We had moved to a town near the Turkish border and decided to apply for visas that would allow us the opportunity to visit and get a taste of the country, its food, culture and landscape.
I was waiting in line at the immigration office observing a woman being attended to by a smartly dressed young man with movie star good looks who spoke perfect English and was assisting the woman with a polite and jovial tone. I felt at ease confident the young man would be able to help me sort out my papers.
Just then, an older man appeared at the next window and told me to approach.
He was white-haired with a thick white mustache and wore a thinning white, short-sleeved dress shirt.
He addressed me in Turkish and I replied in English and he handed me a small, rectangular form printed in blue ink on both sides and pointed at a table where I should go to fill in the form.
The form was in Turkish and Dutch so I was able to get the gist of what I needed to fill in.
There was a section that asked what languages I spoke, but English wasn’t one of the options.
Reading through the list of languages again, I noticed I had overlooked one that read, in Dutch, “Mexican Spanish,” so I decided to circle that option.
The last item to fill in on the backside of the form asked for my current address, which I had already written on the front of the form.
Looking again, the first address was meant to be my previous address which, not remembering it, I merely made one up.
Then, going back to the current address line, I had no idea what my new address was as we only moved into to our new apartment days before.
I saw a heavyset young man walking by carrying a stack of papers and I assumed he was a civil servant working there so I caught his attention and asked if it would be possible to get a new form as I had made a mistake on the one I had.
The portly young man responded in perfect English and handed me a form he removed from the stack of papers he was holding.
He said it was a different form from the one I had, but it would be fine to use for a visa application.
I told him about my predicament in not knowing my current address and he told me I could fill that in when I returned for my visa interview in a few weeks.
I asked him if it was common that it would take so long and mentioned we were keen to explore some of the dining establishments in Ankara.
The civil servant said that I could use the receipt from the visa application as a temporary visa that would allow me conditional entry into the country until my application was processed.
I thanked him and returned to the window and handed the old man my application and he looked confused having remembered giving me another form just minutes before. In very poor English he asked me what happened to the form he gave me.
I explained I had made a mistake while filling in the form and his colleague had given me this one.
The old man looked over the form, stamped it and handed me the receipt saying “thank you, have a nice day and enjoy your time in Turkey…” in perfect Castilian Spanish!
Then I woke up.