|Who would deny this guy a passport?|
Here's our international incident for the week. You may remember this post about our adventures in paperwork when trying to get Jari's passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Well, the folks at the consulate in Puerto Vallarta told us that they would contact us if there were any problems, but otherwise we would hear from them in six to eight weeks. A week ago, we received an email from them saying that one or both of our documents had arrived, and Vlad went to pick them up on Monday.
But there was one slight hitch. Evidently, the passport photo we took wasn't up to State Department snuff. The guy Vlad spoke to at the consulate said he had tried to call and had emailed us about the problem, which is odd since they didn't have our phone number and I only received the aforementioned email from them. But whatevs, Consulate Man.
Anyway, we went into the consulate yesterday with a lighter photo, and the same guy said it would be six to eight weeks until Jari could have a passport. This is a big problem. Vlad and I have to leave the Mexico for our visas at the end of March, which is four weeks away. So I start asking our dear friend at the consulate what we do about this conundrum. The conversation went a little something like this:
Me: Can we get an expedited passport?
Consulate Man: No. You can only get an expedited passport within the United States.
Me: Well, how do we go about getting an emergency passport?
Him: The embassy in Guadalajara makes those decisions, but it's only for real emergencies.
Me: So us having to travel to the United States without our baby doesn't qualify as a real emergency?
Him: Ummm, let me go talk to my boss.
The conversation kept going around like this for a while. Basically, all I wanted to know was how the process worked, what my options were and just some reassurance that the United States would in no way leave it's citizens stranded in this position, but Consulate Man wasn't much comfort. He said things like "It's out of my hands" and "Let's keep our fingers crossed." You know, stuff you really don't want to hear when you need to travel with your baby in four weeks.
At one point, he said that the worst case scenario was us having to walk Jari across the border, which just sounds like a logistical nightmare to me. ** (To get an idea, this would entail either a plane or bus ride to Tijuana or the war zone that is Juarez, a taxi ride to the border, a two-hour wait to cross, being stranded in San Diego or El Paso without a car and finding our way to another airport to catch a flight to Arkansas all with a three month old.) I mean, really, is that the best that our gov can do? I pointed out to him that the British government will issue an emergency travel document to their citizens who don't for whatever reason have a passport. Our friends on Adamastor did just that to get their baby girl to Canada when she was a few weeks old. But Consulate Man shrugged his shoulders once more.
In the end, I'm guessing this will all work out and that our conversation with Consulate Man was an unfortunate fluke. I called the embassy in Guadalajara yesterday, and the woman I spoke with didn't seem fussed about it. However, at this point I am a little nervous about the whole thing and will be harassing the main embassy until we get that little blue booklet in our hands. And if it doesn't work out, there will an onslaught of calls to various members of Congress, two really angry Americans and possibly a blog post about our walk across the border. Fingers crossed, right?
** Minors are allowed to travel to Mexico without a passport by land and sea but not by air. Also, he can't travel into the U.S. on his Mexican passport because, to put it bluntly, we treat Mexican nationals like crap. He would have to get approved for a visa that happens to be very expensive, and the process takes two months anyway.