offered taxi service and if we would wait about 20 minutes the driver would take us wherever we wanted to go. So we cooled our heels in the v. plush waiting room and soon were summoned to a Toyota Highlander for a quick trip into downtown Colima. We walked the portales, then went over to Los Naranjos (the Orange Trees) restaurant for a tasty breakfast of chilequiles con queso fonda for Mr. C and just plain old huevos revueltos a la Mexicana for me. Then we started walking, looking for a museum we had been to in the past that was filled with interesting paintings. We didn't find it. Instead, we found one focused on folk art that was quite wonderful and I'm glad we went there.
By now it was 12:30 and time to go back to the Toyota agency. First we stopped at the tourist office to get a map of all the museums in Colima to see where we went wrong in our search for the place we were actually looking for. We found it on the map; we had missed it by about one block! We got a cab and returned to pick up the car. Yes, it was ready and ended up costing us less than we had originally thought. We drove up to the local WalMart, did a bit of shopping and headed home. It was an all-around successful day.
Tomorrow we go up to Manzanillo to pick up our new immigration identification papers. This is where the car issue gets really sticky. When we arrived in Mexico in December, our car permit was legal, based on our FM3 status. The FM3 was legal until March 18. (The car status is tied to the FM3 status.) However, the Mexican government, in its wisdom, had dispensed with the FM3 designation and people who have had an FM3 for at least four years are bumped up into a category called Permanent. Now here's where the Catch 22 comes in. Persons in the Permanent category are not allowed to drive foreign-plated cars. That would be us, with a California-plated car. So we came in legal but, as on next Monday, are driving an illegal car. You can "nationalize" your foreign-plated car but, if you do so, you cannot take said car into the US. What to do, what to do? There is NO grace period for said cars belonging to foreigners who are not in this country permanently. We originally got an FM3 because we own property here and you get a break on capital gains when you sell. The FM3 suited us perfectly; you were allowed to bring in a car AND goods to support a private household (some furniture, sheets, towels, etc. that you would use in your home) without paying duty. No longer. So between tomorrow and next Monday we are presuming our car will still be legal since it's "importation" date in March 18. After that we are driving an illegal car. I am going to be completely paranoid until we cross the border into Arizona.
As a result of this unanticipated turn of events we are going to head home early, leaving here probably on April 21. I am just hoping that, if we get stopped on our way north we can argue that we're heading for the frontera to get our car out of Mexico. The cost of nationalizing our car would be, according to a quote I got, $11,000 USD. No thanks. So we will just drive the car as little as possible and hope that what the legislature in Mexico City has dreamed up has not filtered down to the cop on the beat.