Monthly Archives: April 2008

Cake never tasted so good

Well, we just received the warmest welcome I can imagine from our friends at church this morning. We were fashionably late (5 minutes) or so and tried to sneak in the back door when our pastor burst into an announcement welcoming us back in front of the whole congregation who then proceeded to clap for us. There was an awesome welcome back cake for Mex with a American and Mexican flag on it. It tasted fabulous, made better by the fact we were eating it in our church with friends. Somehow the last four days have flown by. We have finished the laundry (all seven loads), shoved our souvenirs in a corner of the living room, tried to sort through the mail (quite unsuccessfully) and visited our family. Though it seems we were never gone there are the echoes of Tetelilla and our tour across Mexico ringing through our minds. We very much miss the evening “dinner,” sitting around with his sisters listening to stories and hearing them laugh. It is wonderful to have a big family surround you and to eat together. The family time was the most special part of our trip. I loved the fact that I didn’t need to be fluent in Spanish for them to love me or me to love them, for us to share laughs or hugs.

We of course learned a few things about travelling as well… number one (as I have said multiple times) is BYO-TP! Another thing would be a high recommendation for the Lonely Planet brand of guidebooks. We also had Fodor’s and Insight guides. Fodor’s is poorly organized, hard to follow and has mainly beach destinations. Insight guides have great cultural information and pictures but very little hotel and restaurant info. The Lonely Planet guide had tons of destinations, even smaller towns, great city maps, and lots of hotels and restaurants listed. The prices are a little off sometimes (once as much as double) on the hotels so it is good to double-check on the internet first. The only thing I would LOVE to see them add is a perforation for ripping out the map and taking it with you and a spot for notes on the back of the map page. I did tear out my maps and then brought just that with us but there was always something important on the back pages or no real room to write.

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Filed under Family, Minnesota, Travel Tips

First night home

Well, we can’t believe how easy it is to feel “normal” again. One night in our own beds and we feel like we never left. Mex got his phone. You can email me for the number if you want it. I probably shouldn’t put it on here since who knows what kind of web crawlers are out there looking for numbers and emails to spam.

We were chatting with Maren last night and she mentioned that some people she talked to were confused about this whole process and why we did it. There are many different types of immigrant visas that people can have… Employment, Family, Student, Asylum, Lottery, etc. The number of each visa type is limited as is the amount of people from certain countries that qualify for them. For example, the Lottery visas are given out to only 50,000 and excludes “popular countries” like Mexico, Philippines, Somalia, Vietnam, etc. There are 120,000 employment visas given out annually to people from all over the world and I can’t remember what the cap is for Mexico on that.

The only category with UNLIMITED amounts of visas given out annually is the familial status which includes spouse of a US permanent resident or citizen. That is also the only one you don’t have to keep interviewing for (but you do need to renew the card every ten years like a passport) and the quickest path to citizenship (3 years when married to a citizen instead of 7 or 10) which means he can be a dual Mexican/US citizen by the time we have kids… Something we both wanted for our family. That is what made the whole process and all the anxiety worth it for us. Although the number is unlimited you still need to meet the governments burden of proof that you are married and I, the US citizen, cannot live in his home country. Not everyone, needs to interview in their home country for their visas but some countries, such as Mexico, require it.

This is just a brief overview of the immigration visa process and isn’t our exact situation since everyone is different but it hopefully clarifies to some of you why we went through it and why it was such a big deal for his interview. Since immigration law is always a hot topic I expect there will be more changes in the future and everything I typed here may be obsolete after the election. I just hope for positive changes and that politicians and citizens remember there are people behind those immigrant visa applications and to look at them each individually. And bless them for making the right decision for us!

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Filed under Immigration, Permanent Resident Visa/Green card

Home sweet home

Welcome to Minnesota my good-looking Mexican! Kiss, Kiss!

Can you tell we are happy to be back in Minnesota?

We crossed the final “border” of our trip at about 11:15 this morning and it felt FABULOUS for both of us! I definitely think Minnesota has to be the most beautiful state around! Especially after 800 miles through eastern Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa!


Unloading the PT for the last time! We got home about 1 to our house and it felt great to pull in the driveway where we started.


Here we are the fabulous four travelling companions! All home safe and sound with few dents on the car or scratches anywhere.

DRIVING MILES:
Our Minnesota House to El Paso – 1663
El Paso to Tetelilla – 1532
Around Mexico – 877
Tetelilla to El Paso – 1428
El Paso to our Minnesota home – 2083

GRAND TOTAL – 7583 miles and 60 days

Holy craziness!

Mex and I are trying to take in being home, laundry, unpacking and cleaning the mess we left upstairs in our bedrooms and bathrooms (thank the world for Maren cleaning the main floor even though we’ve totally destroyed it already). My throat is still very raw so talking is painful. Don’t be offended if we don’t return phone calls until the weekend. We need to get Mex a phone too since we cancelled his when we left and visit all our families first. We’ll be in church this Sunday so we’ll see some of you there!

I will continue to write on here about what is going on with us and more thoughts on Mexico because we both have so much to say about this experience. Keep looking if you are interested! Get in touch with us soon!

