The voice message on my cell phone said, “Mr. Jacobs, this is Nicole at the visa service in Chicago. The Brazilian consulate sent your passport back and is requesting more information.”
Not the news I was hoping to get 2½ weeks before my departure date to South America.
All types of Plan B options floated through my head: (1) send my passport back while in South America to process it again – an idea that didn’t thrill me, hanging out in Ecuador with no passport; (2) fly back to America once the booked and organized rainforest trip was completed in Ecuador and get the visa for Brazil; (3) leave Brazil off the trip, and see parts of the Amazon in other countries.
Then there was Plan C: drive nine hours to Chicago and plead my case to expedite my paperwork in person.
“You will have to show up at the Brazilian consulate early. They only are open from 9-11 for visa requests,” added Nicole.
The generous understanding of a couple schools in Fremont allowed me to reschedule visits. I now had a day and a half to make a mad dash drive with my brother, Dale, to Chicago.
I arrived five minutes before the door was opened to the Brazilian consulate. All good so far and only two people ahead of me. I pulled a number just like when you visit the Dodge County courthouse and I waited to be called.
Bing, my number lit up and I approached the counter. “Hi, I’m here to plead my case to expedite my visa for Brazil.”
The woman behind the counter said, “That should not be a problem. We can have it ready by Oct. 19.” (Seven days before my flight leaves.)
“Yeah,” I silently said.
She thumbed through my paperwork. “Ah, Mr. Jacobs, where is your flight into or out of Brazil?”
I replied, “I’m not flying in or out of Brazil. I plan to enter and leave over land.”
“Oh, we normally only process visas for people who have flights in or out of the country. I’m afraid I am going to have to talk to the vice consulate about your situation. He should be here in 15 minutes.”
“OK,” I quietly replied. “I’ll wait over here next to the window.” Now my brain is trying to think of what plan D, E and F might be. “What will I say if he wants to interview me?”
One hour passed and still no vice consulate. I leaned forward and the woman looked at me. “Sorry Mr. Jacobs, he hasn’t arrived yet.”
My mind wandered. “What if he doesn’t show up by 11? Are they going to ask me to come back on Monday?”
Fifteen minutes later, the woman waved me back to the counter. “Everything is OK, Mr. Jacobs. We can process your visa.”
I said to myself, “No interview!”
The woman then said, “I will need to see your driver’s license, Mr. Jacobs.”
I handed it to her and she got a strange look on her face. “I’m sorry, Mr. Jacobs, we do not accept Nebraska drivers’ licenses.”
My mouth dropped open and my eyebrows rose upward. The only sound I could get out of my mouth was a long “a.”
She flipped through a few pages of a book. “Oh, I’m wrong, we do accept Nebraska drivers’ licenses. I’m sorry,” she said. “We can process the visa.”
“Yes, Mr. Jacobs, we will have it ready for you by the 19th of October.”
Time to celebrate with a sandwich on the bank of Lake Michigan before beginning the long drive back to Nebraska.
This was a great lesson and reminder of the type of persistence it will take as I explore the Amazon of South America for six months.
I will meet people who represent the various cultures who live here, and I will view the natural wonders of this rain basin that is the size of the 48 states in America.