Making ready to go to China has proved a most complicated and detailed travel preparation process.
Just yesterday we threw up our hands and capitulated. “Let’s just go and get a bunch of passport photos,” I said. Seems like we need these for just about every document we fill out for China. So off to Kinko’s we went at 7 a.m. for our mug shots, those stunning little portraits that look as if they should be accompanied by a number and the name of the prison in which you are incarcerated. Both of us got six each.
We needed the passport photo to complete the application for our visas, which we could not get until the Chinese issued us our work permits, which we could not get until we filled out the health form and attached another passport photo, which we could not do until we got a physical.
We also need to submit an authenticated marriage certificate as part of the visa application process. Easy enough, right? Do you know where your marriage certificate is? Can you find it in 10 minutes? After 37 years of marriage, I actually went right to the file and picked it out. Ah ha! Regrettably, it was not authentic.
We discovered this technicality when Char drove to the Minnesota Department of State to have it authenticated. “It’s just a souvenir,” the clerk said. “In order for the state to authenticate your marriage certificate, we need a authentic copy from the county.
That would be Nicollet County, St. Peter, Minnesota, about 85 miles south.
So the next day, Char drives an hour and a half to the St. Peter courthouse, and in 10 minutes, gets an authenticated marriage license. Then another two hours back to the Minnesota Department of State and, in another 10 minutes, has a State of Minnesota certificate of authentication attached to our marriage license.
All done! Not quite. The United States Department of State also has to authenticate it. Sooooo—off the documents go to the U.S. Dept. of State.
After one month and having heard nothing, Char decides to subject herself to the terror of terrors—she decides to call the U.S. Dept. of State.
A human named Will answered the phone—on the second ring. Will patiently listened to Char’s story and, lo and behold, stated: “Yeah. We’ve got it. Let me check on it. I’ll call you back.”
Yeah, right! The old, “I’ll call you back,” brushoff.
Will called back in less than two minutes. “I’ll put the documents in the mail this afternoon,” he said. “They may go out this afternoon, but by tomorrow for sure.”
Yeah, right! The old, “The documents are in the mail,” brushoff.
That was on Thursday.
They arrived by Priority Mail on Monday signed by Hilary Clinton.
I don’t care if President Obama wasn’t born in the United States—he gets my vote!
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