18 December 2008 | Gizo
So we're here in Gizo. Last I discussed matters with the US Consulate in Honiara, my passport should have been waiting for me when I arrived with a PNG visa ready to go. Not the case.
Instead I was confronted with your typical inane bureaucracy. I expected it from PNG but not from the good 'ol USA! I had filled out a form to get new pages in my passport (US passports have few to start with). The passport had to be sent to the embassy in Port Moresby PNG to get the new pages (much to delicate an operation for the Solomon people I guess).
This has nothing to do with the PNG visa, it just so happens that the Solomon Islands fall under the jurisdiction of the PNG Embassy, not having a US embassy of their own.
When I arrived in Gizo, instead of a passport I got another form. And the strange thing is that it requested the exact same information. I called the acting consulate in PNG and asked if he could just use the form I sent (given to me by the consulate). He said nothing doing, send me the correct, new, form or no new pages. I told him the data was the same and asked if he couldn't fill in the new form himself and staple the signed old one to it? Then he began to chastise me for not getting it done before! He was dead set on getting form A instead of form B, same data or no.
Bowled over, I raised the roof a bit. The bureaucracy here has managed to spend lots of US tax dollars flying a one sheeter around the south pacific just so I can get a few new pages in my passport. The guy I talked to in PNG was so caught up in the system that he couldn't even see how idiotic it was to waste so much time and energy just to get a form that was formatted differently.
In the end it took no less than five officials to manage this desperate situation. Hopefully I'll have my passport back next week (three weeks after surrendering it). And he wonders why I didn't do this sooner?
The PT109 hot spot (PT109 pictured) was key in helping us deal with the red tape.