The passport that nearly doomed the Panama trip right out of the gate:
Years ago, one of Julia’s bad dogs (Hoss, RIP) got ahold of her passport and gnawed on the corner of it, as you can see in the picture. Nothing important is obscured when you open it — not the picture, any of the numbers or seals, etc. Since that happened she’s been to Thailand, Panama once before, and Spain — and all of these trips have happened since 9/11. Maybe other places too, I don’t know. But she’s never had a problem, so we didn’t think much about it.
When we checked in with Copa Airlines in LA for the flight to Panama City, the attendants there were taken aback. At first they said it wouldn’t be allowed, so they summoned a manager, and she disappeared into the back offices. Apparently she called someone in customs in Panama City and got the go-ahead to let us check in and get on the plane. Luckily, she gave us the name of who she received approval from. After about 15 tense minutes we were through check-in and on our way to security.
Eight hours later or so we arrive in Panama City and start going through customs, where they freak out about it all over again. The customs guy summons a supervisor who disappears. Ten minutes or so later a woman comes and asks Julia to go with her. Minutes pass. Julia’s dad and I are starting to get a little anxious. Finally I decide to go see what the holdup is; I find Julia sitting on a little couch outside some offices looking a little glum. We aren’t sure what to do at this point, so we share the name of the person we were given in LA to streamline the process, wondering if slipping someone a $20 or a $50 is what is expected in this situation. I was leaning more toward unleashing mayhem, armed as I was with my Smith & Wesson Tactical Pen, and fighting our way into the country.
Finally, after probably at least thirty or forty minutes Julia is cleared and we are allowed into Panama. It was a huge relief, as obviously it would have sucked if she had not been allowed into the country, all because of a slightly damaged passport.
It should be noted that on the way back we had no trace of any of these difficulties. Suffice to say, before we do any more international travel she’s going to get a new passport!
Photo Finish Friday is the brainchild of writer/blogger Leah J. Utas.