Sunday, 9th January
10:30 am Depart my house under beautiful sunny skies, drive down the street to the photo store to try and get passport photos taken - the last remaining preperation necessary for the visa. Alas, the store is closed on Sundays. Regardless get on 580 and head south east.
10:40 am Exit Lake Shore Ave to see if there are any stores there to do a passport photo. If there was one, it was closed.
11:25 am Exit Castro Valley, which appears to have a lot of strip malls. Go to a Rite Aid with a one hour photo, closed, cashier doesn't live there ?!? Ask the gentelman in line behind me with the watery red eyes who's buying a 1,75 L of plastic bottle vodka. He gives me directions that involve streets I've never heard of and a large, closed, liquor store. I drive around in vain for another 15 minutes, before returning to 580.
12:15 pm What was that I saw along the freeway in Dublin? A 24 hour Kinko's. Sweet! Weave my way back to it only to find that their camera is broken. They direct me to the UPS store and if that fails to the Safeway that's on the other side of the freeway. Well, the UPS store is closed, but Safeway was not. The woman at customer service take a close up of my head with her digital camera and 5 minutes later, I walk away, with 6 miniature me-s.
1:30 or so pm It begins to rain and continues to do so intermitently until I reach LA where it does so with feeling. It was pouring.
6:30 pm Make it to Wendy's and proceed to have a lovely evening eating and catching up.
Monday, 10th of January
6:30 am Wake up and get ready to head to the consulate.
9:02 am Arrive at the consulate to find a jack ass security guard on a power trip who won't let anyone in because the elevators aren't working and the consulate offices are on the 2nd floor.
9:30 am Consulate employees use the stairs (novel!) and head up to the 2nd floor.
10:00 am Those of us waiting for visas, 4 people, are allowed upstairs.
10:30 am Paper work is finished, I'm told to return tomorrow at 10:30. me "But I live in SF and am flying out Thursday" her "Then you should have come sooner" me "please, isn't there anything else" her "you can fill out this fed-ex form and have it priority overnighted - i'll mail it tomorrow" me "but that means you keep my passport, what if it doesn't return" her "that's up to the fed ex people" I go to fill out the form, give it to her, over hear the gentleman who was behind me, who's also in the same boat. As I'm walking away, she calls me back. her "if you copy your plane tickets and write a nice note, maybe the consulate will do it today" Are you kidding me??? Fine, I'll jump through your hoops. Get plane tickets copied, write the note
Dear Consulate Sir or Madam,
I am a resident of San Francisco who is flying to Bangkok on Thursday the 13th of January. I was unable to come to the consulate last week due to the closure of I-5 and work conflicts. I would greatly appreciate it if you could process my visa today. Sincerely,
Give letter and copies to the lady who tells me, "I still don't know. Call me in an hour."
11:30 Call consulate office. Her, "Come back at 3:30" Woo hoo!
11:30 - 2:30 Eat lunch, go get traveler's checks, go to the doctor as I feel I'm getting worse (little did I know how bad I'd get), return to the consulate's large waiting room as I have no desire to continue driving in the pouring rain looking for parking. See the visa lady at her desk, all our paper work in front of her, but her blinds are down. I start knitting, thinking maybe she'll see me and give it to me early. Well, she does see me and shouts "3:30!" I nod my head and continue knitting.
3:30 The blinds raise, I'm handed my visa and I hit the road.
9:00 I return home, mission accomplished!