Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

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love

A

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After collecting my passport from HA on Tuesday, I then made copies of everything, got them certified (at the police station – pretty sure those guys are starting to recognise me…) and took them to Postnet to send off via DHL.
They said 2 to 3 working days – so most likely there on Wednesday the next week.
Super!
They said sometimes the Germans like to open document packages and “query” them… which takes about 2 weeks extra.
I blanched. The lady said “but that’s VERY seldom!” when she saw my face.

So, that was done.

And, thankfully, it arrived on Wednesday afternoon.
I *heart* DHL. I tracked it ALL the way to courier and delivery. I even know which one of my husband’s fellows signed for it.
Thank you Diaz!

The man could do nothing, as it is (yet another) 4 day weekend for them, and he was driving all day Thursday.
So he will begin all the processes to enroll me, on Tuesday this week coming.

It was a weight off my mind when I got the mail to say the documents had arrived.
It’s all a waiting game, but at last this one thing is done. One more step closer to my man. One more check list item with a tick next to it.
Ball is in his court now, and hopefully all the help he was offered by work will actually come through.
This part CAN take months – I hope it doesn’t, if his bosses step up and help, it shouldn’t.
Then I start the German process.
Not sure I can do that without my originals. They do require copies of everything, but they need my original passport etc.
I guess I can fill in the forms so long.

And get my international drivers license? Will that work with a certified copy of my new passport?
They only need verification – they don’t put the license in my passport or anything.
I’ll research that a bit more.

Will also do what my friend K did (the Princess) for the green card interviews.
She got hers recently – nice and smooth.
She said she read everything about it and had everything ready.
I want to be ready too.
I want everything to go smoothly and easily.
I’m tired of hitches and issues.
And “you can’t do this if you don’t do this”

It’s mentally draining. Emotionally tiring.

SO anyway… everything has begun… or.. _will_ begin on Tuesday next week!
I’m excited.
But also wary – I don’t want to get my hopes up.

But the Universe is behind me, I know this.
Just have to be positive. And believe that it will all be ok.

At least I can hear out my right ear again – thanks to Megs for the Waxsol suggestion.
Waxsol! Waxoff!

But I think it’s now infected my throat. Cos it is SORE.

Anyhoo.
Life goes on

and I love my husband so much.

Can’t wait to be with him.

got my text from Home Affairs around 9am today – saying my passport had been dispatched to WHA.
i then got a text around 1300 saying it had arrived at WHA and was ready for collection – so I RACED to HA (Broomhilda took offense at my bad driving and did her jerky jerky stall thing most of the way there and all the way home) after work and dashed inside.
(parking guard tapping his watch as I ran passed – they close at 5pm)
“vinnig vinning, mevrou!” he said

While I was there, I asked about my birth certificate too, which was about 5 months now (2 to 3 months they said and I applied in October last year) and apparently I must be on some sort of “watch list” now (after throwing my toys quite vehemently last time) because the guy JUMPED to help and went and spoke to the head of that department and she gave me her direct line and said she would check it out in the morning etc. Which is pretty cool.
I should have asked about my marriage license too… the unabridged one.
I’ll mail Andred about that.

so now i have my passport.

now the real processes can begin!
Have to DHL my stuff – need to make copies and get them certified before i send them of course. So i can start things on my side too.
Not that i can start much – oh! can get my international drivers license!
That’s a step.

so tired
what an awful day
but that’s at least one bright little light in my day.

we carry on
tally ho
on the beaches
in the trenches

and f**k you stupid blonde freshman – so WHAT if I am a geek? So what if I tripped? You’re not in high school any more, grow up.

and then Home Affairs let me down.
badly.

i was so ready to be enthusiastic and positive – and not be one of THOSE people who do nothing but complain about DHA… but alas… i am now one of those people.

I applied for my new ID and Passport, together, on the 6th of January. Fingerprints done. Photos in. Paid for.

Yesterday (the 18th – coincidentally the 1 month anniversary of our marriage) I get a DHA text saying they “acknowledge receiving APPLICATION for ID” on the 18th.
Guys.
seriously?
2 weeks later and you have only SUBMITTED the ID document?
What about the passport?
It was STAPLED TO THE ID DOCUMENT!!!!
WHERE THE F**K DID THAT GO?

