domingo, maio 23, 2004

So it’s been a week between updates. That’s okay, considering I am now in Brasil and will remain here until who knows. Things have been very busy, as one might have guessed. In order to get the whole story out, let’s see if I can do this in parts.

Monday morning I got up and ran all over town courtesy of Caryn and her Saturn, taking care of most of my last minute stuff like travelers checks, address changes (except I forgot the one for the University, so I have to see how I can go about doing that from here…), and then returned to the apartment to clean the kitchen etc, vacuum, and try to make my remaining possessions into little piles or put into boxes for Lis to easily deal with after I left. About half way through this process, I decided to check my email and buy another phone card to call Brasil so I would be able to communicate with Elves in Sampa during my layover in Huston to let him know how everything went. This process, which usually takes 3 minutes, ended up taking almost an hour due to weirdness of web pages and the fact that my mailing address had changed. I waited and waited, but the access code never came through.

I also called Continental cargo and the help desk after discovering that I could not check in online (apparently when you need to show your passport for the flight, they will not allow you to do this) and was there fore required to check in 4 hours before my flight, but I was only allowed to drop off the cats 1.5 hours before my flight. This conflict of times and its necessity of keeping the cats in cages either in the airport with me or in the car while I checked in was not settling well. After 3 phone calls, I decided to risk pissing off the ticket counter and check in at 4 PM so I could drop off the cats in good time.

About this time, 5 of my friends had wandered over to say farewell and come to the airport with me. I was awaiting Lis’ return from her conference, so I thought visiting with my friends would be an okay break. At 12:30 exactly, Lis opened the door and said in annoyance “well, are we leaving or what?” In a flash, my 5 friends were hauling suitcases out the door, vacuuming, shoving cats into crates, folding blankets, the works. It was quite impressive. Leave it to Lis to get my ass in gear. I think I never would have made it down here without her.

Once we had everything loaded (4 suitcases and 2 cats in Lis’ car and 1 suitcase in my friends’ car with all of them crammed in as well), we headed out. It was raining and stormy and a relatively poopy day in terms of Michigan spring time. Lis and I headed for the cargo area of Continental at DTW to drop off the cats, while the other car stopped for something to eat. Thank god for cell phones or I might have been out one suitcase.

The cats were petrified. Ona had gone into purring in excitement/freight mode while Lela had become a big eyed statue glued to the back of her cage. Both of them tore their dishes off the doors on the way over. Luckily the guys there had plastic dishes made to go on the doors of the cages, so this was an easily fixed dilemma. The cargo guys were very nice and reassured me that the cats would be okay. They were not, however, that knowledgeable on which forms they needed to check, and tried to take the forms I had had stamped by the consulate that were destined for the department of agriculture. After some explaining, they made copies of said forms and took those which I had had done for them specifically. I do not think they even checked the date of examination on the health forms. The cats were so scared. I really felt I wanted to throw up at this point, I felt so guilty for leaving them there. I was sure they thought I was giving them away. Indeed, it felt like that too.

Rush rush rush off to the airport! When we finally met up with my friends again who reunited me with my suitcase, I was very tired, hungry, and sweaty, and I still wanted to throw up. We made a little train of luggage to the check in counter and conversed with a very nice lady who allowed two of my bags to be over weight (after taking several things out of them to make them not THAT over weight – I am now short 4 pairs of jeans, all my jewelry, magnets, and a few other random items that I pulled out in a rush and stuffed into a bag) and paid my extra $100 for my 3rd checked bag. After this whole fiasco I was left with my two carry on bags, a small paper bag with some random items and some flip flops in it, and the bag we had filled to lighten my luggage. We decided to sit and rest for a bit, chat, make small talk, pretend like I wasn’t about to fly some 7000 miles with two cats…

When I came time to go, everyone cried. It felt so awful hugging these wonderful people good bye, knowing I might not see them again since they would graduate and leave to go who knows where. I cried even harder when I hugged Lis. I truly could not have gotten through this with out her. I don’t know what I would have done. She is one of the best friends I have ever had. My friends decided it would be best to wait and see my through the gates incase they didn’t let me board with the extra bags, which they didn’t. So I left them with Lis, taking a few random items that I could carry and stuffing them into the pockets of my cargo skirt, all the while with the crabby lady who checked your ticket at the head of the line to go through the metal detectors glared at me.

