This article contains the secret to effortless paperwork in Gran Canaria. A secret that guarantees that you’ll never sit for hours in the wrong queue for a paper you don’t need.
Then we’ll tell you where the toothless 15th Century pirate Pedro Cabrón buried his treasure.
No, we won’t. We’re only Gurus, not gods.
All we can do is help with the creeping darkness that consumes your soul when you deal with Gran Canaria’s bureaucracy.
As for El Cabrón’s treasure, legend has it that it’s buried somewhere on the east coast of Gran Canaria. Find his false teeth and you get the booty.
Know your adversary
The Spanish civil service is a sprawling conglomerate created by committee and run by middle management. The boss is on holiday and the one person who knows how it works is on Maternity leave. Forever.
The Canarian Government is a franchise that lost the rule book but carried on regardless.
Your local ayuntamiento is a lemonade stand run by aliens.
Tráfico is an out-of-control ATM that only works in reverse.
Hacienda is a bigger ATM. With a gun.
Before you give up and move to Norway, remember that nobody ever died while queueing for a form. Government offices in Gran Canaria don’t open for long enough for that.
Inefficient but not corrupt, unless you’re rich
Saying that Gran Canaria bureaucracy is inefficient is unfair to the hard-working funcionarios who dedicate their days to making problems go away.
Unfortunately, they only accept very big bribes.
That’s a joke.
An awkward, edge-of-the-seat joke that makes people squirm. Especially if the envelope of Bin Ladens (500 euro notes) is still in their back pocket.
And it really isn’t fair to the many funcionarios who do try their hardest to help the sweating messes who sit down at their desks.
There are far more of them than you think.
Zen Tip: When you find one, befriend their families, bring them chocolates and offer them no-strings sex.
The zen art of surviving Gran Canaria bureaucracy
The first stage of survival is preparation.
The photocopier is your friend
You need the originals and at least five photocopies of every single identity document that you possess. Think five is too many? It isn’t, especially if you plan to visit multiple offices in one day. Make it 10.
Remember that while the NIE is a universal ID number in Spain, the social security issues it’s own ID numbers. Yes, it makes our eye twitch too.
And that the Libro de Familia does have a use (let us know if you discover it).
Do it write: Take a pen
Government departments don’t provide them because disgruntled folk stay sane by stealing them.
Zen Tip: Take two and make someone’s day.
Pay the price; Take money
You need change to pay for the forms that you queue to fill in. Just to annoy, the form desk never has change.
And take cash as trips down Funcionario Lane often involve popping out to the bank to pay a fee.
Where’s the nearest bank?
Ask the security guard on the door.
Zen Tip: The security guard knows everything.
Queueing is an opportunity
Since you know that you are going to spend all day queueing, treat it as an opportunity.
An opportunity to catch up on your emails, or read that book you nearly finished on the beach. Or to catch up on your meditation. Odds are that you’ll attain enlightenment just before Desk 6 calls your number.
But you won’t be allowed into Nirvana because you forgot a photocopy.
Zen Tip: Never use headphones in Spanish queues. Funcionarios regard them as a personal insult and will ruin your day.
Accept the inevitable
The zen art of surviving the Canarian queue is to accept that you are doomed to fail, at least temporarily.
When you find out that you’re missing a final bit of paper, or that Señor Vital Stamp is on holiday, take it in your loser stride.
Zen Tip: Always tell yourself that everyone gets their paper in the end. It’s not true, but it’ll keep you going until rum O’clock.
Pay someone to help
Italy recently made headlines because of a new breed of professional queuers. Spain invented them years ago.
They are called gestorias. For a reasonable fee, a gestoria takes over the entire process of getting your Gran Canaria paperwork sorted out.
You do, of course, have to queue in their office to sign the bits of paper that authorise them to do it. Good ones give you a biscuit while you wait.
Never lose control
If the whole process is getting you down, if queue rage is growing within you and your inner shouty guiri is about to escape, do what the locals do and go for coffee.
Scared you’ll lose your place in the queue? Get another number as you leave, or find the coffee machine. There’s always a coffee machine.
Then picture yourself walking out of the door into the sunshine. The Canaries are singing in the trees, a stranger high fives you, there’s a unicorn under the rainbow.
You have the paperwork. You are free.