Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Went to the embassy today. Believe it or not, I had never been to an embassy of any kind in my life until today. Everybody thinks Americans are supposed to know where the embassy is, but in fact, Americans have no reason to go there. Except when your passport expires. Hard to believe that it's already been ten years. Actually, my passport doesn't expire until next March, but my visa is up in January, so I figured it would save me some trouble to renew my passport now, before the slap the new residence sticker on for next year.

I had filled in the online form, which includes an option to apply for the new wallet sized passport card. But when I brought in the form, they insisted that I had to have two separate forms, with separate pictures. I explained to the lady that the online form clearly gave the option to apply for both at the same time, but it was evident that she didn't believe me. It turns out that the website has been set up to accommodate dual applications, but the passport card isn't ready yet. Basically, the web site is ahead of the technology. Fortunately for me, the supervisor was a really nice lady, and she told me they would figure it out if I didn't mind filling out a separate form by hand. Simple solution, and it only took me a few minutes.

The embassy has just moved to the new location, so that may be why they are so disorganized. The website definitely needs work. For one thing, they tell you to leave your cell phone home, because you will not be allowed to bring it in. But it's really not necessary to leave it home. They just put it in a little box for you and give you a number. Much, much simpler, of course, than having to leave it, and then not be able to communicate when the need arises. The website should tell you that. And the phone system at the new embassy is atrocious. It has literally been completely dehumanized. Nothing but a series of computerized messages. But I have to say that they do respond to email promptly, so if you do a little planning ahead, you will generally get an answer by email within a day.

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