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That Time We Stormed the Embassy

While in Guatemala, we decided to “stop by” the US Embassy.

After all, we are all citizens now and we wanted to see about the possibility of Billy’s parents being able to renew their visas. It’s not that we don’t love taking two kids under three on an airplane and through customs… but you know…

Isaac at the GUA airport... his hair shining like the noon-day sun...
Before we got inside the building, we were quickly assured that no one would be able to help us.

We almost turned away at that point, but Billy asked me, “Should we go inside?”

And I uttered those fateful words, “Well… we’re here. Might as well.”

We entered and began the security process, which involved confiscating our electronics (including ear buds) and Billy’s driver’s license. We poorly maneuvered a too-big stroller through old school turnstile/revolving door type entryways. (Overall, the place was very "prison-like.") 

 
We sat in the waiting area, our carseat, bags and stroller strewn over about seven chairs. I fed Isaac. Billy and Ella bounced from window to window trying to asking someone a question.

It was amusing to watch, actually. Billy would wait in line and when he reached the front, the person would walk away. Once he finally did get someone, they directed him to a back room. I watched him and Ella go.

They returned with the news that yes, sometimes parents of citizens are granted visas. We should apply online. Ha!

We prepared to go and headed towards the exit to retrieve our electronics. They asked for our pick-up card. Hmmm…

We’ve got a lot going on here… “Keeping-up-with-cards” isn’t really our thing.

“I think I saw Ella playing with it?” I asked Billy.

“Oh yeah. I gave to her to play with.”

In my mind: “Hmmm… that was not a good idea.” Out loud: “Ella… what did you do with that card you were playing with?”

She began a lengthy story with obscure, unrelated details. I revised the question: “Can you show me?”

“Yes, mama.” She marched back up the steps towards the waiting area. I followed.

She led me into the back room where she and Billy had been directed earlier. And then she proceeded to squat down by a window where I presume Billy was speaking with someone.

She pointed out a gaping crack between the wall and the baseboard. “I put it there and I can’t get it out,” she told me matter-of-factly.

Yes. Just as I suspected…

The next hour involved a lot of us continuing to look through our belongings, hoping beyond hope that this very specific explanation from Ella was inaccurate. It also involved a lot of scrambling from Embassy employees who basically said they couldn’t return our stuff without that blasted card. Ella was eating a granola bar.

Every new person called to handle the situation would be like “Yes, we can return your stuff. May I have the card?”

“We lost it.”

“The one with the number on it.”

“Yes, that’s the one.”

“What is your number?”

“We didn’t notice.”

“Okay, well if you give me the card, I can look it up.”

And this is how it went…

Eventually, they agreed to record the situation in a large book of incidents and return our belongings to us. All they needed was Billy’s passport number.

He chose this moment to ask about the security of that information in “the big, bad book of incidents.” Honestly, at this point, identity theft is the least of our worries. The kids haven’t had lunch. Isaac’s ready for a nap. And I don’t want to get on the return flight without that PSP programmed with Elmo episodes.

They assured him it was secure by flipping through the pages to show us how other people had put their information there, so it must be secure. Okay, then…

And so we emerged… happy, unscathed and ready to apply online.

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