This has nothing to do with Advent, although it allows me to leave the country, which takes place during Advent. But it’s too good not to share.
After my year of Immigration stress, frustration, anger, bitterness, and near hatred, I had pretty much given up on anything positive ever coming out of there. I cringed last week when I realized I needed to start the whole visa renewal process over again. After the humongous month-long hassle they gave me last time, I really dreaded going back now, especially since I needed to convince them to renew it early. (This visa doesn’t expire until December 22, but I’m supposed to travel from December 19 to January 5.)
I went prepared last week with copies of every document they could potentially ask for. I remembered to have a letter from the office stating my reasons for requesting early renewal. I went in with my most dazzling smile and handed everything over to my favorite of the two Immigration officials downstairs, Senhor S. “Come back on Monday for a response.”
This morning I trudged over there, preparing myself for the beginning of the battle: Come back tomorrow; come back Wednesday; come back next week; we need a copy of such-and-such a document, etc., etc. I decided not to get bothered today when they would inevitably say they didn’t have a response yet. After all, I still have ten days until I absolutely need my passport back.
I walked in with my most dazzling smile. Amazingly Senhor S plopped my paperwork on the desk, and I noticed a note written in the corner. “Is there a response?” I asked as sweetly and respectfully as possible. He tapped the note in the corner, “160 days. That’s six months.” (Well, 5 1/3, but good enough.) “Six months??” I said. “That’s great!” And then because I wasn’t expecting it AT ALL, I didn’t really know what else to say. “Um, can I pay now?” He showed me the total, which was nearly $120. Yikes. I didn’t have that much on me, so I went across the street to a bank to withdraw some cash.
I stood in line, giddy. I texted people to share the great news. I planned in my head what I would say to João when I got back to the office. But part of me was scared too, scared that when I returned, they would decide that actually it wasn’t going to work to give me 160 more days.
Nope, they wrote the receipt and accepted my 2487.24 meticais then handed me the receipt that says to come back on Friday. I won’t get too excited about Friday. That would be a little too much to hope for. But whenever I do finally get my passport back, with the visa inside, I know I won’t have to revisit Immigration for a very long time.
P.S. I bumped into João on the street on the way back to the office and told him I had great news. We “wuawed” and high-fived and did a little dance next to the fruit vendors.