Passport to Paradise

Sep 23, 2013 View Comments by

Passport to ParadiseMy heart is still pounding from the scare. Just a few moments ago we found my passport. Let’s back up to two hours ago. I’m in Bolivia right now visiting my friend Bianca for a week. I found out about a place that rents motorcycles by the day and not just for a big guided tour like most operations down here. So obviously we had to check it out. Bolivian drivers share the same basic views on driving as I do, so I know I will fit right in with this environment. I feel like I should explain more about what I mean when I say that, but it will make me come off as a pompous jerk. I’ll save that blog for next week and call it something like “driving overseas: America versus the world.”

Back to the story at hand, Bianca and I end up at this guy’s shop who rents bikes. I am surprised to see his collection. They are mostly CRF450s, but down here you can ride them on the road. An interesting law in Bolivia is that you cannot insure motorcycles. With that being the case, and with these bikes being very valuable (more expensive percentage wise than in the states), he only rents to Americans or Europeans. The reason is that these people usually have more money to pay for a bike if they damage it and also are less likely to steal the bike outright. In the past he has rented bikes to people from South America and unfortunately had three that were never returned. To further protect his uninsurable bikes, he requires the driver’s passport to hold onto until the bike is properly returned. All this makes perfect sense. The cost is next and is a welcome surprise. Yes, it’s $100 a day, which is pretty much what I expected, but he goes on to explain that it’s $10 an hour up to $100 per day. This is perfect. We can spend $20 and go for a two-hour ride.

My passport is in my backpack at the house so we leave expecting to come back in an hour. My heart sinks as I check the pocket in my bag where my passport is kept. It’s empty. My mind instantly goes into overdrive as my pulse follows suit, I imagine the color in my face fades, but I don’t care to look in the mirror to confirm. I just lost my passport for the first time in my life. Wait, I left it at Bianca’s grandma’s house while we went on a side trip to the jungle earlier in the week. I remember now leaving it behind so I wouldn’t have it on the minibus ride and in the insecure hostel where we would be staying in the jungle. A quick call to the grandparents scares me even more. It’s not there. The next hour is spent calling all of Bianca’s relatives and friends looking for my passport. It’s not showing up and I have to fly home in 28 hours. The only “ease” that I have is that there is an American consulate office that will be open in the morning and that I have a photo of my passport in my email. (Something I always do when traveling.) Now we are taking a taxi to her grandparent’s house where I last had it. I can see with my own eyes its not there. Next we walk to her aunt’s house, to look through Bianca’s things. Not in her backpack, not in her suitcase, all hope is lost. It’s all settling in. Then she checks her makeup bag in the bathroom and comes out with a smile. Apparently in the hurried packing a few days earlier it was tucked in the handbag and forgotten. So now my heart is still pounding, but I am so happy. That was a little scare that I would prefer not to go through again. We don’t have time now to ride motorcycles today and I could care less! I’ll be drinking a cold beer tonight.

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About the author

Commercial fisherman to pay the bills. Adventure Rider for the smile on my face. Documenting it all as proof that anyone can live this dream.