Posts Tagged With: family travel

Radical Family Sabbatical

If you are thinking of taking your own family sabbatical, have questions about how and where and when and all the logistics behind pulling one off, then the Radical Family Sabbatical website is where you need to start. The founders, Matt and Diana Scherr, became friends of ours as we were reaching out for information and help to begin our sabbatical. At each turn they offered up all the assistance, suggestions, introductions, ideas and encouragement we asked for, and so much more that we didn’t even know at the time we needed. They are some of the good guys in our book.

And true to the character I’ve just described, Matt and Diana reached out to me as we were ending our time in Buenos Aires to see if I’d like to write a few articles for them. Here’s my first contribution, titled Finding Familiar Foreign: Coming Home from your Family Sabbatical.

So, I hope you enjoy this latest offering of mine, and then I hope you enjoy exploring all the other tools their website has to offer. Their overall theme is that ANYONE can do a family sabbatical, and I believe they are right! Whatever your concerns or questions are, this is the family travel team to take them to.¬† Their help really enriched our family sabbatical experience and I hope they can encourage you all as well. ūüôā

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Spreadin’ the News…

It has been nearly 7 weeks at home now and we are certainly getting all the wheels turning again.¬† For the boys that means school and play dates and reconnecting with friends. For Bo that has meant starting out on his own in work he has wanted to make his career for as long as I’ve known him. He’s working full time as a management consultant and loving it.

And for myself… in trying to figure out what my next progression ought to be, one option in particular got me excited about the idea of heading to work each day.¬† Thanks to all the encouragement from you readers of this blog, I am exploring the world as a writer.

So far this has entailed writing everything from wine reviews to pages of prose no one will ever see to further summaries of our sabbatical experience for those wanting to hear more. And today, thanks to our wonderful and supportive hometown newspaper, I get to share with all of you findingforeigners my very first ever byline!  Thanks to the Crested Butte News for letting me tell our story in their paper!

Here’s the link, and below is the image of how it appeared in the paper itself:

Believe it or not, I have a couple other pieces being published in the next few weeks and will share those with you when they come out. In the meantime, if there is a topic you want to hear more about or a question you’ve been wanting to ask, or a fantastic and high-paying world-wide major publication that you’d like me to write for…

now would be an awesome time to drop me a line about that.¬† ūüėČ

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

One Month Ago Today…

…we were here:

 

Which is so hard to believe! I didn’t have the chance to share our Uruguay visit with you before we landed Stateside, so when I realized that that’s where we were on October 4, 2012 – it seemed like a good time to bring those photos out.¬† ūüôā

Colonia is beautiful. And magic. And if you ever have the chance to go there, do. Its tranquility defies logic, given that we arrived there via ferry from bustling Buenos Aires, a Huge and Packed ferry that does that trip 3 times a day, and yet somehow all those people became no more than mist as we found ourselves walking along utterly quiet tree-lined cobblestone streets with only the birds and a the river’s waves for company. Maybe it was part nostalgia, knowing that our trip was almost over, but I thought a number of times as we explored around that Colonia had a fairy-tale feel to it. We had one of our most care-free, joyful days there and it was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful end to our sabbatical.

Let me show you:

 

 

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Jamie’s Happy Place

Truth be told, I am blessed to have a lot of them and from every section of this trip.

But holy cow.

Those of you who know me well will no doubt understand why I titled this post that way when I tell you what I found.

El Ateneo.

El Ateneo is a beautifully renovated and restored early 1900’s theatre that is currently run as a bookstore and cafe.

Theatre AND Bookstore AND Wine – in one gorgeous space!

You can browse selections in the balcony seats, marvel at the artwork covering the ceiling and then have a cortado or copa de vino on the stage while you peruse your latest literary find.

It is beautiful.

I took the boys on an excursion there, and proving my genetic contribution in ways other than their looks, they LOVED it as well. ūüėČ

Check it out:

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Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

It Is Time

Well, not really. It is ALMOST time. After 27 more days and one more country, THEN it will be time.

