Stops: Bucharest (hostel -> passport photos -> Canadian embassy -> Hostel -> embassy -> hostel -> Embassy -> hostel -> friend's)
Playlists: the sound of my tears
Whatever shred of hope we held on to over the weekend was now gone. Last night, we were hopeful that we might still be able to make our trip and ended up just having a beer on a patio after a nap that lasted majority of the afternoon. We called it pretty early and were in bed around 10. Oddly enough, the promised hostel room to ourselves quickly turned into 8 people sleeping, nay, snoring in it. I had to ask for ear plugs or I was going to murder someone. Justin being justin, slept through the whole damn thing. We shared a single bed in a hostel because we were both too wiped to make the second bed with the sheets provided. Made for an interesting night since it was practically a puzzle to figure out how to fit on the bed without touching in the heat.... but then we never got a blanket, and someone seemed to have figured out the AC half way through the night so I was freezing. Waking up tired and cranky was not a great start for when we went to hit up a photo studio to get passport photos done. We looked up what time they open but when we showed up it was locked. It was the only place approved by the Canadian embassy so we started to panic at the time being wasted, but eventually, while we stood with our thumbs up our butts, he decided to open up and the whole process took 10 minutes.
With a sigh of relief, we headed over to the Canadian embassy only to realize that I'm an idiot, and forgot the police report at the hostel. So we drove back to then drive back again, all in 40 degrees and no AC, of course melting the whole way. We're still hopeful when we get through the embassy security and are called in.
Here, not sure what happened, but all the strength I've mustered up throughout the weekend....just evaporated when we were told the temporary passport is not a guarantee, plus it only comes with 4 pages which is not nearly enough to complete this trip. To my understanding, we had 3 options:
1. Get an emergency passport which is just for a flight directly home.
2. Get a temporary passport with 4 pages to even just leave Romania, which is not guaranteed to be approved, and most countries outside Europe may not even accept, but it could be ready in 3 days.
3. Get a new passport but it'll take about 2 weeks, all of which will be spent in Bucharest waiting.
At this, I completely lost it. I went from being the one who tried keeping our spirits up and "all good, it'll work out" to crying, and once I started, I couldn't stop. Everything during the day from messaging our friends to seeing a stray cat sent me into tears (I also walked straight on into a pole because I saw a puppy! Lol but I digress). I think between the heat, the lack of sleep, and my whole body being in pain from the bed all night (still couldn't walk on my right leg. How does one pull ONE butt cheek?!), I was just defeated. The consular begged me not to cry and gave us forms to fill out. We didn't have the two pieces of ID required, didn't have our citizenship/birth certificate forms/ and the embassy locked up our phones at the entrance which meant we couldn't get our references' info. It's also 10am here and all our friends are asleep with the 7 hour difference. The consular was in until 12:30, and if we waited, she'd be gone, which meant we lost a day to submit our passports. By the time this embassy closes, the office in Canada opens, and time is key here. One day could make a difference since it can take us into the weekend and that's an extra 3 days. But she decided to treat our case as urgent and to come back in the afternoon - we had until 4 to come back with all our info if we wanted it submitted today and get cracking.
Pro tip: do not lose your passport. It cost us almost a grand to replace it. For anyone interested: $110 for a temporary passport, $260 for the new passport, $25 for the consular fee, and $50 because it was lost. Because why wouldn't they take pity on you when you're already going through shit? Tax dollars at their best.
We tried filling out the forms but were having a hard time and I was a mess. So we gave up and went back to the hostel where we could sit down, grab food, and fill out forms under no pressure. Our friend's family is from Romania, so he hooked us up and his aunt came to meet us by the hostel. She took matters into her own hands, and started making phone calls. She called the police to look into our case, gave us her address, invited us to stay regardless of how long, and offered to translate anything and everything we needed. It was nice to feel like someone was finally in our corner. We felt bad imposing on her work day, so we sent her back to work, and went off to fill the forms while drinking beer and a mudslide, and still melting, obviously. We started contacting our wonderful friends who all insisted on bending over backwards for us, including being woken up in the middle of their sleep to answer the reference call.
They sent us absolutely everything we needed within seconds. Whatever it took! And Justin's dad went out of his way to go to our place, dig out our info, and drive to the passport office where he used his epic bartering skills to VIP status and skip the line. He was up next and had them process everything almost instantly.
We made it back to the embassy just in time and after confirming everything, the consular had 15 min before the embassy closed to make all 4 reference calls (4, because we had no guarantor and she would be acting in place of one).
But the time we walked to our car, we got messages that all 4 references were called and approved. Apparently when asked what does Justin look like, "Jesus" was an acceptable answer and being a maid of honour was brownie points for me. I'm not sure Serge would be asked to act as reference again though considering his text said "yes I know Justin, I just had lunch with him in Toronto... is someone in Romania claiming to be him?" :D
Our friends and family came through and the second visit to the embassy left us in a positive mood, that we may, afterall, get our passports by Wednesday afternoon at the latest.
Now the questions begin. Do we go through Europe, or do we bother with visas? We can't make most of the trip we planned, and after already spending $4k on visas, we really don't want to repurchase them. How amazing would it be to finish the rally regardless of our set backs though? With Turkey being a €20 visa online within 10 min, and Azerbaijan being overnight, it comes down to what can we do with the Russian one. So we miss majority of the countries, but we'd be able to take a ferry from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan. Which many teams chose as their primary route anyhow. As Canadians, we don't need visas for Kazakhstan or Mongolia! There's still a chance.
Otherwise, option B is to fly to Belgium for the weekend, meet up with some friends for one of the world's biggest festivals, Tomorrowland, fly back and stick to a Eurotrip that we could do anytime. Oh the options.
Feeling better and starting to crack jokes, we packed up our car with all the gear from the hostel's storage, felt like celebrities as we were approached multiple times by fans following the event who even offered us a place to crash! And made our way over to our new friends' place where things started to turn around. We had a warm afternoon of broken English conversations which made for some good laughs, and great hospitality - I think the king bed we're in is our host's while he's sleeping on the couch in the other room?! Way to impose...
The night ended with a beautiful walk through the park around midnight and now we go to sleep with our bellies full of a traditional Romanian meal and drink, Tuica. (Think Italian Grappa, or brandy. Definitely puts some hair on your chest!)
Parents, don't hate us, but we wouldn't be who we are if we just gave up. So we shall call the rest of the embassies tomorrow and see if anything at all can still be done.