Saturday, May 12, 2007
Honduras Consulate Trip to Chicago- April 25th-28th
On April 25th around 4pm, me, the two sprouts and one of my closest girlfriends, Laura got in my little Ford Focus (no cruise control) and drove 8 hours to Chicago. I am fortunate that I have a friend, Gina who lives in Chicago and we were able to make a long weekend of the big event to go see the Honduras consulate. The trip was pretty painless and in fact was a wonderful time to spend with my friends! I am very blessed with such sweet friends who honestly would do anything for me. But things on Wednesday the 25th did not start out so great and in fact gave me such a scare that I was questioning if the trip may need to be postponed. I'll try to explain as best I can and apologize if this is a little long to read.
I mentioned before what a circus act it is to become a resident of another country. I needed to have notarized copies that have been "certified" by the Secretary of State. For MN that office is located in St. Paul. About a week before the trip, I received some medical lab results from my doctor's appointment. You know, the usual stuff that says my blood is normal, I don't have an infectious diseases or anything requiring major medical care. For whatever reason I waited until the morning of the trip to go to St. Paul to have the notary's signature certified at the Secretary of State office. I show up around 9am and take a number and sit down to wait to be called.
My number is called a few moments later and I go to the counter and fill out a piece of paper at which point they take my medical documents along with 2 certified copies of my marriage license that I had also received about a week prior. I sit down to wait for them to call me back up which they say should be just a few minutes. I sit...and I sit a little while longer. I watch a couple of people come and go that seem to have come in around the same time as me. I figure they must have something that doesn't take as long to process.
After a while the man that was helping me realizes I am still sitting there and he calls out to me, "ma'am, you are still waiting. Didn't your documents come in yet?" and I rise to go to the counter. Immediately I see he is suddenly in quite a bit of distress. He begins to look through stacks of paper in different places. He then flags another woman to help him search for my documents. At this point my skin is starting to crawl and I think I uttered a few things under my breath like, "you've got to be kidding me?" and as the moments go on and other people in the office are starting to look concerned as well, my heart started to sink even faster. I think the blood in my ears started to sound and I was holding back saying anything b/c I felt like I was going to start to yell and the office was starting to fill up with people waiting because the office was at a stand still while everyone was looking for my documents. Wouldn't you know that they sent my documents with a man on his way back to Rochester, MN.
They printed out the scanned copies of the documents they certified that were now on their way to Rochester and notarized them as real copies of the documents and then gave them the apostille stamp. I already had a marriage certificate that I had certified so I was less worried about that, but I was concerned about the medical records. What if the Honduras Consulate felt the info I had - a wimpy little letter with a few sentences saying me and Sister Sprout are healthy - was not acceptable and they needed actual copies of the medical records. Maybe the scanned copies would have been fine, but what if they weren't? I could show up and they might barely bat an eye, or quite possibly they could send me home without their stamps and seals on it.
I made the decision to let it be as it was and hope for the best. The secretary of state people didn't charge me for any of the certification I needed and explained that they would sent a FedEx envelope to the person who had my documents and have him FedEx them to Chicago. This was Wednesday and if everything was aligned just right I would have the actual real certified documents by Friday when I was going to the consulate.
I suspected they were quite concerned about this little mis-hap being taken care of as quickly and quietly as possible. I would guess this type of thing would have cost someone their job being that they "lost" private medical records.
So did they make it to Chicago on time??? Yep. At 10:45am on Friday morning the FedEx man rang Gina's doorbell. I was getting ready to leave and they showed up without a moment to spare.
Honduras Consulate in Chicago
Sister Sprout and I made it to the consulate at about 11:30am. The place is in a high latino section of town with almost all stores having some kind of latino name. It's really a small hole in the wall. There was a bench made out of unfinished 2x4's and a mis-match of old used office chairs in the waiting area. The back offices were no different and the 3 desks set up had only 1 "guest" chair to sit on, so sister sprout had to sit on my lap. Maybe there wasn't another chair available, but they did not offer to try and find one for us.
One interesting thing they had in the office waiting area was various application forms such as passport applications from people who I think must have given fake information. I couldn't understand what or why all those application papers were up at first, but then realized what they probably were. If anyone has any other thought on why they would post those applications up for all to see - please chime in.
With all the drama with the documents and the nerves of something going wrong I showed up at the consulate with no cash. Oops! I got in there, filled out some paperwork and then had to leave to try and find some place that I could get cash. We ended up walking down the street to a gas station and taking money out of their ATM. When we got back to the office they made us wait for a very long time. I'm guessing it was just after or possibly a late lunch hour there. My stomach was really starting to rumble too. But we finally were called back and finished up all the paper work. One thing that I thought was kind of cool was they gave me another name. In Honduras I cannot have my husband's name as the first last name. In Latin America and I'm sure many other places in the world, when you marry the woman retains her maiden name and then will add the husband's name after. Sometimes it's just 2 names one right after the other; other times it's the maiden followed by the word de and then the husband's last name. They decided to give me the "de" between my maiden and my husband's name.
The rest of the trip in Chicago was lots of fun with my kids, my friends and Gina's adorable 16 month old son Aidan. Isn't he cute?
This post is going to press a little late. It's been 1/2 written for over a week. I'd post a bunch more photos from the trip but my connection currently is oh so slow and not uploading photos so speedily. I've put all the photos onto my photo album page so check them out there if you'd like to see more. You know...the usual million photos of the kids.