SO I called the toll free DHA number – no help – no record of my passport being submitted. And yes… according to them, i only submitted my form yesterday for my ID.

i nearly cried. with frustration and anger.
EVERYTHING rides on getting that passport – ID i’m not really bothered about, as I will only use that for South African things – but no other processes can begin until I get that document.

i am gutted.
i feel… deflated like an empty foil packet from a box of wine.

i am SO let down by them… and i was totally their cheerleader before – telling everyone how GREAT and how EFFICIENT Wynberg Home Affairs was.

So tomorrow I am going there after work – hopefully it won’t be busy – and I am going to beg and cry and scream and throw my toys until SOMETHING gets done.
Going to take extra photos, just in case. But I’ll NOT be paying again. NO f**king way.

So. DHA, Wynberg – you have lost a very keen voice for your cause.
You won’t get it back unless you perform miracles tomorrow.

seriously.

Ok so at some point in October, my amazing man decided that we needed to stop this long distance hogwash, and Be Together.

He asked me to marry him – it was a mutual decision after much discussion – not so much an “OH WOW!” proposal as an “I think it would be awesome, what do you think?” kind of thing. We both agreed – it would be sheer brilliance.

I said it would NOT be Official until he got there in December and got down on one knee and did the whole asking thing. I wanted that. It was actually my only condition in this whole thing. He agreed.

So unofficially we were engaged.

It was surreal.

And so I started planning things and getting quotes and looking for a dress.

This was going to be the most totally awesome laid back relaxed Saffy wedding we could possibly want/afford/organise in such a short time.

Luckily I had the help of my amazing friends, and my steady and full-of-ideas mother.  I wasn’t panicked – EVER. I wasn’t stressed – EVER. No seriously. The number of shop assistants and people who said “OMG! THIS Saturday?! Why are you so freakishly calm!?” led me to believe that I am some sort of wedding mutant. But I’m totally cool with that. Oh and the comments about my bizarrely skinny and long fingers added to that.

Only time I felt any anxiety of any sort, was the few steps I took down the stairs (I didn’t fall! Much to my future husbands pride) (to have my arm grabbed by my socially shy brother who went WAY out of his comfort zone, to give me away – his offer) and down the (very short) aisle (with the soothing sounds of Bob Marley’s 3 Little Birds as my wedding anthem) towards my future husband. He looked calm. But that was a facade, as his voice gave a warble a few times when we spoke our vows. It was adorable. And it made me feel so much better. He always makes me feel better. About so many things. But I digress….

This moment of panic was brief – my heart pounded its way up my throat for a few moments and then slowed to a normal speed after that. My hands had also stopped shaking by the time I had to put the ring on his finger. Luckily the ceremony was short (and very sweet) and before we knew it we were signing the register. Slightly dazed looking.

It was done. I was Mrs V. Then the party started!

I’m still pretty much wafting on a cloud – of happiness and sheer disbelief. I’m a married woman.

I have a husband.

I’ve introduced him now to a few people and paused… strangely.. “And this is my … <breath>  husband.”

It’s both weird and wonderful.

I love it.

I love him. He loves me.

Now we can move FORWARD together. Looking in the same direction – but never losing what makes us each special – our individuality.

Now also comes the extraordinarily fun bit – lots of paperwork and red tape and changing names and changing details. (That was sarcasm, in case you missed it)

And the waiting.

Lots of waiting.

There have been a few.

Updates too.

Firstly, we got another dog. Well my mum adopted her, and she will live with my mum, with my doggy Macky.

Her name is Mardi (as in Mardi Gras, as that is where she was found) and she is 9 years old. She was at TEARS for 2 years I believe, but had a home for 7 years before that. Unfortunately her owners emigrated, and made the decision not to take her with them.

She’s been with my mum for just over 2 weeks now, and she is more settled. The cats are fine – just Max is a little wary still, but no fights or chasing or anything like that. He just avoids her mostly and occasionally they will touch noses.

She is excellent on walks! On the lead or off, she is very responsive and behaved. She loves to meet new dogs, as long as they are smaller than her. I think that’s a kennel thing though. There’s no danger from a dog half your size.

She and Macky get along very well, mostly – they’ve had the occasional spat about personal space (Macky doesn’t know what that means, and tends to just walk over her if she’s in the way of being loved by a human) usually in my mums bedroom! But it’s just a “finding out who is top dog” thing, and it’s getting better.Luckily, Macky is such a sweety, he just goes with the flow. But he is definitely top dog and wants Mardi to know this.

Even more surprising was the bond that has developed between Mardi and my grumpy brother. Moment they met, it was love.