Time to come home.

It is hard to believe but it was just last October when Bo and I took a trip to Cuenca, Ecuador that the wheels in our imaginations began to really spin around the dream of pulling a family sabbatical off. And now, this October 6, we will be flying from Montevideo, Uruguay to Denver, Colorado having actually pulled this family sabbatical off!

My, what you can do with a year.

After Uruguay, the hope is to set up house again in Crested Butte, Colorado but we are looking into Denver as well. Bo’s passion for business consulting and my desire to see the inside of a classroom again will play a large role in where we land.¬† We are both excitedly looking forward to what this next step in exploration will reveal.

There will be posts-a-plenty coming about insights and highs and lows and all that has happened in between, but what we really want to share now is the news that we’ll be spending the holidays with loved ones and hugging all of our friends and family and LUCY soon!

I do have two thoughts for now though, real quick.

This whole sabbatical thing?

It’s fantastic.

And coming home?

It doesn’t feel like an end. It feels like the time for another beginning.

It feels like this,

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

City Life in Buenos Aires

We like it here in Buenos Aires.

The city feels one part¬†Europe, one part US and one part something all its own. It seems to be both coming and going; fading into the past and diving into the future. It is super sophisticated and kind of messy. We ride the spray-painted and rickety¬†subway to the¬†children’s¬†museum, grab some awesome Middle Eastern take-out on the way home and when finished we take our trash out and throw it on the corner with recyclables separated so the “waste pickers” can find them faster.

Buenos Aires is a massive city and we ended up in the¬†Palermo Soho neighborhood. There are old sycamore¬†trees lining the streets, cafes on nearly every corner, trendy clothing boutiques and dogs, lots of dogs. Not the wandering, stray ones we’ve seen everywhere else in South America, but the kind with sweaters and color-coordinated¬†leashes. So loved are these pups that people let them poo on the street and then leave it there for everyone to admire.¬†Luckily¬†our boys have been in training and are very skilled at jumping the stink bombs.

The house we’ve rented has an office, a nice courtyard and plenty of space for everyone. The kitchen is fully loaded including a dishwasher. I mention this because we haven’t seen a dishwasher since we left the states. We also haven’t had a¬†bathtub. This place has a huge bathtub, much to Vaughn’s delight. In fact, as we were touring places to rent, his only criteria was if it had a tub. So Vaughn approves of this place too.

It feels nice to be in a home that seems like it could be ours. It’s cool to be surrounded with so much culture and so many options. Great food and drink are good for the body and the soul. It’s not perfect of course, but for us and for now, it seems just about right.

Categories: From Bo | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Moving On to Buenos Aires

After another unbelievable day in the bureaucratic jungle,¬†Jamie just walked through the door with our Bolivian visas! With those, our new US passports and four tickets to¬†Buenos¬†Aires, we are leaving bright and early¬†tomorrow¬†morning! Although we’re not out of the woods¬†completely, it seems we’re going to make it.

I will never forget what we just went through. If life is measured in memories, we just gained a lot of life. We gained new¬†appreciation¬†for what we can take on and work through.¬†Jamie was amazing and I’m proud to be her partner and grateful she is my boys’ momma. Vaughn and Luke just took each day as it came with only the occasional request for ice cream or some playground time. We, as a family, circled the wagons, checked our priorities and got after changing our situation. It took good people here on the ground and a lot of moral support from back home. We are now more grateful for each other, for our health and¬†safety¬†and our friends and family.

We also lost a lot. We lost $1000s of stuff in nice outdoor gear and¬†electronics, but those can be replaced. We lost a lot of private data in the form of an external hard drive and copies of personal documents. We are taking the steps to protect ourselves, but we lost a certain amount of financial and identity security. ¬†We lost and are still loosing a bunch of time, money and energy. It will take many more days and even weeks to put this all back¬†together. We lost having a sense of wonder about¬†Bolivia and hope for edifying adventures in this country. Instead we got more than a week of walking in smog at 12,000, three head/chest colds, endless hours of waiting in line and a continually being cold because our warm cloths were stolen and haven’t had time to find new ones. I’m sure Bolivia can be great and I know most of the people here mean well, but we are just ready to get out of here.

