Am I alive? How do I know? Am I imagining my life? How can I prove that I am really living? This existential question has plagued philosophers for centuries. Theologians and thereligiously inclined ask, “What happens after I die?” It took me a long time, but I have found the answer to both questions. I must confess that although I had been struggling with these fundamentalquestions for years, strong outside pressure finally resolved the issue for me. The pressure came from an unexpected source: The republic of Guatemala. The lengthy, excruciating process through which Ifound the answers to these timeless questions is called trámites.
as happens to most who seek enlightenment through this process, I thought that I had submitted all required documentation: theobvious photocopy of my cédula, the notarized copy of my passport, the less obvious photocopy of nine pages of evidence of my income duly notarized and adorned with stamps and seals, the form from the SATupdating my NIT, the notarized bill of lading for the car with its 28 digit identification numbers for motor an chassis, and, of course, my letter requesting permission from higher powers to buy thecar free of import duty, because of my residencia de pensionado, repeating all the 28 digit numbers an more.
After I contentedly stood in line at Window 5 of SAT to naively expect that I was about toreceive the definitive answer to my quest, I was dismayed to read in providencia 008205 that an important document was missing: a confirmation that I am alive. No, looking at me and comparing my faceto that in the recent passport I was holding beside it, was not enough. Only lawyers can discern whether I am alive.
Licenciada Matamoros, secretary was visibly embarrassed as she tried to explainthat the licenciada does not usually extend such documents for people of my advanced age. Finally, after I brandished my passport and cédula in a manner as full of life as I was still able, she...