Thursday, December 2, 2010

La Migra! La Migra!

It's been a while. But I have a valid excuse for my absence: La Migra came a-knockin'. Actually, they rang me up. Nevertheless, the trauma was the same as if they had busted down my door and dragged me from my collar into a police car, sirens a-blazin'.

A few weeks ago, an unidentified two-two number popped up on my cell phone. It was La Migra and they wanted to verify whether I had in fact married The Wife, Ph.D., out of love and not as a one-way ticket bound for a life of economic "bliss" on The Rock. You see, there's a serious issue with sham marriages on the island. Many men from the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia in search of better opportunities marry Eastern European women for a hefty one-time fee. At the same time, they agree to support their pseudo-wives through their hard work as construction workers, busboys, food deliverers, and any other sort of position rejected by the middle and upper echelons of society. The men are desperate for legality in The ShamRock, the lazy women vie for an easy way out of having to ply a trade. As an Ecuadorian nomad temporarily settled here, I will always fight for the fellow immigrant. But in this case I thought it'd be wise to obey La Migra and set aside my poorly-masked revolutionary tendencies. What La Migra wants, La Migra gets, specially when love, (inherited) land and liberty are at stake.

When my fancy friends heard about our rendezvous with La Migra, they couldn't help but mock us. The Man Who Lost His Sense of Taste wanted to picket outside the interview's location and yell out slightly racist slogans such as "Back On The Boat!" or "Deportation For The Ecuadorian!" The Enemy, also an immigrant, said she would set up shop on the opposite end and defend me to the death, vowing to pelt the xenophobes with rotten eggs, Cyprus potatoes and chunks of burnt lamb if they got too rowdy. The French Connoisseur reassured me that us immigrants are of vital importance to the improvement of The Rock's genetic makeup, while his wife, Our Divorce Lawyer, asked that we call her if La Migra forced us to do anything "sketchy" to prove our undying love for one another. The Disney-Obsessed Man-Child, who (to the chagrin of Minnie Mouse) has a somewhat erotic and illicit relationship with his digital camera, offered to document the event for posterity.

We agreed to meet La Migra early on a Sunday, the socially-anointed day off for immigrants on The Rock. Ironically enough, the interview took place in an undistinguished office building immediately across the posh five-star hotel where The Wife, Ph.D, and I ate, drank and danced the night away following our Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony almost four years ago. The waiting room was an unlit narrow corridor with several mismatched, raggedy chairs leaning up against one of its dirty white walls. A sign pointed to the door for asylum seekers yet there was no sign directing those immigrants who married out of love. We waited for thirty minutes before La Migra finally asked us in.

The Wife, Ph.D., and I were prepared for the worst. Separate windowless rooms occupied by a metallic table and a couple chairs. Lit bulbs swaying from the ceiling. Bulky shadows traipsing among a cloud of cigarette smoke. Scratched and bloodied floors. Ridiculous questions: "What's your wife's stance on pleated pants?" "Does your husband find Lady Gaga sexy? Would he [pause] get it on with her for a thousand Euros? How about a Booker Prize?" "Fast...What's your wife's favorite brand of organic cereal? Australian biodynamic wine? Nail polish remover? Panty liners? Bathroom reading?" "Even faster... what's your husband's preferred Trappist beer? Diet regimen? Shaving cream? Publishing house? Alt-country single released the same year you first reached second base?" And so on for hours without even a whiff of a grilled halloumi sandwich or a glass of water...

Lo and behold, the interview paled in comparison to what we had anticipated. I think the fact that I bore an olive branch to the meeting by speaking to La Migra in my rudimentary Greek helped. I answered several straightforward questions about my job, my family and our living arrangement. The highlight certainly was when La Migra asked me about my brothers. I told her that the youngest is a US citizen ("Through marriage to an American?" La Migra wondered; "No," I curtly replied) and the middle one is a Scot living in Australia with his Aussie girlfriend and son. A puzzled La Migra stared at me and probably thought, "Latinazo definitely got married for the goddamn papers. One brother is gringo, the other European. No way he'd opt to be the black sheep of the family." In the end, though, he let us saunter out unharmed and suggested that we submit the paperwork for me to become a Cypriot citizen. God help me.

So that evening, in honor of La Migra's validation of our marriage, The Wife, Ph.D., and I cracked open a bottle of The Rock's finest to accompany our "transcultural" tsipoura a la veracruzana.

2008 Kyperounda Cabernet Sauvignon - Enjoyable bouquet of red berries, dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee and a bit of pepper. Starts off with red berries and sour cherries in the palate and finishes off with a hint of vanilla and dark chocolate. Medium length and body with balanced tannins. The Grandparents gifted us this bottle so we saw fit to imbibe it as a celebration of our escape from La Migra. 89/100.

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