Saturday, March 8, 2008

I'm a Flaming Idiot

All set to fly out to Ecuador for two weeks, leaving from my house Saturday morning at 5am!

My very first Ecuador adventure! Is!

I'm still home.

Changing my flight from Saturday to Tuesday: $242
Emergency Passport update appointment: $160
The look on my face when I realized my passport had expired: Priceless

Friday night during a break in packing, I went to my computer to check in for my flight. I got to the part where I enter in my passport number: check. Passport expiration date: Madre de Dios! It expired in April 2007! How could I have overlooked this? I have absolutely no &%#$@ idea. I'm generally a really organized person. My only excuse is that I've had it for a long time, and passports only expire every ten years, so it's hard to remember ... The thing that kills me is that I got it out and looked at it several times in the last month to confirm details for my Mom. Why didn't I notice then? I'll never know.

So, first thing to do: panic. I decided I had to call my Mom right away and let her know I wasn't coming as scheduled, and maybe not at all. It was 11:30pm in Quito, so she'd be asleep, but it wasn't outrageous. Well, guess what: she gave me the wrong phone number! It wouldn't go through! I tried two operators, to no avail. I'd have to e-mail her and hope she gets it.

Meanwhile, Michael was researching info on expired passports. He was really helpful and supportive while I flailed around emotionally and literally. Although the first most helpful, supportive thing he said was "Well, I guess yer not goin'." I was secretly hoping I could just get the renewal gears in motion, hop on the plane anyway, and be renewed for re-entry into the US. No such luck. All research pointed to me being $#1t Outta Luck.

The US passport services have a 24 hour hotline, and I was able to talk to an actual human. She was very nice and sympathetic, but confirmed my SOL status. She said since I lived in Seattle I could get a same day renewal appointment for Monday, and be all renewed in a few hours, for the paltry fee of $160. Ouch. I went through a handy automatic appointment system, and got myself a 9am appointment.

Then I went online and changed my flight very easily from Saturday to Tuesday. The new flight wasn't too expensive, but the hefty change fee drove it all up to $242.

So, I got it all worked out. It's only money (a lot of it ...), and three days in Ecuador, but I'll still get to go. I'm really quite lucky. Here is what I'm happy about:

  • I didn't discover this at the airport. Boy, that would have been embarrassing.
  • I was able to take care of everything at 9pm on a Saturday night.
  • There are only about 10 places in the US where I can do the same day emergency renewal, and Seattle is one of them. If I was still living in Maine, I would have had to drive to Boston.
  • I've got a Monday morning appointment.
  • I was able to realize that I had the wrong phone # for my Mom, and get that straightened out later.
  • I have time to mow the lawn, scrub the shower and bathrooms, vacuume, get an emissions test for my car, go to Costco, run an errand for a neighbor, and basically do personal penance by gettin' $#1t done.
  • The 8GB memory stick I ordered for my camera was late and I was going to have to travel without it, but now I've got it.
  • This snafu doesn't really mess up anyone else's travel plans since we didn't have anything organized away from Quito until next week. If I'd been hooking up with a tour to the Galapagos or something, I'd-a been screwed.
  • I'm only missing a shopping trip to Otavalo, and since I'll go back to Ecuador another year, I can still do that.
  • I have plans to meet a friend in Quito, but that's not 'til Friday.
  • I get to snug my bun, Squeaky, and Michael for 3 more days.


Stephanie said...

ACK! I'm glad that you got it all worked out. HOly crapola if you hadn't known until the airport. And thank goodness it only delays you for 3 days and not a few weeks. I mean...when I think passports...I think looooooong waits. So that's a really good thing :) And's sunny out :)

Petula Darling said...

It sounds like you were really lucky with all the passport scheduling (well, other than that whole pesky expiration thing). All those stories on the news about brides who couldn't go on their honeymoons because they were still missing passports, despite having applied months earlier, made me think getting anything done in a couple days would be impossible.
Have a great trip!

Patti said...

So glad it all worked out for you. Isn't it weird how you can't think at all when you start freakin out about something gone wrong. Glad Michael was able to help you out!! :)