I left the U.S. to begin Part 2 of my nomadic travels on October 15. On the flight from Chicago to London, I was handed one of those forms you have to complete for Passport Control when you enter another country. When I looked in my purse for my passport, I couldn't find it. (Small panic) So I checked the pockets of my carry-on luggage, and no passport. (Medium panic) After rechecking my purse, my luggage, the seatback pocket, my seat, the floor around my seat, medium-high panic set in. I had the passport in my hand when I boarded, at
the instruction of the airline attendants. So I was pretty sure it was on the plane somewhere. Maybe I had dropped it on my way to my seat, which was the third row from the back of the plane. That was a lot of ground to cover on a plane that had 45 rows.
When I replayed my entry onto the plane, I concluded that the most probable scenario was that I had laid it in a seat two rows ahead of me when I
needed both hands to lift my luggage into the overhead compartment. I had my passport and a neck rest in one hand and I had picked up the neckrest and probably left my passport on that seat. I notified a flight attendant and asked if she could
check that seat and the ones in front and in back of it (for safe measure) for my passport. She asked the occupants of those seats to check for it, and no luck! Now I am in major panic mode, but trying to remain calm because I knew it was in my hand when I
boarded the plane. I kept thinking, though, that someone might have picked it up and put it in their bag or pocket, thinking it was their passport. It would have to be an American, but since the flight
departed from the U.S., there were a lot of Americans on the flight. So this possibility nagged at me for the long 5 hours left until arrival in London. When we landed, the flight attendant made an announcement about my lost passport and asked people to look around their seats for it, but still no luck.
I waited until everyone had left the plane to begin my search. The first place I looked was in the seat where I had laid the neckrest when I was stowing my carryon, and WAH LA, there was the passport standing up at the side of the seat. I don't know why the man who was in the seat didn't see it or feel it, but at this point relief washed over me. I retrieved my carryon and hurried on to Passport Control. There was an incredibly long line there, probably 200 people ahead of me, and while inching my way up, I got into a conversation with a couple from Tennessee. We were talking about traveling, and I shared some of my nomadic experiences. The man asked if I wrote about any of them, so I told him about my blog. As soon as the sentence left my mouth, I realized that I had left my brand new toy--my iPad--on the plane. I was so focused on finding my passport that I forgot to retrieve it from the seatback pocket where I had stowed it for landing.
Now I'm back in panic mode, but trying to stay calm, because, after all, the universe has been very good to me, and I believe most people are honest. I am nervous, though, and anxious to report my "brain skip" as quickly as possible. But I can't backtrack, and I can't move ahead any faster than the line ahead of me does. I have to go through Passport Control before I can notify someone at the airline of my second loss of the day.
I was directed to the desk in the baggage claim area to report my loss. This was another very slow line. By the time I was able to speak to someone there, the plane had been on the ground for an hour. The woman at the desk went to try to find the attendant who met the plane to ask if my iPad had been found. I waited 20 minutes before I got word that it had been found, and someone was on their way down to return it to me. Another wave of relief, but honestly, I would rather have lost this iPad than my passport.
You could say I had some bad luck that day--that it's true I lost my head, because I really wasn't operating at the attention level needed for international travel. But you could also say I'm lucky, because I found my passport, and an honest person found my iPad and turned it in. I prefer to think of myself as a lucky person rather than an airhead!
After a comfortable night's stay at a hotel close to Gatwick Airport, I boarded another flight to Genoa, Italy, and arrived there safely with no mishaps. I then took a train to Bologna, where I will be for the next two weeks. I'll be attending language school here, hoping to refresh my memory of prior studies, and maybe advance a bit also.
I have arrived safely, with my head still attached to my body ;-)