Thursday, September 26, 2013

Passport Renewal and Tangara

When we started on this adventure to Cuenca three years ago (and all the paperwork that went with it), we never thought we would  live to see the day when we had to renew our passports. But it happened a couple of weeks ago and we had to take a trip to Guayaquil to renew Mark's passport -- mine doesn't expire for another six years.

Normally when we travel to Guayaquil, we stay at the Courtyard Marriott or HM International, but this time we decided to do something different and stay on the the Malecon del Salado side of Guayaquil at the Tangara Guest House.

The two Malecons: Malecon 2000 and  Malecón del Salado are located on opposite ends of 9 de Octubre. If I had to choose which one I liked better, it would definitely be Malecón del Salado because you can see a sunset and it's salt water (not muddy water from the Guayas). And at night there's nothing better than to watch the bridges light up and stroll along the river, have a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants, and feel the cool ocean breeze. The mangroves, the salt water and the boats of the Malecón made me think we were back in the Galapagos. We had such a great time enjoying the Malecón that I actually forgot what brought us to Guayaquil in the first place (PASSPORT!).

Malecon del Salado at Sunset

Malecon Harbor

Looking toward 9 de Octubre along the Malecon

The Malecon all lit up!

More Restaurants along the Malecon
Malecon Salado
One of the many restaurants along the Malecon
We enjoyed our stay at the Tangara Guest House and would definitely go there again. The owner, Antonio, speaks English and made sure that we were comfortable in our room and explained how to get to the Malecon. The Tangara is a block from the University of Guayaquil and thanks to a shortcut through the university, you can arrive at the Malecón del Salado in about five minutes (walking). Antonio also honored the voucher we received from Despegar, so our total bill came to $56 which included a wonderful "desayuno."

Courtyard at Tangara
Desayuno at Tangara with fresh juice, eggs, toast, fruit and choice of beverages.

Courtyard at Tangara
The following morning after a relaxing time in the courtyard of the Tangara, the staff called a taxi and took us to the Consulate.

The passport renewal process starts online at at the Consulate General website. You go to US Citizen Services and click on passports (16 years and older). Mark printed off the DS-82 form and filled it out. He printed two copies just in case (we've learned the hard way that it's always better to have more than less). The cost is $110 which you pay when you're at the Consulate.

You will need to make an appointment online at the website and print out the confirmation form (very important!). We made our appointment at 1:00 p.m. so we could have the morning free to explore Guayaquil. If anyone is going with you to the Consulate, you will need to put their name on the form as well (as a guest).

You will need to bring the following items with you to Guayaquil:
*Old passport.
*Passport photos 2 x 2, color, white background (matte).
*Application form filled out (DS-82).
*Money ($110) in cash.
*Appointment confirmation sheet.

Address of the Consulate:
U.S. Consulate General
9 de Octubre y Garcia Moreno
Guayaquil, Ecuador                                                 

The Consulate is located on 9 de Octubre right next to the Oro Verde Hotel. I got so excited when I saw the American flag that I whipped out my camera and took a picture. I suggest that you don't do that. It was the day before 9/11 and it was not a good time to take photos of the Consulate; there was heightened security and the guards "reminded" me to put my camera away! After that close encounter we headed to the first checkpoint.

Oro Verde Hotel next to Consulate

Sidewalk Cafe on 9 de Octubre

Hint: Do not bring anything with you except your documents; leave everything else at your hotel. I always carry hand sanitizer, my camera, and a "few" other things. I'm not sure what they thought of my Bath and Body pink grapefruit hand sanitizer, but evidently they were suspicious. I was asked to pour some on my hands, which I did and then they motioned to my chest, so I rubbed it on my neck and chest and then proceeded to rub some on Mark's bald head. I guess if we were going down, we were going together. Strangely, that didn't satisfy them, so I put some more on my hands.

Silly me! I forgot that my passport was located around my neck in a pink passport holder and "yes" that is what they wanted, so I handed it over. If you are a guest, you will need to bring your passport as well. My camera also received an inspection and the battery was removed.

Next came the wand lady (just like at the airport), so be sure to take everything out of your pockets. We were then directed to pass through the metal detector. My "confiscated" items were put in a box on the metal table -- ready to be retrieved on the other side. When entering the Consulate doors, the guard took my items (in the box) and I was  given a number that corresponded to the "casillero" where my items were placed. My reward for being a good citizen was a clip-on name badge that said "ACS" (American Citizen Services).

Once inside we were directed to go upstairs to the waiting room and listened for Mark's name to be called. When his name was announced, Mark went up to the reception window and turned in his application and surrendered his old passport. A few questions were asked and we were told to pay the $110 downstairs and bring back the two receipts. After turning in the receipts, we waited for about 5 minutes. They called us back to the receiving window and told us everything was okay and that a new passport would be issued in 10 days with e-mail confirmation. We went back downstairs, turned in my "key" and retrieved my belongings and were escorted to the exit area.

You will get an e-mail confirmation letting you know that your passport is ready to be picked up. But one of the representatives e-mailed us and said he would bring Mark's passport to Cuenca personally as he was doing a presentation at the school where we teach English. What a nice surprise!

After our appointment at the Consulate we celebrated with a chai latte across the street at Sweet and Coffee before we headed back to the bus station. We also ran into a few friends in Guayaquil and ended up having lunch together; it's a small world!

It was only 24 hours, but it seemed like a mini-vacation. We had a great trip to the Malecón, encountered some excitement at the Consulate, and enjoyed the ride back home through the Cajas while I got caught up on some Kindle reading.

Cajas!
Rainbow through the clouds...


Bus at night -- "Cuenca Taxi"
The first time we've taken the bus at night -- a whole new experience!
Of note, Mark picked up his passport from the Consulate folks who came to CEDEI school, but the residency page of his visa will need to be replaced in his new passport. For that we will need to make an appointment at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. It seems that you just can't rip out the old residency page and put it in your new passport. We'll keep you posted as to that process as well.

The passport renewal process was certainly easier than getting our residency visas and a lot more fun!

Until next time...hasta luego!



 






One of the books that I read while on the bus to Guayaquil was The Mapmaker's Wife which is an intriguing read. You'll gain a lot of rich history into Ecuador and the Amazon.

3 comments:

Mark Vincent Weiss said...

woow nice shoot hah...I wonder if you can visit independent retirement living to give us advice and your thoughts about our site.

John Howard said...

I think that it would be really cool to retire in Ecuador. I think that my grandparents are going to stay closer to home and find some retirement communities in Maine. That way they can be closer to the family.

Connie Pombo said...

Thanks, John! Retiring overseas isn't for everyone and certainly family is one of the biggest considerations.

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