After waiting for months for my FBI clearance letter to come in the mail, then realizing it wasn't going to come, calling them, faxing them from a random bed and breakfast run by fundamental Mormons while on a road trip in Utah, and then paying an extra $15 dollars for overnight FedEx shipping, we made our appointment at the consulate in San Francisco. The only problem was that we haven't been married for 5 years yet (at the time of our appointment exactly 4 years and 9 months...) So we got our marriage certificate approved (20 dollars, plus a express shipment of Fernando's original birth certificate from Brazil, cost unknown); one thing down, 2 more important things to go... We got our diplomas certified by the consulate saying that we did in fact study here and graduate from college (10 dollars each, plus original transcripts, and original copies of our diplomas)... Finally we were ready to get my long awaited for Permanent Residency Visa for Brazil...
The problem was, like I mentioned, we had only been married for 4 years, 9 months. After 5 years, the Brazilian consulate can use your documents and process a Permanent Visa at their location in San Francisco and the wait time is around 5 days. If you are married for less than 5 years, the consulate has to send all of your information to Brazil, they have to process it (and judging by the bureaucracy I have already encountered, takes upwards of 4 months), then they have to return it to the consulate in San Francisco so it can then be processed in 5 days... So after all the time spent getting the FBI clearance, turns out not only could I not use it, I need to get another one that is valid in May (when our 5th anniversary hits)...
Because I was not willing to live in Fresno doing nothing and wasting money for another 4 months, we decided to do it this way and spend a lot more money, with some benefits. I bought myself a tourist visa to "visit" Brazil for 3 months at a time. This I can use to enter the country and then I will return to the states this summer and at that point get my Permanent Visa and go back to Brazil for the long haul. This was not ideal, considering this involved an extra round-trip flight ticket, an extra $140 for the tourist visa, and lots of extra time and energy, but I feel like it will be worth it. For one thing, I will be able to get a feel of what I am getting myself into with a ticket out in case I absolutely hate it (not likely), I will also have a 1 month reprieve from feeling like a total idiot because I can't understand and talk better than a 2 year old, and lastly, I will have an excuse to visit my family for a full month so that the babies don't completely forget about me! That's worth it for sure!
Things I am looking forward to in Brazil:
1. The people: I know approximately 50 Brazilians that live in the states or that studied with me in France and there is not a single one that I dislike. The people are so generous, friendly, and talkative, that you instantly feel welcome. This is a fact that even the Brazilians I know continually repeat to me to make me feel comfortable moving there and it definitely helps.
2. The beach: I have never been a huge fan of the beach, it's a little too sandy, a little too salty, and a little too crowded. But I am still very excited to live next to the beach for the few weeks that we will live with Fernando's parents, who live a quarter mile from it. It will be like a mini tropical vacation with the only exception being that it will not be stress free... I just hope that my lack of anything resembling a beach body won't cause people to stare and take pictures!
3. Having our OWN life again: Last but most definitely not least, we have lived in my dad's house for the past 3 months, with Fernando's sister for another 2 weeks, and then will be living with Fernando's parents until we figure out where we are going to end up. I am so excited to have our own little life again, without stepping on anyone's toes. It will be nice to set the rules again, listen to music instead of watching TV all day, be able to set up the kitchen, decorate the living room, leave my dirty dishes in the sink without feeling like an asshole... There are so many little things that don't seem like a big deal until you don't have them! I am excited to have our own shitty little apartment without any furniture and have it be completely our own!