I’ve been in a state of pure bliss for the past 20 days, living this heavenly life of yoga, meditation, and surf, on the beautiful island of Bali. Life is as simple as it could get, and I couldn’t possibly be happier. Then, I randomly leave my debit card in an ATM, and it’s definitely now gone forever. But I have a back up and a credit card, plus I have new ones coming in a package from the States. I also have just enough cash to get me through these next ten days until I leave Bali and head for the Philippines. No worries, life is way to good right now to even think about finding time for worry.
Before I know it, it’s time to leave, moving on to the next adventure. My package still hasn’t arrived… I guess I’ll just have to get it mailed to the Philippines on a later date? I’ve saved 300k Rupiah for a Taxi to the airport, but the day before I’m to leave a friend informs me that he is also heading to the airport in the morning and has found a taxi for 200k, one hundred each! This 200k I’ve just managed not to spend will save my life here shortly. My friend, Ed, and I decide to go out for our last night in Bali. Long story short I didn’t get back to my room until 2 am, and holy shit I haven’t packed a thing! All the room mates are asleep, I’ll deal with it in the morning.
As my 5am alarm goes off all I can think is, “Nope, no fucking way, absolutely not! Whose genius idea was it to get less than 3 hours of sleep anyways?”
We arrive at the airport around 630, leaving me two hours to check in and get to my gate. I buy a 20k coffee and embark on this mission.
“Alright Ed, its been fun man, I’ll see ya on the other side mate!”
“Yeah enjoy your travels, best of luck to ya!”
Little did I know, I was about to be needing all the luck I could get. As I approach the kiosk the lady behind the counter starts smiling rather maniacally and informs me I will have to be wearing shoes if I intend to board the airplane. Rubbish lies, but sure I’ll dig the only pair of shoes I own out of the bottom of my 70L bag. Highly annoyed, repacking my entire bag, she then proceeds to tell me that she will not give me my boarding pass until I can prove that I intend to leave the Philippines, a return flight or onward flight. I briefly connect frustrated glances with numerous people in line apparently all dealing with the same situation. The plan was to return to Seattle after 2 months on Boracay Island, but I haven’t a clue which exact date and am definitely not ready to spontaneously spend the $600-$700 all these tickets appear to be. Stressing the fuck out for about half an hour, I finally find a flight I feel I can work with, just ten min to spare before I can no longer check in for this departure. I’m using my back up debit card here, which hasn’t been used in years, and wouldn’t you know US Bank decides to take it upon themselves to “protect my acct”, transaction denied. Stress levels rising fast, and with only 8 min to book some kind of flight, I erratically opt to return to Bali in 60 days, paid for on credit. I guess I’m going back to Bali on my way home :).
Now for customs, wait for it, I over stayed my Visa by one day. A 300k Rupiah fine payable by cash only. I have only 180k cash and this shit debit card, but no problem I’ll just hit the ATM right quick. I enter my pin only to find out that apparently this card has a different pin number then the one I’ve lost. After 3 different attempts, I have no idea what this pin is, and cannot leave this country until I figure out how to get some cash.
Stress levels skyrocketing!
Frantically brainstorming all possible scenarios, I randomly start flipping through my wallet. For reasons beyond my understanding, I find 350 baht (Thai currency) in one of my little useless side pockets. As I rush over to exchange the money for Rupiah I can only pray that it is equivalent to at least 120k Rupiah. It ends up being 135k… “phew”, I can leave Indonesia!
Finally aboard this plane, I instantly pass out. I find myself waking up still highly stressed and realize I never ate breakfast. And of course all the food on the plane cost money, a luxury I don’t currently posses. As I’m sitting there trying to calm myself down, I feel this presence approaching. She sits down in the open seat next to me and acknowledges my frustration with a reciprocation of her own. One of the many others in that line who had to frantically buy plane tickets they didn’t want. As we discuss our mutual needs to calm ourselves, the conversation gets real philosophical, real fast. Beautiful, awesome, I’m so stoked this girl just sat down next to me. She’s traveling with a friend, and although he’s currently taking a nap I can already tell he’s a beautiful soul as well. And as it turns out, they are also on their way to Boracay.
The flight we are currently on lands in Manila, followed by a connecting flight to Caitclan, before a boat ride to Boracay. Our connecting flights differ, and the two of them are to arrive in Caticlan an hour or so before myself.
