A lot has happened. Here we go.
( to read about consulate visit round #1 & round #2, see my last blog post )
CONSULATE VISIT ROUND 3:
My proxy scheduled the consulate visit for August 30th. She started driving at around 7 am and drove 2 hours to make it to the 9 am consulate visit in San Francisco, California to deliver the visa application for me (Rotarians are the nicest people), but when she got there they told her the visa fee was $30 more than what Rotary had allotted in the money order. The money order Rotary got for the visa fee was $160, but the visa fee was actually $190.
My proxy decided to return to the consulate's office on Friday with the remaining balance.
Fast forward to Friday, September 1st. I receive an email from my proxy - it popped up in the notification bar at the top of my phone and the preview text read:
"Dear Tasha, I don't have the best of news..."
The email said my proxy had made it to the consulate with the additional fees, but when the ambassador was going through my paperwork, my passport was missing.
*cue my tears*
It went on to say that when my proxy had visited the consulate on Wednesday, she had given a person helping her my passport and my birth certificate to be copied and she didn't remember having my passport returned to her.
After I finished reading this crushing email, I started contacting people asking for advice. Several emails later, my proxy said she would return to San Francisco on Tuesday to see if the passport could be found and it was decided I should wait to re-apply for a new passport until I heard from her on Tuesday. This was Labor Day Weekend and most businesses were closed, including the consulate's office, until Tuesday.
The only thing I could do was wait.
Applying for a new passport would mean waiting another 2-3 weeks for it to get back and then I'd have to send it to the proxy again, she'd have to apply for the visa, and I'd leave for Brazil in OCTOBER.
*4 stressful days later*
My proxy emails again on Tuesday, September 5th.
"Dear Tasha, I wish I had good news,
but I have GREAT news."
They found my passport. The visa will be ready for pick-up on September 12th. It will be overnight-ed to me. I'll have it in my hands on September 13th. And then I can plan a departure date.
If all goes well, I'll be on a plane by September 17th-ISH.
I am so excited. It's starting to feel real again and it's scaring me a little bit, but I am so ready for this.
I'll be the last of the outbounds from my district to leave. I was supposed to be one of the first, but I'm okay with how this has all worked out. I've learned a lot through this whole process, and I admit I didn't feel ready to leave back in the beginning of August. I am ready now.
It's sort of fitting that I'm the last to leave. I was the last to find out what country I was going to back in January at the winter orientation, and now I'm last to depart. We found out what country we would be going to at winter orientation. Outbounds in my district don't get to pick what country they go to. It is chosen for them. Some districts let their outbounds pick three countries they would be okay with being sent to. Some even get to pick what city they want to be sent to from a list of options. And then they're sent there.
Not my district.
And I am very grateful my district does it differently.
DISTRICT 5010 COUNTRY REVEAL PROCESS:
All the inbounds, outbounds, and some rebounds go to winter orientation in Anchorage and we spend a weekend at a hotel there. During this weekend we have time to talk to the inbounds to learn about their countries, we talk to the rebounds, and we have lectures about exchange life.
The outbounds would be pulled from the activities/lectures one by one to be interviewed and then the interviewers decided what country you would be sent to based on the interview and your long form application.
On the last evening, all the parents, YEO's (youth exchange officers), and Rotarians were invited to the country-reveal banquet. They made it as dramatic as possible. It was like the Oscars.
They displayed the country's flag on the wall with a projector and had the inbounds/rebounds of that country come up on the stage with an envelope.
The envelope had that country's outbound's name inside.
There was a long drumroll,
the inbounds/rebounds ripped open the envelope,
they read the outbound's name,
the outbound bounded up to the stage,
everyone smiled and calmed down for a couple seconds,
and then the next country's flag was put up on the screen.
Much Drama. Much Stress. Very Tense.
Brazil was the last country to be revealed.
And now I'm the last outbound to leave.