Friday, January 25, 2008

GREAT NEWS from the U.S. Consulate

Jan. 24, 2008

Today, just before we left Junior’s house to catch the Caribe Tours bus to Haiti, I found out that Andre’s visa application has been approved and the date for his interview at the U.S. consulate in Santo Domingo is set for March 25. I can hardly believe it. Last time I checked, I was told 19 months was the average wait time, which would have been in December 2008. So this is really great news.

I had heard rumors that the waiting period for fiancé visas had been shortened, which is why I called in the first place. I wanted to have a more accurate idea of how long we needed to spend in Canada before we paid the $150 application fee. Many thanks to my Canadian friends who wrote beautiful, formal letters of invitation for us, but we won’t be needing them anymore.

This news means so many changes in our plans. Now I’ll be coming back for good in a month, instead of just to do my taxes, catch up on my rental properties, finish the DVD project of the celebration of Maya’s life, etc. It also means I can teach my racquetball class this spring at UCSC as scheduled. I also have to talk with the tenants in my house.

I had thought of inviting Daniel to join us in Vancouver for Maya’s 11th birthday on June 17, but now I’m seriously thinking about Kauai, where Maya wanted to go next (she’d been to Oahu and Maui already) ever since she saw a video of Hilary Duff spending her 16th birthday there. A friend of mine has a 2-bedroom timeshare right on the beach, which she never uses.

We’re halfway to Haiti as I write these words. So this trip will be goodbye for Andre. If all goes as planned, he will arrive in the U.S. shortly after his March 25 interview (my 51st birthday is April 2, so that would be a nice gift), then we have 90 days to marry or send him back (making me a June bride), and then he has to stay six months in the U.S. after that to get his residency. Hopefully he’ll get it just in time to spend Christmas with his family. He hasn’t been with his family for the holidays the last five years. We had hoped to this year, but got a late start for South America.

Jan. 25 Port-au-Prince, Haiti

The bus ride from Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince was easy, just like last time. They played trashy violent movies all the way -- dubbed in Spanish even though most of the passengers were Haitian and understand French much better. The border crossing takes a while, but provides some interesting people watching. It seems like the whole purpose of crossing the border is to import goods from the Dominican Republic to resell in Haiti. I saw lots of packages of chips and a ton of styrofoam take-out containers. That's all Haiti needs -- more garbage.

We made good time entering Port-au-Prince, then slowed down in bumper-to-bumper traffic going across town. It was dark when we finally arrived at the bus station. Andre's youngest brother Reginald was there waiting with his friend Wilson. Andre doesn't trust taxi drivers in Haiti, so he always arranges for a friend to drive and we pay the gas, which is no small amount at $8 a gallon. They have two friends who own cars and Francois' is out of commission, so Wilson is our designated driver. Like everyone else in Haiti, he just puts in one gallon at a time since gas is so expensive. I've never a gas gauge higher than "E" in this country.

I'm trying to convince Andre to let us go to Jacmel for Carnival this weekend. It's very famous for the celebration, but of course Andre's afraid of rowdy crowds. Jacmel is basically a small port town, which I really enjoyed last time -- other than the piece of glass I found in my beans one time -- so I hope he reconsiders. He's going to invite his Aunt Micheline. That would be nice. She'll convince him that it's okay for us to go.

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