Mataró (Latin: Iluro) is the capital and largest city of the comarca (county) of Maresme, where I live. The population is about 120,000 people.
I was able to locate the Comisaría de Policía using Google Maps and happy to find that two bus routes had stops there. So I could take the Renfe Rodalies commuter train from El Masnou and then a bus from the train station. I could use my ATM T-50/30 (50 rides in 30 days) transit ticket. I studied the train and bus schedules so that I could arrive at the time the office opened, 09:00.
So last Thursday I headed over to Mataró and got to the police office about quarter after nine (the bus was a few minutes late.) I went right in and the police officer said that I needed a ticket and there weren’t any left for the day. I asked what time should I arrive and the policeman pointed to a Muslim woman who was sitting and waiting her turn. So I asked here and she said that she arrived at 07:15 in order to get a ticket. I was a bit frustrated as there is no way to make a cita previa (appointment), you have to line up for a first-come, first-serve ticket.
I headed back home a bit angry and decided to come back on Friday early enough to get a good place in line.
I arrived Friday morning right at 07:00, two hours before the office opened. There were already 15 people in line ahead of me. For the next two hours I talked quite a bit with a Moroccan who was in line just behind me. By the time the office opened at 09:00 there were at least 30 people behind me in line. I scored a ticket for 11-12. So I had to hang around for another two hours before I could actually get inside the office.
The Moroccan invited me to join him for a couple of coffee, which I accepted. I found it interesting that he did so. Later as I was wondering the nearby streets, I ran into the person who just in front of me in line. He was from South America. So I chatted with him for a while as well.
Finally after two hours it was 11:00 and I went up to the office. The policemen told me to wait in another room that said “authorized persons only.” I was there for a only a few minutes and my number was called. So I went into another room and handed the woman my papers. After only a moment, she told me that I was at the wrong office and I needed to go to the Comisaría de Policía in Badalona. She pointed to a piece of paper on the door which listed a number of towns in Maresme that were being handled in Badalona. Of course you could only see this paper once you enter the “restricted area”. They could have posted it on the entrance door of the building and saved me a lot of time.
I left for home very angry. Once I got home I looked up the address on-line for the Oficina de Extranjeros in Badalona. The directory listed a non-existent address and incorrect telephone number. This made me even angrier. In desperation I called the office for citizens in Badalona and found that the two offices are collocated. (That’s not always the case.) He suggested that I arrive at 08:00 in order to get a ticket. I asked if I could sleep overnight in front of the door so I could secure a good position in line. He wanted to know if I was an estadounidense.
I located the office using Google Maps again and then determined how to get there from the train station and using the local bus system. Again there were two bus routes, but both required a transfer to another line. So I left home for Badalona to check it all out. I had little trouble finding the building and the door marked in castellano and català that it was indeed the Office for Foreigners.
I am planning to arrive at the office tomorrow (Tuesday) at 07:00.