Thursday, February 24, 2011

Passport Renewal Mission

I’m headed to Morocco at the end of March. Visiting Morocco doesn’t require a travel visa, but it does require a passport with 6 months remaining on it. Which I don’t have. My passport expires in April. Renewing a passport while living abroad doesn’t really help my cause either. I have to work through the US Embassy and they ship everything back to the States for processing so I have to allow 15 business days for the renewal.  I’ve got exactly 15 days before I leave for Morocco. Gulp. I arranged to have a courier service that’s associated with the embassy pick up and drop off my documents to *hopefully* help speed things along. They’re coming to my house first thing tomorrow morning. I printed out all the paperwork this afternoon at the office, stopped in a booth to print out some passport photos and came home to get organized. It was then that I realized I had missed printing out the form for my payment details. The instructions were clear: I must include this form. I had to find a printer. Tonight.

I started to panic. Everything closes early. Kinkos doesn’t exist here. I did some searches for print shops but there are so many small, independent stores and not many of them are labeled very well online. Even for Google. I was starting to sweat. I made some calls to friends nearby. But I don’t know many people who live “nearby” and nobody has a printer.

After some time, it dawned on me that an internet café would work. I found a few online and called around to locate one that was still open. Finally found one near Paddington station. I took a 20-minute bus ride to get there, then spent less than 3 minutes inside and turned around and came home. An hour later, the crisis was averted.

I haven’t had many of these moments, but this is when London becomes frustrating and inconvenient and the hopeless feeling of 'I need some help and I have no idea what to do' really sets in.  At home, this would have been a 15 minute jaunt in my car to the nearby Kinkos. No big deal. Here, some things can be a bit of a mission.

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