Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hello from California

Well... we're here. No photos because I haven't set up my camera on one of the computers here ,but I hope to manage at some point. This morning I managed a good walk for the first time. Very positive. Not only do I need to walk for the health benifits, but I think it helps get over the jet lag as well. My dad lives one block over from the San Francisco Bay and there is a walking path along the water. You could not ask for a lovelier view to walk to.
Our trip here was rich in adventure as our trips tend to be. The flight (once we got on it) was good. We had great seats and it was the quickest flight from Frankfurt to CA that we have ever had. Only ten and a half hours. I don't know if our plane had turbo or the pilot thought he was Mario Andretti , but it was very pleasant. Our troubles, though, started at Munster airport as we were trying to board the first plane of the day and it was discovered that Alexander's passport had expired in March. This is one of those moments where one wonders what planet one has been living on for the last six months- certainly not this one! How could I have missed this? I honestly have no idea. The load master started to unload our bags and the woman who was supervising the bording , started making one phone call after the other in an attempt to find out if we would be allowed into the US with an expired US passport. The answer (at the last minute) was yes, and we were ushered onto the plane to the voice of the pilot explaining to everyone that we had lost our place in the take off line up because some people (us) where trying to travel on the wrong documents and the removal of our luggage was taking a few minutes, and as soon as it was off,we would proceed to take off. . He kindly explained this in two languages so that every one would know that we were at fault for any delays.
The plane actually took off only about three minutes late and one of the flight crew kindly (truly)informed me that in spite of what the pilot had said our luggage was still on the plane.

The rest of our trip was uneventful untill we reached CA- exept that we had to explain the passport situation to about twenty people, but they were all very nice about it. When we got to CA we managed to get ahold of a wrong suicase- which wasn't so bad for us ,but apparently the bag we had, had already been missing for three days and some poor woman was probably going nuts wondering where it was. The story of the exchange of bags is a huge blog in itself ,but I will leave you with the fact that the bags did get exchanged, although my bag had been "gone through" .

I then proceeded to spend HOURS on the phone trying to figure out how I am going to get Alexander back to Germany. I originaly thought- no problem. I will go fill out the form and renew his passport- no big deal, but no- because he is over 14 but not yet 18 he is in a passport no mans land. The requirements for a passport for a child of this age are a little wishy-washy. Partcularly if he was born and lives in a forign country. Also they kept saying things to me like :You just need his birth certificate and the fathers signature. There is no "just" about this, his birth certificate is in Germany and in German- they want a noterised English copy, and his father is in the Congo and not coming to Californina any time soon.
The fact that had I been aware that his passport was expired , I would have gotten him a new one before ever leaving Germany and as a consequence of this I left my home with out all of the proper documents to get a new one seems to escape everyone (in an official capacity)I talk to.

We have now decided to forget the American passport untill we are back in Germany and can apply the normal way, and are going with the German consulate who, while still wanting documentation, are willing to give him a one time entry document that will get him home.
For this I need his birth certificate, which my neighbour kindly went into my house and retrived and then put in the mail to me, a noterised letter from my husband and a noterised copy of his passport. and a couple of pix of Alexander. The documents from my husband are much easier to get to the German consulate than to the American State department because he can have them sent directly, through the diplomatic way , from Kinchase to San Francisco. Even there ,it is not his regular passport but a diplomatic temp that he is traveling on that I hope they will accept.
Is this complicated? Yes. Is it making me crazy? Yes. is it my own fault? Yes- but could sombody help me out herre just a little? I am supposed to be on vacation!!


Carol said...

Oh my goodness!! Poor Alexander! Poor all of you!!! What an adventure. It sounds like you have it well in hand now, but it must have been harrowing at the time! Now, try to enjoy your visit :-)

bunnyhead said...

Wow! What an ordeal. I hope you don't have to spend wour whole vacation fretting over documents. I'm glad you made to it to the US safe and sound.

Dianne said...

Oh what an ordeal! I'm sorry about all this happening. Be glad your neighbor knew where A's birth certificate was. We can't even find Sean's BC or his SS card. Everything will be fine.

Von said...

Oh Rachel! What an extraordinary bureaucratic mess you've landed in! Now that things are getting settled tho, do stop kicking yourself and have a nice vacation, o.k.! You really deserve some down time, lol!

Barbara said...

Holy smokes. I'm going to go check the kids' passports right now. What a nightmare!! I'm so glad you were able to go to the US in spite of the expired passport, and I hope that everything goes okay with getting back into Germany when the time comes!

Susimac said...

Oh Rachael, what a start to your awaited holiday, I hope everything goes smoothly and the passport situation gets sorted out without anymore hassle. Enjoy your time in the U.S. and glad you had a safe journey.

Annemarie said...

Agh, poor woman! I hope everything gets sorted out really quickly. You sure needed that walk along the water! Forget about this whole passport business for now and enjoy your vacation. Did you bring your 4th of July socks?!