Oi, Brasil! Getting your visa 101.

Fun fact: if you decide to fly to Brazil for the World Cup (don’t get too excited – I didn’t manage to purchase game tickets), you are not just paying for that plane ticket. I was in for quite the surprise when thing after thing would cost me more money, but this is the game for trip planning. Big flight, little flights (Brazil is massive), lodging, tickets for events, visa, travel items, etc. etc. etc. I tell myself not to dwell on numbers, although I sometimes think I should have been an accountant…I really love lists, numbers, and especially lists of numbers.

I digress.

I had quite the DMV-type of experience at the Consulate General of Brazil in Washington. It was a straight shoot from Farragut North metro stop off the same line as NIH. I spent the last week scurrying to prep for this morning, and it was quite anti-climactic.

Things you need:
– Visa application filled online
– recent passport picture to include with the visa application page (The embassy will provide glue sticks. This seems very important.)
– flight itinerary
– photocopy of driver’s license
– USPS Money Order (a nice man at the post office makes life happier): $160 if you’re a US citizen, +$20 if you are mailing your application materials
– pre-paid envelope (priority mail, flat-rate) addressed to yourself so that you can get your passport back, with its fancy new visa
– passport
– visit the Consulate site for details: http://cgwashington.itamaraty.gov.br/en-us/visa_general_information.xml (I found this site horribly confusing because there is no all-encompassing list clarifying what you need to do. I will blame my lack of sleep this past week for my struggles, but thankfully, I have a fabulous roommate who checked that I was good to go for the embassy.)

Doing the above took a lot of mental energy. These extra errands came at a bad week for work (presentation at Postbac Poster Day yesterday!) and a worse week for my personal life (finally moved my mom into her new apartment, and just signed a lease for my own place). But, alas, I accomplished it just in time after using wood glue late last night to attach my passport photo to my application page.

Got into the consulate just as it opened, and the security guard was the first person to see. He spoke fast English and faster Portuguese. I must have looked like a deer in headlights, until I just responded, “I am here to get a visa.” It was easy enough to grab my ticket, DMV-style, and find my seat. In the 45 minutes of waiting there, I determined that I really liked this security guard. Wonderfully fluent in both English and Portuguese. I considered myself lucky because my roommate had to wait at least 2 hours when she came a week ago. After my number was called, the process took all of 30 seconds – probably could have taken 20 seconds if the woman did not check my expired Brazil visa from 2006 and ask about my previous trip (turns out they give 10-year visas now). Drop the goods, be content, and walk away. Guess that’s what happens when you are hyper-prepared.  The security guard’s smile is my last impression of the consulate.

All in all – a mildly stressful but positive experience. T minus 13 days until I get my visa and 37 days until I leave to Brazil!

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