Eventful Past Weeks

The last two weekends were busy what with concerts, birthday parties and trips to the beach to soak in the last days of summer.

The major event though was my trip last Monday to the US consulate to apply for my US G-4 visa as requested by the United Nations. The trip was long and the outcome was somewhat disconcerting. I was put on administrative review for my visa, because of my Syrian origin, I suppose.

I can speak about it now dispassionately but at the time it was a distressing experience. I came with all relevant documents but I was not prepared for the lengthy interrogation, nor for additional forms. And I was not at all prepared for having my passports and papers returned to me long after every other applicant had already left. I was almost two hours late for picking up Robert and my nerves were in tatters, even after I stopped with Robert for a pizza and a drink on Long Street.

The woman operating the DHL counter at the consulate, watched me unravel after the consular officer sent me back with the passports. She was kind enough to bring me tissues and when I finally gathered my wits to leave she handed me a paper with the name of some tissue salts, she said they would help. I dutifully got them the very next day and my anger and disappointment slowly dissolved as I settled myself for a long wait.

My spirit was lifted with the visit of my cousin from Dubai, who came to attend a regional conference with his company. We met on Tuesday after Robert’s school, and he invited me for lunch.  We met again on his last day here on Friday, and by then I was able to tell him that I had received a phone call from the consulate that my visa was approved. I had braced myself for numerous weeks of uncertainty while unknown entities investigated me, so I was endlessly relieved that the matter was resolved in less that a week. Of course I have to make the long train trip to Tokai where the consulate is located. It keeps strange company out there next to Pollsmore Prison, one of the most infamous gaols in the country.

The next challenge after this will be packing and shipping my beloved books, but that is a whole different story.

On The Run

Oh I have done so many things in the last few days I do not know where to start.

On Wednesday I had Robert’s father looking after him again while I went to apply for the visa for a second time. I remember we went briefly before that to the police station where they certified his letter giving his “permission” for me to travel with his son.  I also managed to buy tickets, go to the lawyer and sign transfer documents for the Gonubie house, and order a bed and a washing machine. Needless to say that this took more than half the day and my ex was angry because he missed his opportunity to go to the gym, and “wasted his day”.  My day was far from wasted, and even with all the work and running I had the chance to visit with my neighbor/landlady, since her husband owns the block where we are staying.  We got to know each other over some coffee while Robert and Kiara got to socialize.

The past days were not all bright though, I  had a problem with the lawyer earlier this week because the transfer proceedings have been already initiated by conveyance lawyers in East London, and my lawyer was upset because he would not get his share of the deal this way, especially since it is stated in the divorce order that they will take charge of all the property transfers (obviously I missed on this one in all the excitement that the house sold). I pleaded ignorance with my lawyer and thought I let myself off the hook with them, how little did I know about the nature of these lawyers.

I also had a minor problem while applying for the visa. My photograph was out of date and I was so scared that they would send me back for a second time, but they told me to come back on Friday with the new photograph which just means that I have to stand in the queue again and not collect immediately.

On Thursday I had a few more loose ends to tie. I started early with Robert and we traveled into town where I got a new passport photo, then back to apply for a phone line at Telkom and a private mailbox at the post office. I could not resist stopping at the book shop and buying some second hand books I fancied – it is an addiction with me.  I still had to work in the afternoon while Lucy looked after Robert.

This morning Robert and I took the trip into town again, this time to pick up the visa, and we stopped for a little bit to say hello at my office. I am still haunted by the reaction Robert had to my workplace last Christmas, when he went into an uncontrollable fit of crying. This time he just looked inquisitively around, but I could not register any negative or positive feelings on his face – he is obviously indifferent to the ninth floor.  We had to make our way back home quickly because I received a call from the furniture shop notifying me of the delivery of my new bed and the washing machine.

The people arrived an hour or so before I was due to work, and as usual in these cases, the workers start out slowly and carefully then start bashing their way around when their delivery schedule starts to pressure them. Unfortunately for me the slow part of their work involved putting the bed together while bashing around was the fate of the washing machine. It was moved between two different spots and then it became obvious that they will not get it right in their rush. The task was also complicated further by a loose toddler, and I simply could not supervise safe installing  while also keeping an eye on my son. I finally said that they can perhaps leave and hoped that I could figure it out with the on-site landlord agent who is generally helpful to my ignorance in home maintenance. I usually exaggerate my “incapable female” attributes to best effect.

Mercifully Lucy arrived in the middle of this upheaval and took  care of Robert, and then I had to run to work, late as usual. Lucy assured me she would sort everything out and I had no idea how she could, because I had the old bed, the futon mattress and the washing machine all in strange positions and a small space has very low tolerance to disorder.

I was so worried that I called later from work and Lucy assured me that everything is fine. The washing machine was put in place by the landlord’s agent and the flat was in order. I came home to a different place, and my son received me with a beaming smile, nice and clean from his bath. It is such a joy and relief to be home.

After all this frantic running, I have my visa, my ticket and I accomplished everything that needed to be done before my trip. I only have two more working days then it is off to a well-deserved holiday.

Aborted Attempt at Crunch Time

I arranged today for Robert’s father to look after him while I attempted to get my visa to Germany, and as usual I was ill prepared for the requirements.

I had thought that I would get the invitation letter to them at a later stage and the medical insurance as well, but they needed upfront  (obviously duh). The main problem, however, was that I needed a letter from Robert’s father approving his departure on holiday with me. I never thought that I would need such a thing, as I had sole custody of my son… ah well

Unfortunately, this means that I have to ask Robert’s father to look after him again this week, maybe  next Wednesday when I have time off, but that is precisely at the last second, because the visa takes 48 hours (until Friday) and I am planning to leave early on Monday, so hopefully there are no more snags on Wednesday.