I could spend this prompt telling you of a more “traumatic” experience of mine in Chile, but I wasn’t quite… sober for that, so I’m going to tell you all about a time where I was fully aware of what happened and the intensity of the matter.
Maybe eventually I’ll get to the Chile story, but it’s not really that exciting. Well it is, but it’s not something I want on the internet. If you really want to know, you can ask.
Here we go.
I had made it to 7 other countries before this. I had been through almost 60 days of traveling and leaving the ship with my passport. I counted myself one of the lucky responsible students. I didn’t have to fly to Sofia, Bulgaria to get a new passport like 6 other students on my trip. I had made it! I was in my last port, passport strapped to me in my money belt I purchased for Rome. I wasn’t going to lose that sucker!
And then I did.
I was in Morocco. I sold my trip to Rabat and hopped on a train with my friends to Marrakesh from Casablanca. My friend K and I spent our first night there in a hostel with 3 lovely French folks. One of them ate my friend’s candy bar when they came back drunk. We woke up early in the morning to move our stuff to the Riad we were going to staying at and dropped off our bigger bags. We were going on a hiking trip into the mountains. I am not a morning person. I’m groggy until I have my coffee and even then I’m still groggy. I’m a night person. K and I sat on the nice couches in the common room in the lobby of the Riad with our hiking bags with us. I had my money belt out with my passport in it. I took the money out to finish paying for our trip and to get the ticket for the driver. The driver came to get us. We said goodbye to the man at the desk and followed the driver to his white van over by the main square in the Djemma.
Morocco is beautiful by the way. It was one of my favorite experiences of the trip.
K and I reached the van with the driver and he asked for the ticket.
“Shoot, K, I don’t have my money belt with the ticket in it”.
“Did you put it in your back pack?”
“Yeah I think I did. Shoot.”
The driver was nice and waved it off. He knew we were good for the trip and paid for the tickets. Off we went into the Atlas Mountains to the Cascade d’Ouzoud, a giant beautiful waterfall. We had a lovely day hiking around the falls and then a lovely lunch with our tour guide next to the river below. The way was warm, but not unpleasant. We had great photo opportunities and it was wonderful driving through the countryside and through the smaller villages. I wish I had more time in Morocco.
We drove the 3 hours back to Marrakesh and went back to our Riad. Met up with our friend R who was also staying with us and took our bags upstairs to our room.
“K, it’s not in here”
“My moneybelt…. With my passport.”
I took everything out of my bag as fast as humanly possible throwing it about the room in a frenzy. Nothing. No money belt. I didn’t care about my debit car. I didn’t care about the cash I had left. I cared that I didn’t have my passport. At this point, we were 2 days into the trip. It would take me another day to get to Rabat and another day to get a new passport. The ship would leave me. The thing about Semester at Sea is, that if you are not ready to go when the ship is leaving? The ship just leaves and you’re on your own. Understandably so. It is expensive to keep a ship in a port. They can’t just spend tens of thousands of dollars because you were a dumb ass and lost your passport.
I ran down the stairs to the front desk. Strangely enough, I wasn’t as panicked as I should have been.
“Has anyone turned in a money pouch, money belt, or passport?”
The man’s eyes went wide.
“you are missing your passport?”
“Yes! Has anyone turned it in!”
He shuffles through all of the drawers of the desk. Panicking. He is panicking. Should I be panicking?
I start to get worried.
“No! No Passport! Did you look EVERYWHERE?” Eyes still wide.
“Yes! It’s not in my room or luggage… wait!”
I run over to the couch where we sat that morning. Nothing. I look on the floor. Nothing. Just when I’m about to give up all hope. I see it. Just a tiny corner of a tan strap. I lift up the floor length table cover. YES! My money belt! My passport!
14 hours later. I have a passport again.
I know it really isn’t as traumatic as the stories from the lives of others on this blog might be, but travelers will understand. I was toward the end of my trip. It was our last port. If I had lost everything, I was broke and would need to pay to get to the capital, pay for a new passport, and pay to get myself home from Morocco. Not Exactly cheap! But I learned my lesson. No matter how early it is, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR PASSPORT!
You can read about my other Semester at Sea adventures on my
Semester at Sea blog!