Saturday, January 06, 2007

Happy New Year! Here, there and everywhere

Ian has been traveling since Christmas Day. He needed to go to Madrid for an appointment regarding his US visa (green card), which allows him to reside and work here fulltime. Ian had to undergo a physical exam at a Madrid clinic approved by the U.S. Embassy. He had to have his vaccinations updated. He had to get a police report stating he had no police record in Spain. What’s amazing about this is that when you read the information given to you about this process, it gives the impression that this can all be done in a day! HA! And he's doing some of it in Spanish too. As I said, Ian left Minneapolis on Christmas Day, changed planes in London, then to Barcelona where he spent one night with Michael and Natalia, then took the train and arrived Madrid on the 28th for his medical appoint and was busy for the next two days running hither and yon throughout the Spanish capitol. We are very grateful that throughout his trip he has been able to stay with family, at our Spanish house or in a hotel chain where he can cash in points! After busy days in Madrid, he took the train to the coast and stayed in our beach house in Riumar for the New Year’s weekend. We celebrated New Year’s Eve together on Spanish time with a phone call, even though 2007 would not greet me in Minnesota for another seven hours.

While in Riumar, Ian sold our trailer to the man who did the renovation work on the houses. He tidied up our Camel Trophy Land Rover that had been parked there and readied it for travel. On January 2nd he drove the Land Rover five hours to Madrid and was there for his 9 a.m. appointment at the consulate on the third. All the papers were reviewed and he was told his visa would be issued … good … although it and his passport would be mailed from Madrid to his Spanish address in Barcelona! What?? Yup, thanks to changes made by Homeland Security nothing could be done to change this “security” procedure.

The reason Ian was driving the Land Rover is because it was going to be sold to one of two interested buyers; one in Lisbon, Portugal, the other in Peterborough, England. Lisbon is much closer and on the Iberian Peninsula, but that guy did not get it together by the Thursday morning deadline. So, Ian headed north through Bilbao, up through Bordeaux, France, through Paris in the wee hours and up to Calais where using his Canadian passport he took the car ferry to Dover and made his way northwest from the coast to Peterborough in Cambridgeshire. He arrived there Friday after almost 24 driving hours. Unfortunately, the man who writes the check at the Nene Overland car dealership was taken to hospital a few hours before Ian arrived, so we won’t get a payment for the Land Rover until early next week. Ian’s fine with that (and the man is OK healthwise too), as this is where Ian purchased it.

While on the road good news came from Barcelona, Ian’s passport and visa had arrived by special courier.

Road weary, Ian took the train from Peterborough into Stansted and checked into the airport hotel – one of our favorites, with its tower bar and athletic bartenders that use mountain-climbing pulleys to retrieve bottles from various shelves that go up a few stories above their heads. He slept well last night and caught an EasyJet flight back to Barcelona today. He will stop through Michael & Natalia’s this evening where he’ll collect his UK passport and sealed US visa packet and in a rental car will head down the coast to spend two nights at our house in Riumar. He flies back from Barcelona into London Gatwick on Monday and has a Tuesday morning flight home. Barring any delays along the way, I will meet him at the airport at 7:30 p.m.

When Ian comes through Newark, his first port of entry into the U.S., he will meet with someone from U.S. Immigration, have his identity confirmed and the visa will be affixed in his passport. I’m not sure if there’s a time limit on it or not, but making this hurdle is the most important. Having a visa allows Ian to live here, have a social security number, work and pay taxes. He will have legal immigrant status, but not be a U.S. citizen, which would allow him to vote, have a passport and hold political office (except for President, you’ve got to be born here for that). The visa and related fees (medical, record searches) were near $1500. That does not account for all the airfare, train fare, hotel fare (although we did well there), food and just plain body wear and tear!

It will be very good to see the Auld Macdonald.

Well, I’d better end here, as a local farmer’s coming to deliver hay for the horses and I need to run into town to buy chicken feed later too. Thankfully, the Minnesota winter weather has been unbelievably mild so running errands and doing chores aren’t hardships.


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