With the loss acknowledged, we’re moving on and doing it with our heads held high. We’re moving on with a greater¬†appreciation¬†for a number of things and one of those is that we don’t have stay here any more!

Categories: From Bo | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Couldn’t Make this Up

Look at me writing to you all in the middle of the night again. In addition to everything else, Bolivia is clearly hard on my beauty sleep needs.

As you read this update you’ll see that today is not going to go down as one of the better days we’ve had. I want you all to know though that we are all together and safe and caring for each other, and that remains the most important piece of this entire story. This entire trip.

THAT said…

Our Friday morning began the same way our Wednesday and Thursday mornings went, and that is with the sound of an alarm, a quick bite of a cold hotel breakfast and then off to the U.S. Embassy here in La Paz. I have to say that the people at the American Embassy here have been Godsends. They have been efficient, helpful, kind, patient, and hard-working. The thought of how we would have had to deal with all of this without their help…just the thought, makes it hard for me to breathe.

Yesterday’s Embassy visit revealed the location of our stolen passports (inside a notorious Bolivian prison) and today’s Embassy visit revealed more of just what kind of system we are trying to work within.¬† It was explained to us that in an effort to retrieve our passports two undercover agents were sent into the prison posing as buyers for them because the inmate that has them is demanding money for their return. At our confused looks, they explained that there is really no way to fully describe just how dangerous a place this prison is. It is completely run by the inmates and has been dubbed “Thieves City”, a place where chaos and murder are rampant and the guards are scared to go in. It is not possible for the Bolivian police to just walk into this place and demand the passports from the man who has them, there would be no way to be sure of finding him and it would be a monumental risk to their lives.

There is also no way that the American government is going to pay a bribe (GOOD!), so the plain clothes go in just posed as buyers. The plan being to draw the inmate into a waiting room, close the door behind him and once he got in, THEN bring in the police to arrest him and confiscate the passports. They drew him in as far as the door and just as they were about to close it he sensed something going on and bolted. Disappearing back into the prison. Unreachable.

Given this new information, Bo and I decided to cancel our old passports and get new temporary ones from the Embassy that we are assured will get us into Argentina and back home. A few forms and $400 dollars later, we were on our way to being passport holders again. Since it was going to take a little more than an hour to process them, we decided to use that time to head back up to the airport, checking again on our lost bag.

Two days ago when I visited Avianca, I was told that they had found what they thought was our bag in Bogot√° and had requested it be sent to La Paz for identification so we allowed ourselves to hope that we’d be getting it back after all. Today however, we were told that that wasn’t our bag and they think our bag is lost. I asked how they could know it wasn’t our bag if we didn’t get the chance to i.d. it, and they said because it didn’t have the corresponding luggage tag number. It didn’t have any luggage tag apparently. The essence of our looonng and bizarre exchange is thus:

“Couldn’t that have ripped off?”

“Yes.”

“So…shouldn’t we check the contents to see if it’s ours?”

“Hmmm. It’s not here. It is in Cartagena. Or Bogot√°. I’m not sure. We think it’s lost.”

“Well. What do we do now? Can we check your luggage room of unclaimed bags?”

“No. We don’t have one. We will keep looking for your bag. Maybe 2 more days.”

“If it is lost, what do we do? Is there a claim we can file in case it turns up? A police report if we suspect it was stolen? When you have a customer with a lost bag, what to you recommend they do? We are not staying in La Paz much longer and need to know a plan for this kind of situation.”

Shrug. Silence.¬†¬† “Un Momento.”

