Thursday, October 11, 2012

Zoo (and Visas!)

We are very excited to have our visas to Colombia in hand! I’m still not completely sure whether or not it was necessary for us to take the kids with us to the consulate in DC, but we did, and it turned out to be a [mostly] fun family outing both last Friday when we submitted the applications, and this Wednesday when we went back to pick up the visas. Overall the whole process went smoothly, aided I’m sure by Gabriel’s dimple when he returned the restroom key for me to the woman behind the counter at the consulate.

Both days, we drove to the Metro station in Vienna, loaded the kids into the double stroller that I am SO glad I decided to bring, and made our way into DC. The kids loved riding the train (what kid doesn’t?) At the consulate, Terry entertained the kids while I interacted with the consulate staff (all in Spanish). MCC staff in the US, Canada, and Colombia all provided different pieces of instruction, advice and supporting documentation that got us through without any major hitches. We were given 2-year religious visas because MCC in Colombia works entirely through the Mennonite and Brethren churches there. (One piece of advice we were given beforehand: “dress like missionaries!”)

Since the consulate is on the same Metro line as the National Zoo, and since our kids love animals, and we’d never yet taken them, both trips then included a zoo visit. The second visit went much more smoothly than the first, to my mind, since we packed a lunch instead of waiting in a line for 45 minutes at the one cafeteria that was open like we did the first time (glacial pace + hot sun = grumpy mommy), only to get extremely expensive fried-and-over-salted food that was not very good anyway. So, word to the wise when you visit the zoo: PACK A LUNCH!

The kids’ favorite part of the zoo was the small mammal house. Valerie’s favorite animal there was the armadillo, trotting around on its little wee feet, though she was also a big fan of the meerkats. Gabriel could not be torn away from the naked mole rats scurrying blindly through clear plastic tunnels. Terry enjoyed making other zoo visitors laugh with his off-the-cuff humor (“Don’t you think those naked mole rats look exactly like Grandpa?” or “We’re going to play a game called Let’s Sit Quietly
For a Long Time”), and I enjoyed being outdoors and getting to look at amazing animals FOR FREE!

We have three weeks left in the US before our next big move and it just dawned on me that soon I’ll have to start thinking about packing again. I’m so glad and thankful for all the different pieces coming together. 

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