...although praying to the Patron Saint of the Bureaucratically Challenged might be helpful (here's a whole list of Patron Saint topics, but I haven't found one for my particular case yet).
What I need is some sort of seal that makes the document legal for use over here, and to get it the letter has to be notarized first. But the Riverside Sheriff's Department doesn't have a notary public, so I decided to find a company that specializes in this sort of thing. I found one: Pacific Corporate Filings, Inc. I checked them out on the Better Business Bureau page (because you can never be too sure), and asked if they could get the letter, have it notarized and get me the damn apostille (I didn't say damn when I asked, but I sure felt like it). They said sure, for a price of course (which I accepted since it was cheaper than flying out and doing it myself), and I sent them all my info so we could finally get the ball rolling. It seemed like we had smooth seas ahead and that soon we would have the treasure in our hands....but it was not to be. Just before Christmas I got an e-mail from the Pacific Corporate people, saying that they had the letter but were having trouble getting it notarized. It seems no notary public would do it without me being present. Why I needed to be there was beyond me, since I wasn't signing anything anyway. What I was sure of was that I wasn't about to shell out around $700 to fly out to Riverside just to watch my letter get notarized. The Pacific Corporate people said they would keep trying, and so I went on vacation, hoping the thing would be solved by the time I got back. Looking back, the whole situation reminds me of this joke:
A man left his cat with his brother while he went on vacation for a week. When he came back, he called his brother to see when he could pick the cat up. The brother hesitated, then said, "I'm so sorry, but while you were away, the cat died."
The man was very upset and shouted, "You know, you could have broken the news to me more carefully. When I called today, you could have said he was on the roof and wouldn't come down. Then when I called the next day, you could have said that he had fallen off and the vet was working on patching him up. Then when I called the third day, you could have said he had passed away."
The brother thought about it and apologized.
"So how's Mom?" asked the man.
"She's on the roof and won't come down."
Anyway, my letter was on the roof, and there was no way it was coming down, at least not to be notarized (maybe it thought in its little paper mind that getting notarized is something like getting sterilized, and that it would never be able to start a paper family). When I came back from Cáceres I got a FedEx delivery with my letter, but with no apostille or apostle to be found. So, I was out some $80 for a useless letter, and I had to start looking all over again for a notary who would do it (no, not that), without my presence. I think I've found someone, but the whole story doesn't end here, it only gets more complicated... but I'll save that for another day.
For all your bureaucratic needs, try Central Snark...they won't do your paperwork, but they will make you laugh. Hmm, maybe I can find my Patron Saint over there...