Jul
8
2010

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Where is the Wallet!?

by Tara
Why, do you think someone is going to leap in through our window while we sleep?

That was Tyler's response to my concern about opening our street-level hostel window last night. I eyed the two-foot-deep window sill dubiously, and, with the slightest of hesitation, agreed that the prospect of anyone heaving themselves inside was fairly ridiculous. Tyler opened the window. I pulled down the heavy black shade, then drew the the thick, black curtains, leaving a tiny crack for fresh air. It was sweltering in our little room.

Then, I set the alarm on our cellphone for 6:30 AM (an early wakeup call for my morning run), and gave it to Tyler to put on the nightstand as we crawled into bed. In no time at all, we were both sleeping soundly.

Hostel Window

My face feels hot, assaulted by the morning sun. Eventually the sensation becomes so powerful that I roll over to escape it, and very slowly begin to gain consciousness. In my gradually disappearing daze, I notice that Tyler is starting to awaken as well. The alarm hasn't gone off yet. I am thankful for waking up early, glad I feel well-rested despite going to bed late last night. So what time is it then? It has been difficult to judge lately, being so far north. The sun hardly sets here.

"Honey, what time is it?" I ask. Tyler fumbles around for the phone. Not fully awake, his hand flaps in vain for a second before he staggers over to the computer instead. Suddenly he is very alert. "It is 9:15", he says. We have overslept by almost three hours! How has this happened? As we push back the final remnants of sleep, it slowly dawns on us that everything is not as it should be.

For starters, where is the phone? Tyler clearly recalls setting it very precisely on the night stand, where it would be easy to grab in the morning. It isn't there. Hopeful it might have fallen on the floor, we pull the bed away from the window. Tyler leans down, crouching on all fours to scour the area. There are hundreds of dust-bunnies, and a sock of unknown origin, but no phone.

Thinking maybe it got knocked into the bed, I begin tearing away sheets, hoping the phone will fall out. Pillows come off, blankets get tossed across the room. Nothing. I sigh, place my hands firmly on my hips, and take a long look around.

My gaze lands on the window, and the more I stare, the more I start to feel that things that aren't quite right. It reminds me of the time my friend and roommate, Jess, had evoked a similar reaction from me with a harmless prank. She'd rearranged random objects in my room juuuust enough to make me question my memory and sanity.

But, this is real. The heavy shade has been overextended, so that when I tug on it, it will no longer roll back up. Come to think of it, the shade is askew, and so are the curtains. The window is open further than I remember it being, too. Things are definitely not as we left them.

And wait a moment… where is the wallet?

Hoping against hope that our inanimate belongings magically posses the power of teleportation, we tear the room apart in earnest search. As the truth sinks in, we are dumbstruck. How in the hell… how did we not wake up?

We sit back down on the bed, and take stock of what has been stolen. Our phone, obviously. Our wallet, and along with it, our credit card, debit cards, and Minnesota state drivers' licences. Thankfully there wasn't much cash inside, $20 (after conversion) at most. Everything else is accounted for. Thank god our passport case with our passports, international drivers licenses, and hefty wad of emergency euros is still set right where we left it on the desk by the door. We shudder thinking about what would happen if that had been stolen as well. It isn't a pleasant scenario.

So, all in all, we aren't so bad off, but we are still faced with some tricky issues. We have emergency cash, yes, but not enough to last us until we get replacement credit cards. Where should we go? What should we do? If we could stay with someone here until the replacements arrived, we could scrape by. Hundreds of possible plans fill our heads, and we start getting overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks at hand.

Well, one thing at a time. At least we have internet in our hostel room, and our computers are, thankfully, accounted for. On Tyler's laptop, we dial Chase's "lost or stolen credit card department". Within a matter of minutes, the card is de-activated, there are no strange charges to dispute, and another is on its way to Tyler's mother (who is kindly receiving our mail while we are away). We the dial the same division of our bank, do the whole process once more for our debit cards.

Once that is taken care of, Tyler hops on Skype to find that his dad, Tony, is miraculously awake and online at 1AM (central time). He is eager to help us in any way he can. Just a day earlier he had sent us a message about some people he knows living near Riga, Latvia! We were in Estonia by the time we received this, but suddenly the offer looks inviting. He doesn't have their contact information handy, so he starts searching to see if he can track them down while Tyler explains what has happened.

Unfortunately, the phone number eludes Tony's searching. Once morning rolls around back in the States, he will contact the right people to get the information. Then, he eagerly accepts the task of figuring out how to get replacement drivers licences for both of us. We still have our international ones (they are with our passports), but we don't want to take any chances at the Russian border. IDLs are supposedly not valid without the original. Though we somewhat doubt anyone will care, it isn't worth the risk. We both rest easy knowing Tyler's dad is on the job.

In the meantime, we brainstorm. If we could stay in Riga with Tony's friends (or with someone else) until our replacements arrived, we'd have enough money to get by. But when would our replacements arrive? If history is any indication, we could be held up for weeks. As it is, we've dealt with a lot of obnoxious shipping issues on this trip, and we have a hunch we'll get our things delivered faster in a Euro country like Finland.

So, we search warm showers and couchsurfing for people to stay with. We ask on a few message boards. We write to a reader from Finland(!) who generously gave us a donation back in January. Maybe we could impose on his generosity once more?

As the hours pass, we continue to send out messages, waiting hopefully for any news from the dozens of feelers we've extended. When checkout time at our hostel arrives, we are unsure if we are heading back to Riga, onwards to Finland, or, least appealing, staying put. So, we ask the lady at reception if we can hang out in the lobby awhile. She says of course, so we set up shop in the TV room and continue trying to sort out the mess.

Thinking about our options, we come to one definitive conclusion. We'd prefer to continue traveling than to stay put at someone's home while waiting for our stuff to arrive. With this in mind, I open Skype on my laptop and call my parents at 6AM Illinois time. I have a feeling they will be up and about—it's Thursday, which means my dad has his obscenely early business networking meeting. My mom is usually a fantastically early riser, starting the day with yoga asanas while everyone else is fast asleep. The phone rings once, twice, and my mom answers.

I love my parents. One of the many great things about them is that I can call them anytime day or night, tell them what the situation is, and they are, without question, 100% supportive. Without much introduction, I calmly tell my mom that our wallet has been stolen and we're looking into various options, and could you please send us some money via Moneygram or Western Union? Of course she can.

It doesn't take long to for us to walk through the process over the phone. In a matter of thirty minutes we've sent two moneygrams to Helsinki. While waiting for confirmation emails containing our pickup codes, we chat about regular things—until she receives a message that one of our orders didn't go through!

Keeping me on the line, she dials the number provided in the failure message. Apparently sending money to two separate people in the span of a few minutes is fishy. Once Moneygram is sure my mom isn't being scammed by long lost family members, stranded in foreign countries with no wallet, the transaction is approved. Minutes later, everything is available for pick-up in Helsinki.

Thank heavens for awesome parents and the internet!


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