A Beautiful Life Tapestry

It is amazing how often the image that we carry around about places and people does not match the reality…if we could remember that and be open..with no preconceptions…we would save ourselves a great deal of angst..example, in point…Chicago…very different that the way that I thought it would be…

Last week after work, I drove the 4.5 hours to Chicago to apply for the 2 year visa…the consulate is only open for 3 hours a day for visa applications…between 9am and 12pm…a very short window of time…

Checked into Hotel Cass…a Holiday Inn Express at Magnificent Mile….
The Magnificent Mile, sometimes referred to as The Mag Mile, is an upscale section of Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, running from the Chicago River to Oak Street in the Near North Side…all I knew was that it was approximately .3 miles from the consulate…or so I thought…

I didn’t want to have to try and drive around downtown Chicago and try to find parking during the morning work day rush hours…especially with only a 3 hour window…I wanted to be one of the first in line at the consulate and try and beat the rush…well, the supposed rush…

The parking was right next door to the hotel…just around the corner…but for $48.00 per day…yes, I about passed out too…lol…really debating whether it was worth the money…and yes…it was worth the sense of security and not stressing about finding parking…although, I do think it should at least, had valet parking…:-)

Awake early the next morning…with a breakfast buffet…in the lobby…it was a really decent breakfast buffet…but also really busy…much busier than I thought for the middle of the week…a very diverse group of people…

After mapping the address of the Consulate…it turned out to be 27 blocks from the hotel…a beautiful spring day…it was off to find the Consulate…so many places that I would have loved to have stopped and visited…all within the streets that I walked…very clean streets…Museums…Lots of Shopping…Food of all varieties…parks…I was impressed.

200 South Michigan Avenue…another tall Chicago building…squeezed in between all the others…revolving door into a cool dark interior…greeted by a warm, smiling woman who directed me to the 6th floor for the consulate…here I thought that the consulate would have an entire building…but just a floor…all preconceptions were being slowly erased…what to expect…

Opening the door…I entered a small dark sitting area…dark wood paneling…with a woman seated behind bullet resistant glass…a couple of woman ahead of me…discussing what was needed for a visa application…after waiting a very short time…I approached the woman behind the glass…and she requested what I was there for….

I had read many bad reviews of the receptionist…that I was a little leery of how I would be received…but wanting to give a good impression…I smiled and stated that I wanted to apply for a visa…and was pointed to a door…no smile was returned…but she was not unpleasant…just very “to the point”…

So what was I going to find behind the door…just a short hallway into another room with a couple of couches and two bullet proof windows…only one was being used…just one person ahead of me…a very different reality to what I had imagined…long queues with lots of waiting…

Not long…a few minutes…it was my turn…taking my prepaid USPS envelope filled with all the prerequisite papers…trying to stuff it through the small opening in the window to the woman on the other side…bated breath…would it be accepted…

After reviewing…the infidel fingerprints…not the FBI approval…turned out…I had used a digital fingerprinting service that only send the request to the state…not the Federal data base…after the 3 tries and still wasn’t correct…my heart just sank into the floor…

But she was not done perusing the documents…one being the request for a waiver for the 2 year requirement for the visa that we were requesting…not accepted…but she was most helpful in letting me know what I needed…she said that I could come back that day…if I could get what I needed…

Leaving the office…I tried calling P. so he could try and get me the documents that I needed…but I forgot I could not use my phone…politely asked to leave…I left for the Lobby and gave P. the information…he was going to try and get me the documents that I needed…but it was an impossibility to get my fingerprints through the FBI that day…

Disappointing…but also…not a total loss…in that we now know what was still needed and a little closer to having an application that would be accepted…still a beautiful day…walking back to the hotel to check out…wanted to stay and visit the city…but not another day from work was not going to be possible…

Couldn’t leave Chicago without a piece of the famous Chicago Deep dish pizza…asked the employees at the hotel…where was the best pizza…and hands down it was the famous…

The day ended with a …..

Bubbles for the Day

…and off to return another day…

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