“Bummer, but glad to of met you guys! Maybe I’ll see you in Boracay!”
Now I’m walking around the Manila Airport, literally starving to death, just trying to find somewhere, anywhere, that a guy can buy some lunch with a credit card. Naturally, as if it’s possible that things can get worse, every single fucking stand is cash only. Until I stumble across a Cinnabon, that will accept plastic.. sometimes you really have to love some capitalism! Two giant cinnamon rolls isn’t necessarily what I would call lunch, but every now and then you just gotta do what you gotta do.
As I arrive in Caticlan I immediately realize that this is beyond any fraction of a doubt the smallest airport on the face of the planet. One room, maybe 30ft square, with the dinkiest little conveyor belt you could imagine. As I grab my bag I remember that I still need to get money out, that in terms of cash I literally have 5,000 Rupiah to my name, the equivalent of about 40 cents USD. After a quick brainstorm of possible pin numbers I try the ATM again, first attempt wrong. I try for a second, also wrong, and now across the screen reads: “Acct blocked. 3 or more unsuccessful attempts entering invalid pin. Please contact your bank.” I’ve literally frozen, speechless, near thoughtless, utterly incapable of physical movement.
“What in the actual fuck am I supposed to do now?”, is the closest thing to a cognitive thought I’m capable of mustering. As I begin to come around, still highly uncertain of how I’m going to get out of this one, I realize I somehow have to call the United States. I don’t even own a phone. But, I find a chair and pull out my lap top, acquiring the 1-(800) number for my bank. I approach the information counter, briefly explain my situation, and ask if there is a phone I can use.
“No international, sorry”, is the response I receive.
I convince her to let me try anyways, but of course it doesn’t work. I must have appeared thoroughly distraught, because the lady behind the counter started excitedly questioning everyone else who worked in this airport. She returned about five minuets later with a look of complete defeat on her poor beautiful little face. Two to three business day expected response time for emails from the bank, no ability to call them, no money, no way of getting money, and all alone in this microscopic airport. This was the first time in my life I literally could not come up with any form of a solution what so ever. I guess I’m sleeping on the sidewalk, without food, for the next 2-3 business days.
Then the lady from behind the counter informs me that there is a bank down the street that doesn’t close for another 20 min, and that if I hurry they may be able to help me in some way. I sprinted, the fastest I’ve ever run in my life, like seriously someone should have been timing me. Only to arrive at a chained up and behind bars, CLOSED bank. It had been closed all day, it was Sunday.
As I walk back to the airport, utterly defeated, I’m checking down every side street and alleyway I pass, hoping one might have some kind of somewhat reasonable place for me to sleep. Things are looking real sketchy, and those two cinnamon rolls are no longer doing the trick.
Is it okay if I cry right now?
As I further process my situation I begin to allow myself to come to terms with it.
“Hmm okay maybe this can be good. I’ll just meditate my way through the hunger, people do this shit all the time Jono. You can find somewhere good to hide and get some sleep tonight. Who knows what tomorrow has in store. It is what it is man, nothing you can do about it now.” I tell myself as I approach the airport doors. But then, as I walk in to this tiny little room, you’ll never guess who is standing there waiting to grab their luggage. My friends from that first flight! I’m literally standing there, gazing upon the very definition of Angels. Apparently their flight was delayed, and they have just arrived, I swear sent by the universe to save my life! As I explain my situation, express my excitement for their presence, and shamefully ask to borrow some cash for a boat ticket. They just laugh at me and respond with an “Of course man, how about a cigarette.” I’m not a smoker but ya, ya, I could definitely go for one of those right about now.
The boat ride was interesting, to say the least, and the entire time I’m just praying the hostel I’ve booked will be able to understand and work with me through this. There are certain forces working in this universe that are beyond my ability to comprehend, and I’m generally okay with this notion, but sometimes I really have to question. Not only does this hostel (that I super randomly chose in a split second for absolutely no logical reason what so ever) operate on a tab system, but there is also, not one, but two restaurants attached. I can pay for all my food and drink, as well as my accommodation, at check out. If bewildered and rhapsodic got together and had a baby, that word, would be about how I felt in this moment. It would take me another six days to finally get my hands on some cash, but that’s another story entirely. By some gift of God, and with the help of some real life Angels, I was not only on the island, but I was fed and with a bed.