Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lets Get This Shit Sorted Out

I find myself back in La Paz after a very cold over night bus ride from Sucre. It is time to sort out my issues and make plans to go home. This has been an incredible journey filled with so many eye opening experiences but its time go home.

I checked into Cruz De Los Andes hotel where I had stayed before. As I figure I will be here for 10 days or so this is a great place to regroup. Great big rooms, free breakfast, computers and a TV in my room. I can think of nothing better then watching bad American programming to pass the time. I found a decent book, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest, the third novel of the Milenimum series by Stieg Larsson. That should keep me occupied as well. So I settled in and now it was time to get my new passport. Man, what a pain in the proverbial butt.

The Canadian Embassy was expecting me on Wednesday 21st. It is located about a 30 minute walk from the Hotel but I did not know the area so I the hotel call me cab. I went through the slackest security imaginable, went up to the second floor and stepped of the elevator. I was greeted with the most comforting sight I could have imagined. The Big Red Maple Leaf of the Canadian Flag, the picture of the Queen, the Governor General and our fearless leader Stephen Harper. I was astonished by my new found comfort level. This was the second best support situation for me and it was time to get to work.

I met Katrina my case agent and we went through all the forms I needed to fill out and my options. I needed obligatory photos, a police report, 4 references and 7 documents and forms that had to be filled out. My options were as follows:

1. A new passport that would take 15 business days to process. $150
2. An emergency one year passport that would take 5 days, but I would also have to purchase a regular passport in the process. Wait time 15 days (yes you read that right). You can not get a emergency passport with out purchasing a regular passport. $290. I just stared at her glassy eyed.
3. An emergency travel document that will get me home. Wait time 5 business days. $81

I am not the brightest light sometimes but as all I want to do is head back to Canada I chose option 3. (Round of applause please). Once home I can get a new passport through the regular process, but since my birth cert. was stolen as well (I have no idea why it was with my passport) I will need to do that first. Fun times. I took everything back to the hotel, went out and had 3 different photos taken from three different places to make sure at least one was OK. I went for a walk and found the police station then went back and started filling out the forms. Easy peasy. I was actually excited about trying to get the police report and what mayhem I would have to go through. Lemonade as they say and I would not disappointed.

I got up early on Thursday morning but even being as organized as I could be I still had a hard pit in my stomach and was stressing over what I had to do. I downed a few coffee and while walking to the Police station I said to myself "Ken, just let the emotions run their course and stop fighting them". I am pretty sure I said it out loud because I got some very strange looks from people passing me on the street. Nothing like seeing a crazy gringo on your way to work. Your welcome my Bolivian friends, glad I could make your day

The Police station was in chaos. There were so many locals in there it dawned on me that Carnival had just finished, the police were going to be busy. From my scouting the day before I knew where to go, so up the stairs I went, confident and cocky. I should have know better. The line up to get my police report document, not the actually written report was about 10 deep. I despise lining up for anything but whats a guy to do. I notice the sign saying it was going to cost 10Bolivianos for the report, I only had a 20. Ten minutes and its my turn but wait, the person behind me decides she wants to go in front of the gringo and just pushed me aside, all 4 foot 11 of her. I could have taken her down but thought wiser. I get my chance, tell the guy I need a report and hand him the 20. He stares at me and when I ask for my change he says, Gringos dont get change. I can not make that shit up. Ok, then. I have my paperwork, turn to leave and notice everyone in the room smiling knowingly. I just giggled and went on my way. Robbed at a police station while filing a police report. You just can not make that shit up.

Next up is the actual report room. Down the stairs I go and find the scariest darkest and dankest room in the place. I now figure that they are going to close the door when I get in and waterboard me or hook me up to some type of electrical device attached to sensitive parts of my body asking for some type of secret codes. A bit of sweat actually ran down my back.  There were two people sitting at desks and processing us fairly quickly. I was in line 15 minutes then sat down beside a woman who had obviously been doing this job way to long. I gave her the details she wanted and in a from letter on her computer she just swapped my information with the person previous to me, put my report into the printer, stamped it, signed it and said caio. No Hugs goodbye or anything. I ran across the street, made a few photo copies, returned to give them one. I had my report and did not want them to change thier mind so I got out of there without looking back.

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