Where was it? I couldn’t find it.
It was yesterday evening that I couldn’t find my passport. I had used it earlier on in the day to book a flight in my room but where had I put it after? Usually it was kept safe inside the inner pocket of my journal – but when I looked inside it was not there. OK, I had used it that day to book a flight, and I was sitting on the bed when I did that, so… it must be somewhere on the bed.
I searched the bed. Nothing.
Maybe it fell down – so I searched under the bed. Nothing. I took off all the covers including that of the duvet and searched inside them – nothing. I looked inside my pillow cases. I rolled the mattress over and looked to see if it was wedged between the bed frame. Nothing. I looked on, in, and under the bedside cabinets. I looked inside my bags. I looked in the wardrobe where my clothes and other things were kept. Nothing. I searched inside all my pockets including the clothes I was wearing as well as those hanging in the wardrobe. Nothing.
I started to Panic.
I looked in the bathroom. Maybe I had taken it there? Nothing.
I went downstairs to the kitchen. Looked inside the cabinets, in the bin, on and in the sofa bed, in the fridge, in the microwave over (I was desperate) – nothing. All the time I was thinking what had happened. What will I do? How long will a replacement take? How will it affect my travel plans? You don’t just lose a fucking passport you moron!
I went back up to my room and searched the bed again. Went over the duvet and covers and searched under the bed – again. I searched inside the pockets of all my clothes – again. I put everything on the floor and went through it meticulously. I searched inside the pages of my books. I looked behind the radiator. Nothing. I took the mirror off the wall to see if it was behind there (yeah don’t ask). I was panicking. Where the hell was it?
All the while this voice was laughing at me inside my head “You’ve lose your passport you fucking muppet”
I looked inside the inner pocket of the journal again. I was desperate. I sat down and tried to think.
I threw my mind back to the events of the day. During the booking of the flight I had used the passport. I was seated on the bed when I had made the booking. What had I done after booking the flight? Ahh! I had gone out with my bag. So had I put it inside my bag and then gone out with it? Why would I have done that? I never carried my passport around with me unless I knew I would need it. But I was on these stupid drugs so maybe I had simply acted without thinking. I searched inside my little rucksack again. Nothing.
I sat on the floor and surveyed the room. There was not a place I hadn’t looked. Besides, it wasn’t as if I had much stuff with me!
I was in despair. Darkness suddenly descended upon me. My plans! my plans!
What will I do? I searched the Chilean British Embassy website and looked for the number for emergencies. I searched for advice on what to do if you lose your passport. It told me to to go the police station right away and report the passport missing and get a slip of paper from the police and then go to the British Embassy…I read about how it can take 4 weeks to get a replacement. I read about a Emergency Travel Document you can get that allows you some restricted travel without the passport. I wondered whether this emergency document would be accepted in Bolivia and Peru. Would I have to return to London early! I thought about how painful it would be to have to go to Santiago again, make the necessary application, fill out the forms etc. How long it would take. The bureacracy I would face. The paperwork. The cost. The hassle.
And then I thought about the flight I had already booked and paid for to San Pedro de Atacama for arrival on Sunday. Would I get a refund? And what about the hostal booking in San Pedro that I had just made? The lady had told me she would be waiting eagerly for my arrival! She was such a lovely old-lady who owned the ‘Hostal Tuyasto’ – I would have to cancel! I couldn’t go till I got my documents sorted. And what about Bolivia? And then what about the extra costs of hotels in Santiago or Valparaiso – while I waited for my papers. And the wasted time!
I slumped on the bed totally defeated. I decided to go through my things once again. Nothing. I sat on the bed again thinking how stupid I was. But where could it be? If I had put it in my bag and walked out with it, maybe it had fallen out of my bag? Maybe somebody had opened my zip while I was out walking? I had taken my camera out so maybe I had also taken out the passport and it had fallen to the ground? Maybe I was careless because of the drugs? But the more I thought the more I realised that I couldn’t have taken it out. I would have left it in the room. But then where was it?! I had searched everywhere!
Then I surmised: If I hadn’t taken it out, and if it was nowhere in the apartment, then… somebody must have stolen it from my room! Who? Who had the key’s? The cleaning lady? The new one yes!. They had told me the new lady would come to clean some day – but she hadn’t been in today. The bed hadn’t been made and the sheets not replaced and the bins not emptied.
Maybe the new lady had come, saw the passport on my bed, and walked off with it.
But when I looked around I saw that my laptop and camera were still there so why had she not taken those? What if it was somebody else? Maybe they had been watching me – waiting for me to leave the apartment – and then when I left – they managed to get in and steal it. Yes – but why not also take my laptop and camera and my wallet. I checked the cash and cards in my wallet – they were still in there. No the thief story didn’t make sense.
I gave up. I rang the emergency number at the British Consulate. The call went through to the answering service of someone called ‘Maria’ – I left a message with her that I think I had lost my passport and if she could call me back on this number. I didn’t leave my name or any other details. It was 12pm.
What an idiot I was. I had lost my passport!
I sat slumped on the bed and stared at the pills on the bedside table. No I wasn’t contemplating taking them! I looked at the mini note-pad beside them where I had scribbled down the flight reservation number. How useless that was now! I picked up the note-pad and put it on the bed. I picked it up again and…
Hello! (sigh) It was underneath. A beautiful red burgundy colour. I kissed it. The best colour in the world. The colour I had been looking for all evening! The mini note-pad was tiny and I hadn’t looked under it as I thought the passport was much bigger. But it wasn’t. The passport was deceptively small and it could remain underneath it without being seen.
My nightmare was over. It had been only a nightmare after all. I was saved.
I went to bed with a smile on my face. It was as if I had been handed another chance. A reprieve. It was a good feeling. A feeling of elation. I had been taken to the very depths of despair – where I had plumbed my very psyche – and now I had surfaced to the very top of a mountain of elation.
And it was the same feeling this morning. A happy feeling of levity. The last time I had such a feeling was the day I got my final admitting exam result for the Institute of Chartered Accountants. No more exams. All over. It was that kind of feeling. A weight lifting. Or the sort of feeling you get when you have a near death experience. When you survive some major calamity and you stumble out and realise how lucky you are. How good life is.
And If I hadn’t had ‘lost’ my passport – I wouldn’t be feeling so happy. Funny that. It would be just another day and just another morning. But today, this morning, and hopefully – the rest of the trip – will be hued with this feeling of profound gratefullness and levity.
It takes such ‘low’ moments for us to realise and appreciate the good things. As Schopenhauer says: you never notice the good when all is good. You only notice the good when things go bad, and you return to the good.