Wednesday, July 27, 2011


We're home! After 664 days in Mexico, Jose arrived in the United States again on June 21st. It was exactly 2 weeks after his waiver appointment. Decisions are suddenly taking longer now, so we are lucky that it was only that long.

I had a flight to San Francisco booked for 9:30 am on Tuesday. I was dreading leaving Mexico without Jose again, even if it was for the last time. Jose and I spent Monday night packing all of his stuff from the last two years into a few suitcases in a great display of organization and dedication. At 2 am, just before going to sleep, Jose checked the visa website one more time for a tracking number. He had checked at 10 and there was nothing, so we were shocked when we not only had a tracking number, but an update saying the visa was ready for pick-up in Ciudad Juarez.

We immediately started planning. I canceled my ticket for the morning flight to San Francisco. The first flight to Ciudad Juarez couldn't be booked online, so we got to the airport at 4 am to try to by tickets last minute. It worked, and we left Mexico City at 6 am. At 8 am, we arrived in Ciudad Juarez, at 8:30 we were at DHL to pick up his visa. At 9:15, Jose had a visa! At 10:30, we were at the bridge at the border. At 11:00, he crossed over in the United States! At 11:00 we arrived at the El Paso airport, bought last minute tickets, and left El Paso at 11:30 to LAX. We arrived in LA and got to the plane to San Francisco during the final boarding call, so close that my parents had already recieved a call from the airline saying we missed the flight and wouldn't get in to San Franscico until 11:30 pm. On the plane, we surprised my sister, who happened to be on that flight and had no idea we'd be there. At 2:15 pm, we arrived in San Fracisco. It was the busiest, craziest, and most perfect timing I've ever seen. It truly felt like Jose was meant to come home, and we were receiving sign after sign that it was true.

It's been a little more than a month, but it feels like half a year. We have been so busy and working hard to get life started again. I thought that it would be more emotional to get home, but it felt just like normal life very quickly. Rather than the U.S. feeling new, Mexico just feels like it was a 2 week vacation a few years ago. Almost two years of suffering down there now feels like the blink of an eye.

We're home!
-Emma and Jose (the American)

Friday, June 17, 2011


We're approved! That's right, Jose will soon be home!

We called the call center again today, after I was ordered to call by my family who knew that today was going to be the day. They've been saying that we would hear on the 17th since Jose's appointment. They were right, and we were told that our waiver was approved yesterday, on June 16th. Jose's case is back at the Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, where the visa will be issued and sent off via DHL to be picked up. Waiting for the visa to be ready should be exciting and I'm sure we'll be impatient to get home, but it will be so much easier to deal with than waiting to hear about the approval.

We don't know when Jose will have his visa in hand and actually come home, but all that matters is that it will be soon. It will take 4-6 days for the visa to be issued, and could potentially take a few more days to have the visa ready for pick up in Ciudad Juarez. We are hoping, and it seems very likely, that the visa will be ready next Wednesday or Thursday. Jose would then be home at the end of next week!

We're going out to celebrate Jose's approval, what should be his last weekend in Mexico City, and his birthday. We're feeling really good!


Life Lesson

I took a psychology class from the junior college a few years ago. It was a bad class and I only remember two things from it: eyes roll back and forth during REM sleep and happiness is made from the small things in life, not the big things. REM sleep has nothing to do with this. The saying about happiness does. Since we've been in Mexico, we've had a lot of the big things that seem like they would make happiness. We've had a nice apartment, money, food, and safe families. We've been spoiled and had an easy life, but we haven't had happiness, and I think it's because we didn't have the small things that my psychology class said are necessary to be happy. We had enough food in Mexico, it wasn't the food of our choice and it was always a struggle. The right food can do a lot for happiness, because it is so simple and so comforting. With language barriers, even for Jose, we couldn't effortlessly joke and have fun with friends. Actually, we didn't have real friends, just fellow partiers. Our favorite ways to spend free time in the U.S. didn't all work in Mexico City, especially going to the ranch and playing disc golf. My parents and godfather provided us with everything we needed for a happy life, if happiness came from the big things. But the happy life never came, and I think we're proof that it really is the little things that count.

Maybe that's our life lesson from all this.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

No News (Again)

We called the call center today, even though we promised ourselves we wouldn't until Friday, because that blessing/curse of a forum showed us that someone with a June 7th appointment was approved two days ago. He was approved exactly one week after his appointment. We were told that there was no update on our case. Luckily, we weren't given a DHL tracking number, which means that there really isn't a decision yet.