The metal detectors created a whole other fiasco. I emptied my pockets into the bin, took my lap top out, all that great stuff they have you do these days, and still, of course, I set off the alarms. I am prepared for this: with body piercings, one has to be prepared. So they set about “wanding” me, as usual, and found my belly ring, nipple ring, my anklets, earrings, the safety pins in my skirt, and then a phantom beep right next to my knees. So the airport security woman patted down the area, then wanded again. Still a beep. This went on for about 10 minutes, all the while Lis and the whole gang is watching from the other side of the metal detectors. Another security officer says “if you patted it down and didn’t find anything, it’s clear to go” but this woman continues and it still beeps, every time in that same spot, with no explanation. I am not really annoyed, since I have plenty of time to make it to my gate still, until another woman steps in and asks me to come with her into an office. The only nerve racking thing here is that all of my things are still sitting at the end of the x-ray machine and I won’t be able to see them while I am inside this office. The woman reassures me they are fine and won’t even let me approach them, almost yelling at me when I take a step toward them to motion what is mine and to watch it. So I go into this back office, where they pat down the area in my skirt a 10th time, and still finding nothing, examine my bare leg underneath it, and then finally wand it again. This time there is no beep. So now I am free to go. While putting all the stuff back into my pockets, I have a lovely chat with the woman who yelled at me earlier about the Jet program in Japan and Michigan State, before I wave to my friends one more time and run off to my gate. From this whole experience I can only say being mad probably won’t help, but being pleasant and friendly will make them feel guilty for having delayed you.

As I arrived at the gate, they were just boarding and I got 4 phone calls in a row. Everyone likes to wait till the last minute to say goodbye, you know? The people on the plane were also very crabby. Having to stop moving to put my bags into the overhead bin, I was met with the comment of “well, it’s not like anyone is trying to get on the PLANE or ANYTHING” in a nasty voice from a woman sitting below where I was attempting to put my bag. I just ignored her. I don’t have any desire to promote other peoples negative energy, especially Americans in flight. I think airports are just worlds of crabbiness these days. I don’t think there was one person on there that was really in a good mood. Even the flight attendants were unpleasant.

On my brief layover in Huston, I called my parents, Elves, Lis, Amy, and then my parents again. Kind of sad to make the last ever phone call on my cell phone. It’s true that you create the need for it when you get it. I miss it already.

The 9 hour plane ride to Sampa was relatively uneventful. The highlight, besides first being greeted by a fellow passenger with “GO GREEN!” and being seated next to a very nice woman who was also a mother with whom I made pleasant conversation with the whole plane ride, Continental now has this neat graphics system that allows you to see where you are in the flight with several kinds of maps, temperature, time, miles covered, speed, all right in front of you on the screen and in the aisle above. I was completely fascinated with this almost the whole flight and I think I actually fell asleep looking at it, only to wake up 4 hours later and look at it again. All planes should have this feature, its great fun and a good way to keep the kids from asking you “are we there yet?”

Now Tuesday, customs in Sampa was no big deal, despite all the complaints I had heard. I was finger printed and photographed without incident and went on to recover my luggage. Sure enough, one of my suitcases – that which had the shampoo and soap in it – was missing. I was aware that might happen since the flight from Huston to Sampa was really full, I had been told, so it was possible that one of my suitcases would be delayed by a day. No big deal since I was going to be there overnight. I filled out a report with the airport people (actually communicated in Portuguese for 15 minutes strait without too much misunderstanding) and continued on my way to get my luggage x-rayed again with customs. Consequently, since I had my computer, CD burner, and CDs all in two suitcases, these two had to be searched. This did not happen to me last year, so I was not anticipating opening up everything and clothing ended up all over in the process. When I finally met up with Elves, he had been waiting for me for over 2 hours. Since there was no one left to confuse us, we had no problem recognizing each other.

