We just got back from the US Embassy and we’ve made some progress with a surprise twist to keep us on our toes!
Before I give the update, Jamie and I want to give a big THANK YOU to our awesome friends and family, especially Dave and Linda Gann. It is great to know that we have so much support and back up. I got so many emails of people offering to send money, I felt like I was a Nigerian prince who had billions in a bank just waiting to be unlocked if you’d just wire some money! Thankfully, we had other ATM and credit cards that were not part of the double theft so we are not in need of money, just passports.
Back to the Embassy visit this morning…As we explained our situation, the gentleman helping us said they had a report of four passports that were found and he left to go get more information. Our tired hearts leapt with cautious hope. He returned with a lady who explained that four US passports had been reported found within the Bolivian prison system yesterday. What?!? We had them repeat themselves because that didn’t make sense, but then again a lot of things around here don’t make sense to us. Our best guess is that the thieves smuggled the passports into the prison to use as bribery to release a cohort, but who knows. We don’t even know if they are our passports. What we do know is that the Embassy is going to speak with the prison today to see if the passports can be recovered, but they will of course not pay any sort of bribe to get them back.
So we have a chance, however small, that our actual passports could be returned. If that doesn’t work out, which we’ll know tomorrow, then we can either get a temporary passport or wait 7-10 days for actual replacements. We’re leaning towards the real thing. Assuming we’ve paid our bad luck dues in Bolivia, we could have passports in a week or so and continue on our journey with a few thousand less dollars and a few hundred new gray hairs. Plus, we have travel insurance from www.worldnomads.com and they have been nothing but helpful with some of our previous smaller thefts.
Everyone at the Embassy was professional, clear, timely and kind. The grounds were clean and the flowers were in bloom. After we walked out of there, I turned to Jamie and said, “That was great. I didn’t know how much I need to know that we had help here on the ground. It makes me proud to be an American.” Although I like country music, I am not an overtly patriotic person so it takes a lot for me to say that.
Despite the pictures of snow-capped mountains and gleaming high rises we saw in our guidebook, La Paz is a rough, haphazard and pulsing city. It makes getting simple things done much harder. This place makes working things out in Ecuador seem like a breeze. For example, the taxis only pick you up if you want to go the way they are already headed and if they get a bit confused along the way, they will just kick you out of the car. Don’t get me wrong, the people are generally very sweet, but more often than not, not able to help. I had a national police officer not be able to tell me how to get to the tourist police office. Really?
In this context, yesterday Jamie took the boys on a whirlwind taxi and hotel tour of La Paz and found us an extended stay hotel with warm water, wi-fi and room for two boys to play. I got the police report filed after only six hours which I think must be a record.
Today, Jamie is headed to the airport and the hopefully open office of Avianca Airlines to get an update on the lost/stolen backpack. We are changing all of our passwords and double checking our financial and personal safeguards. The boys, who have been so patient, are in the living room playing with all eight of their toys wearing their two super hero costumes. When I’m done with this update we’re headed to a large and nice playground nearby.
Tomorrow, we’ll head back to the Embassy and maybe find a pharmacy so we can buy some lotion and other toiletries. Actually, we might find the pharmacy today because let me tell you something: nothing makes you feel like a man like using your wife’s deodorant.
That’s what we know for now. Thank you again to everyone for you thoughts, prayers and encouraging words. We feel like you’re here with us!