At which point another lady comes out and asks us to make a detailed description of all that was in the bag. If tennis shoes-what brand, she says, then they will look in the bag (this would involve cutting the lock) and if the contents match they’ll send the bag to La Paz. So Bo and I head to a restaurant, give the boys sandwiches and cookies and make the list. Hugely disappointed and increasingly worried about what someone with access to the paperwork in that bag could do to our lives, we drop the list off and head back down the mountain to the Embassy where after a short wait, we become passport holders again. (Another round of cheers for the Embassy workers!) I then dissolve into tears. Partly relief, part frustration about the airport visit, part exhaustion, part duration of worry — I don’t really know, but after my momentary mental break and the reassuring feel of Bo’s strong arms around me, we take stock of what’s next.

Only one thing left to get before we are free-moving travelers once again. A replacement Bolivian visa. Which can only be attained at a government office downtown. And feeling so close to the end, we head off to the Oficina de Migracion to see what that entails.¬† The migracion office had the feel of a DMV, but with armed guards throughout and thick walls of glass surrounding each worker making it nearly impossible to hear things that were already difficult for me to understand. Once we figured out which window was ours, it became clear that problem #1 was how to keep the boys from utter mutiny while we wait in another long line. Bo offers to take them with him while he runs back to the hotel for more money; we didn’t want to get everything done only to not have quite enough dough on hand to pay for them!¬† So off they go and I hurry up and wait. And wait. And then the metal door is being dragged down and locked so they can close for lunch and I’m feeling glad that I got in before that happened. I’m last in my line, and it’s actually starting to move. Still no sign of Bo and the boys and I’m wondering what I’ll do if they aren’t here and she needs to see them to verify their identity when the person ahead of me says, “Gracias” and walks off. I step up and the teller looks at me, announces she’s closed and to come back at 2:30.

Waiting in the sidewalk for Bo and boys I fight off another round of tears (what is with me today?!), and once they arrive we head BACK to the hotel where the boys get to watch a cartoon, Bo (who seems to be coming down with the flu) takes some aspirin and I try to track down someone at Montrose Public Health to see about verifying our vaccines since we’ve received mixed reports as to whether or not Argentina will let us in if we can’t prove we’ve had the Yellow Fever shot.

2:30 finds us heading back to Migracion, #3 line is long, we wait, boys squirm, we make it to the teller and explain what we need. She sends us to the teller next to her in window #4. He hears our story, tells us to wait, leaves, comes back, leaves again, comes back, tells us to come back in an hour because he needs time to look us up to prove we did in fact have visas before.  An hour would make it 4:00 and on a nearby map we notice a park nearby and head that way.

Back at 4:00 our new teller’s line is long, I beg everyone’s pardon and slide in front to tell him we’ve returned, he looks very surprised to seem me and says, “NO. Cinco. Regresan a cinco.” (Come back at 5). We decide to wait in case he can help us sooner, they boys draw for a while, I take them for a walk, our teller’s line ends and Bo steps up only to be told “No. Cinco.” again. Boys have a melt down on our walk, we patch that up best we can, Cinco finally arrives and as we approach our teller behind window #4 he looks at us, holds up his hand in a wait gesture and walks away to another room. 10 minutes later, he’s back and telling us to come back at 6.

There is no way that works for us as Bo is now coughing and aching and running a fever, and the boys are so restless and hungry and grouchy…. and we have no sense that he’ll help us at 6 either!¬† So, we track someone down again, explain the whole situation and ask if, now that everyone in the office has seen us to verify I’m not making them up, can I do the application alone or do they need to stay? I can do it alone. Phew!

They head off, I wait. Teller #4 comes back with forms for me to fill out and says he’ll need photocopies of our passports and police report as well when I’m done. I finish the forms hand over the passports and police report for him to make copies and absorb another one of his surprised/annoyed looks. Where are the photo copies, he wants to know. I’m sorry, I thought you were making them here.

“No.”

Okay, where do I get photocopies? He gives me directions and then the man who has been holding up his hand to me all afternoon to wait, points his finger to his watch and says, “Rapido! Rapido!”.

