dIreland (The Adventure Continues!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Yesterday on: No More Pictures! Dean left his camera bag and/or every other egg in his camera case basket on the dreaded blue Air Coach bus and had been told by Zil, a friendly Lithuanian that it had been found. I was told to expect that bus to be coming around soon or else to expect a call from the airport if I missed it. So, I continued checking coaches. Some drivers I met more than once and they recognized me. Some drivers were helpful. Others were not. But regardless, none of them had my bag. Nor had the airport staff called me.

Eventually, as 9:00 drew near, after some more calls to the airport office and talk with drivers, still thinking it was last reported safe, I decided that it was as much as I could do that night. I was cold, I'd not eaten since breakfast, and I knew from a quick internet check that all the internet availability for hostels was long gone in Dublin. I went into the police station and contacted my credit cards, putting them on hold for 48 hours and, because they wouldn't do this for me, cancelling my MasterCard. Officer Reilly called their lost property agent again for me and still nothing, and then showed me where some nearby hostels were. I called the Canadian embassy but once I reported my passport gone, well, there was no turning back. If worst came to worst, I would have to do that and then stay in a Salvation Army type thing until I had money, but I was going to try hostels first. And try I did. I went to six hostels. Full, Full, Full, Full, Full, Full. If you add fatigue, hunger, a sickness-to-my-stomach, and about 5 minutes walk between all those, you should accurately feel how I did. No money. Nowhere to sleep that wasn't a hotel, and so on.

I finally came upon the Rainbow Hostel, which I'd heard good things of, and so was also invariably full. Nevertheless, I trudged up the stairs where two all-too-cheerful people greeted me. "Let me guess," I said, "full?" / "What?" / "You have no rooms left?" "Well, only dormatory rooms" / "Right, beds. You have beds?!" / "Yeah, mixed dorm, 5 other people" / "There can be 50,000 people as long as there's a bed for me!" / "Yeah, no problem" / "Well, it might be... here's the situation... ". At this, they looked at me, and I told them my story. Then Danny said, no problem, stay as long as you need, no problem. I offered him the only money I had... 20 Euro, though I said I'd like to keep at least 10 for food. "No, no," he said, "don't worry. Here's the key, take your stuff up to room 11!" And I gratefully did.

The common room was quite full of people having a good time on a Friday night, but I wasn't quite in the mood as you might imagine. I read my book, State of Fear, and managed to fall asleep. I woke the next morning, showered quickly (they're not the cleanest hostel in the world, but they're certainly good people), and went down to the police station to use the phone. The bag hadn't turned up last night and there was no sign of it. I called everyone. I stopped more bus drivers. I took names and tried to get a hold of someone, anyone, who could answer me honestly. Nothing. I left my number with them again, as for some reason all my information was no longer there in their offices, and they said they'd call me back later in the day. I tried to wander around the city, but my mind was too concerned with HOW my bag could go missing when it had been supposedly been found and WHAT I could do, what leads I could chase, to track it down. I wasn't enjoying myself at all. At the time I didn't know Zil's name, and I had no idea who the mystery man was he'd talked to who "knew everything" and told Zil my stuff had been found. I went back to the hostel and ran into Danny again. Danny gave me €40 to buy food for the weekend, and I did go grocery shopping late that afternoon and finally ate, 24 hours later.

I also was back at the police, and decided to report my cards stolen finally so I could get some new ones over here. American Express was no go, because they didn't have an office in Ireland, but Visa said they'd be able to have a card to me by Tuesday. Which would be fine. I managed to find out the number to their garage at the airport by watching a driver dial it and called them up. And I finally decided it was time to call home - after all, I'd told Lee about it yesterday because she'd called right at the worst possible time and I wasn't able to pretend to have a great time (not to mention my phone had no money) and since I had been unable to answer subsequent calls or reply to her, she probably got worried and told them anyway. So I bought a phone card for long distance and one for my cell and away I went.

There was a lot more detective work on Saturday, collecting names, trying to get a straight story, names, and so on, but the results of that are already peppered all over this post, so no point elaborating. I did have some friends from a website I run who live in Dublin, and once I got my phone charged I realized they'd been trying to get a hold of me. Barry offered to take me out for dinner and food and the other Barry offered me a place to stay if I still needed it. We ended up going out for some pints (thanks, guys!) and I also got to meet Carl. All very nice people, and I was thankful again that this had happened here in Dublin and not elsewhere. Though having it happen in Saskatoon wouldn't be the end of the world either, relatively speaking.

