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Valentine’s Day At The U.S. Embassy

“That was some tough job you gave me today, Sr. Lief!”

Alberto, our driver, had just returned from the U.S. Embassy. Our administration challenges continue this month. Lief’s passport is out of pages. He’s been trying to find time to get over to the U.S. Embassy to have additional pages stitched in, but he hasn’t made it. Now we leave in a few days for Medellin, and he’s worried immigration either here in Panama City or in Medellin will object when they can’t find a place to put their stamps.

Lief discovered on the U.S. Embassy’s website last night that it’s possible to send someone to request the additional pages for you. “I don’t trust it,” was Lief’s reaction. Still, desperate, this morning, he sent Alberto off with his passport, the necessary paperwork, and the US$85 the website indicates it costs to buy additional pages.

“That place!” Alberto gasped as he came through the door to my office. “You can’t park inside the gate. Did you know that?! You have to park out on the street. And then walk all the way up the hill. Up that long, long hill in the hot sun!

“Then, before they let me inside, they took everything. My phone, my belt, my hat, even the key to the car. ‘What’s going on here?’ I asked…but nobody responded.

“I went up to the window. The woman there, she told me you’re supposed to have an appointment for this. You can’t just show up.

“‘You sure do look lovely today, Miss Lady,’ I told her. ‘Yes, you sure look lovely on this Valentine’s Day…this day of love…’

“I had to make love to her, you know…”

“Well, your belt was already off,” Lief interjected, looking over at me with a grin.

“Ah, ha! Yes, it was, you’re right. But what a job, Sr. Lief. I kept at it, though. I was persistent. Finally, the lady, she took the passport and the papers and the US$85 and told me to come back early tomorrow morning. Your passport will be ready then, she says…”

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