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.

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