your embassy and what they will do for you
When I was in colombia and my wife and I had to go to the u.s. embassy to apply for her k-1 visa I had idea's in my head of crack u.s. highly trained and skilled ready to kill army men on post. what I found was local guards from colombia who couldn't even speak english. Once inside it wasn't much better. Being a holder of a u.s. passport I also thought that maybe they would take us before all the rest and do our paperwork. not that I am any better then anyone but just because It's my embassy. that didn't happen either.
today I got a taste of the embassy here in panama. Now I share this because many people think that if you have a problem in another country your embassy will be there for you and this really isn't what I have learned.
I rented a small apt. about a year ago to a 65 year old man. he was healthy and well traveled. He had written a few books and had worked for large companies all over the country. He is a vet. served his country with honor. well he kinda of fell on some hard times, he lost a lot of his money in some bad deals and for the past few years he lived on a small s.s. check. he had always had a drinking problem and after his money was gone he drank more then he should. He also has a host of other problems and all this came to a head about two months ago. This man has no family here or in the states. He got to the point he couldn't stand or walk. well after a while with me taking care of him, which means, buying him food, running his errands to get what he needs and dragging him back and forth to the bathroom ect. I got him into the car and took him to see a doctor in the city, the doctor took one look at him and said take him to the hospital, nothing I can do for him. so I did. he has been in there for two weeks. At some point that hospital worried about who was going to pay their bill called the embassy and they took his info.
after those two weeks the hospital told this man call someone to come get you, you'll get better at home and go get these pills. well they put him in a taxi and sent him on his merry way. when he got here the taxi driver sat him in a chair outside of his apt and said he would come up to my house to get me to let him in. well the taxi guy just drove off. I had no idea this man was even back here. lucky for this man I just happen to be taking my nightly walk around and I saw something move, getting closer to see what it might be was this man laying on his back on the concrete.
He still can not walk. the embassy knew they were letting him out. The hospital should have never released him. I mean his whole bill for two weeks was 400.00 which he had. well he went in with 900.00 cash and someone stole that. anyway for about 5 days now I have been going back and forth trying to help this man. falling out of the bed, ect. and he is getting worse. I called the embassy and told them how he was now, which they knew all about him. I told them he had no money, had overstayed his visa here, but he was a vet. they said well we checked and they have no record of him being a vet. I said wow that's funny because I have his paper work right here in front of me where he was in the army, and was in the v.a. hospital.
so I told the guy look I am bringing him up to the embassy and putting him on your door step. he said no don't do that because we can't do anything for him outside of get him a hotel room for the night. the guy told me to take him to the hospital here in panama. wow I already did that once and they put him out, plus he looked worse then when he went in.
All I really wanted them to do was go down and get the fines waved for him overtaying his visa. the rest I will do. I will spring for the airline ticket to the v.a. hospital in the u.s. well they don't do that. o great.. so what is there purpose here out side of charging fees for things like new passport, driver lic forms that say your lic is vaid in the u.s. maybe voting, maybe filing your income taxes. I mean do they really help u.s. people when their in trouble? I mean maybe they do and I have never seen that good side of them, ok so I admit that. but what I have seen so far on a poor old drunk man who can't stand nor walk isn't pretty at all. he might live another 6 months at best. I mean am I asking to much? for someone with a pretty shiny badge from the embassy who can walk into the visa dept and say hey listen this is the deal stamp this so this man can leave.. thanks.....
for me to try to do that will cost me 100.00 at least to pay someone to do it. all day travel and all day waiting and then maybe I might get it done. might. again this man is just a renter to me but I can't turn my back on a human being that is in his shoes. yes he did bring a lot of it on himself but to point the blame finger isn't going to fix the problem he is facing.
I am sure they do great work and are needed. but people need to understand what they will and won't do for you. like if you get arrested, they will tell you sorry we will make a phone call to let your family know but outside of that no help from us. They might help you get a replacement passport or maybe help find you a place to sleep if you have been robbed. I don't know I'm just a little put off by the lack of help they are willing to give this man.