I'm trying to be well-behaved and patient, when honestly I am furious and jealous. So many people on the forum talk about having such a hard time with their husbands gone, and they've only been in Mexico for three months. My life has been so stressful for two years, and hearing people complain about three months like it's the end of their life, and then be approved before us, sucks. For 22 months, everything in my life has been based on dealing with Jose being in Mexico and it's been a constant struggle. Hearing that other people are approved so fast, while we are still waiting, makes me want to beg someone to give us a break. This whole immigration process has been hard for us every step of the way, and every single time we've heard the average processing times, our processing time has ended up taking longer. I wish that two years of misery earned us break and we had found out in a week, too. I hate to whine, but we've gotten the short end of the stick enough times and I'm tired of it.


P.S. I'm sick and being sick always make emotionally weak. Thanks for reading my illness induced rant.

Back from Queretaro

We got back from Queretaro today, and are going to stay in Mexico City until I leave on Sunday. It was a nice trip, but I got a bad cold and spent most of the last two days sleeping. Luckily we didn't have a lot planned for the trip, so I could handle walking around admiring how pretty the centro historico was for a few hours a day.

The biggest problem with the trip was that finding food was always a battle. There weren't many restaurants in the area. Most were too expensive for us. Many in our price range only had comida corrida, which is a cheap three or four course meal with only a couple dishes to choose from. Over and over again, the comida corrida only had options that weren't gluten free. The agua frescas were even more disappointing. It was clear that Queretaro does not have our same taste in cuisine.

We walked along Queretaro's aqueduct today. It was built in the early 1700's and is 3 miles long with 74 arches that are up to 75 feet tall. I've been wanting to go to Queretaro just to see the aqueduct since we came to Mexico in 2009, and to be honest, I was disappointed. I couldn't help but think that if the Spaniards hadn't murdered all the Indians, the Indians would have built something way prettier. It looks kind of chunky and poorly proportioned to me. Jose, with his civil engineer mind, thought it was cooler than I did, especially after seeing that it is an internationally recognized civil engineering monument. To my untrained eye, it is practical but not very beautiful.

Queretaro was still nice to visit, and I don't appreciate Jose's effort in organizing the trip any less.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Call Centers and No News

Thanks to the forums, we know we can call 2 numbers to ask about the status of Jose's case. Both call centers are in Washington, D.C. and only see an update when a case has been returned to the consulate from U.S. Immigration.  The representatives usually tell people they've been approved a few days before the packet is ready to pick up at DHL with the passport.  They often refuse to tell people anything when they have been backlogged, and will just say that the decision is pending and to pick up the packet.  We're really hoping that we hear we've been approved from the call center, and hear it before I go back so that we can pack and plan and buy plane tickets accordingly. Hopefully.

We started calling today for the first time, but were told there was no decision and to keep waiting.  We knew it wasn't likely to hear anything yet, but we read on the forum that two people with appointments on June 6th, the day before Jose's appointment, heard their approval from the number yesterday.  Decisions don't come back in perfect chronological order, so that doesn't guarantee that we will hear anything soon, but it gives us hope. It also makes us a lot more anxious. I'm getting really sick of waiting.


Monday, June 13, 2011


This is our first night in Queretaro, the capitol of the state of Queretaro.  We spent 2 nights at Anna and Benjamin's apartment after getting back from Cholula, which was fun but crowded.  We ate a ridiculous number of paletas, did lots of Google searches (currants, is it legal to have a kid in a taxi without a carseat? Yes, but parents on Yahoo Answers will judge you), and watched Pineapple Express, the stoner movie of our generation, in Spanish (the jokes didn't translate so it wasn't really funny).  Lots of fun, but their apartment is tiny and short on windows.  It sometimes feels like a bunker, and being confined in a small, dark place when we're trying not to panic about the visa decision wasn't helping us stay calm.  I would really like to be with Anna and Benjamin now, because they are so fun to be around and distracted us a lot, but as they know well after six months, their apartment can really mess with a person mentally.

We spent hours researching where to go next.  We really wanted to go to the beach, but a lot of beaches in Mexico suck.  To be fair, I am incredibly picky because I don't like the water that much so I only get in if it's perfect.  Most of the Pacific Coast was out, just because it is too rough or not blue enough.  The Mayan Riviera was ideal, but too expensive.  We gave up on beaches and looked at too many cities, hotels, and bus schedules to remember before finally deciding on Queretaro.  I've wanted to see the aqueducts since we first came to Mexico, so even though swimming in the warm ocean sounds great to this NorCal girl, I'm happy we're here.  I'm even more happy because, for the first time ever, Jose took charge and planned everything.  I didn't even know what hotel we were staying in until we got here.  I understand why people (used to?) use travel agents, because it feels much more like a luxurious vacation when you haven't worried about logistics.  This must be why all-inclusive exists.

Thanks to Jose, we are now staying in an awesome hotel in a building from the 1700s with narrow, cobblestone streets and pretty old buildings.  It is calm, gorgeous, and perfect for what we need. We'll be distracted and comfortable here until we go back to Mexico City on Thursday for a Cuban music event with Anna.