Friday, April 04, 2008

Rio de Janeiro Day Four: The Visa Interview


We awoke early, and to a rainy day in Rio de Janeiro. As I remember it, neither of us got a great night's sleep. The nerves and stress of the next day weighed heavily on our minds leaving only restless sleep to be followed by heavy eyelids the rest of the day.

The plan was to get around quickly and grab a bite to eat at a local bakery on the way to the subway. The plan was abandoned when we realized that we had spent to much time getting ready to be sure we would be early to the 7:45 AM appointment. So we skipped breakfast (opting instead to feed Kylie), and hoped for the best.

Mark and I had talked over the plan to use the subway, which was pretty simple, but we still asked around to make sure we were on track. We just hopped a bus to the closest Metrô station (Saens Peña) and got in one of the cars, then disembarked at the Cinelândia stop, and walked to the US Consulate.

On the way to the Consulate we stopped for breakfast because we had time, and we were starving. When we had finished we made our way the rest of the way to the Consulate.

The Interview

When we reached the consulate we were told to wait in a line next to the building. Since it was still raining I was grateful for the shelter we were under, as well as a waist-high wall where we could sit. Carrying a twenty-plus-pound baby all over the city is not easy.

There were two lines forming, and though ours was the smaller of them (and an earlier appointment time), we were being bypassed. At first we did not understand, but we eventually figured out that the other line was for tourist visas, and maybe work visas. We ended up waiting for almost an hour after our appointment time to even get inside the consulate.

Once inside we got checked for metals, weapons, etc, and got in the next line. Unfortunately that was the wrong line, and we had to go somewhere else to wait in line again.

We were directed to some stairs which led to a waiting room that was a lot smaller and quieter than the other waiting room had been. It was hard to tell how much time had passed because the only way we had with us to tell time (our cell phone) had been held at the security checkpoint. We were finally called to one of the small interview booths to submit papers.

The lady checked our forms, and had me fill in a couple of things that were still needed (the instructions were explicitly vague on those points). Once that was over we were given a number, and asked to wait again.

Kylie was bored. We were too, and so were most of the people in the waiting room. Fortunately for Kylie there was a small play-area that we made use of. The toys were—well, the were filthy. I almost did not let her play with them, but she was fussy, and there were no other alternatives that I could see.

After a bit a couple of other kids who were waiting with their parents came over to play. They were around six and eight years old, a boy and a girl. At first they just skirted around Kylie and I, but then warmed up to Kylie. They played with the cars, trains, and what was left (one arm, torso, and head) of the He-Man action figure.

They eventually started batting around a hair tie-back. You know, one of those elastic things that the ladies use to put their hair in a pony-tail. They were batting it back and forth with a plush stegosaurus and penguin. For some reason Kylie thought this was the best thing ever. I have never seen her laugh so hard!

At first I thought she was crying. Then I realized that this infectious laugh was being heard by everyone. Every time the hair-thing went flying through the air she laughed and giggled. I couldn't hold back a laugh or two myself when I heard it. Nobody could.

I still wonder what she saw in it that was so fun.

Eventually we were called into the interview booth. After taking an oath and answering a few basic questions about us the Consular Officer gave her response. The visa would be approved, but she could not approve it that day because there was some other proofs that needed to be submitted. Though she said that once we re-submitted some certain forms the visa would be approved, and sent to us via courier.

Kind of anti-climactic. No real interview. Just a few simple yes/no questions. No stamp of approval, or other tangible evidence that the visa had been approved.

Wasted Time and Money

Tuesday (the day before) we had gone to pay a fee at CitiBank for the interview. They were happy to sell us a voucher for the fee for a tourist visa interview, even though we had checked with the clerk that this was for an immigrant visa. So now we had wasted over US $100 on this voucher we did not need.

After going between the Consulate and the local CitiBank branch we figured out that we could sell the voucher to someone else as long as the bank put a new name and number with the voucher (something like that, anyway). We did not catch anyone in line without a voucher before lunch time, so we decided that we would feed Kylie, and get something for ourselves as well.

At some point here, while we were waiting at the consulate, we saw the woman pictured above in line at the Consulate. Susana Vieira has been a famous actress for a long time here in Brazil, and is currently playing one of the leading characters in the prime-time novela "Duas Caras" (Two Faces, or Two Sides).

Since we were not allowed to take a camera into the consulate we did not even bother to take it with us. Otherwise we would have at least snapped a picture or two of her.

Then we decided that the best place to wait was the bank. We ended up waiting about a half hour there before someone came in to purchase what we wanted to sell. We felt fortunate and grateful that it only took that long, but were tired and wanted to get back to the apartment and rest. Kylie had a lot of fun flirting with the security guards there, though.

The subway ride back was uneventful, but we somehow got a bus that went the opposite direction from where we wanted to go. Once we discovered and corrected that error we got home safely, if not more than a bit worn from carrying Kylie—not to mention the stress of the day.

We rested, and made plans to visit Cristo Redentor (the Christ the Redeemer statue) the next day.

This entry is part of "Rio de Janeiro: A Series." All the published entries are linked from that entry. Don't want to miss out on the coming entries? Try the RSS feed, or getting updates via email.

1 comment:

  1. If you need any advice/support on visas, let me know! My husband and I went through this experience in Brazil...


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