With all my luggage loaded into the car, we went to the cargo section of GRU to recover the cats. I was lucky to have him in this process, since he dealt with exports through Continental and had been in contact with the office already about the cats that morning. At this point, the story is a little hazy since I just sort of followed him from office to office, signing paper work and paying several fees. We first went up to the Continental cargo office and paid them another fee, got a receipt for this fee, went downstairs to the cargo bay area, showed them the receipt and they gave us another form to take to the department of agriculture office. Upon arriving at the department of agriculture office, we were told to go purchase 2 other forms from a different office (about US$1) and bring them back to fill them out at the office. After we did this, they took the consulate stamped papers (yes, I did not go through all that for nothing), took the other forms, filled out 2 more forms and we returned to the cargo office again. They guy who needed to look at them was out to lunch by this time, but we go to go back and visit the cats in the cargo area before going to lunch ourselves. Over lunch I told Elves the shortened chronicle of how Meuamor and I had met and gotten ourselves into this mess of cat importation and moving lives across 7000 miles – quite lovely. When the guy came back from lunch an hour later, we showed him the forms and he directed us to another office. Here another man took those forms and gave us another form and directed us to go pay the federal fee for importations at the federal bank branch in the building. After we did this, we were given another receipt and went back to the cargo office, but the only man who could approve it had now gone somewhere. We waited for a while for him to return, showed him the forms, and finally got the cats. They were relatively calmer than they had been at DTW, but still not happy. I gave them some water as we loaded them into the car for the drive to Elves.’

The cats got to spend some 14 hours outside of the crates, wandering about in a room at Elves.’ We made a makeshift litter box out of a plastic box lid and some soil from pots, which Ona promptly threw all over in the process of using it. A short while later the airport called to say they had found my suitcase – it had continued to Rio on the Plane, so they had just sent it ahead of me to Salvador. The cats enjoyed their time being crate free whilst I went out with Elves to a bar with some of his friends. This was the real test of my Portuguese and I think I held my own pretty well. We also spent some time plotting and sending emails to Meuamor to hopefully throw him off the trail, and playing with his lovely hyper active dog Ulysses. Sampa is cold, cold as Michigan in the spring, and consequently the suitcase that had been sent to Bahia ahead of me was that in which all my warm clothes (all two shirts and a jacket) were. So I shivered through the night in one of Elves’ sweaters, a pair of his pants, and some extra socks, with both cats sleeping under the blanket with me. In the morning, I couldn’t even bare the thought of showering in that cold, so we just stuffed the cats back inside their crates and headed for the airport.

Now Wednesday - at least with Varig we did not have to visit a whole other part of the airport to drop off the cats (since they ride with luggage, they are dropped off with the luggage), but I did find that I had to pay insurance for the cats to be on the plane, a fee I had not been informed of, nor had I prepared for by exchanging money. So we speed walked through the airport to find a bank with a less shitty exchange rate, paid the fee and then had our quick goodbye before I went through the gates.

Upon arrival in Salvador, I recovered all of my bags, the cats, but then found I had too much to carry on one cart. After several trips back and forth between the gates to look for my friend Sávio who was to pick me up and back to the Varig desk where they were watching my luggage, I had pay a guy to help me wheel it all out on 3 carts to wait for my friend to appear. He did so, about 40 minutes later. We actually managed to fit all of my luggage, me and the cats into his tiny car and he dropped me off at my new home, promising to return for me at 3pm to go to the school to surprise Meuamor.

I opened all the suitcases to look for my soap but I could not find it. I also released the cats, who after a short while, seemed like they were distressing a bit, so I brought in one of their litter boxes and showed them where it was before running upstairs to shower. When I returned down stairs, I was unable to find Ona. She has a tendency to hide under things when she is scared. I searched all over, calling her, but I could not find her. Even at 3pm, she was still unfound, but I assumed that wherever she was, she would come out when she was hungry, so I left some food out, and ran out to the car to head to the school.

