As John Buchan writes, any good adventure sets an essential task against a shrinking timeline.
This time around, the adventure wasn’t, thankfully, the long trip home. In fact, the only mid-air drama occurred when I wandered down an entire section of economy class (twice) to get snacks and fill up my water bottle, reached up to the over-head locker to grab a bag, then stood doing stretches by the toilet before realizing I had failed to zip up my breastfeeding top.
(My apologies to all those innocent victims in economy class.)
Instead, our latest adventure happened before we even got on a plane. It involved our newborn, a shrinking timeframe, and a critical document.
It started when we applied for Elodie’s passport- admittedly a bit later than we wanted thanks to a wee stint with her in hospital (she is ok).
Still, we expected the passport back with a few days to spare in case anything went wrong.
My first hint of trouble was when an automated email came back from the Department of Internal Affairs suggesting our child was named after a legume. The email assured us that any spelling mistakes in her name would be picked up by the humans processing the passport.
At 9am, five days before we were due to fly, and two working days (plus a weekend) before we left the house for Auckland, Elodie’s first ever NZ passport arrived.
Now, my nickname for her may be “bean”, but making her a literal bean was taking it too far.
We wondered if we weren’t already in Zimbabwe, as the error sent us reeling back to our permanent residency being granted.
We briefly wondered if we should just travel with Elodie Soy and try to sort the problem out from Zimbabwe. In the end we decided it would be easier to do from NZ, so we called the passport office to explain what had happened.
The passport office confirmed it was totally their fault, and said the new passport would be sent that afternoon.
We heard nothing more until the very end of the day, when the passport office called to say they actually needed the old passport back before the new one could be printed.
Will explained that time was in short supply.
We eventually reached a compromise (involving a picture of Elodie’s old passport clipped at the corner on the front page, but still showing her face on the inside page), and were assured the new passport would be there the next day.
At midday the next day Will called just to check how things were progressing.
We were told the passport couldn’t be printed because there was a POWER CUT in Auckland. We now seriously suspected we were already in Zimbabwe somehow, and stared at each other in disbelief.
By this stage the travel agent was getting quite vocal about needing passport details to add Elodie to our ticket. The deadline was 48 hours before flying, but of course that would occur over the weekend for us.
First thing Friday morning, Will called the passport office again…we could not believe our ears when they told us the passport still hadn’t been printed because the passport printing machine had broken down.
We gently (ahem) reiterated the growing urgency of the situation, and basically begged the office to give us a passport number so Elodie could at least be added to our tickets.
MERCIFULLY at midday on the dot, NZ morphed back into, well, NZ and we got the number. Our travel agent scrambled and Elodie was officially added to our ticket.
Little lady’s passport FINALLY arrived mid-morning the next day, with one day to spare before we left the house.
It all seemed very surreal, especially when we realized the drama was actually enough to warrant an official apology in NZ. Folded neatly into the bag containing the passport was personally signed letter of apology from a member of the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs.
And so, in the end, Elodie Joy went on her merry way to Zimbabwe, blissfully unaware of the whole drama, while Elodie Soy stayed behind in New Zealand.