Thursday, June 2, 2016

Perspective on a Lost Passport

On Sunday I lost my passport at the train station in Machu Picchu. It was probably stolen, but at this point I’ve gone over what happened so many times in my mind that the whole day feels like a blur. Although I was still able to go to Machu Picchu, I woke up Monday morning feeing pretty defeated. Even as we took the bus up the mountain and I waited to show my ticket, I just wasn’t excited for the one thing I had initially decided to come to Peru for. However, when we got to the top of the trail, where we could finally see Machu Picchu in all of its glory, my face immediately lit up. The sight of the sun rising above the Andes and sunshine sprawling over temples hundreds of years older than me put me into a trance. I don’t think anyone could feel any type of sadness upon arriving at Machu Picchu. Just looking at the green vegetation covering the mountains was enough to invoke wonder; but looking at the huge ancient city – that was enough to make me believe the Inca were superhuman. As we walked through the ruins and our guide explained the purposes of various structures to us, I realized that if the Inca could build one of the wonders of the world, I could damn well manage to get myself a passport and get back to the United States.
Happily overlooking Machu Picchu

While seeing Machu Picchu shed a lot of light on the good and made me feel better, it was really hard leaving my friends, professor (shoutout Falconí), and Cusco earlier than I had expected. After getting to Lima and running around Tuesday getting the necessary documents together and a new passport picture taken, I sat in Hostal Killari once again feeling defeated and thinking about the fun things I would miss out on during the last few days of the trip. Getting up Wednesday and spending two hours forging my way through the U.S. Embassy didn’t help my mood either. However, after multiple security checkpoints and a lot of waiting, I made it into the U.S. Citizen Services waiting room. There were about fifteen other people waiting, being both adults and families with children. As I began to converse with various people (because all those who know me know I can’t keep quiet for more than 60 seconds, even in a room full of strangers), I realized that I wasn’t the only one in a sticky situation. I met a young Mormon man who had been serving his mission in Arequipa, when one day he showed up to his office and was told his passport had been missing for about a week. No one told Elder Sullivan that it had gone missing until a full week later!! Even worse, when they surprised him with that information they handed him a stack of documents for the embassy and a plane ticket to Lima, slated for a few hours later. Talk about confusion, anger, and shock. Seeing how well Elder Sullivan was handling this sneak attack of information while maintaining a smile and cheerfully asking me about my time in Cusco, I realized that I had no right to be moping about spending a few hours at the embassy. Everyone has bad luck at times and to be honest, mine could have been much worse.

And now, as I am packing up my things in Lima after the most interesting, adventure-invoking traveling experience I’ve had, I am realizing that during a difficult time all you really need is some perspective – whether it be a sunrise over Machu Picchu or a nice Mormon.

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