I had had a certain scenario in my mind for this, but my friend had a different one. Upon entering the school, I was rushed into his office to wait in the dark. He went to find Meuamor and told him that the video he had requested for class was in his office. When Meuamor walked in he jumped, I think out of surprise that there was a person in the office when he was not expecting one than anything else, but quickly realized it was me. I laughed, he laughed, we hugged, kissed… It was better than I could have ever thought…

The whole rest of the day consisted of me being hugged, welcomed back, asked to come to a class, visiting classes, and being the “American” reference. Sávio told me to take the rest of the week off to settle in, be with the cats etc, and that we would start discussion on my school work on Monday. So that is where I am at the moment, catching up. I have unpacked, Ona was found under the refrigerator and recovered, and now both cats are leading relatively stress free lives, typical for Bahia and for cats, and nice for me too. I don’t know that this will be the end of this blog. Probably not. But the move has been made. Except for the loads of boxes as of yet to be mailed by my mother. Let’s see how long that takes.

For now, I’m home.

segunda-feira, maio 17, 2004

It's 2 AM and the apartment is still not clean yet. I stopped at the edge of the living room since Lis had gone to sleep and I did not want to disturb her. It is very sad in here. I have dragged the bed to the living room to sleep for the night since it is the cleanest room in the apartment. So Now I lay here, unable to sleep, typing away.

A few people have come by today. I saw several of my friends this morning, and even had to drive to go see one because her two kids made it not so feasible that she do me the favor. Saying goodbye to my parents was the hardest. I don't want to cry so much, so I am trying not to, but its hard. If you treat it like just another day, you don't say all those little things you meant to say, but if you say all those little things, it feels like the person leaving is actually dieing and will never be seen again. That is tremendously depressing. I feel like that now. It's not like I'm dieing. I'm just moving away. Why is that so much more difficult? When I moved to college it was not this hard, and I still didn't see much of anyone after I came here. This only difference being that one cannot just hop in the car and drive here, ne? What will people remember, really? It is hard to say...

Anticipation is keeping me from feeling sad so much. I cry a little bit, like when I hug someone before they leave. But then I can stop. I don't really want anyone to know how scared I am. I'm scared for me, scared for the cats, scared that my luggage will fall apart on the plane, scared that they will want me to check one of my carryons, scared I will forget something... I have been having these nightmares about loosing papers, forgetting them, cats escaping in the airport and chasing them, lost tickets, every possible problem with this trip, I have had it happen in my dreams. I hope these are not signs.

So, I suppose I will try to sleep at least a little bit right now. Ona has gone to bed in her crate - I think she gets this a little bit better than Lela does. Lela is currently asleep on my leg as I lay here on my stomach typing, but this will have to change since I can't sleep with my head in this position. I probably won't sleep at all. Or it won't be restful - stupid dreams. But still I try...

domingo, maio 16, 2004

So, this apartment is almost empty. Very sad... Tomorrow I go to meeting with clothes for the shelter, a request for marriage under the care of, and some boxes for mom to mail to me with books and such. It is now very late and I must sleep. Still a few to load.

sexta-feira, maio 14, 2004

Today the cats went to the vet again for their final health certificates. I think I did not spend much more money than I would have anyway with this whole process (with the exception of the lost documents), since I have to actually leave a copy with the airlines, so I would have needed 2 or 3 copies anyway, having to pay for each of them to be stamped and such by the USDA and some stamped by the consulate, so... I guess I'm not too bad out. At least I won't have to put Ona in that tiny bag carrier again, she doesn't like it much I think.

