A little late, but last week I finally was able to go to the Embassy to go and get my visa…or at least apply for it. With most other things, it turned out to be a “drama” in the words of my mother, and an adventure and a half. After leaving a voicemail, I dug a little bit to see if I did really need to leave 6 weeks to apply. If that was true, I was screwed. I had 40 days at the time. Even better, my FBI background check was nowhere in sight. I went to a local police station and applied to just a general background check instead.
The Chilean Embassy in D.C. is small. It’s nothing comparatively in size to the British or Russian Embassies. But it does just fine. You’re let in after introducing yourself and I was helped right away (a plus of a small embassy). A man behind thick glass asked what I was there for and I told him, “Por una visa!”
I couldn’t help but reveal a huge smile. As the days fall away, I realize little by little that I’m really going to South America.
He reviewed my papers and I told him, “I don’t have an FBI background check, but I have the local one and the notarized letter…”
His expression didn’t change. Mine quickly did.
He started to hand papers back to me, asking my to sign forms, review forms, told me I didn’t need several forms. He left the room for a moment, and return with a huge stack of papers.
Trouble was brewing.
“We don’t accept the local background checks anymore. You know why? Because people never sent in their real ones.”
I might speed, have gotten a few parking tickets, but I’m not a criminal. I promise.
I explained that online my study abroad program said it was accepted.
“No, no it’s not. And you need the official University acceptance letter, too.” He said this in Spanish. Looking me straight in the eye.
Which I understand, but I should have double checked. I craned my neck, and asked, “is it not there?”
He started typing furiously. Stopped.
“I’m going to let you get your visa.”
My mouth dropped. “Muchas gracías!!”
“Are you going anywhere before Chile?”
“Nada, solamente Santiago, y luego Valparaíso y Viña del Mar.”
He smiled, a twinkle in his eye. “Soy de Valpo. I grew up there. It’s the most beautiful city in the world.”
He told me about it briefly and I told him I’d appreciate it for all it’s beauty. Before I left, he gave me a slip for when I was to return, where I was to send my official University letter.
He also corrected my forms. “Lesson number one: In Chile, we put the day before the month.”