Why Point Fortin?
- When I booked my appointment last year August, it was the earliest date I could get
- If I wanted a Port of Spain appointment, then it would’ve been October 2009.
On May 26, 2009 I begun my journey to a place that I cannot remember ever driving to. I know my way far south as Gulf City Mall. After that landmark, well Im on my own. Not even my request on Facebook for directions from friends (39 comments on it) yielded a satisfactory enough guideline will follow signs. Suggestions of using Google maps were ridiculous since it was still a high aerial view and nothing that would stop me from veering onto the wrong road. Nothing was properly labeled
Thanks to Jason, Andy and Jessie, I had a good enough guide to hopefully take me to Point. All I know is that I am supposed to stay on the Southern Main Road. It is really nice that I know my country so well.
Here I go:
3:40am Why is this radio on?
3:50am Blackberry Alarm goes off. Oh Shucks Get up BOY!!!
4:15am What to wear? A Shirt or a polo? – Country ppl overdress so I better wear a shirt.
4:20am Made 3 sandwiches for the road trip
4:31am On the road. Why are people jogging at this hour?
4:40am In Port of Spain ( Sandwiches done)
4:51am Overpass – ok not as high as I thought it was so no vertigo kicked in.
5:12am San Fernando (don’t ask)
5:18am Gulf City La Romaine
(From here on in I read without a script. See what comes of it)
5:45am Roundabout with no directional signs confuses me but I picked the right road (I think). Lots of trucks and ppl around this area.
6:00am RBTT/HI-Lo, Port Fortin
Can’t park here – I’m not even close to Passport Office
6:03am At Passport Office
6:15am 3 more cars arrive
6:45am There are at least 20 ppl waiting to enter (time to get out of my car and mingle with the natives). Why is no one wearing a shirt?
7:00am I rush in to Passport office and sit to in the second row.
7:05am MTS Security Guard explains systems and starts in the front row
7:07am They are starting at Number 737
7:15am I get number 755. (Let me pull out my book it’s gonna be a long day)
7:16am Another MTS guard tells us to be sure we’ve filled out the passport form correctly. I still feel confident. I go back to reading my book.
Wow I’m impressed with the level of cooperation down at this office.
7:20am If this woman net to me doesn’t stop sighing I am going to put my ipod in my ears
7:22am Shucks I just made eye contact with her
7:23am Ok Wendy, I’ll help you fill out the form.
7:24am Umm no I can’t recommend you. I don’t know you!!! (She sucks her teeth and tells me to “try ah ting”)
7:25am I move to the front row away from her.
7:26am Number 740 gets called. Jeez!!!!
7:45am Number 750!!! What so soon?
7:46am Why are those people seeing an officer and they didn’t have a number?
7:59am 755? Yes!!!! Finally!!
Immigration Officer: Everything looks in order, but where is your national ID card.
Me: I don’t have one. Why do I need one
I O: The form specifically asks for one
Me: Yes but I have my birth certificate. Do you want to see my Driver’s License?
I O: No anyone can get a driver’s license. We need the National ID to identify you as a citizen.
Me: Doesn’t my birth certificate do that?
I O: Yes but procedure is procedure.
Me: So exactly what do I need to get my National ID?
I O: I suppose only your birth certificate.
Me: Don’t you have that? Plus this is will be my fourth passport. Why do I still need to prove I am a citizen?
I O: This is a new system sir. One minute…(she gets up to talk to another officer)
I O: Ok let’s proceed but you may need to come back and give us the ID. (I roll my eyes) .
Another officer (more senior) calls her over.
I O: Ok This will do for now. Please go back out and have a seat to wait for your picture to be taken.
Me: but I brought two pictures. Plus I haven’t shaven in two days.
I O: Well I don’t have a disposable razor to give you so just wipe yuh face and smile when it is time.
8:22am I sit and wait. (wipe my face…I’m not greasy….steups)
(Overheard) Madame, if you aint complete the form why are you here wasting our time?
(Mumble mumble mumble)
I understand u need to travel by your sister in New York but you need to complete the form fully. Who help you with this?
(Mumble mumble mumble)
He was right not to fill out that part there. It would be fraud if he did.
Please come back tomorrow with a recommender. Someone who knows you for a while. Don’t you know a police officer or a fireman where you live?
No I don’t. I does live alone
Well go back to where u went to school. Someone must know u there.
(Woman storms out of cubicle and stares at me like if she want to beat me)
I wonder if my car safe outside?
I O : Mr. Simmons, please come here a minute!!!
Oh Lord , Ah going and get rejected because of that damn woman!
I O: Where yuh want to collect yuh passport? Here or in town?
Me: Port of Spain preferably.
I O: Ok go back and have a seat.
8:57am Mr. Simmons. Cubicle 4!!!
8:58am Wipe yuh face and watch de camera
8:59am Ok that‘s it Mr. Simmons, check the Port of Spain office in 3 months for your new passport
Me: 3 MONTHS????
I O: Yes, that is the standard waiting time for a passport now
Me: Oh Ok.
10:00am Gulf City Mall eating a HBBQ Zinger from KFC (This is sooooo good)
11:30am Should I buy Rome Season 1 DVD box set for $699?
What’s that? Your card machine does not work? Ahhh a sign from God to walk away!!
I’ll be back. Let me find an ATM. Yeah Right!!!!
12 Noon Left Gulf City Mall with a few t-shirts and 2 books that I bought
1:24pm Arrive home. Head straight to bed. Sleep come easy.
Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
I do have a National ID card but I just haven’t renewed it yet. My reason for not doing so is the same reason I never updated my voting registration info. I don’t want JURY DUTY.
Yes folks, I’m being serious. I have managed, in my 30-something odd years on this planet, to avoid jury duty. Some see it as no big accomplishment but I am really happy about it.
I do not relish having to serve on any jury where someone has committed any kind of crime. I would be too opinionated as well as the level of disgust will show on my face (except if it is a murder trial then I am just not making eye contact with anyone in the room at all).
Here are a few pics I took while on my way back up.