Thank you for your good karma everybody, because it came my way and I have officially received a new visa to go back to Brazil!!!
So I went to the consulate really early, an hour and a half before it opened, but the guy at reception wouldn't let me go up until an hour before, and when I got there, there were already six people waiting. Within fifteen minutes, a huge line had formed. There were mostly Brazilians, chattering in Portuguese and making me happy, with a scattering of gringos. There was a very sorry gringo couple, an elderly father and his middle-aged son, who said they were turned away at the gate at the airport on the way to Brazil, due to some sort of failure to stamp or mark one of the guy's visas. My heart went out to them.
I was kind of surprised by the Brazilians there. About half seemed to be lower middle class, and the other half middle class (by American standards, anyway). How some of these guys made it here is beyond me, and kudos to them. Also, I was convinced two guys, in their late teens, had to be Dominicans, until I heard them speaking Portuguese. I think a lot of Latin immigrants undergo dominicanization in New York City, and god bless them for that!
They opened the consulate a little early, and I nearly jumped for joy when I saw a woman actually assisting people. It turns out she was just giving out numbers. Joyous. So I sat and waited, and waited, and watched as hordes of people who'd been let in early handed in applications and got their passports back, presumably from those "visa services" where you pay someone to do it for you. It was kind of infuriating. I kept seeing consulate workers wander in and wander out, each more intimidating the next. I was terrified and annoyed all at once, which is a very unpleasant combination.
Anyway, after much waiting and teeth-gnashing, they finally called my number. I got an extremely friendly lady, who took two minutes to gather my stuff and tell me to come back the same day. I yelped, "You mean, THIS afternoon?" I must have made the whole waiting room jump. Incredulous, I left and went to work, and then went back in the afternoon, really nervous that the whole same day thing wasn't a good sign.
More teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling later, my number was called. The guy told me to wait at an empty window. Shortly after, the same lovely lady came out with my passport in her hand and personally handed me the brand new visa. For some reason, she had stapled one of my application forms to the passport, which I have to hand in when I get to Brazil, though I'm a bit concerned because aren't you not supposed to staple passports?? When she showed me the visa, I wanted to jump through the glass partition and hug her, but instead I thanked her profusely and hurried out, biting my lip so I wouldn't burst into relieved, happy tears.