Friday, August 13, 2010

You were there when we needed you. Thank you!

You were there when we needed you. Thank you!

Almost two weeks ago now, we were relaxing at the end of a long day. My wife and I were looking forward to our 18-year-old daughter returning from South America the next evening. The trip was something she had been working towards for over two years. We were happy for her but also very concerned for her safety.

We were expecting to hear from her before midnight to confirm that all was well for the long journey home the next day. Quito/Ecuador, Miami, New York, to Halifax would be enough to make even the experienced traveler unsettled.

At about 10 pm, I sent her a text to see when she would call. She asked if it would be ok if she called a little later. Approximately 30 minutes later I received a txt from her stating “call now. it is an emergency”.

My heart skipped. I immediately dialed her number. Of course it rang and rang and no body answered. I looked at my wife and told her about the message. I called four more times no answer. We were both trying to be calm but were very concerned. Her extensive travel was supposed to be coming to an end and now this.

I sent her a text to try and connect. She responded to call now. I called, she answered.

“Are you ok? What’s going on? Why didn’t you answer? Are you safe? I said frantically and realizing I was not even giving her an opportunity to answer. She responded obviously very upset, “I am safe.” “Dad, I don’t know what to do now, our passports have been stolen. We have a flight in the morning at 6.30 am and we have no passports. What am I going to do?”

While I knew we were in for some complications, my fear that she was harmed settled. We chatted about the fact that she was safe and we would help her figure things out the best we could.

I grabbed my laptop and typed “canadian passport emergency Ecuador” into the google window. Within less than 10 minutes I was connected with a government of Canada Foreign Affairs Passport specialist. I told her the story and she calmly walked me through our options.

Now it is not appropriate to go into all of the details of this scenario, but as a worried parent with a daughter in a foreign country with no passport and a flight out in less than twelve hours, etc, etc I was blown away with the treatment we received.

Our daughter was serviced by the Canadian embassy in Quito/Ecuador and then by the fine folks at the Canadian consulate in Miami the next day so as to obtain temporary travel documents.

The professional service we received was truly amazing and included an official actually driving her and her friend back to the airport so as to ensure they made their flight.

My daughter was back home in her own bed in less than 36 hours later from her realizing her passport was stolen. This was part luck but mostly because of the efforts of others.

My wife and I sat up in bed that night and stared at the ceiling, I said, “Ok from now on no one leaves the cul-de-sac without an escort.” We laughed that off and recanted the whole scenario from the beginning.

Our daughter, my wife and I played a role in the successful return by being calm and working with the officials to get them every thing they needed as fast as possible. We were glad to have had a copy of her passport here and one in her luggage. We were glad to reach 4 non-family references that agreed to sit by the phone to wait for the embassy to call. We spent hours on the phone, provided info via email, fax, worked with the airlines, etc, etc.

That being said, I am so grateful for the fine Government of Canada folks in Ottawa, Quito Ecuador, and Miami that were so proficient in helping us.

You were there when we needed you. Thank you!

Dan MacDonald

4 comments:

Dan MacDonald said...

Oh Canada! Great story. Great ending.

Great story! That is my biggest fear when traveling, but it's comforting to hear that there are competent people on the other side of the phone if we need them.

Good to know the system works when you need it! Thanks for sharing it!

Dan MacDonald said...

Comments above from Facebook friends

Blueknowser said...

Dan... great that you posted good news on the various agencies... and great that things worked out. As I send this, my pass ports are in my color copier... two copies, one for home and a spare for the road. I had been lax since these were renewed (Canada 5 yr and USA 10 yr) a couple of years ago... your note reminded me.

If I were ever in trouble, clearly the Canadian passport, the one I travel outside North America on, would be the best to use to get out of it... Canada clearly supports its citizens exceptionally well.

Hope you are well... are you by chance on the ride? Vancouver to Austin in October... it should be a blast... come on out!

Matthew Doucette said...

Wow, Dan, amazing story. Glad it worked out.