So... this has been a VERY long week because I have spent most of it on hold with either the embassy in Guatemala City or with the DMV in Houston. Here are some fun facts I have learned from my days on the phone.
- If you loose your passport here you HAVE to have a drivers license to get a new one.
- If you loose your drivers license you HAVE to get a new one in person in Texas. No way to get a new one from another country.
- You have to have your original (not just the scanned version my parents emailed me which should be good enough) to get a new passport.
- You have to go to the embassy (a 7 hour trip there and back) to get a form which you bring back to Pana to have the police chief here sign and then take back to the embassy. Apparently you only have 48 hours to do all this.
- According to the Texas DMV if you loose your drivers license they suggest you cancel your credit cards. 3 different people told me that, but had a difficult time answering my question when I asked why. If I canceled my bank accounts then I would have no way to get money out down here.
- If you report your passport as lost or stolen (there isn't a difference here because if you lost it most likely someone then stole it) then you have to wait for a new passport number to book any flights. I am suppose to change my flight in May and also book my Africa flight soon.
So that was all the information I found out after spending days on the phone with a number of people. I was going crazy trying to figure out what I needed to do. What I decided was that it would just be easier to go ahead and get to Guatemala City and just try to talk to someone in person. Janet offered to drive me there this Tuesday and we would probably have to spend the night because it would be a several day process. She also thought we should go ahead and go to the police station here and see if we can report it lost/stolen without having to go to the embassy first.
That is what we did today. After my Spanish lesson (it was my first lesson ALL in Spanish) we went to the police station in town. When we walked in we sat in the corner of this little room with about 6 guys all with guns (which I'm still not comfortable with) who told us we just had to wait. I kept thinking about the movie Brokedown Palace and how scary it would be to be thrown into a prison in a different country. I was pretty sure that wasn't the punishment for loosing your passport, but the thought still crossed my mind. After awhile 3 other police officers walked in and told us to go with them. We walked out to the street and quickly realized they wanted us to get into the back of the police truck. Janet and I sat in the back with an officer and laughed the entire time. We had to take the long way around town to get to the police station for foreigners, and I kept wanting to drive by someone I knew. I assured Janet that she should be so happy I came into her life because I bet before me she never got the chance to ride in the back of a police truck.
When we got to the other police station things started to go quicker. It was a building that looked deserted and only had 2 officers in it. They printed out a form in English for me to fill out then they translated it (somehow without knowing any English) and eventually printed it out in Spanish for me to take to the embassy. They put me into the system as having my passport stolen. Which is an issue now because...
Look what I found in a grocery store!!!! I made up flyers to post trying to find the passport, and after I had dinner with one of my friends, Betty, we walked to Pana Super to put up the flyer. When I looked at the board I couldn't believe it... This is what I saw!
If you are not jumping up and down screaming "That's me" then you clearly didn't have the same reaction I did when I saw this. I emailed the guy who found it and am waiting to hear back. I am hoping he still has it here in Pana and hasn't sent it to the embassy yet.
So here are my new concerns:
- I reported my passport stolen online with the embassy, but am not sure if the form was submitted because I got an error message at the end. If it did go through I'm not sure what to do.
- I reported it stolen here at the police station, so I'm not sure what I need to do to cancel that either.
Hopefully the first form didn't go through, and that I can just go explain it to the dudes with guns tomorrow. Maybe they will let me ride in the back of the police truck again.