During the trip to Ottawa, Canada to get our O1 visas (Aliens of extraordinary ability, that’s important), we had some problems. First job was to drive 10 hours with an 18 month old and a 5 year old. This was a little easier than previous road trips because Santa brought a dvd player 🙂 We hit the road 2 days after Christmas 2005, leaving everything we’d accumulated in our 100 year old stone cottage by the lake, to go get legal. Now when you leave the country, there’s no guarantees you’ll get those sort after visas, so we went on faith.
The road trip, thankfully, was mostly uneventful. I say that because I really don’t remember too much about it. Although I do remember seeing the Northern Lights in the sky just before we crossed the border. They were very beautiful.
We arrived in Ottawa, mid winter, it was freezing. It’s one of those bilingual cities. All the traffic signs were in French and English, which we found strange. Being travel worn we found a hotel close to the embassy and settled in. Our appointment was at 8am the next morning. When I say appointment, everyone has an 8am appointment and it’s first come first served like most Government departments. The next morning we were up early to get ourselves organised and planned to walk the 200 metres down the road. We got down to the lobby with everything and The King decided we should get the camera and sight see after our appointment. I sat in the lobby with the kids while The King went back up to the room to retrieve it. Now at the time I was still rather distressed about the whole move and I thought that I should get the kids up and ready and wait outside to get moving quicker. (That’s the people pleaser coming out). What I didn’t realise was that The King had left his briefcase with me beside the chair I was sitting in. He didn’t say anything about it. I got up and bundled the kids out the door and waited…..
The King came and questioned my decision. I said I was trying to be helpful, then he said where’s my briefcase???? My heart sank, the next 20 minutes were a disaster. All our documents, passports and $1000 cash to pay for our visas were in the brief case. We went immediately back into reception but of course no one saw anything. They were very unhelpful, actually quite rude. So there we were, late for our appointment, with no papers, no money and possibly stuck in Canada until we could get new passports!
I was totally freaked out, The King was really angry and it was a mess. Eventually the concierge came back from his break and we were able to ask if anyone had handed in a brief case. Of course 9/11 was still very fresh in people’s minds and anything sitting around for even a second unattended was swooped on and that’s what had happened. The concierge after a lengthy search found our briefcase. It was still locked and everything was still inside.
That’s when I fell apart. I suppose the relief set me off. I was a mess walking to our appointment. I apologised, when really it wasn’t my fault. It was a miscommunication however there was a lot of over compensating on my part of making sure everyone else was happy and taken care of that I forgot to take care of me. It’s how I handled bad situations. I know now that I was still suffering from post partum depression, I was also very upset about moving to the US. It was a tough time but I’ve learned how to look after me better since then 🙂
We got ourselves to the Embassy and thanks to a very noisy 18 mth old Miss Gremlin, got our visas reasonably quickly and left ……..but the story doesn’t end there. Miss Gremlin’s visa was missing her middle name, now that doesn’t see like a big deal but we weren’t taking any chances with future bureaucracy, so The King went back in and we had to return the next day to retrieve the amended visa.
Pleased to be legally able to return to the US we relaxed a little and had a bit of a look around Ottawa.The extra day enabled us to find a vegemite supply and chat with some Aussies, so all was not lost. It is a really beautiful place albeit really freaking cold. The following day we began the trek back to our little cottage by the lake and all our worldly posessions. We didn’t hurry, we took a couple of days, stopping in Montreal and Boston along the way.
Each step along this relocation journey has given us unusual situations to deal with. Getting our visas was just the beginning. The red tape is astounding. It’s a wonder anything gets done but it does so I guess it works.