On Friday Anneke wanted to visit the Dutch Consulate to check on renewing her passport. We have come to expect dealing with the Dutch bureaucracy to always be difficult. She checked everything she needed and fretted over what baloney they might come up with to give her problems. To her surprise, they accepted all her paperwork, including the dreaded pictures which apparently are rejected the first time more often than not due to various specific and silly requirements. But in the end, they still managed to stir the pot. After all was accepted and ready to be processed, they informed her that due to the Netherlands passport being a highly prized item in the world of illegal immigration, they wanted her two return in two weeks to pick up the passport in person. When she protested, they allowed that they could mail it, but that she would have to pay for the postage and they did not carry the stamp. It had to be the most expensive mail service as this was the only way the government felt safe with handling the passport, but she would have to go get the stamps herself, and mail the stamps back to the office. Luckily we remembered the post office down the road, and just dropped them off. ( not what they suggested) .Even in the high security world of the new US Passport, you can still mail in your renewal and it is returned regular mail. The government includes the postage in the application fee. Here is an area the Feds can crank of the hassle factor to compete with the Netherlands.
Since the Consulate was only a few minutes walk from the condo we lived in while I worked in Miami 4 years ago, we strolled by the building and remembered the great waterfront views we enjoyed for that year. The condo we watched being build across the street is completed, but apparently never completely occupied. The housing crisis in Miami is certainly one of the hardest hit areas in the country.
We also drove to nearby Coconut Grove to see if the sailing club we had joined was still there, as the city was trying to shut it down to gain the property. It has survived and still has a great anchorage for local and transient sailboats. The Coconut Walk area is apparently seeing some hard times with vacant shops and lighter traffic than we have seen in the past. Another sign of the times.