Our Casablanca Christmas

And wait and wait...
and wait. and wait. and wait.

We are still waiting on the Spanish embassy to issue visas. This process started in January and the visas are the last step. First I was told I would be in Spain by June, then it was Fall (per the last post) and now it’s looking like we’ll be there in mid January at the earliest.

I had no idea what all a transatlantic relocation entails until this started. It is an enormous, complex undertaking with at least 5 different agencies/companies involved on each side of the ocean, and the timing of the documentation VS when it is needed has been off by months. There has been so much red tape and bureaucratic hoop-jumping it makes the Dept. of Defense clearance process look like a cakewalk. It took me an entire day to assemble the (finally completed) documentation for our visa applications, and half of it was in Spanish and the files weren’t named correctly. One single residency permit held up the move for 6 weeks. It has taken so long to get through this, our lease ran out at our house, and the landlord went back on her promise to let us rent month to month – when she was fully aware of our situation – because she wanted to move in instead and play house with her boyfriend. So, we’re essentially homeless now thanks in part to her. We’ve been living out of suitcases at AirBnBs, hotels and now with friends in their guest room while we, you guessed it, WAIT.

We went to Madrid for a week in October and found a house. It’s up against the mountains north of the city and it is not so much a house as it is a real European villa. We have a villa! 🙂 And we’re paying rent for it right now while we wait on our visas, so we have a villa in Spain we can’t live in yet that’s been ours since November, sitting empty, waiting for us. It’s frustrating. It will all be worth it once we board that plane (business class this time) with one-way tickets. My hope is that we will get our visas by Christmas, but there is no telling. And people keep asking us when we are leaving. They have been asking us for months. I want to cry with frustration every time someone asks, because I REALLY WISH I KNEW! I wish I had a date to tell them! But we don’t.

It’s too bad – we’ve been looking forward to spending our first Christmas together as a married couple at our new house in Spain, but instead we will be spending it housesitting for friends who are going to NY for the holidays. It’s OK though, at least we are together and we have a place to stay.

As soon as we get our visas in hand, then we will book our flights 14 days out from the day they arrive. Per company policy, it must be at least 14 days. Of course we have more things to do as soon as the visas arrive, things that depend on the visas, such as arrange our air shipment, contact 5-6 people with the visa numbers for customs, taxes, etc. and get our cat situated for the flight. Sell the car.

I forgot things at our house when the movers left in October. I had to throw away 200+ coat hangers because they didn’t fit in the luggage and everything else was already packed. Coat hangers are replaceable and that’s not a big deal, but I also forgot to pack my practically brand-new Canon DSLR in our suitcases so now I have a $600 camera bouncing around in a shipping container somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Hopefully it still works if/when we get it back. Dealing with Spanish customs is a whole new layer of red tape nightmare. We have to sign over power of attorney so the agent in Spain can get our things out of customs whenever they arrive, which is likely to be months from now due to the shipping delays from the pandemic.

This isn’t a vacation for us. This is a long-term relocation. We will both be working full time and acclimating to a new country. My husband is starting his own business in Spain and I will be adjusting to the commute and to working from an actual office again – something I am honestly looking forward to. I’ve spent two years in jogging shorts and t shirts working from home. I miss getting dressed for work. I miss going somewhere outside of my home to do work. (I miss having a home.) So that will be a welcome change.

We stayed at a hotel the night the old house was finally all packed up. I got the room through Travelocity without looking at the reviews. Big mistake. My poor husband drove through a monsoon that evening for nearly 2 hours with an uncovered trailer full of furniture, some of which got ruined by the rain, to try to save some of my stuff that wouldn’t fit in the shipping container. Then he drove back through the flood to stay with me at a gross interstate-adjacent hooker hotel so I wouldn’t be alone there that night. Drug dealers were pacing the 2nd floor balcony and eyeballing me every time I went outside the room, so I double locked myself in and watched Poltergeist until he made it back, too scared to go out again. It was an intense, emotional day and he is my hero. This past Saturday was our 6th month anniversary and every day I am more glad that I married him. It’s been the best decision of my life.

I will try to remember to update this site once the visas arrive. Once we are in Spain, I plan to keep it updated more regularly, as it was intended to be a travel blog. I guess now it’s an expat+travel blog. Hooray! We are planning our small European wedding ceremony for June 2022 (since we had to postpone our November wedding indefinitely due to the relocation delays) and then we are spending 10 days in Italy for a proper honeymoon since we didn’t really get one of those, either. Once we return to the US, then we’ll do a wedding ceremony for friends and family stateside. But for now, for the month of December, stuck in visas limbo, we live out of suitcases and we wait.

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