Friday, August 15, 2008

Karen's Debut at Brazilian Consulate in San Francisco

Thursday, August 14 — I am sitting in the Brazilian consulate office in San Francisco. I had envisioned marble floors and majestic flags hanging from vaulted ceilings, but this tiny, cramped office feels more like waiting at the DMV. At least I am getting to hear lots of people speak Portuguese. I opted to go directly to the consulate myself rather than hire a visa expediting service.

For my Brazilian visa application, I have gathered:

1. Passport photo for visa (at Kinko's)
2. Copies of California Driver's License (at Kinko's)
3. 3 vaccinations for travel to Brazil and Peru (typhoid, yellow fever and Hep A). This required two visits to different Santa Cruz Medical clinics.
4. Cashiers check for visa application fee ($130 at Washington Mutual)
5. Filled out online forms about the purpose and dates of my visit.
6. Copies of my airline ticket and lodging reservations.

Friday, August 15 — Mission accomplished! Disaster avoided: My cashiers check for $130 fee was from my bank. Turns out it had to be from the US Post Office! I found this out from a friendly guy sitting next to me while we waited in line. I had been waiting an hour and a half and my number was close to being called, but I knew my application would be rejected if I did not have the proper money order. So I sprinted to the closest post office, waited in line and fortunately made it back in time. After a 90-minute drive to San Francisco, two and a half hours at the consulate (not bad!) and a 90-minute drive back home, I have successfully applied for the visa. I will pick it up in person in San Francisco next week!