Yesterday afternoon we got our I800A approval in the mail. We were already approved through our Mexico process, so all we needed was a "change of country" update. Thankfully, we didn't need new biometrics (fancy name for fingerprints!) done again.
In the evening, I got a surprise phone call from Raul, Gladney's Program Manager from Tampa. He has our dossier with our updated immigration approval. Now the only thing we're waiting on are our FBI apostilles which we had to mail separately. He did say that if we hadn't received our apostilles by Thursday, he'd go ahead and mail our dossier off to Colombia to start translations on what we do have. I'm praying that these apostilles come right away and don't slow our timeline down too much.
I did enjoy chatting with him (with his thick Colombian accent!) for about 45 minutes. He definitely suggested that we stay in an apartment as opposed to the Intercontinental hotel. We had been leaning that direction because the cost is significantly lower and we'd have more space, BUT it means I need to grocery shop and cook in Colombia. That has been striking fear into me! I have a hard enough time shopping and cooking in the US! I am really nervous about doing it in a foreign country with different foods and in Spanish! He set my mind at ease, and reassured me that it will not be difficult. The stores in Medellin are very Americanized and have plenty of choices! So I'm feeling a ton better about the food and lodging issues.
He even said he'd try to find us a 3 bedroom apartment that has a pool and gym in the complex! I would LOVE that, since keeping 7 kids entertained for a month or more may become difficult without easy diversions. I don't really see us doing a ton of sightseeing (bummer) mainly due to there being NINE of us that we'd have to figure out transportation for to go anywhere. And after seeing pictures of their Taxis- it ain't gonna happen! They are pretty small!
We'll be doing a lot of walking, I'm sure. Thankfully, Raul said he'd find us a place in a very touristy area- and mentioned El Poblado. It is near shopping malls, restaurants, parks, etc. and is a wealthy area of town.
Now that we have a better idea on what kind of accomodations we will be in, it is easier to figure out how much money we'll still need for our in country costs. This has been so frustrating since the costs vary widely between an apartment and staying in a Presidential Suite in the Intercontinental Hotel! We're talking hundreds of dollars a day difference!
He's still saying that we could be traveling in late January, although it is possible it might be as late as mid February since only half of the ICBF staff comes in during the month of December and things could take longer.