Lost Passport in Bali, Blow-By-Blow

I cry a few times at the airport checkout counter after learning, I absolutely can’t fly out of Indonesia without the passport. The woman says it’s ok, and soon I will be strong again soon. Ha.

It’s embarrassing to cry in public, but people are so polite here, no one indicates they even notice. My poor porter walking alongside me while I bawl, wheeling my bags… LET’S REWIND…

6:50 am Alarm goes off on my phone, playing Cat Stevens (Ready to Love, Yeah!). Shower and eat the rest of last night’s vegan tiramisu from Seeds of Life. Skype with my client on her big presentation for an hour.

8:21 am Luxuriate in my last moments of Bali’s rice expansive fields, listen to the coy make bubbles in the pond, and just enjoy life.

9:33 am Say da da (goodbye in Balinese) to ‘Yan and ‘Tut (our helper ladies) Emma (dog) and finish packing the pile of 4-way stretch braided yoga tops I bought.

10:10 am Gede, the driver (who has a crush on me) helps cart my giant suitcase downstairs and loads all my luggage into his car.

10:13 am Ride my scooter into town, with Gede following, buy those adorable Havainas I’ve been eyeing (flip flops), get a cheese quiche from Bali Buda, get more moolah at the ATM. (Awesome Tree of Money)

10:28 am Just as I’m riding up to the scooter rental place, the woman is riding off with three daughters on her bike. She spots me, turns around, and I’m able to return the scooter!

10:32 am My phone isn’t working, so I can’t contact and find Gede, my stuff, etc. Somehow manage to find him on the street.

11:09 am Finally communicate to Gede I need to find WiFi cafe on Hanuman so I can contact Oystein, the friend I’m meeting at the beach. Gede is video chatting and driving sloooooooooowly, shooting his camera at me – to show his video buddy who he’s with. Feel objectified (and a little flattered.)

12:43 pm Wade through traffic, finally arrive at Kuta beach, with about 30 minutes of actual beach time possible before turning back around to the airport. Gede insists on driving a 15-minute walk past my meeting point at the beach, walking to the beach with me, and taking pics of me in the bikini. I get 10 minutes with Oystein before he leaves for the airport. Drink half a Bintang sitting in the waves, walk back with Gede.

2:23 pm Freak out at how late we are for my 4:15 flight. I realize I don’t know where my passport is exactly. I climb in the back seat and tear my suitcase apart. My computer case too. No luck. I climb in the very back, sit on the floor of the trunk, and rip apart my big suitcase. Nada.

2:43 pm Arrive at DPS International.

2:44 pm Cry.

2:55 pm Ticketing sends me to EVA customer service on the second floor. No carts allowed on the elevator, and the escalator is broken, so we walk back and forth across the airport til we finally ditch the cart and make it downstairs.

EVA customer service says it’s $400 extra to fly out tomorrow, $200 to fly Saturday. They kindly offered me tissues and water when I cried again.

3:15 pm I text Robyn the news, and she is ON IT, searching for my passport at home, doing consulate research, and reminding me to breathe and seriously chill, “Guess Mama Bali doesn’t want you to leave yet!” Robyn turns the house upside down and doesn’t find the passport. I can just see it in my head – it’s in a thin black fanny pack.

I pull all my stuff out of my suitcase to look for the passport again. The zipper breaks more. I punch myself in the face trying to pull things out of the suitcase which were now stuck halfway in and halfway out.

3:40 pm EVA kindly calls the US Embassy which closes soon – turns out, if you want a replacement in Denpasar Bali it takes NINE DAYS to process!

Possible though, if I fly to Surabaya. (Where? Oh, Java. Where do I know that name? Oh, the terrorist bombings last week in Indonesia.) I can get it same day. (My next workshop starts in 4 days in Oakland, so I have to get back.)

3:49 pm I realize my porter has been sitting in the EVA office for half an hour while I cry and text Robyn, so I pay him and let him go.

4:02 pm The helpful ladies at EVA tell me to go to the police station in the domestic terminal, and remind me it’s closing soon. I wheel my own luggage past the cars awkwardly along the road and found the police station, file the report. Commanding officer asks if I’m a teacher, because I enunciate well. I say yes, which I then have to put on the form as my occupation so I’m not lying. I use the men’s toilet because there are no women’s toilets in the police station.

4:34 pm I go to the SIM card phone store and find out the reason my phone stopped working this morning is because after 2 months you have to register the phone number with your *passport*. Ha! I keep asking and finally the Telkomsel guy tells me to buy a SIM card from the other phone company.

4:44 pm I buy a new SIM card and yay! My phone is working!! Called and emailed the US embassy. Robyn helps more.

