RuthAnn and I drove to Chicago last Monday night-ended up staying out near O'Hare as there were a couple of conventions in town and not only were hotels scarce, they were expensive.
On Tuesday morning we dropped off our passports at Travisa, the third party that processes all the paperwork for the Indian Consulate. We wanted to get permission to enter Sikkim (a restricted area) and the receptionist said that we had to do that in Delhi on our arrival there. That was the last thing we wanted to do, so hoofed over to the consulate to see what we could find out. There we got the proper forms that had to be filled out in duplicate along with more passport pictures. Stops at Staples and AAA got us the copies and pictures; we got off our feet at a Starbuck's and filled out the forms. After a little shopping we heading back to Travisa to pick up our passports. We finally got out of there about 7 pm and drove back out to the hotel. The next morning we had to repeat the whole drill at the Nepalese Consulate, but not before making color copies of our passports and Indian visas. Back to the Indian Consulate where the Vice Consul said he would process the Slkkim foms that day, but we had to go back to Travisa to pay them first before they would process them. Once that was done and a nice lunch eaten we took a boat trip on the Chicago River to relax a bit. In the late afternoon we headed back to the Nepalese Consulate where we met a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who was going back to Nepal for the first time since he left in 1964! The passports finally appeared a little after 5 pm; back to Travisa to wait for the Sikkim permits. The permits finally showed up about 7 pm and we were very relieved to have accomplished all of our goals in Chicago. It was a long ride home; time to finish many last minute details before our departure on the 28th. sr