Meuamor told me he thought the cats were coming early, so I let him run with that idea, and then actually told him last night that they were coming early. At least this way he will have everything read for them, as well as get a sub for his last classes so he won't have to go teach so late the day I arrive, which I know neither of us wants. He will get the screen put up the day they cats arrive, and will buy food and stuff this weekend, so hopefully it will be all set when I get there. I hope that this admittance that the cats are coming early will throw him off the trail in terms of my accompanying them. Apparently he told his boss/my friend who is picking me up at the airport that he thinks I am coming this month. I really hope this cat thing will throw him off; the look on his face when he sees me will be classic. To seal the deal on this one I think I will look up the flight information for that day in July and email it to him. It should seem more real then.

I am a little worried about the cats on the trip - the vet told me that I need to make sure they are eating and drinking upon arrival, because otherwise the liver and kidneys will start to shut down after all that stress and dehydration. I hope they will have water, but Continental does not want things attached to the doors of the cages, so I can't have a water bottle for them. I hope to have dishes attached somehow, so they can have water, at least, and perhaps some food. At least they are not overweight, so they will be better off over all in this process.

I also emailed all of my information to Meuamor's friend in Sampa who is helping me through all this. I even took digital pictures of the ticket and all the documents and email those along with my intinerary information. Hopefully this will enable him to get some documents I need taken care of before I get there on Tuesday. It took 4 emails to do is since hotmail won't allow so many attachments. Took me almost an hour!

I have my suitcases pretty much packed up, about 4 bags of clothes to go to the shelter, a box of shoes for the same purpose, a box of things I want mailed to me somehow (pictures etc), 3 boxes of books and files that I will need there (all TESOL related) that I must take to the post office tomorrow morning to try and mail them freight, and all the stuff in the kitchen and bathroom to pack up for Bear to use when she returns from the Dominican Republic. I hope I have enough time to do all this AND clean this place up. I will be a little hectic and crazy, but I am tenacious (according to some friends), therefore it will happen.

Lis is taking me to the airport with two yowling cats in the car, and my friend from Chicago is even driving up for the day to help and see me off. I have such great friends, I don't know where I will be without them. I hope there will be as many who are near and dear to my heart in Bahia...

quarta-feira, maio 12, 2004

So much has happened these last several days! I knew it would come to the point where I would not have enough time to write everything that has happened... 5 days till I leave! It's almost impossible to think about, especially since I am still sitting in a chair at my desk and there are still some things hanging on the walls.

Some day when it was raining, I am not entirely sure which day it was, but possibly Sunday, I had several visitors in a few hours who came to remove most of my furtniture. My friend Manda came for the futon bed, some chairs, kitchen cart and some other random things around the apartment, and Amy came for whatever was left and adopted my yarn collection (under the stipulation she also work on my blanket - it may get finished yet!).

While Manda and I, much to the amusement of my neighbor's, managed to push the entired futon mattress into her car, a heavy storm was rolling in. We were contemplating how to move the frame for the futon in a two door coup when Amy arrived with her truck. We conned Amy into helping Manda move all her other shit to her apartment and they had just finished loading when the rain started to POUR! The returned from Manda's, very soaked, a short time later, and proceeded to load up all the stuff that Amy was taking and then both left. I think Amy was a tad displeased that she had to help Manda, but oh well. She should have said no. Sometimes one can be too nice and then it is no one's fault but your own. Amy is too nice sometimes and often holds her tongue when she shouldn't. Love her to death for it.

My drive to Chicago started at 5:30 AM yesterday. We arrived right at 9 AM, went to the consulate, went to lunch, went to obtain a perforation in Caryn's nipple, and then returned home in some horrible weather. The consulate people even know me by name now. I walked in to the office and they knew exactly who I was and what I was doing there. No big lies this time. They stamped all my documents, so I brought up the phone bill issue again, only to find out that they would not stamp the phone bill because it was not a legal document. So after a lot of going back and forth, we made a photocopy of my driver's license and they stamped that. I hope it all works out when I get to Brasil.