4:55 pm I get a decaf iced latte at Starbucks with whipped cream, sit, and research the US embassy.

5:03 pm You need 5 passport photos (no glasses, white background), the police report, ID, several documents, and an appointment, to get a replacement. $145 US. Robyn wonders if they’re closed for Ramadan, and if I just book a flight to Surabaya show up on the doorsteps with no appointment, will I even get in?? It does seem risky. They’re already closed for the day. If I don’t get in tomorrow, they’re closed all weekend and I have to wait til Monday.

5:22 pm I find the number to call but it’s wrong, and after a lot of help from the guy who holds the door for people coming in and out of Starbucks I get a human. Human transfers me to the consulate. Yay! But it’s a dead line. I call again, and he says he’ll speak to the consulate and ask on my behalf, but then he hangs up on me. But he does tell me they’re open tomorrow! Yay!

5:25 pm Meanwhile the email I sent them goes through, and yay I have an appointment in the morning at the US Consulate!

5:26 pm I feel a creeping sense of schmaltzy, effusive patriotism rising in my fourth chakra.

5:55 pm I drag my giant luggage(s) with my new white hipster yogi hoodie hanging out (broken zipper) to the Garuda ticket counter and buy a ticket for a couple hours from now to Surabaya. God is great, and also Visa is pretty cool.

8 million guys keep asking if I need a taxi. Where are you going? To the airport! I say. Taxi? No, thank you! Unless you want to drive me 10 meters! They laugh.

6:11 pm I get to the luggage storage place. Yay! I don’t have to drag all the braided tribal yoga pants I bought to Java! It says ‘no live animals allowed’ in luggage storage. I say, I have 5 cats and 3 dogs I want to store overnight. It takes the guy a while, even though I’m over-enunciating. He finally gets it and laughs. A moment of joy! I sort through my luggage and pack even less in a smaller backpack, and I feel like George Carlin in his Stuff routine, keeping piles of shit all over the world. I store the laptop too.

6:22 pm I go into the airport. I have to get a boarding pass even though I just got a ticket at the counter. Robyn says take the laptop. The guy doesn’t let me walk back outside 20 feet away to go get the laptop, I have to go all the way around to exit. Taxi? Taxi? No taxi, only going to airport.

6:55 pm Go through security, pass perfumes at duty free stores, find the gate, chat with off-duty pilots from Italy and France about… Trump. I just need a little European contact. Board the plane. Lots of empty seats, but there’s a guy next to me. Boo. I move to be in my own row, but the airline guy says I can’t sit in that seat. I move to a different row and he doesn’t stop me. Yay!

7:35 pm The engine is strangely loud. Boo. Flight attendant says it’s normal. Yay! We get Ramadan snacks on board. Yay! It’s a dinner roll and a bottle of water. Boo.

I had booked a fancy hotel for my overnight layover in Taipei for tonight. Non-refundable. Boo. Robyn puts in a request for a refund – so sweet of her. Yay!

8:14 pm I land in Surabaya, and put on yoga pants under my dress and a sweatshirt to cover my bare skin after an hour at the beach. It’s different in Java.

8:21 pm The taxi driver smiles and laughs when I ask him if he knows the address of my hotel! Hahaha. I’m popping Rescue Remedy like it’s Valium.

8:49 pm A rainbow striped hat falls off a baby on a scooter. Another scooter driver rides alongside them, motioning to the head, but it fell away long ago. (Sidenote: a rainbow appeared at SFO when I flew to Bali.)

9:05 pm Book the hotel online while in the taxi. Arrive at Novotel. They sweep under our car for security. (Yay!) of course they want to see my passport… I catch the dessert train just before it pulls out of the station. I’m printing official documents for the US Consulate. Prayers from the mosque filter in through the glass doors of the hotel. They tell me here the photo place will probably open late because it’s Ramadan… The hotel staff here are all fasting during the day, and we joke about me getting up at 3 am to eat with them, before they have to start fasting at 4 am. I say we have this in the States too – it’s called intermittent fasting. Anyway, please let me have a long hot shower. I don’t want to conserve water tonight. I’m sorry. I do on all the other days.

10:24 pm I ride back up to the 17th floor to fill out passport paperwork and plug in my phone. I open my computer case, which I’ve already searched six times today… and… (see the video below).

11:11 pm I head down from the 17th floor to give a donation for the “give a kid a tree” charity, in honor of the good fortune, and to share the good news with my new friends at the concierge desk.

Post script… had Robyn not told me to go (back) and get the laptop from luggage storage in Denpasar, I would still be heading to the consulate in the morning!