More confessions of the clumsy

There was once a more innocent time when our (my) clumsiness resulted in the mere destruction of a glass table or the loss of a toy dog. Well, those days are well and truly over. The start of the new year coincided with a significant escalation in items we have lost or broken. We also regrettably introduce a new category for this round of confessions – theft. The only good thing about that category is that I am not completely at fault for it, and instead am the victim of the actions of an external party.

So in a continuation of our confessions from last year we present the latest update of how clumsiness has continued to blight our travels.

Item 1: Passport

What happened: Stolen

Location: Santiago, Chile

Whose fault: The thief (although I must shoulder some of the responsibility)

Details: This was the one we always feared. Of all the items you don’t want to lose when travelling in multiple countries far from home is your passport. But that’s what happened on arrival in Santiago’s main bus terminal. Claire had popped to the loo and as I waited with all our luggage – and Amber – I was approached by a lady trying to talk to me in Spanish. In the ensuing confusion her accomplice must have snatched my small running bag which contained the stuff I needed for a quick trip to the airport (I was about to head there to hire a car and meet our friends who were arriving that day). So my passport, counterpart driving licence, kindle and a couple of beers were gone. Taking advantage of a man with a small child in a busy bus station was a low blow so fingers crossed the thieves were run over by a bus shortly after. I can but hope. Anyhow one police report, a trip to the British Embassy and £100 out of pocket and I had secured an emergency passport allowing us to continue our trip.

Item 2: Pink Bunny

What happened: Lost

Location: Santiago, Chile

Whose fault: Claire and James

Details: As far as Amber’s toys go this was a big loss. Pink Bunny was very much part of the inner circle – defined as those toys that Amber has in her cot, the others being Bunny (the most important), Oosey (Elephant), Oo Oo (Monkey) and Puppy. In theory the inner circle toys are the ones we always keep an eye on when they leave the house. They are the ones you just don’t lose. Not any more. It was probably not a coincidence that the loss of Pink Bunny was on the same day we had our first Pisco sour (a traditional, strong cocktail from Chile / Peru). No one knows where he was lost which is why we both share the blame for this one. Luckily Amber, apart from a couple of wobbles, was largely unfazed. Not for the first time on this trip she has handled things far better than her parents.

Item 3: Flower Pot

What happened: Smashed off the wall

Location: Arequipa, Peru

Whose fault: James

Details: We’ve managed to break things almost immediately upon arriving in a house but we’d never broken anything BEFORE entering a property. That changed in Arequipa. As we made our way up the stairs to our flat I managed to turn a corner in the stairwell and take out a flower pot hanging outside a neighbour’s property. In an act of gross cowardice I carried on up the stairs and let Claire deal with the aftermath. In my defence I’m not the one who speaks Spanish so would have been very little use. Ahem.

Item 4: House keys

What happened: Left in house

Location: Chiloe, Chile

Whose fault: James

Details: Closed the door behind me and quickly realised I had left the keys inside the house and had therefore locked us out. Unbelievably this is the third time on this trip I’ve managed to get us locked out of a property. This was the first time however that we avoided contacting our host. Using my best burglary skills I managed to prise a window open and gain access to the inside of the property. Disaster averted, pride sort of still in tact.

Item 5: Car keys

What happened: Left in car

Location: Penaflor, Chile

Whose fault: James

Details: Given the chequered history with forgetting house keys it should come as no surprise that the first opportunity I had to forget car keys was taken with gusto. Riding hot on the heels of having my passport stolen, later that day we took our rental car (a very nice BMW 5 series free upgrade no less) to the supermarket. The car had already baffled me earlier when it seemingly wouldn’t let me out because it wasn’t happy with where I had parked – technology seems to have moved on frighteningly since I last drove. Anyhow, later on I managed to leave the keys inside the car after parking at the supermarket. The sinking feeling when we left the supermarket and I realised I didn’t have the keys was sickening. Fortunately 1. The door was unlocked and 2. No one had taken the rather easy opportunity of driving off with it. Losing a passport was bad enough but losing a car on the same day would have broken me.

