Getting the Police Report
We were resigned to the fact that our things were lost and had to figure out what to do next. We were stuck in Calama for the time being and had to wait until we got the copy of the police report. And as luck would have it, it was a Saturday. Who will give us a police report on Sunday? I thought we’d get it the same day – all I knew about a police report was that it is a document that will probably be signed by the officer who answered the call. Apparently that is not the case. The police report is not issued by the police, but by the Fiscalia which is housed in the building next door. The Fiscalia is like the district attorney’s office and we were told by the smiling police officer who said with a shrug that we cant get the report that day and that we can only get it the next day. The next day was Sunday! He insisted the fiscalia is open on Sunday, but I had my doubts. We now had no choice but to spend the night in Calama. There isnt much to do there either. Even if there were, we were simply not in the mood to do anything. Using our smart phone, we checked emails, called the insurance company, informed our families and bunked down to spend the day and the night.
Newspaper ad for stolen Green Card
We read online that in order to replace a stolen green card, we’ll need a copy and the receipt of a newspaper ad that we place in the local daily where the green card is lost. We couldn’t get a confirmation about this from the US embassy, so we decided to give it our best shot and get an ad placed anyway, as we didn’t want to return to Calama for this alone. Unfortunately, the ads desk was already closed. While we didn’t place an ad, we managed to get the story published in the local newspaper!
Knocking at the doors of the Indian Embassy in Santiago after business hours
We took the long 22 hour journey back to Santiago to reapply for our passports. We checked out the Indian embassy’s website and found that it closes for visitors at 4.30 PM. Knowing how things work in India, we didn’t expect to get anything accomplished that day since it was already 4.30 PM. Imagine our surprise when we showed up at the embassy when we were warmly welcomed, served Indian chai and biscuits and the officials chatted with us, getting to know our story and helping us figure out the quickest way to get our passports. They also offered us the services of their printers and copiers in case we needed to print anything for the passport application. And the best part, we got introduced to a fellow South Indian Tamilian who works at the embassy, who invited us home and along with us wife, shared their wonderful hospitality with us for two days. We got our passports the very next day – which is quite amazing no matter which country you belong to. We had lost our Bolivian visa along with our old passport, so we had to reapply for that too.
Swami and I would play the “lets count our blessings” game. Every time something cool happened on the aftermath of our robbery or we realized we did not lose something, we’d say “at least we didn’t lose this or that” or “we would never meet such nice people if we didn’t lose our stuff” or “when would we get to ride in a Chilean police jeep?”. Such incidents can happen to the most seasoned travelers and we learned our lessons the hard way. Its best to take travel insurance, pack light, make sure you dont carry anything invaluable. Keep your passport, debit card, credit card and other important travel documents close to your body and hope for the best.