So with all that done, I was left with the task of packing all this clothing I am taking with me and sorting out that which I was not taking, etc. This is quite a task since I seem to have more clothing than anyone I know. It also seems difficult to get rid of, since I would rather give it to those I know and love than just randomly have it end up somewhere because I left it at the Goodwill, but I wear such a small size that no one is SMALLER than me, so this stuff I can't wear anymore has no home. Luckily on Sunday at meeting I learned there is a woman at the shelter who wears a 00, so I am sure most of my clothes can go to her. At least I know they will do some good. Karma, right?

I don't know how I will fit the most important parts of my life into two suitcases. The thought is rather daunting and scary. I did all my laundry, so I know what needs to go where at this point, so whatever I can't fit in now will be mailed later, or perhaps I will just shell out that extra $100 for an extra bag on the plane. Can't bet too much more than mailing, right? Maybe even cheaper, especially if I fill the extra one with books I will be needing.

The cats are very freaked out because of all the missing furniture, things on the floor, suitcases, etc. I think Ona thinks I am going to leave them again like I did last summer, so she often comes over and sits at my feet, looking at me and communicating her kitty thoughts. They haven't really figured out what is to come, even though I told them many times, and I doubt they will figure it out, even after we get there. Such is the life of a cat. Little did they know they would get a mom with a wanderlust and they would get stuck becoming international cats.

tomorrow people are coming in the morning for the cat tower and a few other random items, and then Lis and I are headed off to my grandmothers for the afternoon to visit and drop off all the things that will be stored there (winter clothes and some random furniture items I borrowed from her that she wants back). I hate to go there because it will be the last time I see her for a while and she will get all teary eyed (I hate this part of leaving). She also keeps making me feel guilty for not spending more time with her before I leave. I would if I could, but I just can't. I have too much to do in the next 5 days. Only one of them is reserved for me cleaning this place up for Lara, so...

I really wish Meuamor was around so I could talk to him. He thinks the cats are coming early. I hinted enough that something was up, so when he mentioned this, I let him run with it. Little does he know I am arriving with them. He will get screen put up just in time for them to be there, like literally the DAY I get there, maybe finishing an hour after I get there with them. Since I have keys, this makes things easy, but I worry about leaving them so soon upon arrival. They will really need time to acclimate to their surroundings, but will not really get it with me for very long right off the back. I am trying to get Meuamor to work out a sub for the later classes so when I surprise him at the school he won't have to go teach (this doubtfully will be possible). I am playing it up like he has to be home for the cats to arrive. I hope it works...

Now, back to packing. Maybe. More like sleeping. I have a killer headache.

sexta-feira, maio 07, 2004

What a fun 18 hours, drive to Chi-town and back, lie to a government agency, spend $200 in 15 hours....

First off, I am very tired and cranky, and the door blew open here while I was gone and there is no longer heat, so it's freakin' cold in here and I am in an unpleasant mood, in addition to my new worries, so please forgive the pissyness of my update here.

FedEx did locate my package. They called me on Wednesday night to tell me after 2 weeks, it had been found in the supply section of the drop box. Why this is remains a mystery. In anycase the documents were not good anymore, but at least I didn't have to get another $40 money order.

I had already scheduled the second vet visit for yesterday morning to get new certificates, and then another appointment at the USDA, now I had new documents for the consulate. All I had to do was drive them there (not going to trust FedEx again in this matter). Later this same day, Meuamor calls me and tells me that I must get a phone bill stamped by the consulate to prove my residence in the US. I am rather confused by this requirement, but he cannot explain it either, so I take a phone bill with me as I leave the apartment.

My lovely Rosinha (as Meuamor calls her) and I left for Chicago after her final last night, which got out at 10 pm. Of course, between getting money, gas, etc, we did not leave here until almost 12 am, which means we did not get into Chicago until around 4 am my time. I was very tired and had to have her take over driving because I wasn't going to make it. We slept at her brother's apartment for about 2 hours, then got up and showered, and went down the street to have breakfast at the cafe. It was terribly cold this morning, so in my Havaianas and highwaters, I had some numb toes and a little trouble walking, along with cold ankles and tremendously impressive goose bumps.

