Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Long Road to Our New Home

Friends, it's been a crazy past couple of weeks. Here's the lowdown on what's been going on in our corner of the world lately:

- Endless paperwork and bureaucracy has been the definite theme. Rico is applying for his US residency visa, and we are trying to purchase a house in California prior to our move. I believe Rico and I now have notarized, sworn translations of every official document issued to us from birth, as well as a full picture of our financial standing thanks having to cough up tax returns, account statements and employment contracts seemingly from the beginning of time.

- A word to the wise: You know that old song "If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife"? Well, here's my 2009 version. If you wanna have a straightforward, paperwork-free, easy life, never make non-resident alien your wife. Or in my case, husband. Seriously, I don't know how people who aren't compulsively organized and perfectly bilingual make it through this process. Totally worth it though. Obviously.

- Rico went for his compulsory health exam last week in Johannesburg as part of the visa application process. I am happy to report that, as evidenced by a chest X-ray, my husband doesn't suffer from TB.

- My mother-in-law is here for a visit, her first time in Africa. We picked her up at the airport in Joburg, then promptly proceeded to get lost downtown while trying to find the medical clinic. We had a GPS, and it was useless thanks to the Wiki-style maps we have for South Africa that didn't recognize our intended destination. We circled nervously and aimlessly for about an hour, with my MIL in the back seat. Apparently she later confessed to Rico that she thinks we are a great couple with a promising future because we didn't kill each other in the car.

- We went to Kruger park with my MIL, and it was fabulous. We saw a pride of 8 lions, and every other animal imaginable except for the reclusive leopard.

- Rico and I put an offer on a beautiful house yesterday, along with my mom who has helped us beyond measure in the prequalification process. Now we wait. By the end of the week, we will know if the house is to be ours. This is a very tidy way to sum up what has been weeks of high stress, all leading to the biggest decision in my and Rico's life since marriage. We are all praying this house works out, because it is an incredible opportunity and we are totally in love with it already.

- We are starting to sell our furniture and other posessions here in Maputo. It's a strange process, and a daunting one for sure, but I find it quite appealing. Although I cling to certain objects, I find it cleansing to have a big purge of posessions every few years. We will leave Moz with 2 suitcases each, 3 cats and 1 cargo box containing an antique chandelier and an old wooden trunk. That's it. Chega.

- The prospect of starting fresh in a new house is thrilling. I loved putting together this apartment, making it our home. We started with next to nothing, and used wicker furniture and slept on a mattress on the floor for nearly 2 years. Now our flat is comfortable and beautifully decorated. I know we will be starting close to zero again with the new house in California, but I am not at all regretful because the process is so satisfying, and starting humble really makes you appreciate every little improvement, every new piece of furniture or painted wall.

- Rico and I have the big visa interview on Monday. Please keep us in your thoughts.

So that's it in a nutshell. I am also currently working 3 jobs, but I won't even go into the details because more than anything, I need to get off the blog and get them done.


Brandie said...

Wow - It does sound like you are super busy. Good luck with all the visa application stuff. Both my mom and sis came to the U.S. as Liberian citizens so I have some idea of the pain of the SYSTEM.

So good luck with the house. I don't think I would be brave enough to buy a house I had not stepped into and completely obsessed over every tiny corner!

When is the final "leave Africa for good" date?

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

good luck good luck good luck. I'm so excited for you about your new house!

Teri said...

Hi--I know the hassle you're going through. I'm American and married an Italian in 1999 and we did the work authorization to permanent residency and then naturalization, all ourselves--never used a lawyer. If you have any questions, I might be able to help. Good luck with it all!!

Teri said...

When my husband and I had our interview to see if our marriage was legitimate, my husband forgot the portfolio of all of our wedding photos, letters from friends, etc. I was standing with my back to the door and was complaining loudly, saying basically, how could you, this is just like you, etc. I was so worried about the questions they'd ask us. Behind me, the immigration officer witnessed it all. He walked it, told us to stand, raise our right hands, and repeat after him....NOT one question. I was *obviously* his wife:)

Guilherme said...

Hi Ali,

I'm computerized again, finally!
I understand the hassle about residency visa and immigration paperwork completely; still remember the interview w/ the official at the consulate on Av. Presidente Wilson, in Rio. And just about a month ago I became (officially) a fellow countryman of yours. I might be wrong but for you to get an M-19 you just have to to go to the Brazilian consulate in SFO and show marriage papers.
If you have a nice desk for a computer (maybe sth. you designed yourself) put it in the trunk and we'll do business when you get here, hehehe...
The bit about your mother-in-law was funny, I can just picture a carioca, lost in downtown JNB w/ her son and daughter-in-law, wondering about safety...
There, a long comment to make up for the time I've been quiet.
Best of luck!

Ali la Loca said...

~Brandie - Yes, the SYSTEM is quite cumbersome, even for those of us who have the "easy" situation of already being married. It's funny, buying a house sight-unseen doesn't bother me that much. I think after living in Moz, I am confident I can deal with just about anything a house has to throw at me, as long as it has sufficient natural light and is located in a safe enough area. ;)

Final date is September 22nd.

~Monkey - Thanks so much. Now we just have to get the actual mortgage and sign away our lives for the next 30 years!

~Teri - Your story had me laughing out loud. We've got our "relationship dossier" prepared and ready to go, and I can't even imagine forgetting it for the interview, although perhaps that's the ticket to a fast stamp on the application. :)

~Guilherme - Congratulations on your citizenship! In our case, since we live abroad, we process the entire application out of the embassy in South Africa. Ricardo has to enter the US on his residency visa, so we can't do anything out of SFO. It's actually not so bad, just tedious, and it requires a lot of travel back and forth.

I'll be sure to set aside our desks for you. I'm sure you won't mind paying DHL for them to ship out, right? hahahaha. beijos!

La Framéricaine said...

Where in California?

Happy anniversary! It goes fast don't it?

I thought of you the whole time I was in Albuquerque!