Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Plan Stan…

I get this a lot from friends & family: So what are you doing again? What’s the plan? What are you going to do if M doesn’t get his visa? I get that one A LOT.

I know people are naturally curious since it’s a definite possibility that his waiver might not be approved. I have a couple of backup plans but I don’t want to focus on them or get too far ahead of myself because that’s not what I want. The current goal is us back in the US as soon as possible.

After M has his appointment in October we will submit a visa waiver packet. This packet basically lays out all the reasons why it would be an EXTREME HARDSHIP for me to not have M with me in the US and/or why it would be an extreme hardship for me to live in El Salvador. Like a lot of people, I don’t feel like we have any hardships much less extreme ones. In fact I think if M had to find the one American girl who was willing to pack it all up and try out someplace new, he couldn’t have picked a better girl. I do have to admit that now that I’m out here in that new place, it’s not easy. Homesickness and culture shock are real things. They can make you hide in your room for a month and cry at the very mention of your dear cats’ names. All that to say, I feel confident that I could live and be happy in a lot of different places. I spent my early years living on various military bases and I’m nothing if not adaptable. More like blendable. I tend to fade into the background. So how can that be a hardship when clearly I’ve already packed up all my junk and planted myself in the campo? I don’t know but I have a lawyer who seems to know what she’s doing.

So the plan….

The current plan is:

· Spend the summer with M’s family while waiting for his consular interview appointment. –CHECK!

I get asked a fair amount why we didn’t wait until we had his appointment date to come to El Salvador when we could’ve kept working and living in the US. The answer is, one, we needed to submit a solvencia/background check from El Salvador and we waited and waited and waited to get it from the Salvadoran consulate in Virginia and it never came. It was the last thing we needed to submit our docs to the NVC and our lawyer said we probably wouldn’t get the date without it. We also weren’t sure exactly how to get it in El Salvador. We NOW know that a designated person could’ve gone to San Salvador and got it but it would’ve been just as much hassle for them as it was for us. Two, we needed to go to the Spanish embassy in San Salvador to apply for M’s visa to Spain. In hindsight, I wish we had at least tried to get it in DC instead of asking so many questions and being such rule followers. It would’ve been a lot easier but in the end we got the visa either way, it was just way more hassle. Three and most importantly, M hadn’t seen his family or hometown in 8 years. We were both burnt out from working and just ready for a change. These last few months that he’s spent with his dad are priceless and were worth way more than any potential income from 3-4 months of work. Three months in the campo will really make you evaluate what’s important to you and strangely will also make you want to shop for nice handbags. Frivolous I know, but I can’t help it.

· Consular interview appointment. Get medical exam done and bring copies of all documents to appointment. –Pending

· Mid-September-head to Spain and get acclimated, find apartment, test dry runs of walk to job, meet up with contact person at the school, find neighborhood grocery store, learn way around. –FAIL.

Once I found out M’s appointment was in October I knew I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible before leaving for Spain. I was pretty bummed. I knew I couldn’t go into the embassy appointment but I wanted to be there to support him. In the end we decided that it was best if I didn’t miss the new job orientation and that I start on time. And I secretly think it’s good he does some of this stuff on his own. I have no idea what the consular interview is like but we have a bona fide marriage so how bad can he really mess this up?

· Sept 28-M picks up passport and visa from Spanish embassy.

· Sept 29-arrive in Madrid. Sept 30-orientation in Madrid. Oct 1-take train from Madrid to Asturias, meet potential landlord at the train station, check out apartment and hopefully settle in that night. Oct 2-find food and internet. Oct 3-start new job.

This is the part that has me all nervous. I was really counting on having M as my support system for this newbie time. Someone to be there to help navigate a new city, find an apartment, cook dinner, and take the edge off. It’s like Peace Corps all over again, except without the pit toilets.

· Mid-October-Video chat with M all about his appointment! –Pending!

· Late October/Early November-M flies from El Salvador to Spain and settles in, looks for temporary work, inevitably finds 3 soccer teams to play on instead. Also spends free time watching GOLtv and Jorge Ramos y su Banda. Slingbox=greatest invention ever and money well spent.

· Christmas break-depending on finances, possibly take a small trip somewhere, either within Spain or maybe Portugal.

· January-possible visit from friends.

· March-hopefully have a good idea of what our immigration timeline is and decide whether to renew for second year in Spain if so far so good.

· Spring Break-another possible visit from friends.

· June-Spain job ends. 8 months after appointment date, waiver hopefully approved!! If not yet approved, haven’t yet decided where we’ll spend the summer. Possibly work summer camps in Spain.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more on our possible backup plans.


Estrellita said...

That sounds like a good plan. As for the hardship, most people only have to plan as far ahead as dinner or what they are going to do this weekend. Having to put this much thought into the next day, month, or year does make life more difficult and complicated than it should be. It doesn't seem so hard to us because we are used to immigration issues putting up roadblocks. An 'average' person would view this as an impossible situation.
Best of luck to you and your husband.

jules said...

looking back, I can't believe how seriously WRONG everything went. EVERYTHING.