I Can Vote!

Yes, the bureaucracy (or bureau-crazy, as we may call it) it’s done. And I will receive my voting papers via snail mail in the next weeks, and then I can go to the post office, and vote.

Today started like no other day, getting out of bed at 5.30 am. Too early! Walked a kilometer to get to the bus stop, the bus was already there, which freaked us out (yes, Jan was so nice as to come with me so I would not get lost in the big city). Bus was fast and arrived at the train station early. We went to the platform to take the train direction Brussels Airport. And here it’s where the adventure starts.

About five minutes before the train is due, an announcement informs us that the nice train we were going to take, is delayed for at least 15 minutes, making us be.. you guess it, more than 15 minutes later than we want to be at the consulate. So, we change platforms to take the slow train (the one that makes every single stop) to Brussels Central. At least we’d be warm in the train. When we were arriving at Denderleeuw, another announcement tells us there is a connection with a fast train to Schaarbeek, that stops at Brussels Central. So we get off the train, and in the next train.

Finally, we arrived at Brussels Central. First leg of the trip is done. Finding our way around the train station was not easy, but not complicated either. Lets say, Brussels Central is messy. We followed the mass, hoping it’d get us to either the street, or the bus stop. The mass was mostly going to take the metro, but, before you arrive to the metro you can take an exit to the bus stops. I’m glad I saw the signs pointing to the bus stop! Once out, we were lucky, and within one minute the 63 arrived. We had looked it online, it should stop at La Presse, but anyway, we thought it safer to ask the driver. “S’arrête à La Presse?” (pardon mon Français!), and what was the bus driver’s answer? “I don’t know, you better go check on the screen” Yes, you read well, the bus driver did not know where his bus had to stop. That was a first.

Anyway, the 63 does stop at La Presse, and we got there. Off the bus we go, and try to locate where the heck we are on the map. Each of us pointed in opposite directions “I think it’s that way”. First was wrong, second was right. Anyway, we finally arrived at the consulate, about 1h 40 minutes after leaving home. What a trip, yes?

We arrived at the consulate at 8am. The consulate does not open till 8.30 am, but I needed to be there early in order to get a number that would allow me to get all the paperwork sorted. First in line, at least. Half an hour later, and a bit colder than when we arrived, they were so kind as to open the door. Meanwhile, about half a dozen workers had walked by us and got in the nicely warm building, completely ignoring us save to say “Good morning”. We longed for the waiting room, with chairs and warmth. Yay, first in line, I’ll get this stuff sorted fast, I thought to myself.

First thing you do upon entering the Consulate is strip yourself of any metal and put your purse and said metal (coins, watch, belt, keys…) through a scanner while you walk through a metal detector. I love it, not. Then, the security guard asks to see your ID card, which he then proceeds to log in the computer, and asks you what the (*bleeep*) you’ve come to do here. You answer, get your ID card back, and you’re sent through another door, to another waiting room with windows, where you again tell the person what you want to do. I got my number, and three papers to fill in. I only managed to fill in half of the first paper, that would register me as non resident with the embassy, before my number was on screen, and I had to take the elevator to the first floor.

First floor, I got nicely asked to please move to the first window… And then I got nicely told that my paper wasn’t completely filled it.Well duh, of course not, I have had no time! Anyway, I finished filling it in, handed it in together with my ID card and a picture, and about 20 minutes later, I got a bad photocopy about 10x5cm, with a stamp and a date saying I have registered as non resident. I also get my ID card back, and a photocopy of it. YAY! One thing is done.

To request voting via snail mail, I am sent to yet another office. At least it’s the same floor. The person who is supposed to be in that office is however talking with a friend in another office, and yes we could see her there, talking, and doing nothing! Five minutes later she decided to come do her job. About time. It takes another five minutes to hand in the request for voting via snail mail, and get it signed and stamped by the worker. Thirty minutes later, I am finally out of the place, and I will be able to vote on the elections.

Afterwards, we had to get the bus back to the train station. The bus stop that is closest to where we got off reads “Forbidden to get on the bus, only getting off the bus” I did a WTF? eye roll for good measure, and off we went to try to find where we were allowed to get on the bus. Walk walk, and get to the bus stop where you can get on, which is actually the next stop. We got off at Brussels Central (Gare Centrale) after asking the driver, who this time knew the stop was that one. Looked out for a place to have a coffee, after all, it was already 9.30 and we had had breakfast before 6am.

Back to the train station, a train direction home was delayed for about 5 minutes, which made it possible for us to get on it. As we were setting foot on the platform, the train started to move. Byebye train, we missed you! Back to check on what platform is the next train for home due. Change platforms. See the train that will arrive before ours is in direction of Kortrijk, and that it stops at Denderleeuw. It beats waiting for nearly half an hour for a train! So we get on the train direction Kortrijk, get off at Denderleeuw (again), and wait for the connecting train that will take us home. Back in Aalst, we decided to run some errands, and since it was late-ish, had lunch. Then Jan took the bus to go to work (he had only half day off work), and I took the bus to get back home, and surprise MIL was on the bus! So at least I did not have to go all alone.

And thus, kids, finishes the adventure of how Sade got her papers to be able to vote in Spain. On our next story, we may talk about the Carnival in Aalst, and I will hopefully have pics too. Yes, this was a wordy post. If you made it till here, go on, post a comment, and then you can go to the kitchen and have a cookie too!

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5 Responses to I Can Vote!

  1. Zanne says:

    Yay for being able to vote! I hope you helped yourself to a cookie and chocolate when you were done

  2. helen says:

    mm, cookie.

    wait, what’d I miss?

    seriously though, what a pain!

  3. Lía says:

    Enhorabuena! cualquiera diría que dan premio por votar…no lo podrían hacer más fácil?!

  4. Thos says:

    When in Brussels or Flanders, do not attempt to speak French – it is far more acceptable to speak English. In Wallonie you will have to speak French first, after which there is a 50% chance they will switch to English. If they do, there is a 50% chance they you will understand them.

    As I am a UK National resident in Belgium I can no longer vote in the UK, but only have partial voting rights in Belgium. So much for all being happy Europeans.

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