Well, gentle readers, I just spent two-and-a-half days on an unproductive venture to submit my visa paperwork. Here’s what I did wrong:

  • I did not have enough financial information. At least a year’s worth of information needs to be included for a checking account and a major credit card. Not a problem to get that info, but it wasn’t in the packets.
  • I did not have an insurance policy with $0 deductible. The directions were quite clear that I needed to have total coverage, which I did, but that apparently means something different to them than to me. $0 deductible, people.

Here’s what happened: When I got to the consulate, there are two windows where a consulate employee receives applications and other stuff. The consulate is only open between 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM. Four hours daily. So, when she told me that I needed to print more information for my visa application, I trotted over to the local Fedex and downloaded the banking info that I needed. Then I called my international insurance company to revise my policy, and they told me it would take at least a day to get the updated information and contract to me.

Okay. A day. That means I need to come back the following day to give them the paperwork to finish my application, right?

So I changed my flight, booked another hotel room, and extended my car rental. None of these options was cheap. Then I went back to the consulate to tell them what I needed to do.

So, at the end of the day, I was wrong. Since I don’t have appointment for the second day, they cannot see me. I had to take a number and wait another hour-and-a-half to ask if I could come back the next day. The lady at the window was kind enough to speak with her supervisor to see if they could squeeze me in, but the answer was no. So, instead of just flying home, I was now in the Fort Lauderdale area for another night unexpectedly.

Now, I have made a new appointment for a couple of weeks from now, and I called the appointment-making company to schedule two appointments on two consecutive days. Guess what? YOU CAN’T. You can only make one appointment at a time, and since the days are booked a couple of weeks in advance, you can’t come back the next day.

The end result is that my departure will be pushed back from when I had hoped, but I didn’t have a choice, since I couldn’t apply for my visa until I got back from Paris because they take your passport when you apply. <<Edit after the fact: Not true… they give you the passport back, but not until they check every page to make sure the duplicates you provide are accurate.>>

This is only the beginning of this kind of bureaucratic silliness. In the meantime, I did get to see my friend Michelle who lives in Fort Lauderdale, met some super-nice folks at the hotel where I was staying, and got to eat at one of my favorite restaurants that is still in Florida. There is a silver lining in all this. I just have to remember that.