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Where are we now - The photo's tell the story An update on the where-abouts of Nat & Chris' epic RTW journey.

Passport Problems and the Un-Australian Embassy

BRAZIL | Thursday, 30 August 2007 | Views [1975] | Comments [1]

A message from Junior’s note pad…

Having your passport stolen would have to be the biggest pain in the arse I have ever experienced. Not only has it delayed our time, altered our travel plans, and meant the loss of a valuable memento but, it is continuing to disrupt our enjoyment of the countries we visit. Remembering Chile will always leave a sour taste in my mouth because of the thief who stole our passports. He has caused us continual self doubt and a feeling of uneasiness throughout our prolonged stay in the country.

Our first dealing with an overseas Australian Embassy (Santiago) was one where we thought the people were trying to be helpful and understood our needs, however we were always wanting to speak to an Aussie who could fully understand us (language) and who knew how to type a letter in English and didn’t refer to me a she or Nat as Hir friend. When we spoke with the Aussie chick there we both felt better about the process and our situation. What we didn’t know was that she didn’t actually do anything but had her Chilean secretary write emails to the Embassy in Rio and pass on our information/story.

Our second dealing with an overseas Australian Embassy (Rio de Janeiro) is one I’d rather soon forget. Raquel kept telling us that she was trying to be helpful (when people do that it makes me think that they’re not)! We arrived at the embassy to be told by this chick that our applications had not yet arrived. Ok, don’t panic, we had already prolonged our stay in Rio just in case there was a delay in mail or something so we have a few extra days up our sleeve. Anyway, we asked if we could call my mum to find out who she had addressed the parcel to, she says we can make a reverse charges call (not what we were offered in Santiago and not what the Aus embassy in Australia had told us over the phone when they redirected a call for Nat to her parents), leaves us in the waiting room goes to make the call, comes back after 5 or 10 minutes (don’t know how long mum had to wait on the line to speak to me, being charged the entire time) and then walks me out to the furthest phone in the office to speak to her. If you are trying to help someone on a reverse charges call you go to the closest phone or bring them with you so you don’t waste time and they are not charged unduly!! We then find out that the people in Santiago had given us details for the office in Brasilia and not in Rio, so our parcel was wasting time on its way there. The names they gave us to address the parcel to don’t even deal with Passport applications – great! Then we look online and there has been a technical delay at TNT (mail company) so our parcel is sitting in the Brasilia mail centre and not at the office it needs to be. Neither of us have broken a mirror or walked in front of a black cat or anything else that might explain this constant pummelling to the rear with problems.

Then the chick at the embassy tries to tell us that Nat will have to wait until she arrives in London before she can apply for her passport because that is what she told them in Santiago. Hell no it wasn’t!! We told them we would stay longer here so we could both do it at the same time. Anyway, we figure that the receptionist who wrote the email misunderstood or misinterpreted the language and they agree that we can do both apply here.  Then she tries to tell us that if we go to Madrid we can get a new passport issued in 48 hours.  Sounds to me like someone is trying to handball some work and can´t be arsed doing it herself.  We call Brasilia to speak to the guy in charge of Passport applications, Ian, who assures me that when it arrives he will have a look at it and we can then have our interview with this Raquel bitch and we can sign the back of the form with her (the only thing we have not filled in on the form) and he won’t have to send our entire application to Rio, delaying us further, before we can get the process underway. Ok, we may have dodged a bullet so this should all go according to plan inside our time frame for our flight to Madrid.

Today we enjoyed a nice tour of Rio de Janeiro (other than not being able to see Christ the Redeemer statue from 5 feet away because of dense cloud, is this a sign that God is punishing us?) before returning to our hostel, hopeful of a call from the embassy to tell us our applications for a new passport had arrived, of course we had received no such call and no reply to the 3 emails we had sent Raquel over the past 24 hours. We tried calling the embassy in Brasilia – no answer. So I ring Raquel at the Embassy in Rio to see if she has heard from Ian at the office in Brasilia.

She is lucky that this conversation was over the phone because if I was face to face with her I would have broken her nose. Talk about a smug bitch! Tells me the parcel arrived to the Brasilia office and that Ian is sending it to her in Rio and when it arrives she will give us a call (at her leisure I’m sure) and we can then come in for the interview and to sign the last page. At that time the 10 business day processing of a passport application will begin. After arguing with her that this could be done without him sending the form as he assured me yesterday, she continues to laugh (in her smug little way) over the phone telling me that they are doing all they can and it’s not their fault. I ask if we can pay to have it sent express so that it arrives tomorrow – no he’s already sent it so it “might” arrive tomorrow or the day after or Monday, but either way she doesn’t really care!

Now I think I´ve managed to keep my head up through the last 2 weeks and  make the best of things.  Having things stolen can make a dent to the finances and has made sleep pretty hard when you are constantly worried about parcels not arriving on time or misinformation.  Until today I was a proud Australian. I loved and felt proud to be able to greet people with “G’Day mate, owya goin?” or saying “Thanks mate” because that’s what we do. But I feel like part of my identity as an Aussie has been taken away. Come on Junior you are overreacting you say!! No, I have had enough with the so-called “Australian” Embassies overseas and dealing with people who are clearly not Australian, who have nothing Australian about them and have no compassion or care for your situation at all. Why is it that when an Australian visits an “Australian” Embassy that they don’t get to deal with another Australian? Wouldn’t that make sense!!

I’m sure that we’re not the first people to have our passports stolen and to be half way through a round the world trip. So, why is it then that these people aren’t on the same page? Why can’t they understand and give us the right information? Why don’t they seem possible of getting out of their own way to help us? Why is this process so painfully difficult?

I truly hope that others can avoid having to deal with our problem over the last 2 weeks. If you ever travel, keep your wallet close and treat your passport like gold cos it's probably more valuable!

The video link shows who we've been dealing with at the Embassy.

Tags: Travel Tips



Yes this has been a tough experience for you both but you will look back on this laugh and be wiser for it Im sure.

  marg Aug 31, 2007 9:27 PM



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