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Literally, from the road

Well, I am literally typing this as I am driving (or riding, actually) across Nebraska. Nothing much to report today. My throat is still sore beyond belief. We are all still giddy as can be about Mex being in the car. Looks like we won’t be in Minnesota until Wednesday though since it is almost 7 pm and we are only 2/3 of the way across the great, flat state of Nebraska. We did try to break up the monotony be stopping at a museum in Kearney but it closed at 4 and we got there at 4:30. oh well!

So Wed, the 23rd will be our home arrival date. Just one day shy of the two month mark! Hope you all sleep well tonight and we’ll be home soon!

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Filed under Travel outside MN and Mexico

Route 66 to the Rockies

So I did forget one little story about the night we left El Paso. About 20 miles from El Paso we passed through a border control station and they stopped us. Mom rolled down her window and the guy asked us where we were headed to. Then he was looking in the windows and saw Mex and made mom roll down the back window (he was sitting behind her). Next he asked if we were all citizens. Mom said yes right away out of habit and then I said, “actually, he is a permanent resident.” The agent then asked to see his papers. Mex handed him his passport and the agent squinted at his visa for a minute and then let us go… The ink was hardly dry yet and he got to test it out!

Rocky Mountain National Park

Anyway, back to the trip home. We drove on Route 66 through Albuquerque but it didn’t seem to have a lot of historic buildings. Mostly hotels and a few filling stations. Then we headed north and drove through Sante Fe which was a really pretty city. All the buildings were the “adobe” style and very southwestern. We then drove all the way north and ended up in Loveland, Colorado, at about 8pm. My throat is miserably sore but I refused to go to the emergency room and pay another wad of money so I held out until this morning and went to urgent care. They gave me some heavier pain pills and antibiotics (even though they say it’s a virus and they probably won’t help). At least these pain killers dull the pain for 40 to 60 minutes. I feel terrible because we should be so happy (which we still are) but I’m a big wet blanket with my throat. Oh well…. I guess we’ve now got FOREVER to be happy =)

So happy to see snow!

So about 12 we set off for Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park (another “LIST” item). We spent about 3 hours driving around the park which is completely beautiful and we saw lots of snow which Mex and I were thrilled about after our weeks of hot weather. It was cloudy so my pictures didn’t turn out that well. Now we are back in the hotel and are preparing for a long drive home tomorrow. We were maybe going to stop another day but I feel terrible and Mex and I are ready to get home and sleep in our own bed. Yesterday marked the 8th week that we have been gone! Crazy to even imagine that it has been so long because the time really flew by!

Can’t wait to see everyone!

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Filed under Travel outside MN and Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns

Mom and dad a 1/2 mile under ground in Carlsbad Caverns

Well unfortunately I’ve come down with one heck of a sore throat. I can hardly swallow or talk but somehow it doesn’t dampen my happiness one bit.

Cactus by Carlsbad Caverns

Saturday, after a night in Carlsbad, New Mexico, we got up and backtracked about 20 miles to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park (just keep checking things off the “1000 places” list). There we went 750 feet underground to walk around the biggest caves I could ever imagine. They were so amazing and gigantic. Mom and dad wanted to do the tour where you crawl on your stomach through the little openings but I didn’t feel up to it =)

There is a nice paved path through there and it actually wasn’t cold at all. I was sorry I had brought my jacket. Mom and dad were champs

Carlsbad Caverns

and walked almost a whole mile even though they took the “short cut.” Mex and I went the whole way around but actually most of the good stuff was on the shortcut route. In some places the ceiling was 90 feet high and you could see a 1/2 mile of open space. Pretty amazing.

We went back through Carlsbad and my throat was terrible so we ended up going to the hospital emergency room since it was Saturday and no clinics were open. That took a three hour chunk out of the day but they gave me some throat numbing stuff, although it doesn’t seem to be working this morning. We ended up in Albuquerque, NM and are going to take a quick jaunt on Old Route 66 (to check that off the “list” too!) before heading up through Sante Fe and into Colorado.

Sunset near Albuquerque

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Filed under Travel outside MN and Mexico

El Paso again

Finally at 4:45 we met up with mom and dad in the Barnes and Noble parking lot in El Paso. Mex got back to the hotel in Juarez about 11:30. So the 2 1/2 hours at the Consulate this morning was his shortest visit yet! In order to get his official visa we had to go to the border station about 12 miles west of Juarez in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. It was about an hour drive and we got there at 1:30. It was nice because there were very few cars. The officer didn’t search us at all. I had to wait in the car outside the fence at the border station until 2:55 when I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to go inside to check on him. I saw he was at the counter turning in his big pile of papers so I went back outside to wait. At exactly 3pm we hopped in the car!

Line at Santa Teresa border crossing west of Juarez

I just can’t resist sharing this one detail…. At the Consulate they gave Mex a huge stack of papers (all our 100 pages plus some more) in a manila envelope with just the corner cut off so you could barely see what was inside. There were instructions that it was to be opened only by the border agent, similar to his medical documents. On the outside there was a summary page stapled with his name and case number, etc. I was happily reading through it as we were driving towards our exit. I got to the occupation part and burst out laughing… It read “house husband.” I just about burst a gut and Mex was not very amused. I guess since he had to quit his job before leaving because of the length of time he is technically a “house husband.” He will be off like a shot once we get back to Minnesota to find a job for sure now!

On the "Right" side of the fence!

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Filed under Immigration, Permanent Resident Visa/Green card