Sunday, September 30, 2012

Slight Change of Plans

While there are significantly more pleasant places to be than the waiting room for citizen services at the US Embassy in London, I’m also quite sure there are many much less pleasant places to be as well. It’s well lit, with large windows, and children playing and saying adorable things. Due to a bizarre and unfortunate turn of events I found myself here today applying for an emergency passport. Mine disappeared somewhere between the first security check and boarding my flight yesterday. It quickly turned into a long, stressful day; I missed my flight, and despite repeated checks of all of the security gates and everywhere I went in the five minutes between going through security and realizing my passport was gone, it didn’t turn up. I had to go through immigration as a special circumstance, with only a copy of my passport. (And thank goodness I decided at the last minute that morning to keep my boarding pass from Charlotte to Gatwick as a souvenir! That turned out to be the document that made my passage through immigration possible, as it proved my story that I had been in England, and therefore could return) Then, I had to wait for over two hours as my bag got rerouted and rerouted before finally getting to me. I was exhausted, stressed out, and so incredibly relieved to see Suzanne & Valerie when I came out with the arrivals gate. Through the whole ordeal though, there were so many bright spots: the security agents who personally checked every lane, the British Airways woman who escorted me and rerouted me free of charge, the baggage me who personally assured that my bag got to me, the other British Airways woman who rechecked everything for me before I left, and of course, Valerie  & Suzanne who, in the midst of getting Val ready to move to France, came and got me, and helped me figure it all out.

Even getting where I am today was an adventure. Last night, after the whole ordeal at the airport, I e-mailed the consulate to get an appointment, according to protocol. I was terrified I either wouldn’t get an appointment, or wouldn’t be able to make it in time since the Hyde’s house in Weybridge is at least an hour from Lodnon proper, plus I had to have passport photos and proof of travel to show at the Embassy. It was another tense morning getting ahold of the Embassy and British Airways, then printing my reservation from the library, hectic train and tube rides, a slightly sketch place to get passport photos (and after all that, it was definitely not the best picture of me), and then almost not finding the embassy.

But now I’m here (or was when I wrote this originally) and it looks like I will indeed get my emergency 6-month validity passport (I did). My first flight for tomorrow is set, Heathrow to Rome, but I will miss my original flight from Rome to Oviedo. Hopefully I’ll be able to rebook that once I get back to Weybridge later (Also accomplished).

I finally feel like I can breathe again. I know I’m not out of the woods yet, but enough is settled that I finally feel okay. My passport is being processed, my flight is booked, and by tomorrow night I’ll be at my host family’s house in Oviedo, settled in one place. And another couple of bright spots: 1) I am still okay to go to Germany in December and 2) I’ll be able to convert my temporary passport to a normal, ten-year validity one free of charge upon returning to the US! 

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