The first time I traveled internationally, I traveled to France. This was in 1985, right after high school graduation, and I learned that the world was much larger than my suburban Atlanta neighborhood. The sights, sounds, and smells awoke global curiosities that I didn't know that I had and that have never quieted down. I remember hearing a conversation in French about ME-ah-ME and not understanding until the ladies started speaking of Mickey Mouse. Lightbulb, ME-ah-ME is Miami. Turns out that Spaniards pronounce it almost exactly the same way.
There are 8 Spanish Consulates and 1 Embassy in the United States with each serving specific states. Living in Georgia, the Consulate of Spain in Miami is our designated visa filing location. Yesterday C, #2, #3 and I flew down to Miami to submit our visa paperwork. The website indicated that the hours are from 8:30-1:30 but since they do not set appointments, the suggestion is to get to the office early to line up (given the crowds of people that were there throughout the day, this was sage advice).
Knowing that Spaniards tend to arrive a bit late for most things, we got to the consulate at 7:30 and found ourselves to be the 3rd in line. It was a typical muggy morning in Miami, so C and the boys went to sit in the car; I held our place and told them that I would text them when I needed them to come in.
At 8:00 the doors to the building opened and we were led through the lobby to the 2nd floor where the Consulate is located. A quick hop through the metal detector, we were given numbers and told that we would be called in order beginning at 8:30. At 8:30 the first 2 people were called, so I sent a text to C to head inside. When they arrived at security, I explained that they were with me and was told that they needed their own numbers so we were handed the 18-20th numbers of the morning.
I had to pull out that old "Curious not Furious" mantra because it was headed to being that kind of day.
At 8:40 I made my way to the counter to speak with the Consulate representative. When I got back there, I explained that I didn't realize that each of us needed our own number but that my husband was going to come in and be the primary applicant. She indicated that she could see us all and to call C up to the counter.
"Alright, may I have your original and 1 copy of your National Visa Application?"
My stomach dropped to my feet...I forgot to make duplicate copies of all the documents. I apologize profusely and our representative tells us to go to the FedEx/Kinko's a few blocks over. We would not need to wait in line when we returned, just let her know that we've come back.
At this point, I feel like an idiot. I've wasted my time, her time, and annoyed my already sullen #3 who is annoyed because it's his birthday and he had "to spend it waiting in line, in an office, to apply for a visa for a move I don't even want to make." Fun times.
Fortunately, #2 is fully on-board with this move so he was more than willing to help me make $28 worth of copies that took about an hour to copy and collate. Copies in hand, we return to the office and let the representative know that we are back with our copies.
I should let you know that by this time, the Consulate offices were so filled with people that they had closed the line for the day and people were being advised to return on Tuesday. We received more than a few angry looks when we were called up to the counter immediately.
C was back up and we walked through all the documents. She asked for something and we were Johnny-on-the-spot with whatever the representative needed. Until we got to the end of the paper documents and she said, "Copy of your license and passport." Good Gd, I forgot to make copies of these f*@#$%g things.
The lovely representative told us that we could bring the copies back tomorrow, so we proceeded with the remaining applications.
Here are a few other things that we learned when applying for visas through the Consulate offices in Miami:
Money Orders are preferable to cash and you will be sent out to get those
Bank statements are needed for proof of your finances, however these documents do not need to be translated.
Children under 18 do NOT need to have a background check run/translated/apostilled.
Children under 18 MUST have their birth certificates apostilled along with a notarized, apostilled translation.
You do not need to return to Miami to pick up your visas, you can pre-purchase a USPS priority mail envelope and they will mail your passports and visas back to you.
The good news is that I had the apostilled birth certificates and translations with me. The bad news is that I did not make copies of these documents, so those too must be returned along with copies of our passports and driver's licenses tomorrow.
We walked out of the Consulate offices at 11:00 and I felt like I had worked a full 10 hour day.
Before we went to lunch we ran back to our favorite Coral Gables FedEx/Kinko's and made our copies of passports, licenses, birth certificates, and translations. We also picked up a USPS envelope so that we do not need to fly back to Miami next month to pick up our passports and visas.
With the benefit of deep breaths and a quiet afternoon, I can look back and appreciate how things could have gone completely off the tracks had I allowed myself to get angry and flustered. However, with a lot of humility we were able to (almost) accomplish all that we had intended to get done today. It was also brilliant foresight and planning to allow for a second business day in Miami in case we had to return to the Consulate.
Tomorrow, C and I will run back over to the Consulate and drop off the remaining items to complete our applications.
And then we wait for all the pieces to come together.