Well, I managed to get my passport submitted and put in the queue. Going to the consulate was like my previous trips to US Embassies, which is to say it was a very weird experience.
First, the whole “appointment” thing was a total farce. It turns out the system ended up making my appointment at the Sydney Consulate. When I showed up they just waved me through anyhow, which made me wonder what the point was of the whole process of having to register days in advance on the web.
Going to the consulate was like going to the airport. I had to go through a metal detector and put my stuff through an x-ray machine (including taking off my shoes), and to wear a bar-code tag on my shirt, got escorted to an elevator which only went to the 6th floor where the consulate is. When I got up, they scanned my bar code, made me go through another metal detector and finally dumped me in a room……which was exactly the same as going to the DMV. I had to take a number and wait in line. There was no interview.
While I was waiting for my number, they showed some video on the process of getting a US visa and a “Hooray for America” video which looked like it could have been shown at the American Pavilion at Epcot Center.
The thing which always weirds me out when you have to go to any sort of Federal building is the photo of the President hanging on the wall. I don’t know when the tradition started, but it strikes me as very…….Soviet. I don’t know why the US does it. The only place where I’ve seen photos of political leaders hanging on the walls were in Brunei, Tonga and Sarawak; all of which had monarchies. If anyone knows the laws, rules or traditions around why American federal office buildings have a photo of the president on the wall, I’d love to know more.
I’ve completed most of what I set out to do in Melbourne. The passport is in the works. I got a new bag. I got most of the fixes to my website completed (although there are still a bunch to go). I should be leaving Melbourne in a few day, but I do have to be back here on March 7 to pick up my new passport. I think I’ll go visit Tasmania and maybe Adelaide before I come back and drive up the East coast.