Friday, June 10, 2011

What to do when your passport gets stolen in Nicaragua

Now that we have replacement passports in hand (well, sort of for Vinko), I’m going to try and see the humor in this whole 6 week tragedy as a type of therapy and closure exercise.

What to do when your Canadian passport gets stolen in Nicaragua
  1. Weep (shock)
  2. Optimistically issue a reward. Joke about the situation (denial)
  3. When nobody takes the bait for the reward after five days, curse the gods and start searching on the internet for advice from your embassy (acceptance)
  4. Spend a day looping through the “press 1 for English…” telephone system of the Canadian Embassy in Managua. Once through this gauntlet, spend a week corresponding with them trying to figure out WTF exactly they want you to do. Consider moving back into the denial phase.
  5. Drag your ass to Managua. Pay a taxi driver the equivalent of a day’s travel budget in Nicaragua to drive you around from dodgy bus station to armed-guard embassy neighborhoods. Ponder the meaning of life and whether you are likely to make it out of the city alive.
  6. Spend an unpleasant 2 hours filling out repetitive forms, particularly cursing at the question asking you to list all the places you have been in the last 10 years (“Maybe I should consult my passporrr…oh wait.”). Part with a lot of money. Mutter obscenities under your breath when they tell you to “have a nice day” when you are leaving.
  7. Praise the gods when you make it back to the relative safety of Granada!
  8. Bribe mother in Canada to dig out original proof-of-identity documents and take them to a Passport Canada office downtown. Inform embassy that documents have been faxed through and ask for confirmation of receipt. Ask for confirmation again 2 days later. Punch the wall when informed that they have not been received, and need to be resent (“No sorry, the prehistoric fax machine is the only way.”).
  9. Repeat step 8 two more times. Think up numerous torture methods for the poor sod who unknowingly stole the passports. Thank mother profusely for patience and assistance.
  10. Accompany husband through his trial by fire, as per below.

Courtesy of

What to do when your Australian passport gets stolen in Nicaragua
  1. Accept your fate to live as traveling tramp in Nicaragua for all eternity to come. Alternatively, solicit a ride on a cargo ship heading for Australia, where the process of claiming refugee status will probably be easier than trying to get a passport replaced from Nicaragua. If you’re feeling particularly patient and strong, ok fine, try the below.
  2. Follow same shock, denial, acceptance steps as above.
  3. Spend a short lifetime in correspondence with closest Australian embassy, located 2500km away in Mexico City, trying to figure out WTF to do. When they inform you that you need to show up in person at an Australian Embassy for an interview before they will replace your passport, and that the cost of replacement alone is in the order of $328 (“You will fine me $100 for my passport being stolen?!?”), plummet rather rapidly straight back down into the denial phase.
  4. Drag yourself our of denial phase long enough to fill out the application forms for the “Document of Identity” which will supposedly allow you to cross borders. Pay DHL a small fortune to send the six measly pages to Mexico City.
  5. Catapult back into shock phase when you decide to tackle the payment process. The Australian embassy has clearly not made it into the 21st century where PayPal, automatic deposits or any other logical form of payment will suffice. Noooo…the only acceptable payment is via an international bank cheque (“WTF is that?!?”), made out by a US-affiliated bank.
  6. Locate the only two US-affiliated banks in Granada. Wait in line for 45minutes. Lose your shit (silently) when they tell you it’s the wrong line. Shuffle over to another line. Wait 30 minutes. Lose your shit completely when they tell you that you have to be a client of the bank in order for them to make this cheque. Storm home and weep. Have a stiff drink. And then another. Slur drunkenly about the pros of disappearing altogether.
  7. Sweet-talk the hotel owner, as a client of said bank, to request the cheque. Receive information back that this mysterious cheque will take 30 days to make. Spiral into rage, followed by depression.
  8. Have a little bit of fun expressing your thoughts and feelings to the embassy.
  9. Sweet-talk mother-in-law in Canada to obtain said bank cheque from her bank, instantly. Choke on your rice & beans when she tells you it cost $72 to send this bloody cheque to Mexico City.
  10. Commence the waiting period.

Courtesy of

The waiting game
Once above steps have been completed by both unfortunate parties, the following steps are to be undertaken jointly, with utmost patience and care not to piss the other party off, since both will be perpetually and uncontrollably  irritable:
  1. Move to the coast to twiddle thumbs and wait. Remind each other daily that at least this is a great opportunity to learn how to surf. Which means that every failed surf attempt is a chance to lament your situation. Contemplate skipping borders illegally whenever a faint chance appears.
  2. Take up drinking as a suitable pass-time.
  3. After 3 weeks of the above have passed, hassle the embassy for an ETA. Start giggling hysterically when you are informed that the passports are already there, and that you “just need to come by and pick them up”. @(&$#&*$!!!!!!!
  4. Drag your ass back to Managua (a very hungover ass on a 6am bus, I might note. The folks in San Juan del Sur, where there were plenty of bars to supplement our mood, gave a great little farewell gig). Pay taxi driver a ridiculous amount of money to drive you from hotel to embassy to immigration office. Spend 2 hours at the smelly, stuffy, crowded Nicaraguan immigration office just to get one stupid stamp.
  5. Head to the Tica Bus station immediately and get a ticket for the next bus out of the country.

Victory, my friends!


  1. Errmmmm.. So what happens if you're a South African and lost your passport? Perhaps just as easy?? Hehe....
    Loved the way you told this story, though you must have hated it

  2. Oh man, I'm starting to fantasize about a drink at the mere thought! Imagine dealing with the highly skilled professionals at Dept Home Affairs, on top of the highly skilled professionals at Nicarguan Immigration...
    Thanks James! Colette

  3. imagine the parents on both sides of the globe hoping that their kids would not attempt to skip borders....and then (after a few stiff drinks too) hoping they can actually find a way to do it. Mom E

  4. Hey well, if that's your excuse for a stiff drink ;)

  5. I am so sorry this had to happen to you. I am however so happy that this story had a happy ending.