Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Julia es ecuadoriana

Julia poses with the Ecuadorian flag and el presidente
I hope I got that right. Spanish can be a confusing language for an English speaker - apart from all the usual everything being either male or female, there are two verbs for "to be". One (estar) describes a temporary state of being, the other (ser) describes a permanent state.
Sometimes it is easy to know which you should choose. If someone asks how you are (¿como están?) your answer would be "estoy ..." So "estoy bueno" (I am good) would be fine because you might be "estoy infermo" (I am sick) tomorrow.
I find "ser" a more difficult choice to use. I'm taught that we should use it for our profession - soy una periodista (I am a journalist), although that's not always a permanent state with newspapers closing right, left and centre.
Anyway, being a particular nationality is definitely a "ser" and Julia, my grand-daughter can complicate things still further by being both British and Ecuadorian. So Julia es inglés y ecuadoriana.
She has already been to the country of her mother's birth having gone to Ecuador in November with Lucy to meet her extended family (including her 100-year-old great-grandmother), but travelled on her British passport (I didn't have a passport until I was 17). Lucy was hoping to register her as Ecuadorian while she was in the country, but was missing some papers, so the process had to be done in the UK.
I offered to go along with Tom and Lucy to do some Julia minding while they went through what might have been quite a protracted bureaucratic process and we drove down to Finchley, parked up and caught the tube into King's Cross. I had been hoping to visit the Ecuadorian embassy and perhaps catch a look at Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder who has been claiming sanctuary there to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face rape charges. He claims the charges are trumped up so he can be grabbed by the Americans for espionage offences and that's why he's hiding in the embassy. My view is that he's lost any moral high ground he occupied and the Ecuadorian government ought to boot him onto the street and into the arms of the "old bill".
However, Julia was not to go to the Ecuadorian embassy, but the consulate in King's Cross Road, a suite of sparse, but functional, offices on the first floor; no uniformed guards standing to attention, just an intercom - open the door when the buzzer goes.
The process was conducted by Lucy and an official in 100mph Spanish, of which I understood zilch, after which the official disappeared for half an hour, came back and the process was repeated three times before Julia was presented with a certificate which showed she was officially Ecuadorian.
While we were waiting, we were able to take it in turns to amuse Julia, read a few newspapers printed in Spanish in England for South American ex-pats and also watch a looped video of the Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa talking about some project (a mining operation, I think).
There was a family of Ecuadorians waiting to be processed and while dandling Julia I thought I might engage one of the children in Spanish. It didn't go well - the dad explained that they'd taught their children not to talk to strangers and Tom told me I'd mistaken a boy for a girl (well, he had really long hair).

Julia will now be able to hold both British and Ecuadorian passports. The upside is she won't need a visa to stay in Ecuador for an extended period, the downside is she might be called up to fight in the Ecuadorian army if they declare war on Peru again.
The certificate says "Julia es ecuadoriana" and she's having a good look to make sure.