If he’s home – that’s where she will be, in his room. She would love to sleep in there at night, but he closes his door (he has limits!) so she sleeps outside his door.

She gets all excited when he comes home and he gets quite a goofy smile when talking about her to me or other people. Even if he is mock complaining about her cold nose in the small of his back when she wants attention while he’s at his computer. It’s wonderful to see. A crack in his armour. A little light shining in.

Other changes… *Thinks*

Oh! I moved out, finally. Sharing a gorgeous house with two other ladies. Although the one is leaving at the end of the month – she moves in with her boyfriend. All the best to her – sounds like it was about time 🙂

The owner of the place, says that perhaps some time next year, she might move in with her boyfriend, but she isn’t sure yet, so I mustn’t fret about losing my place.

It’s a really comfortable and relaxed house. We aren’t digsmates or besties – we just share the house and it’s our home. We are house mates, that’s it. So there’s no envy or “why didn’t you invite me?” moments, or jealousy or hitting on boyfriends. No silliness.

I feel really chilled when I get home. It’s finally feeling like “home” – instead of just another house sitting gig.

My mums home is now just Moms. It’s still home, and always will be, because I am always welcome there, but I feel more independent here. More myself. I can be quiet if I want to be. I can go for a run, or stay out, or stay in, wash my clothes when I want, eat what I want, make what I want, do what I want, watch what I want…. and all that good stuff. I have privacy. Not saying my mum was an invader – but I never quite felt “separated” from that knock on the door moment. I love my mum, and I think this is better for us too – I go home on weekends, to walk Macky and Mardi and to get things from the garage, and to have a little catch up chat with mum and say hi to my brother. It’s good.

Other updates:

June came and went – it was awesome, but as always, too short.

We traveled up the East Coast – all the way up to Addo Elephant Reserve. Always wanted to visit there, since I was little girl. So it was a dream come true for me, and an incredible experience for both of us. The road trip was pretty awesome too.

We stopped off in Knysna, and Jeffrey’s Bay (the Surf Mecca of South Africa, Africa even) and stayed at the very famous Super Tubes. Right on the beach. Was too cold to surf though (this is June! Southern Hemisphere!) so we will have to make a plan to go back in summer, some time.

Addo was incredible. So peaceful. Relaxed. We saw quite a variety of game – no Cheetah or Leopards though – and we drove from top to bottom of the park. We saw (many many many!) of the supposedly elusive Dung Beetle, and took loads of photos.

Too soon, my man was gone again – but I’ve had my fix and I can wait for quite a while to see him again. I’m content.

Work sucks. There are no better words.

Not the people I work directly with – I have made some wonderful friends there over the last year or so. Especially the last few months – Fahiem and Megan are such brilliant people, with big hearts and keen intellect. We’ve been teaching each other things. Too many things to explain. Life lessons, and language lessons and even “gams kawiely wams” and how it’s used in every day conversation.

I will miss them, when I leave at the end of the year. But I can at least keep in touch with them, and my other friends there, and not suffer through the drivel and idiocy of the OTHER sides of that place. I won’t go into detail. It’s not necessary and will just annoy me.

I’ve started learning other languages too – German, Arabic, Italian, Spanish and I’m brushing up on my French too.

I’ll need them if I want to work for the U.N! The letter I received from the head of the Translations department was eye-opening, but also very positive. That’s another life long dream of mine. It will take a lot of work, but it’s not impossible.

Nothing is impossible.

The old boys are doing a bit better now. Their feet are hardening and their energy levels have lifted to match. RIght now, Ex is having a little issue – but that’s my fault: I took him out a day after his feet were trimmed  (he was eager) and might have pushed him a little too far – I think he’s bruised his one sole.

So we are taking it gently now. He will come right, he has so far.

I love that horse.

Catch is doing very well – his feet are settling nicely. He is full of energy. A pity that Jamie can’t ride more though. That’s annoying. And difficult.

I become Elastagirl when I take them both out. They are both so stubborn and strong willed.

Oh and the Crow is finally finished!!

It looks BEAUTIFUL.

I attempted some shots on my own, and managed to at least show the whole tattoo.

Even with a timer, it’s bloody difficult to get a shot of a tattoo that size, in that location, on your own, with a ginormous DSLR like Bertha.