I “Rapido” my way to the photocopy store and “Rapido” my way back. He takes it all, takes an inordinate amount of time organizing it. Hands it back and send me to the teller at window #3.¬† Teller #3 re-organizes all the copies and passports and visa forms, gives me more papers to sign and then sends me on to window #9. The man in window #9 hands me 4 huge white folders to write my family’s names on while he types on his computer and determines how much I should pay for these new visas. He tells me a number, I pay it, he says no, in American dollars.

“No tengo dolares, solo Bolivianos.” He rolls his eyes, consults with his friends, does further calculations, and 2,190 Bolivianos later I am pointed over to window #2.

At window #2 I am given another whole set of forms to fill out, which I do, and hand them over. The big metal door is clanging shut behind me once again and I’m soooo close! Teller #2 asks for our transportation tickets showing when we are leaving Bolivia.

This. Again.

I explain we are hoping to leave Bolivia by train and I don’t have the tickets yet. She rolls her eyes, consults with her friends, writes something on all the white folders I have brought over, sticks every form I have filled out, every photo copy I have made, and all 4 of our new passports in their respective white folder and walks away.

Fifteen minutes later she returns and tells me to come back on Monday, they are closed. I ask for my passports back and she says that they are very secure and I cannot have them until this application is complete. I explain that I REALLY want them and she says impossible, they are secure. Come back on Monday.

Begin at window #5.

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

US Embassy Visit and Update

We just got back from the US Embassy and we’ve made some progress with a¬†surprise¬†twist to keep us on our toes!

Before I give the update, Jamie and I want to give a big THANK YOU to our¬†awesome¬†friends and family,¬†especially¬†Dave and Linda Gann. It is great to know that we have so much support and back up. I got so many emails of people offering to send money, I felt like I was a Nigerian prince who had billions in a bank just waiting to be unlocked if you’d just wire some money! Thankfully, we had other ATM and credit cards that were not part of the double theft so we are not in need of money, just passports.

Back to the Embassy visit this morning…As we explained our situation, the gentleman helping us said they had a report of four passports that were found and he left to go get more information. Our tired hearts leapt with cautious hope. He returned with a lady who explained that four US passports had been reported found within the Bolivian prison system¬†yesterday. What?!? We had them repeat themselves because that didn’t make sense, but then again a lot of things around here don’t make sense to us. Our best guess is that the¬†thieves¬†smuggled the passports into the prison to use as¬†bribery¬†to release a cohort, but who knows. ¬†We don’t even know if they are our passports. What we do know is that the Embassy is going to speak with the prison today to see if the passports can be recovered, but they will of course not pay any sort of bribe to get them back.

So we have a chance, however small, that our actual passports could be returned. If that doesn’t work out, which we’ll know tomorrow, then we can either get a temporary passport or wait 7-10 days for actual replacements. We’re leaning towards the real thing. Assuming we’ve paid our bad luck dues in Bolivia,¬†we could have passports in a week or so and continue on our journey with a few thousand less dollars and a few hundred new gray hairs. Plus, we have travel insurance from¬†www.worldnomads.com and they have been nothing but helpful with some of our previous smaller thefts.

Everyone at the Embassy was professional, clear, timely and kind. The grounds were clean and the flowers were in bloom. After we walked out of there, I turned to Jamie and said, “That was great. I didn’t know how much I need to know that we had help here on the ground. It makes me proud to be an American.” Although I like country music, I am not an overtly patriotic person so it takes a lot for me to say that.

Despite the pictures of snow-capped mountains and gleaming high rises we saw in our guidebook, La Paz is a rough, haphazard and pulsing city. It makes getting simple things done much harder. This place makes working things out in Ecuador seem like a breeze. For example, the taxis only pick you up if you want to go the way they are already headed and if they get a bit confused along the way, they will just kick you out of the car. Don’t get me wrong, the people are generally very sweet, but more often than not, not able to help. I had a national police officer not be able to tell me how to get to the tourist police office. Really?