We took a cab down town to the building where the consulate is. It was only 8:30am, but being it was so cold, we went upstairs and sat in the hallway outside of the office to wait for them to open, which they did not so promptly around 9 am. I dropped off the documents, gave them my money, and they told me to come back in a hour to pick them up. So we wandered out and went looking for warmer clothes along the strip. Nothing was really open at that hour, except the Gap who did not have pants that fit me very well... This is beside the point anyway...

At 10:30 we walked back to the consulate and they handed me my papers, which the lovely stamp on them. So now I feel I am in the clear, no? So now I had them all my documents that I have been told I was going to need for us to be married - my birth certificate, my two statements of single status from the two counties I have lived in, and my police record. I mumble something about having withdrawn the money for them, so NOW I was dropping them off.

The woman is rather puzzled at this. She takes the documents and looks at them, then asks me if I am applying for a different visa, to which I reply "no." She then asks me what kind of visa I have, so I tell her, and then show it to her to make sure it is valid for 5 years, which she says it is. She then asks me what I need these stamped for. I stumble through some weak explanation starting with "I don't know" and ending with "They told me to get them stamped" without a whole lot of detail inbetween. I am still stuttering through this lie when she tells me "Don't tell me anything." She take the documents and walked to the back of the office.

Now, I had not really thought about why I would say I needed these documents stamped before this point. I have been functioning under the idea that I was not to tell anyone official that I was getting married in Brasil because they might either not let me go, not authenticate the cat documents to keep me from going, or make me apply for the family reunion visa which would force me to stay in the US for another 6 months or so (why is it that the visa that is supposed to specifically allow you to be with the one you love keep you from that person longer than any other type of visa?). I have been deeply frightened by the prospect of having them deny me entry because, it seems, that there is so much red tape involved I get the impression that the Brasilian government does not WANT an American to marry a Brasilian, so they put red tape and hassles in the way in hopes that you will give up and stick to your own kind. This is not what I do however, so I bite my thumb at them and stumble through some lame lie when they ask me a simple question.

Back to the story - The woman and the man who actually signs the document stamps are talking now, in Portuguese, but I am not really listening. Now the man comes up to the counter and asks me why I need these documents, to which I give the same lame reply, this time adding "The institution where I do my research said it would be a good idea that I have you guys stamp them. I'm not going to be working there or anything" (this is not entirely a lie, since several employees of that institution have told me this). The man looks puzzled. So does the woman. He asks me what kind of visa I have, so I show him and explain that it is a 5 year tourist visa, and I will be going back to the US in August, but then back to Brasil in October, then back and returning again in December (I don't really know which months, as I was making this up as I went along).... This is really looking like some failed misrepresentation at this point...

At this point I become incredibly stupid and ask the woman if she can also put my cell phone bill in the stamp line to prove my proof of residence in the US. She looks totally mystified at this request, so I drop it. The man looks at my passport again, and then says "Okay, that's $80, it'll be ready for pick up on Tuesday." So I gave them more money and left.

Now I am worried that some how I have gotten the school where I will research in trouble for involving them in this lie, that they will figure out what I am up to and make me apply for a different visa, that they will not stamp the documents and I will have wasted all this time and money.... I don't know, I am tired, and worried, and I have to go have dinner with my sister now.

quinta-feira, maio 06, 2004

Many recent developments, but I will have to post it all later when I have more time. It is currently 10 pm and I am off to Chicago to take the documents to the consulate personally first thing in the morning when they open. Here goes another 500+ on my car in one day...

quarta-feira, maio 05, 2004

Long time between posts, about to get even longer...

Several developments recently, including the saido of some furniture, thank god, but right now it is finals week and I have a paper due tomorrow written all in my L2...

sábado, maio 01, 2004

FedEx has no record of my package. I have been on the phone with them twice today and they can't find it. The consulate apparently never got it, so now the documents that I spent all that time and money getting are not good anymore. Now I have to spend the $250 again and drive to Chicago myself and get them taken care of because I don't trust FedEx to do it again. I am so upset, I can't really type anymore.