“Cruisin’ down the freeway in the hot, hot sun” is not nearly as sweet when you are anxiously waiting the approval of your work visa. Oh yeah, that’s right; after seven months of filling out, apostillizing, translating, and (again) apostillizing paperwork, and waiting, waiting, and waiting some more, I am officially—finally!—a licensed architect in Colombia. Unfortunately, being in possession of a real, live matrícula profesional de arquitecto does not in fact make me a legal entity in the Colombian workforce. So here I am, back in the good ol’ U. S. of A., passportless and jobless (well, for the time being).
When Seth and I first arrived Stateside before dawn on Tuesday, March 27, I thought the visa process would be a cinch. I had visited the Consulate three times in December, so I knew what to expect: all documents processed, signed, and notarized, in order, with meticulously crafted dates. I compiled all six of my documents (Though, I will reiterate, that sixth document was responsible for those aforementioned seven months of paperwork, etc.), and I drove to the Consulate with confidence. I had everything on their requirements list; I would have my visa at last! WRONG! The elusive Wizard-of-Oz-type spectre behind the counter refused my documents outright simply because I did not have a cover letter from my boss begging his Majesty’s mercy. (WHAT?!) Basically, he wanted some kind of antiquated, faux-diplomatic gentleman’s agreement, and I only had six days to 1) have the letter in my possession 2) return said letter to the Consulate, and 3) have my visa processed before I was scheduled to fly back to Bogotá on Thursday, April 5. Yeah, right. After shamefully asking my boss for the superfluous document, I had it in my hot little hands at two o’clock on Monday April 2. Of course, those impossibly hard workers at the Consulate close their offices at said hour, so I had to wait. The next morning, I awoke bright and early, sat in rush-hour traffic, and, more or less, awaited my sentence. The Consulate surprisingly—shockingly!—agreed that I had everything in order. “I realize that this is a lot to ask, but if you get this cover letter to us, we can process your visa in like, a day,” the clueless clerk told me, in broken English, the week prior. “Your visa will be ready on Thursday, April 12,”—an entire week after I was scheduled to leave!—the second, painfully more experienced clerk told me this week. How convenient! Gee, THANKS!
After coming to terms with the fact that I will owe hundreds of dollars in airline fees and that I will miss yet another week of work—when we are in the middle of two crucial deadlines, no less!—I have arrived at the conclusion that there is nothing more that I can do. I simply have to wait. In the meantime, I have tried to enjoy the springtime treats that Texas has to offer—margaritas, bluebonnets, barbecue, hot afternoons spent poolside—but I cannot help but feel guilty. I have been working for a mere two months; I certainly do not deserve this “vacation”! (Speaking of vacation, couldn’t this whole debacle have occurred in, say, July?) One thing is for sure: from the time I return to Bogotá until Christmas, I will be in the office.