Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When I lost my passport............. and got it back!!!! (Restoring my faith in humanity)

My beloved passport

One of the few pictures from Genoa
I was going to Italy if it killed me. And I was going for a month. I didn't care if I had to sleep on park benches, I was going and I didn't care about the cost. My husband agreed, but only for two weeks. I opted to spend the remaining two weeks alone
(another previous blog post). The chore of purchasing our plane tickets was daunting because I was choosing a different return flight home. We had to use two different computers, same credit card, trying to find seats together on the same flight;  Boston, Paris, Genoa. Brian's flight went through. Mine did not. I called Air France. They would sell me the ticket, no longer available on Expedia, for $500 more dollars. You can imagine my conversation with the agent. I had to buy a completely different flight, which meant we would travel to Italy separately. My flight would go from Boston, Amsterdam, Rome, Genoa.  We had opted to stay at a B&B on our one and only night in Genoa, and then the next day head to the Cinque Terre, where we had rented an apartment in Corniglia.


Ok, so the BS, of the flights taken care of, arrangements made at home for children, dog, house. And then, my best friends' mother, who had been a part of my life since childhood, had taken a turn for the worse in her struggle with cancer. The days before I left, I spent most of my time with them. On the morning, I was leaving, my best friend, Liz, sent me a text; "Do not even try to come over here to say goodbye, my mother loved you as one of her own, go and have fun and light a candle for her in the Vatican". Her mother, Marlene, had been given her last rights, and death was imminent. And I was not going to be able to be there. Needless to say, I ignored her plea, and went to say goodbye, surrounded by the people I have known and loved for most of my life, I said goodbye to a woman who was like a second mother to me. I had hugged my "Foster sisters", and left for a month.

Me and Liz- celebrating her 40th

Brian and I in Corniglia
My Foster Family

Driving to the airport, I cried. I vowed to visit Assisi, as a sort of pilgrimage, and tribute to Marlene. St. Francis had been her favorite saint, and I had a mass said for her at the Basilica.

After a grief stricken departure from home, a long solo trans-Atlantic flight without Brian, sleeping on airport tables in Amsterdam, gate changes in Rome, I finally arrived to my husband's welcome arms, waiting for me in Genoa. Now for the next nightmare.  I tried to gain my bearings about how to find our B&B. I had an e-mail and an address, and minimal directions. We had to get off the bus at Palazza Ducale, and then call to let them know we had arrived. The issue was, neither of us had a global compatible phone. I was exhausted. I was upset. I wanted to be able to have a base, even just for a few hours.

Brian and I , Corniglia

We needed a phone. We were both agitated. Lost amidst the caruggi of Genoa, the steep and winding alleys that criss cross through the Centro Storico. We roamed around looking for a sign of our B&B or a pay phone. We found one. I took my wallet out, placed it atop the phone, took out my credit card and attempted to call the number on the email. Of course, the recording on the  other end was speaking Italian to me and I had no idea what she was saying. I was so frustrated. Brian was going to attempt to buy a phone. Luckily as we were walking, I saw a tiny little brass plate on the doorway of a large building with B&B Opera written in miniature lettering. I decided to sit here and wait for someone, anyone, to answer the door, yell down from a window, walk up with a cot to let me lie down, anything. I literally sat in front of the door, on my suitcase while Brian went looking for something, neither of us knew what. We were annoyed. i hated everybody. I wanted wine.


 I looked hideous, between the crying and the flying. A man walked by with his family and started to speak to me in Italian. I said, "No Italiano, Anglais". He started to speak to me in broken English, "Did you lose your passport". And, me being the typical suspicious, rude, ugly American, said "No".  Keep on walking with your little scam artist family, I'm not in the mood. He looked at me quizzically, and then said, "Ok", and left. And then, it dawned on me, I had left my wallet on top of that f@*@ing broken pay phone. I started to yell after the man, "Yes!! Yes!!! I did lose my passport".  He had recognized my picture from my passport. Shocking. He came back and was saying "It's ok, Policia, policia, I will take you". I had to trust him. Shockingly, Brian came around the corner as I was walking, dragging both suitcases. I started yelling to him, through hysterical tears, "My passport, the phone, the police". When he finally understood what we were trying to tell him, he accompanied us to the police station. The police had my wallet, my $300 American money, $300 Euro, all my credit cards, and my passport. I don't want to even think about what my time in Italy could have been like, if I had to spend my first few days dealing with the American embassy and getting a duplicate passport.


I offered this man a reward, I offered to buy him dinner.
He declined and said, "Buona Fortuna, Fare Attenzione a",
I hugged him and his family, thanked him 1000 times.
After my harrowing ordeal of leaving home, the stress of not finding our place and our complete frustration of the phone situation, this event, restored our faith. We both took a deep breath, calmed down a bit, walked out of the police station, and right there smack dab in front of us, was a perfectly beautiful pay phone. We called Giovanni. He was around the corner, he met us at the B&B Opera, and let us in. Oh my God, Wifi, a bed, a shower, a base. A few lessons learned from this experience;

  1. always have a cell phone that will work abroad,
2. Maybe, just maybe after a very long flight, have a room booked that has a front desk and is easily found by a taxi
3. Don't get so frustrated, usually every problem has a pretty simple solution
4. Don't be afraid to trust people, there are a lot of good people in the world.

The next morning, after a lovely dinner of our first Italian meal of tradition Genoese pizza and Barbaresco and after some help with Google Translate, we went to a phone store, gave the girl a hand written note of what we wanted, a phone that could be added to with minutes, and be able to call locally and internationally. One issue resolved. We  left Genoa and the frustrations we had there behind, boarded a train for the Cinque Terre, and if anything can cure away the blues, the Cinque Terre is a sure bet.




  1. Yet another great entry!! I like the 3rd suggestion the best!

  2. I hope you have found a Wi-Fi phone substitute.
    Skype / Pinger / other. I like Skype.