In this context, yesterday Jamie took the boys on a whirlwind taxi and hotel tour of La Paz and found us an extended stay hotel with warm water, wi-fi and room for two boys to play. I got the police report filed after only six hours which I think must be a record.

Today,¬†Jamie is headed to the airport and the hopefully open office of¬†Avianca¬†Airlines to get an update on the lost/stolen backpack. We are changing all of our passwords and double checking our financial and personal¬†safeguards. ¬†The boys, who have been so patient, are in the living room playing with all eight of their toys wearing their two super hero costumes. When I’m done with this update we’re headed to a large and nice playground nearby.

Tomorrow, we’ll head back to the Embassy and maybe find a pharmacy so we can buy some¬†lotion¬†and other¬†toiletries. Actually, we might find the pharmacy today because let me tell you something: nothing makes you feel like a man like using your wife’s¬†deodorant.

That’s what we know for now. Thank you again to everyone for you thoughts, prayers and encouraging words. We feel like you’re here with us!

Categories: From Bo | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Bienvenido A Bolivia

It’s 1:10am in La Paz, Bolivia and since I can’t sleep with all the worries chasing each other in my head, I thought maybe if I got up and wrote them all out- got them out of my head for just a second, maybe I could sleep. There’s nothing about the next few days (weeks?) that is made easier by being sleep-deprived.

The hard part is deciding where to start, regressing back, looking for the precise moment things went wrong. That’s hard to tell though and only leads to another round of¬† coulda,’ shoulda’, woulda’s — which is just as helpful as not sleeping.

So, let me try this by just listing out the events as they happened.

The route from Santa Marta, Colombia to La Paz, Bolivia only happens at night it would seem. All flight options we explored were red-eyes, which can be a struggle (loss of sleep, not able to check into a hotel at 3am…) but, again, there was no other option. So, as Bo just posted, on Sunday the boys and I went to the beach, he packed up, and then at 2pm our taxi arrived to take us to the airport for our 5:30pm departure from Santa Marta.

Checking in at the Avianca Airlines desk began normally enough and then quickly went awry. The woman checking us in reached a screen on her computer that wouldn’t allow her to complete our check-in until we provided proof of our exit. I explained what we were doing,¬† that we were entering Bolivia by flight but leaving Bolivia by train into Argentina and that we only expected to be in the country for a week, maybe two. No, she shakes her head, she needs proof of our exit from South America. Back to the States. (??!) Which we don’t have because we don’t know the exact date of our return. Again explaining our extended travel and the looseness of our plans, she nods that she understands but preceeds to tell us that there is no way for us to fly from Colombia to Boliva without proof of our return to the States. “I understand why Colombia would want to know when we are leaving Colombia, but why does Colombia care when we are leaving all of South America??” It’s not important to Colombia, she says, it’s important to Bolivia. Again, “Why?”

“Cada pa√≠s tiene sus reglas.” (Each country has it’s own rules.) She says and shrugs.

And with that we agree to purchase flights home.  Our Avainca rep lets Bo get on her computer to book them as there is no wi-fi or public computers in the airport. Having had to change plane ticket plans once before down here, we knew that on Expedia we could usually cancel our flights within the first 24 hours of booking. After spending $6100 on  random tickets from Buenos Aires to Denver, we were praying that this would still be the case.

Finished the requirements, checked in 3 bags (our 2 suitcases and Bo’s backpack) and finally we are in the air towards Bogot√°.

Sadly, the boys did not sleep on that flight, nor did they manage to nod off during our wait for the 11:00pm departure for La Paz. Did I mention that Vaughn got up that morning at 5:30 with Luke not far behind? Tired. Boys.

The flight to La Paz itself was uncomfortable and hot, but otherwise fairly uneventful. The boys did get a little less than 2 hours of sleep, Bo and I nodded in and out around them.

