Life is what happens when we were making other plans. We thought our visit to Texas would be short. We thought our visa would be processed quickly. We spent four hot months in Texas. Our new home being finished, we executed our move ahead of our visa approval and received it two weeks after arriving in València. So, visas and relocation are our topics today.
When you last joined our adventure, we had submitted our application to the Spanish Consulate in San Francisco, but discovered that they were having a staffing crisis and were only processing emergency visas. So we turned a visit to my parents in Texas into an official relocation. We then submitted a new application package, as detailed in my prior article, to the Spanish Consulate in Houston. We hoped and expected a quick turn as our package was clean and straightforward. We owned a home in València. We had more than sufficient funds in our bank in Spain. We had no additional dependents. Easy, right? Wrong.
This brings me to my first lesson in this process. Do not assume the timeline will be anything that you expect. Your application might go quickly. Many do. Ours did not. Nothing bad happened. No onerous requests. And without regard to my worries, we did not experience silent bureaucratic process death. It took four full months.
- 1 July: Application package received at consulate
- 10 August: Consulate requests additional documents (easy to obtain).
- 11 August: Consulate receives additional documents
- 25 August: Consulate provides tracking numbers
- 26 September: Consulate reports that the application is in Spain
- 28 October: Consulate reports visa approval and requests dates for the visa
Throughout this process, I pursued a charm approach via email. I always acknowledged that they were not going to respond, per policy. I kept the tone very positive. I carefully stretched my developing Spanish skills by sending my emails entirely in Spanish. We have no idea if this had any causal effect on the process, but it was the case that strong correlation exists between my emails and subsequent progress. So, my second lesson is to keep a steady, but not oppressive flow of positive, happy communication with very limited expectations for return communications.
So we waited and waited and waited. My parents were so generous in hosting us over these four months. It cannot have been easy all the time. As I grow older, I know I’m more interested in a certain regularity in my daily rituals, and they are not getting younger. So I pause here to thank John and Pat for their generosity in allowing us the free use of their car and lodging in their daily routines for four (long) months. My mother will now write a comment about how much she enjoyed having us. 😉
Remember that we chose an apartment and purchased it? By the beginning of October, we learned that our flat renovation was basically complete and the final pieces were pending our arrival. We decided that we could acquire second passports and execute our relocation without the visas and begin to settle into our new life. Our only risk was bureaucratic silence leading to the expiration of our Schengen tourist visa in early January. This would force a move to Marrakesh or Istanbul. Our only extra cost was returning for the passports with visa. We discussed having a friend deliver them. Two dear ones were willing and able (hugs to Corinne and Tracie). In the end, however, we decided that we would return for the passports and have them properly stamped on our return. The issue was not our dear friends who volunteered to carry the documents over, but the need to transport them via USPS/UPS/FedEx from my parent’s home to where the friend was located. The risk of loss was too high.
The visas were issued on my birthday (best present ever), and
I leave soon to pick them up.
So we moved. We purchased about 10 suitcases from Goodwill, packed our things, ordered the USDA certificates for Agatha and Harper, and rode up to DFW with my sister Ann to catch a direct flight (easier on the dogs) from DFW to MAD on Iberia. When we arrived at the Iberia counter everything went very well. The agent reviewed the USDA certificates, added a few more suitcases to the bill, and escorted us to the security point for the dogs. When we arrived in Madrid it was a touch stressful. We quickly retrieved our mountain of suitcases, but where were the dogs? There was some confusion from staff about where we awaited them. In the end, it was simply a matter of time. 45 minutes after we landed, they wheeled up with the two crates, waved, and took off to other errands. No checking ID chips. No checking USDA paperwork. No veterinary visit. Simply a casual wheeling over of the two crates and that was it. So we loaded up the rental van and started our drive to València.
Moving into a new house in a new city is an adventure of its own. Our first set of furniture was already in place, so we planned to bring the dogs directly to their new home. Corinne and Tim had been storing a load of household stuff that we purchased in May. Our builder and one of his people kindly transported most of it so it would be there when we arrived. Sadly, our new sheets were missed in the move, so we spent the first night sleeping on the bare mattress. This was but the prelude to the usual work that goes into building a new home. We kept a running list of items that were needed. We were effectively complete within two weeks and had our first dinner party for friends and family visiting (hugs to Sarah and Dennis, Kendall and Brian).
As you can imagine, this account is much abbreviated. The stress was considerable at times. The dogs were clearly unhappy with the human stress and the changing locations. We worried about the progression, or lack thereof, of the visa application. We worried about the expense of staying in the very expensive US. We worried about the timing of everything.
But at last, we are here! It is lovely to be here. València is beautiful and interesting and the people are so kind. We immediately became friends with the warm-hearted Edgar and his husband Fernando. He is our chosen veterinarian and immediately decided we needed more friends in València who do not speak English as he does. Our new friends Rosa and her husband Fernando invited us to Halloween and Thanksgiving! Corinne hosted a big Thanksgiving bash! We connected with other adventurers like Martha Miller. We look forward to more new friends and experiences. The adventures have already begun!
Huge thanks to everyone who helped along the way. We couldn’t have done it without your practical and emotional support. We can’t wait to see you all here on the Costa del Azahar!NB1
NB1 In writing this article, I’ve learned that the Spanish Ministry for Industry, Commerce, and Tourism has recently decided to change the definition of the Costa del Azahar (Orange Blossom Coast) to align with the province of Castellón to our north, and they have declared our coast the Costa de Valencia. This lack of creativity is new, and I still think of all of Castellón and Valencia as the Costa del Azahar. Regardless, come enjoy it.