Saturday, May 20, 2006
Big doin's in the Big Apple
So last Sunday SJ and I were looking at the calendar to figure out when was the best time for me to head down to NYC to authenticate our documents. All of the sudden my calendar was looking pretty booked up with stuff and I didn't want to get my 171H (approval from CIS) and then not be able to get down to the big apple to authenticate. Yes, I could have mailed everything but the NYC consulate says to allow 20 working days to authenticate documents that arrive by mail. That's a month and if you walk your documents in, they only take 4 days. So after looking at the calendar, I looked at my husband and said "well, I think we have to go this week!". I called my friend A who lives in CT to see if we could stay with her and she said it was actually a good week b/c she was having a birthday party for her daughter M on Wednesday. Plus her husband was traveling that week so she appreciated the company.
Monday morning I tossed the kids in the car in their PJs at 5:30 am and we hit the road. After a few pit stops and some rush hour tangles, we got to Westport, CT in time for the 10:30 train into the city. The kids were very excited about taking a train so that kept them amused for the 66 minutes to Grand Central Station. We arrived on one of the lower tracks and headed up the stairs to the main concourse of the station. Just as we got to the top of the stairs, one of the kids asked where we were. I reminded them of the movie Madagascar and said "do you remember when the little old lady hits Alex the lion over the head with her purse? Well that is we are." Then as if it was all flooding back to their little brains, L shouts as she points to the clock over the center information desk "That's the clock that Melman got his head stuck in!" and promptly let out a hysterical giggle. Man do I love our adventures!
So we headed out into the NYC sunshine (much needed rays of sun after the torrential rains in the NE) and got a cab to the Chinese Consulate. Luckily the consulate is located at 42nd and 12th so it was a straight shot across town. We got out of the cab and I started getting butterflies not knowing what I was doing and wondering if I had forgotten anything. We are met at the door by security who wanted to see a photo ID and then had us put our bags and coats through the X-Ray and we walked through the metal detector. In the next room we were met by another very friendly security person who asked what we were here for and helped us get a number in line. There were about 10 people ahead of us in line and by the time I got my papers out of my bag and the kids in a couple of chairs, they called our number. We went to the window and I gave them the letter our agency said to write, copies of our passports, our authentication application, and our 12 documents. He ripped the letter and the passport pages right off the pile and handed them back to me without looking at them. He then counted the docs, filled out a slip and said come back Thursday. That was it, we were done. We probably spent no more than 3 1/2 minutes in there.
So back out into the sunshine. B caught glimpse of a city bus and shouted he wanted to ride one. We were headed up the west side to visit a friend so we hopped the M104 up 8th and Broadway to 76th street. We visited my friend S and her kids S and C. We had lunch there and hung around until 3ish. Lots of fun to see her. Then we headed down to Grand Central by cab and hopped the 4:07 back to Westport.
We spent Monday - Thursday morning with our friends in CT. Their kids are exactly the same ages as our kids and they get along famously! Lots of bike riding, swing set play, and sidewalk chalk. Wednesday was the birthday party for M and her mother and I made this cake...
The party was lots of fun. I enjoyed all of A's friends and their children. That night we watched Lost and hit the crib. Thursday morning we were up and out for the 9:40 train into the city.
We took the bus this time across town to the consulate and the picking up of the documents went much like the dropping off of the documents. Easy, smooth, perhaps no more than 4 minutes. They define efficiency and organization.
To celebrate we went down to Pearl River Market, a chinese merchandise store in Soho. I forgot how much I LOVE Soho. Lots of stores and boutiques. We got some cute stuff at PRM and then grabbed some lunch. After meandering around for a while we headed up to Grand Central via subway to see if we could catch a 1:45 pm train. Well as it turns out my watch sort of stopped working and I was completely unaware of what time it was. We barely managed to catch the 3:07 train out to Westport. Got to Westport at 4:13, used the bathroom at the station and we were on the road by 4:30. We got home at 8 pm with a pretty easy ride.
So now you are thinking, "but what about your 171H?" When that comes, we will probably send it down to my friend S in the city and she will run it into the consulate for a same day authentication.