Item 6: Laptop and external hard drive

What happened: Forgotten, then certified lost, then found

Location: Chiloe, Chile

Whose fault: James

Details: This goes down as the most emotionally draining. Having a passport stolen is tough but ultimately replaceable. Thinking you’ve lost not just a laptop but an external hard drive containing all the photos of Amber from birth (as well as thousands of photos only partially backed up from our entire relationship) was gut wrenching. It was after a 3.5 hour car and ferry ride from Chiloe to our next destination of Puerto Varas in Chile’s Lakes region that we quickly realised we did not have our laptop case. This contained the computer, hard drive and some other important documents, such as the police report for the stolen passport as well as our yellow fever certificates (which we later discovered we needed to enter Costa Rica). We were convinced we had left it in the property but received confirmation from our host later on that it definitely wasn’t there. He had not only cleaned the house earlier that day but returned in the evening to specifically look for the case. Thus ensued a rather emotional evening staring down the barrel of losing a lifetime (quite literally) of photos of Amber (not to mention the laptop and other items). Neither of us could quite let it go and could not come up with any other explanation for where the case was. As such the following morning we took what at the time felt like a completely ludicrous decision for me to drive back to Chiloe to look for it myself, despite having been assured in no uncertain terms it wasn’t there. And so after a taxi to the airport and a car rented I drove back to the house. Upon opening the door I looked to my right and there on a shelf was the laptop case exactly where it had been left the previous day. The relief was overwhelming. 9 hours after leaving our place in Puerto Varas I returned to Claire and Amber triumphantly with our cherished memories back in our possession. A few weeks later and we finally cracked online storage, with nearly 30,000 photos now uploaded and backed up. Phew.

Item 7: Canadian citizenship

What happened: Overlooked

Location: Arequipa, Peru

Whose fault: Claire

Details: With all of us reeling from various ailments in Peru we thought one way of cheering ourselves up would be to book the final leg of our trip to Canada. After spending nearly 8 months in South and Central America we thought it’d be a perfect way to end the trip – Claire has family in Vancouver, everyone speaks English and life is generally a little more easy going when compared to the likes of Brazil and Peru. However, little more than 24 hours after booking our flights to Vancouver it was brought to our attention (thank you Claire’s sister Kaye!) that Claire may well be a Canadian citizen and moreover due to new immigration rules would need a Canadian passport in order to enter the country. As a Canadian, Claire’s Mum had registered Claire as a Canadian citizen shortly after her birth in what at the time had been intended to provide Claire with more options and opportunities through life. Conversely, what transpired was that it was far more difficult for Canadian Claire to enter her own country than the likes of me, a British foreigner who thanks to Santiago thieves didn’t even have a proper passport. The irony was a painful one as we faced the prospect of a very expensive flight and missing out on an exciting end to our trip. Many calls to Canadian embassies around the world later and we found a solution – a special authorisation that would temporarily override the need for a passport. So, finally after an epic week or two of admin hell we had resolved the issue and could look forward to ending our trip in the land of maple syrup and Celine Dion. Near, far, whenever we are, we believe that the trip does go on.

Item 8: Flight from Arequipa to Lima

What happened: Missed

Location: Arequipa, Peru

Whose fault: Claire and James

Details: As already covered in a previous blog entry this represented a first for us. Never before had either Claire or I missed a flight. That changed in Arequipa where we paid the price for a rather silly decision to take Amber home for a nap when we found out our flight was delayed and would very possibly be cancelled. Amber is such a flexible baby having slept well in pretty much every house we’ve stayed in regardless of time of day, noise and climate. So with her only just recovering from illness we were gutted to wake her up about 20 minutes after putting her to bed when Claire phoned to say our flight was being unexpectedly called. It was all in vain though as we arrived back at the airport too late to board the plane. We all had a go at convincing the staff at the gate to let us board the plane, but they stood firm and we all had a little cry. 

Final Scores

  1. Butterfingers – James with 6 items
  2. Accident prone – Claire with 3 items
  3. Safe pair of hands – Amber with 0 items

Most Improved – Amber (0 items this time compared with 4 last time)


3 thoughts on “More confessions of the clumsy

  1. Oh my. And I thought I was clumsy. I think there is a new clumsy sheriff in town.
    Seems like Chile was not quite down your alley. Quite some stories you have there! (We just came back from Santiago, so I read that with special interest.)


  2. Pingback: Counterfeit banknotes, super-playgrounds and a lot of food – our week in Mexico | wanderlust and baby

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