When I came to South America, I had no intention of visiting Brazil. I know it’s definitely a place worth seeing, but it’s so BIG and I had no clue where to start. They speak Portuguese there, for one thing, and I didn’t feel 100% comfortable visiting on my own, especially after my Dad warned me of other flight crews feeling unsafe in the cities.
Well, if you read my last post, you may have noticed I mentioned a Brazilian boyfriend. Not only is he Brazilian, he’s a Carioca, which means he’s a native of the one and only glorious city of Rio de Janeiro. Even the Chileans speak of Rio as if it’s the best place on Earth. Now I get to see for myself!
It’s amazing how things work out sometimes. 6 months ago I would have never seen this happening! Long distance relationships can be rough, but hey, now I get to visit yet another amazing place without having to worry about booking hostels or tours or anything like that. With his family living there, I have my own personal tour guide and host! I’m also planning a 2 week trip so I can really soak it all in.
The one downside to it all is that US citizens have to go through a heck of a process just for a tourist visa. It’s a bit pricey and there is a lot of documentation involved. I didn’t know exactly what I would need to do to get one, especially since I’m already out of the country, but I googled how to get a visa in Chile as a US citizen and stumbled upon this great website: santiagotourist.com
It spells out everything you need to do, even the process of visiting the consulate building located in Santiago. I followed this to the tee and it made my application process much less stressful. So…if you happen to be an American in Chile who wants to visit Brazil, check it out! The consulate will keep your passport for at least a week though, so plan enough time around that.
Following these steps means I had to take passport photos and visit a consulate where they only speak Portuguese and Spanish. I looked up some places where I could get passport photos taken on the US Embassy website, and this led to me wandering around a mall in the city. I had to ask for directions, and the ladies behind the information desk gave me a long stare before answering my question. In these moments I always doubt my Spanish ability and truly feel the fool. It’s one of the humbling lessons about living abroad!
After getting the directions, I found a small photo stand, told the guy I needed some passport photos, and then I didn’t understand anything he said! This happens quite often in Chile, even with the progress I’m making. The accent, the slang, the phrases…they all play a part. We got it all squared away in no time, thankfully, and let me just say, taking passport photos down here is significantly cheaper than in the states! I remember paying about $10 USD in Texas, whereas here it was only a couple lucas (Chilean word for 1,000 pesos). That’s the equivalent of roughly $3 USD!
Visiting the Consulate was a new experience, but I really got lucky with the guy who attended me. He was nice and patient, and because I had all the documents ready (thank you website!), we didn’t need to discuss many issues. Part of this process involves making a cash deposit into an account belonging to the consulate at the nearest bank. I haven’t necessarily made too many cash deposits at banks in the states, but in Chile it’s fairly easy! I do it for my rent payment every month. The only bad part is waiting in line.
So now, I have a tourist visa for Brazil! Once I had it in my hands I was ecstatic! I don’t know why I thought there might be some sort of complication, but the process ended up being very smooth. I can visit Brazil for the next 10 years with this visa, and hey…aren’t the next Olympics in Rio? Hm…I think I know some people there I could stay with…