Adventures in Passports

My passport is due for renewal. I won’t lie to you, it’s been a source of anxiety since about October. I don’t know why, but I have this unfounded fear of going somewhere where I have never been before.

If you are thinking, but you got on a plane and moved to the Dominican without ever being there before, you are correct. Yes, I had a lot of anxiety, but it was mostly for my cat.

The anxiety comes in small stages, the steps I have to take to get there, what happens when I get there, but the steps, the first steps.

I actually knew where I had to go. I looked it up and it’s just up the street from where the bus stop is, the major bus that I took to visit Santo Domingo from Sosua when I was apartment hunting.

I even tried to talk my friend into driving me, even though he just had knee surgery and can’t walk. I suggested he wait in the car, but I guess he can’t bend it far enough to drive, either. Whatever.

I took the public cab, and asked the driver if he could tell me when the street came up. He said yes and then continued to talk to the young man in the front seat. I kinda knew anyhow, just wanted that bit of insurance.

When the corner I needed came up, it was the young man from the front seat who told me it was my stop. Our driver had not once shut his hole the entire trip. Nice of the kid.  I love it when that happens.

I was going to take another public cab the other direction but the ones I saw were already about six people deep, so I opted to walk. I have been finding the weather this winter absolutely gorgeous, so didn’t mind.

I reached my destination in about half an hour, and will share with you this tidbit of trivia. Did you know the Canadian Consulate in Santo Domingo is housed in a building that also has a Hooters?  You’re welcome.

I walked up several flights of stairs, as it turns out, I didn’t need to. Had I just kept walking, I would have found the section of building I needed, Hooters-free. I stop in front of one of those ‘You are Here’ maps, it was a multi-layered mall. Loads of fast food places but nothing said ‘Your Passport here’.

Waaa… am I not in the right place? Next step of anxiety.

Then I asked a woman who worked there, and she shoved her cleaning cart behind a big sign for a store and lead me away. She took me to where I needed to go and come on, how nice is that! I love it when that happens.

The scenery went from shoe stores and French fries to security body scanners and scanners that read your face in order to get through. People were shooting through these turnstiles by their fingerprints. So Macgyver.

I signed in, got a visitors badge and then had to get through the turnstile, which was clearly locked but did not stop me from throwing myself at the locked bars like a demented toddler.

The guy who scanned me in then ran my purse through an X-ray as I was going through the body scanner. Here’s a tip. When it beeps, don’t throw your hands up and pretend you are being sprayed with bullets by jerking around, ala Bonny and Clyde.

Not only are there men there with actual guns, but the suits all coming in to work were not terribly amused. I already stand out here. Of course, I now had to get in to the elevator with them and ride the 18 floors. Luckily it went fast. Luckily they avoided eye contact.

Once I reached my floor, I was asked for my visitors badge. That’s right. I had a badge. Then I had to get my purse scanned again, like the kind at the airport, in case I found a Glock on the elevator and then through another walk through scanner, same beep, same ‘riddled with bullets’ routine, still no laughs.

Then, if that isn’t enough security, and I think it is, considering how un-secure most things are my new city, the woman helping me is behind, I will just assume, bullet-proof glass with just the smallest tray to put my documents in and then a lid slams shut, as if I might change my mind.

It was all over within about 10 minutes or so and I was free to reenact my ‘suicide by security guard’ two more times. On the way out on the ground floor, the security guard actually did laugh so my persistence in doing the bit til it works paid off. Once a comedian.

I was happy to be back on the street and was very relieved that it was all over. I walked back down the hill but in my delirium of the perfect weather and the anxious task long forgotten, I also forget that the street I need is a one way at that end. I decided I didn’t care and could have just walked back ups a block to get the public cab, but walked anyhow.

Did I mention the weather is glorious? Yes, I believe I did.

 

 

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