Today I had two big frustrations. The first one happened at the U.S. Consulate. I went there to ask how much advance notice we'll have before Andre's interview date. I heard from a friend of a friend who applied for her Brazilian boyfriend that the waiting period has changed from 9 months to 6 months. I applied for Andre in mid-May, so six months would be mid-November. We're scheduled to be in South America from Oct. 6 - Jan. 3, 2008. I imagined us in some tiny Chilean village and suddenly having to find our way to Sao Paulo for our return flight, probably at great expense. And of course changing our itinerary could be very expensive too.
So while Andre trekked to the phone company to pay his bill and cancel service, I walked a couple of miles to the U.S. Consulate. I noticed I was the only American there. I was directed to a man in an official yellow shirt who was working the appointment lines. He heard my story and said, "don't worry, have a great trip to Brazil. The waiting list for fiance visas is 2 years." That was not the answer I expected at all. I insisted that my immigration lawyer said the average wait is 9 months. He said, not in Dominican Republic. This is the most popular country for fiance visas to the U.S.
Unfortunately, that makes sense. The D.R. is close to the U.S. and the women are extremely sexy and poor. The internet is full of sites like LatinasInLove.com which show photos and profiles of hundreds of pretty young Dominicanas who are looking for a man up to 50 years old or older, smokers okay, children okay. What matters most is a ticket out of poverty.
I'm kicking myself for not picking Haiti for the interview. I just figured it would be easier in the D.R. because it's less Third World and Andre has been living here for 4 years. But Port-au-Prince is only a 6-hour bus ride away and all his family lives there, if we needed a place to stay during the interview process. Plus I didn't see any tourists courting the locals when I was there a few months ago. Practically no tourists at all. Must be a short waiting list.
I started walking back to Andre's apartment, trying to process this new information. I wondered if we could change it to Haiti or what would happen if we married now? So I turned back to the U.S. Consulate. The first guy had been replaced by two others. One guy said 9 months to a year, which made me feel better. He said to forget about making any changes in the application because that would start the clock all over again. The woman said it depends on the waiting list. When I pressed her to be more specific, she said one year, maybe two.
So what does that mean for Andre and me? If we knew in advance that it was going to take until May 2009, at least we could make plans to live in another country like Argentina or Chile. I'd love to live in Germany with him and travel around Europe, but the visa requirements for Haitians to any European country seem impossible. I also thought about border towns like Vancouver or Tijuana, although the Mexican consulate was so rude to us. It'd be easiest for me to commute back and forth to Santa Cruz. But we have to come back to Santo Domingo for the interview. So we're going to be flying a lot no matter what, unless we just stay here. All I know is, this time I need an apartment with AC, DSL and a kitchen. I can live with cold water and daily power outages.
The other frustration is my tennis elbow. I haven't played racquetball with my right hand in a month and I've been icing my elbow every chance I get. I know I reinjured it a bit by schlepping heavy baggage from California, but it doesn't hurt when I practice my forehand and backhand strokes off the court. So I was hoping that I could begin playing with my right hand, little by little.
Andre has been dying to show me how much better he's gotten in the last two months. I promised him if he beat my left I'd try to play right handed. I beat him four games straight with my left hand, even though he has improved a lot. He's going to be a real power player once he gets more experience. He attacks the ball with "ganas," as they say in Spanish. It's amazing to see him hit a very professional shot, followed by a very novice mistake. He still needs more consistency, but for playing only a few months, he's very impressive and loves the game.
We got to the courts by 3:30. Only his coach Danelo was there yet, although by the time we left at 7:00 the courts were full.Danelo and I played a couple of games left-handed. I beat him 15-1, 15-5. Then I pulled something in my left hand when Andre and I played again. I decided to try out my right hand. Forget it! The very first shot hurt so bad. I felt like crying. Racquetball has been my game for over 30 years. In my prime I was a semi-professional player. Lately I've been getting back into it and having illusions of entering my age group in regional and national championships.
I feel so defeated right now. I'm going to have to live in a hot, sweaty, dirty country surrounded by beautiful, sexy women, and not even be able to play racquetball. It's amazing what we do for love.