Should auld lost objects be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Planning a trip to Newfoundland, we are relying on the fantastic travel guide, Lost and Found, produced by their tourism office. It’s reminding me of what we’ve lost and found travelling. Anthony of Lisbon, patron saint of lost things, has failed us, especially me, on many occasions.
Notice anything odd about me in this photo? (Ha, ha, I know, you don’t have all day to answer that.)
On our last day in Oman’s Empty Quarter, I realized one of my earrings was gone, an orange fire opal I’d treated myself to after completing a large writing contract. We searched our rented Land Cruiser. Called our guide Aubed and had him check his, in which I had been, the window open to film Magellan driving the other LC. Did a camel’s hoof pad it into the sand? A rabbit take it for a lucky charm? A fox carry it to her lair? The desert original, wherever it is, sparkles more brightly than its replacement. Lost: adornment. Found: awedorable footage of Magellan driving the sands of Oman for our first blog.
Ever lost anything on Air Canada? Ever got it back? (If anyone says yes to the second question, you must have a direct line to St. Anthony.) On a long trip, I left, ashamed as I am to admit, a large scarf squished somewhere behind the seat. Many phone calls, long forms and lengthy follow-ups amounted to nothing but a letter after six months saying the file was closed. But, when I told my sad story to the company I bought the scarf from, they gave me a deal on an identical replacement. Lost: due care and attention. Found: what you can do with your words.
New York City used to have a tagline I loved; “The world’s second home.” During those years Magellan frequently travelled to the Big Apple for business, accompanied by you-know-who on most trips. We’ll never forget a blustery Friday in April, the weather so awful we took a taxi straight home from dinner instead of walking to our favourite piano bar and staying out late. On our cab ride back to the Rivington Hotel on the Lower East Side, Magellan and the driver, who was from Trinidad, had a lively conversation about the energy business in South America where both of them had worked and where Magellan was to fly the next day. Soon after when changing into our stay-in clothes, Magellan noticed his wallet was missing. Bad news: we had waived the need for a receipt from the cab driver. Good news: NYC’s yellow cabs all operate under the same company. We filed a report, advised the hotel’s front-desk staff and began cancelling Magellan’s credit cards. “That driver was so nice I have a feeling we’re going to get your wallet back,” I said while on hold to the Royal Bank. “Me too,” said Magellan, on hold with CIBC, “but we can’t take a chance.” His cell phone rang. Good news? No. A co-workers was calling from Guyana to tell him to cancel his trip—the Minister of Agriculture and two of his family members had just been assassinated! The next call came from the front desk—the bellman had Magellan’s wallet! Lost: $100. Found: New York must have hundreds of saints.
In a craft shop in Ushuaia, Argentina, were a few dozen hand-carved penguins, palm-size, most carved in lapis lazuli, though the cutest ones were the few made from a glacier-green stone. Although I’m not much for souvenirs, an endearing penguin begged me to buy her. From her spot on our vanity in the main-floor bathroom, she gazed up at everyone washing their hands. Well, for a few months. The day after forty-five people crammed into our place for our friend Gail’s retirement party, everyone confined indoors in our small space because of pouring rain, my sweet little penguin disappeared. Had a party guest stolen her? Or did someone slip her into a pocket on another occasion? Lost: a travel souvenir. Found: a travel solution—on a holiday to Patagonia, Gail visited the same shop and bought a replacement.
With the extreme heat in Waterton last June we did something rare—didn’t complete a hike. We’d hiked Horseshoe Trail that morning but after fuelling up over a relaxing lunch in town, we felt ready for an another. You could almost see the heat waves shimmering in the air as the mercury reddened into the 40s. In retrospect, I realize I was starting to feel a bit wonky even before Magellan pointed out that the calves of my legs were poker red. I really felt queasy when we came upon a bloody, severed fawn’s head on the trail, its glassy-dead eyes facing upward. We turned back. Only when we reached Rove-Inn did I discover my cotton scarf, a special purchase in Japan, was gone. Several times on the trail I had ignored my instinct to double-knot it. A degree of heat stroke had numbed my reasoning and my senses; I hadn’t even felt it fall off. Lost: part of Wishbone Trail. Found: another reason to return to Waterton.
Magellan, as you will have surmised from previous blogs, follows the boy scout motto “Be prepared.” For our backcountry hiking adventures on our big trip to the southwestern USA, he bought a Garmin inReach Explorer, a $600 device with global satellite messaging and robust map-based outdoor navigation. It’s become second nature to take it on most every hike and to be ultra-careful with it, especially when returning and putting away our equipment. So, you can imagine his panic when we were about to set off on a long hike in Grasslands National Park and his Garmin was nowhere to be found. The last time he had used it was a few days before, hiking Chester Lake in the Kananaskis, a hot and tiring day, the air smoky from wildfires. In a hurry to get in the car and cool off, Magellan guessed he’d probably placed his Garmin on the roof of Rove-Inn, forgot he put it there after unloading our gear, and drove off. He contacted Garmin and Alberta Park Services. He watched the sales to see if it could be replaced at less than full price. Nine months later when cleaning Rove-Inn, he found that baby of his snuggly tucked away in the pocket behind the driver’s seat. Lost: short-term memory. Found: long-term safety.
Could this next lost-in-travel story happen today? In the 80s when I worked for Jarvis Travel, we went to Athens, business for my boss Roger Jarvis and me, pleasure for Magellan and Roger’s wife Marie. Checking in at the airport mid-afternoon to return home, we were told the plane would be delayed for six hours. Magellan suggested we grab a cab and go back downtown to see more of the city. Before doing so, Marie and I made a trip to the Ladies. Anticipating more time in this lively city, we were so busy talking about where to go and what to do that it wasn’t until we got out of the cab downtown that Marie realized she had only her tote bag—she had left her purse at the sink in the women’s washroom. Right where we found it, with everything intact. Lost: Marie’s purse. Found: τίμιος (“honest, decent, upstanding”) travellers, more saints.
What have you lost travelling? What have you found?
Given this is only our second blog of the New Year, we’re ending on the philosophical, Newfoundland style.
Lost: a few years of no travel during Covid.
Found: a Newfoundland wish for you for 2022—Long may your big jib draw.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Traveller’s Guide is both a book and online publication, a delight for armchair travellers and vacationers.