Bringing France to America

I’ve done a few things in the last month. I took a latte art course in Melbourne (nailed it, see pic below), roamed around Wellington with the lovely Alexa, froze in the Wellington winter, caught up with friends and family, and went back to work. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget all the beautiful coffees I have enjoyed.

Chemex at Hangar

Chemex at Hangar

6 hours of practicing pours amounted to this

6 hours of practicing pours amounted to this

It’s been wonderful to catch up with my people, and I’ve been very spoiled with a lot of dinners and coffees. I was treated to an Indian themed evening at my dad’s place. Rugs, music, incense, topped with a gorgeous home-made Indian banquet. I’ve since tried my hand at curry making, whipping up some pretty decent Paneer Saag (though I’m told my first attempt was too spicy). You can see my Jamie Oliver cooking skills in this video:

Indina Banquet!

Indian Banquet!

Mum was very happy to see me!

Mum was very happy to see me!

Look she's in Wellington!

Look she’s in Wellington!

I must admit that I had an ulterior motive to returning to NZ last month: a scheduled visa interview at the US Consulate in Auckland on August 6th. I won’t go into too much detail as Alexa has already written a great post about my fiancé visa, but despite us meeting the requirements, filling out the hundreds of forms, and ticking all the boxes on our todo list, my nerves were running high.  I got my hair cut, trimmed my beard, and set out on the road to Auckland with my bro, Paul.

Frozen Desert Road stop

Frozen Desert Road stop

Definitely not a Desert Road selfie...

Definitely not a Desert Road selfie…

I must say, after all the countries I’ve seen, I now have such a huge fucking appreciation for how beautiful our Aoteoroa is. In Thailand and Laos I spent hours hiking or motoring through jungle to see a ‘famous’ waterfall, only to be grossly underwhelmed by something you can see on the side of the road driving through Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island). As such, we made some stops along the way, taking in the beautiful landscapes and clean air. In between stops we drank Wild Bean (even petrol station coffee is good in NZ) and listened to sweet beats like Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water (and Hanson, cough).

Filling up the water bottle in the river, yay for clean NZ water.

Filling up the water bottle in the river, yay for clean NZ water.

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Princess Falls

Princess Falls

We spent an hour driving around Auckland CBD looking for parking that was cheaper than $6 per half hour, before enjoying some Yakitori and one of our favorite beers, the Epic Armageddon. True to my travel savvy self, I booked us into a cheap hostel nextdoor to “Penthouse – Experience the magazine” (total accident, btw). I showed Paul how to check for bed bugs (learning about bedbugs was probably more psychologically damaging than knowing there were none in his bed), and we settled into our dorm room for the night. The next morning, I ate a nervous breakfast while Paul tried to make me think rationally, and then walked into the US Consulate, armed with my suit and tie, and a envelope full of papers.

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Once through security I found myself in a waiting room with 10 other people, in front of a line of windows; it was like something you might find in a bank. I spoke to the lady in the first window, who asked me one or two questions, like if I had any children. She told me my suit was nice and not to be nervous, before directing me to the next window to pay my visa fee. After payment I was instructed to take a seat to wait for my interview, which I had scheduled for 10am. So I sat and waited, and waited… and waited. Exactly how long I waited is debatable as the security held my cellphone, but I would guess around an hour and a half. Finally, my name was called, and I stepped up to the third window, marked, “Interview.” Like the others before me, my interview was conducted standing in the waiting room, with privacy levels to rival an Indian train carriage. My fingerprints were verified, I swore truth on the bible, and answered three or four very basic questions. 

After what felt like about four minutes my interviewer announced, “Your visa is approved, you’ll receive it in the mail within 10 days.” “What?” I asked. “That’s… it? I got the visa?” My interviewer smiled and confirmed again that my visa had been approved. I walked away from the window and left. Out of all of the things you might have expected me to feel in that moment, all I remember feeling in the elevator ride was confusion. This process was supposed to be hard? I had to bring a million pieces of documentation, proof of finances, proof of relationship. But they didn’t ask for any of it. Quickly enough though my confusion turned to elation and I phoned an on-the-edge-of-her-seat Alexa to share the good news. 

I returned to the cafe to meet up with Paul, and while ordering coffee was congratulated on my successful interview by a cute French barista. We were about to leave after coffee and donuts when one of the cafe staff approached me and said, “This is quite unusual, and we don’t normally do this, but the blonde girl wanted me to give you this.” Before handing me the paper below.

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Sorry Jennifer, I might have forgotten to mention my visa is to go over and get married. Very flattering, and added to my good vibes that day.

On the way back to Wellington we stopped to see a friend of mine and to do some caving. Unfortunately we missed out on some sweet Blackwater Rafting due to heavy rain flooding the caves, but it was a fun stop and spend the night with good people all the same. 

Mr Nat Geo in action

Mr Nat Geo in action

We're really good at posing by this point.

We’re really good at posing by this point.

Trying to take a cool tourist photo... failing.

Trying to take a cool tourist photo… failing.

Now I’m back in Wellington, and back to work on Monday, but it all feels quite temporary. I’ve got a flight on September 3rd, and in the mail is my single entry immigration visa. Pretty exciting stuff. I’m looking forward to the death of LDR (Long Distance Relationship), to starting my new life in LA with Alexa, and to the new adventures that all of that will bring.

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5 thoughts on “Bringing France to America

  1. 1. Good stuff mate, and congrats!
    2. Skux – Jennifer 😉
    3. Teach whoever took the photo that water is not to drink though nose haha.
    4. You will need to see me before leaving!!

    • Thanks, Kim! Actually the water failure was a selfie 😉

      Yesss we have to go and get some wonderful food together in the next week or two, okay? I promise I will text you!

  2. SUCH AN AMAZING POST! It’s great that it ended up being so simple to actually get the visa – a part of me thinks it’s the chill vibe of Kiwi culture that is to be thanked. 🙂 So neat that you have a new perspective on your beautiful NZ as well… I instantly recognized your new site banner as Wellington and it made my heart so happy 🙂

    Your stories are the best. So, so, so excited for your next chapter in Cali – death to LDR! 🙂

  3. Oh what a wonderful blog Jono! It has such a celebratory feel about it, as it should! So lovely to see the amazing North Island scenery, it is indeed a beautiful country. I am so excited for you, onward towards the next amazing adventures as your new life unfolds.

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