Sometimes really good things are worth waiting for.
This photo shows our children waiting patiently in Los Angeles, all dressed up for their application interviews at the Spanish Consulate.
We'd been expecting individual interviews, sort of like school interviews. Everyone got dressed up and the kids were excited. "What questions will they ask me, mommy?" Little Angel wondered out loud. "Will I need to know math?"
Instead it turned out to be one big room and a walk-up window, with a representative standing behind (what I am fairly confident was) bullet-proof glass.
We'd been told to reserve five appointments... one for each person. It turned out that the main appointment was for my husband, and all of the rest of us as his subsidiaries. Having five separate appointments between 9 and 11am turned out to be a good thing, because after reviewing the main application folder for Senor Aventura, we were summarily rejected.
The clerk, who was actually very patient and kind, found about seven things wrong with Senor Aventura's application, although we had followed the instructions on their website to the smallest detail.
"I'm sorry. We cannot accept an application that is incomplete," he said, sliding our carefully prepared paperwork back to us under the window.
"Surely there is something we can do to fix it," I said, smiling. "We drove up here last night from San Diego. We stayed overnight in a hotel so that we would not miss this appointment."
"It's good you didn't drive out from Arizona then," he smiled back at me. "That happens sometimes." Then he looked at his watch. "The last of your five appointments is scheduled at 11:00. If you make it back here by then with all the paperwork completed correctly, maybe we can still accept it today."
It was clear that he was serious. By the time we left the consulate, the five of us were literally running. We had less than 90 minutes in which to procure additional letters, documentation, bank statements and the Spanish identity card of our dear friend - five copies of each.
Senor Aventura and I worked as a team at the Kinko's a few blocks away, barely speaking as we passed documents back and forth and made copy after copy.
Soccer Dude and Little Angel, understanding how important it was for us to meet this crucial deadline, waited quietly and (mostly) without bickering. The Scientist ran trips back and forth from the printer, bringing us papers for our files.
With sweaty palms and racing heart I realized that without this residence visa the entire plan would be thrown into disarray. If we had to wait another six weeks for our appointment, we would have to rebook our airline tickets and cancel our house rental.
At 10:58am we made it back to the consulate. We were literally the last people to walk into the office before they closed for lunch. I began our second appointment with the clerk while Senor Aventura was still parking the car!
He began to scan our papers. "Hmmmmm.... yes," he said. "Yes...." and then he got to one particular document. "Yes! This is EXACTLY what it needs to say." After he scanned through the entire file, he smiled and took our cashier's check, neatly organizing our papers and making some copies.
When he handed me the receipt for our payment, I finally exhaled. I knew if they were taking our money, they were accepting the application. "Your visas should arrive in about 30 days." He then processed the additional four folders. Our completed family application was at least four inches thick!
We left laughing, nearly crying, about how hard it had been. Yet so worthwhile!
"Will we get our visas in time?" asked Soccer Dude.
"Yes, but it's going to be close," Senor Aventura replied. "We leave on the plane in six weeks!"
To our huge surprise yesterday, just seven days later, we got the great news by email -
"Your residence visas are now available for pickup." Wow! What an amazing one-week turnaround. We realize this must be rare, and feel very lucky.
Anything worth having is worth working hard for. This application process was rigorous to say the least... yet totally worth it. We are so excited and proud to be American citizens AND legal Spanish residents now!!! Viva Espana!