Arrive, go through the visa process (American citizens cannot visit Bolivia with just a passport, a $135 visa is required for each person), go through the customs process, never once asked for our “proof of exit”, grab our 2 suitcases and… no backpack. Plane searched, luggage area searched, help called in… no backpack. Head to other side of the airport to file lost baggage claim at the Avianca desk. Takes a long time but she seems confident our bag will be found and returned, I run to change some money, turns out money exchange doesn’t do Colombian pesos. We had some American dollars ready for paying our visa fees, but something about their serial number made them not changeable either — had one $20 bill that was accepted, and with enough to pay a taxi to get us to the hotel we finally started to head out. While loading up, we meet 2 other passengers from our plane filing claims, not for lost luggage but stolen items from inside their luggage. At which point I notice that our clips have been undone, although that is all because we also have locks on the zippers of our suitcases. So, our clothes were safe but we now have serious doubts as to what actually happened to our backpack. Still don’t know. Boys are zombies at this point having slept roughly 2 hours in the last 24 (pretty sure my mother of the year award is in the mail), but troopers. Honestly, we have rock star kids.

Things in the backpack: external hard drive for our computer, various other electronics, folder with all our copies of passports and our actual legal documents like marriage certificates, birth certificates and the like. The idea that they could be lost (stolen?) is worrying, but I have the originals of our passports and social security cards and vaccine cards in their own zippered pouch which is always in my purse when we travel so that not everything is in one place. Someone savvy on the hard-drive though could access info we don’t want accessed so passwords need to be changed and safeguards double checked. Thankfully, we do spread out our valuables when traveling and the other backpack that Bo used as his carry-on had our computer and ipad so not all was lost.

A lot though.

And now it is 5:06am and we are just checking in to our hotel, unable to do anything about the bag until after we get some sleep.

Amazingly we all start stirring just 5 hours later, around 10:30, and by 11 are headed out the door to find breakfast/lunch. It is cool and bright and we are definitely in the mountains again. We walk around for about an hour but are still pretty worn out so soon head back to our room, around 1pm.

Sometime between 11:00am and 1:00pm, the pouch I keep with our original passports and documents, was stolen.

Desperately hoping I had had an unusual bout of forgetfulness, Bo and I took turns plying the boys with movies and tearing our room apart- piece by piece. Aside from discovering a used condom between one of the mattress sets and some other traveler’s old luggage lock- we came up empty. I studied the surveillance video at our hotel and you can see me taking our passports out at 5:06 am to write the numbers down on the hotel check-in sheet, put them back in the packet, zip the packet closed, put it in my purse, zip my purse closed – and that’s it. That’s they last they were seen.

When it became clear that they were stolen and not misplaced, Bo kicked into high gear calling our bank first and sure enough, someone had tried to get into our Wells Fargo account that day. Same news from our credit card company.

Knowing that step one of moving out from under this mess is getting replacement passports I head downstairs to use the hotel computer (and start another movie for the now-getting-very-restless boys) and look into the American Embassy here in La Paz. It was closed today for Bolivia’s Independence Day but I was able to get a list online of what we would need to get our new passports. Every item listed is something we have ready in case this ever happened while we were down here, stored safely away from the originals in a locked bag – a black backpack to be exact. A missing (stolen?) black backpack.

It is now 3:44am La Paz time, and hopefully getting this out will help me quiet my brain for a little while tonight. Tomorrow involves police reports, finding an apartment for our now much longer stay, gathering info, making appointments at the embassy, figuring out how to prove we are who we say we are, and taking care of our sweet kids in the middle of it all.

Planning being Bo’s specialty, we do have other safeguards in place. A couple ATM’s that still work and copies of our important things stored electronically; and we were able to cancel those Buenos Aires tickets and stop the thieves from accessing any of our accounts. We’ll figure this out. And for the record, what absolutely could have devolved into chaos and screaming, instead saw us crying (me), hugging and holding hands and finally standing up straighter and stronger. An unbroken unit.

And now, taking the time to remember that, I do think I can sleep.

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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