Thank goodness for boyfriend clothes. And the fact that i fit into his.
Early the next morning, we gathered our stuff (after another hot shower and a good breakfast downstairs) and i wore some of his clothes. We went back to the airport, to the lost baggage office.
I scanned the suitcases in the office and the ones outside in the security sections, but my ERS was nowhere.
I spoke to yet another person at the desk, and he said that Atlanta was having huge delays as an enormous storm was rolling in over this side of the country. I asked if they even knew where it was right now – it had not even been scanned in Atlanta.
I was, once again, furious. My ERS had made it all the way from the damn tip of AFRICA, through Frankfurt international, on to another plane, and all the way to Atlanta. And now it was lost in the domestic section. And they had NO IDEA where it was in the airport.
I got offered another breakfast voucher (woohoo.) and told that they could offer compensation up to a whopping $25 for my belongings. I asked if he was joking with me. He wasn't. Thankfully, the lady I had spoken to the previous evening arrived at that point and said that I just needed to keep any slips for clothing and gifts (she knew the whole story about my wedding gifts and clothes and Christmas presents being in that ERS) and I could (most likely) claim it back later.
I gave them all the details of where I would be for the next few days, and my eventual address in New Mexico. I had no cellphone number to give her, as my man's phone was from Germany, and we hadn't had a chance to buy a prepaid one in the States yet.
That wasn't high on our list of things to do. Well, it hadn't been until then.
We gave her the hotel number in Princeton and she promised to let us know as soon as it arrived. She said they would send it to the hotel, if it arrived during the next few days.
That was all we could do.

We then went to see about getting a car to hire, for the drive to Princeton. Luckily my man always takes his GPS with him! He's always prepared!
While hiring our car, the lady asked if we wanted 4X4 capability and we were going to say no, but then we were told that apparently that rather large storm that had closed Atlanta, was now heading this way and there would be snow for the next 3 days at least… so we hired a rather nice SUV with 4X4. It was rather snazzy, with satellite radio and i think it had seat warmers. But we didn't use them, as we were NOT cold (as i mentioned – when i'm around him, i generate heat enough to warm a small country) even with all the snow coming, it was not cold yet.

We began our drive down to Princeton – getting a little turned around in all the loops and turnpikes, at first, but finally finding a way out of there! – enjoying each others company, good music, and the sights and sounds of New Jersey.
I'd, obviously, never been there. My man had been there once when he was very young and didn't remember too much.
I can't say it's the prettiest place. In fact, it's a bit grey and ugly. Lots of factories and steam towers and chimneys belching grey smoke. And so many cars. No wonder people complain about the traffic in Jersey.
Luckily, we had pretty smooth sailing all the way down to Princeton – perhaps we just timed it right, as we were told this trip should take over an hour, possibly two, but it only took us just on 45 minutes I think.
People in Jersey drive like maniacs. Road rules? What road rules? Speed limits? Hah! They are just guidelines, apparently.
Well, the taxis in South Africa still outdo any bad drivers anywhere else in the world that I've been.

We made it down to Princeton, to the Hyatt Regency. A gorgeous 5 star hotel. That is luxury. We got there late afternoon and let the reception know about the lost luggage etc. They did warn us that there were loads of flight cancellations out of Atlanta, and that the storm was following us down the way. But they promised to let us know if it arrived while we were there.
First order of business – get me some clothes. I couldn't wear my mans boxers and tshirts to a wedding… much as i loved being in his clothes!
We went down to the closest mall. I discoverd the wonder that is TJ Maxx. It's pretty much like PeP or Ackermans here in .za. It looked like the storm had already hit here – clothes littered everywhere, hangers and shoes all over the place. There must have been a 5 minute sale or something just before we arrived! It was messy and chaotic.
I scrounged up and down the lines of clothes, looking for something smart and sophisticated. i found a lot of fake fur and leopard print. and pleather. and feathers. and bright pink.
My man saw my face and suggested we look elsewhere – this was not the only place around! (he reads me so well sometimes) I was nearly in tears, actually. It was all catching up with me. I had had great clothes in my suitcase, and all those gifts. and here i was just trying to find something "nice" and i had to meet all his friends and Army people for the first time, and everyone would be dressed up and looking beautiful and i was the scraggly girl from Africa. I just didn't want to show my face and make a bad first impression, and embarrass my man by being the Dull of the Ball.
  
So we went next door to another store… i forget the name of it right now… *thinks*
Oh yes! Ross's!
They had some really good clothes, for very reasonable prices. I picked up some Liz Claireborn pants, and a shiny grey top. And my man bought me these GORGEOUS black stilleto knee high boots.
So that was it for the wedding.
And some knickers and socks, and I was set.

 

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