Sunday there was not much to do. My dad had sent me some money on Saturday night and so I went Sunday morning first thing to collect it. It turns out that most Western Union places don't allow you to receive money, and the one that did didn't have enough on hand. No money today. Wait for the post office on Monday. I was also waiting for Air Coach's office in Dublin to open on Monday so I could find out the name of my driver and get to the bottom of why my bag one minute had been found and the next, had never been seen. I tried harder to get the names of people that were instrumental to my story and case, but even for three hours of legwork, I had nothing. I did a little walking around again, and some more reading, but there really wasn't much of interest on Sunday. Ran into Officer Reilly and updated him, used the police station phone to get Visa to also send some emergency cash. Put more money on my phone, ate, and that's about it. And then Monday. Monday was a busy day. I even made myself a todo list so that I shook the right trees first for information.

1) Western Union. Once again I had money. Whew! (thanks, dad!)

2) Call Visa. Visa was supposed to have called me to tell me which bank I could get my emergency cash from, but I called them and they hadn't been able to make contact with the manager of AIB. They told me they'd call my cell phone when they had. It wa a 'rigamarole' if you will.

3) Police. I went to them again and they had no reports of it turning up. I told them the rather suspicious story of the reappearing bag, but they didn't seem too interested. I used their phone to call the Air Coach office and came as close as legally possible to pretending to be a police officer without actually pretending to be a police officer. I figured I'd get their attention. "Hi there, I'm calling from the Garda (what they call police) Station here on O'Connell Street, and looking into a missing camera bag with camera, wallet, Canadian passport, and other identification that was left behind on one of your coaches Friday afternoon at approximately 5 PM." Etc. Sounds official, doesn't it? But of course, I only told them I was CALLING from the police station. Anyway, I wasn't able to get their office so I thought I'd come back after lunch. I went out and bought myself a new money pouch to keep my valuables on me at all times once again, and a new wallet for my newfound money. I of course also called Green Cats, the lost and found agency, but still no sign of it.

4) Airport. After lunch, I told the driver of an Air Coach bus I'd lost a camera bag and was going down to the airport to sort it out. I wasn't paying. At the airport, I met Peter, whom I'd talked to before lunch, and also Brendan, the very man who'd told Zil my camera bag had been found. Peter was anxious to look into it for me, and Brendan was helpful in getting me the information I wanted, names of drivers, and so on. He went to the office to talk with Mary and do that for me. Meanwhile, I also checked the airport's lost and found, but no luck as always. The trip there was more or less a bust except I got some people motivated a bit and put faces to the names. And, I guess, confirmed it wasn't at the airport. While there, the bank called, and Michelle, the bank manager, said she was closing soon and wasn't I coming by. So again, Visa had dropped the ball and not returned my call. I got back on the bus and made it to the bank just in time.

5) Bank. Well, I've taken the suspense out of it, but I did make it literally just in time, and managed to get my money though there was some confusion about exchange rates and so on (the emergency money was in American dollars).

6) Embassy. It was time to face the fact that I wasn't going to see my stuff, or at least hedge my bets, so I called the Canadian Embassy and reported it officially stolen. I was told to come in early tomorrow morning to get started on a new passport.

So, that's the rest of the weekend, in a nutshell. Really, I've felt like a detective over here, and I think something is up, something fishy, but I also feel like a bad detective because, well, what the heck can I do about it? The bank manager suggested I go to the press, but really, other than making me feel better, it probably wouldn't do any good. Especially if the bag DOES turn up in the future when I'm gone. And that's assuming that the press would even find the story worth the ink it was printed on.

There's a little more to tell, but I'll get to it soon... thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

Hey Dean- Sounds like you are having a rough go the last couple of days....I really hope the story has a happy ending! Hang in there. Either way- it is nice to see that the hostel guy John was so helpful. The generosity of strangers always impresses me. Just remember that no matter how bad it gets- you are travelling europe! Unquestionably that is better then having your wallet etc and being stuck at home, at work, in the cold Canadian snow. Our city had it's first snowfall today. ( I am more south than you- in southern Ontario)Well I sincerely hope that you have some good news to share in your next post.

Dean said...

It was really just a rough Friday and then a pain after that but I suppose that when you live out your worst fears (and, aside from a mugging, this is definitely up there on the worst fears list for any traveller) and realize it's not the end of the world you sort of get a perspective on the little things that don't matter at all... and yes, the kindness of strangers can be overwhelming.

As for the cold, we're getting plenty of it here - it just snowed yesterday and this morning. But I've got my passport back and am going to be leaving Ireland very soon.

The travels will continue until Dec 5 and I am planning to enjoy my last week or so, fear not. Thanks again.