Monday 12 August
I feel a crime novella in the making… as I am beginning to think the disappearance of our passports could be an inside job close to home or even in home.
Tonight Kotoni and I rode Bas for his evening debut and dined at the Pot Luck training restaurant. It was a glorious feast as usual. I had a lobster tartlet, pan fried fish and risotto followed by a stunning white chocolate pie. Kotoni had a pear, bacon and walnut salad, rolled stuffed chicken and homemade pasta followed by an apple and lattice pastry stack. We were serenaded by the all male harmony student group.
… Tonga’s own version of a gorgeous boy band.
The passport conspiracy began to unfold before me as the conversation flowed around our table. We sat with Sister Keoma (Áhopanilolo Principal), Sister Annucia and Father Wesley who is about to take up a post in Bougainville after over a decade in New Caledonia.
On the night of our break-in when we were out at the airport to collect Timm, we had run into Sister Keoma in the car park. She had been seeing someone off and heading to her van to drive back to town just as we arrived.
Can you see where this is heading? Inside information about our whereabouts and how long we may have been out of the house… and vans are always involved in Friday night crime shows.
It began to dawn on me that maybe we needed a warrant to search the convent. As across my bread roll I heard from a reliable source who must remain anonymous for her own protection, that the hierarchy at Áhopanilolo wanted us to stay longer than our allotted 12 months and could go to any length to make this happen.
Perhaps a nun who knew we were going to be out of the house that evening was an accomplice and had acquired our passports and hidden them somewhere on the school grounds? It was something I hadn’t explored before but it sounded incredible but also utterly feasible. These women could be ruthless when it came to helping their students.
Or was I completely off on the wrong scent and should I be focusing more on my second theory? It is all Kotoni’s fault and he has them stashed somewhere on his side of the bed?!…. After all he had told EVERYONE that he was going to tell Tongan Immigration when we arrived to keep his passport as he had no intentions of leaving… EVER.
So what is it to be … scenario 1) God was working in mysterious ways or scenario 2) be careful what you wish for?
Regardless of my conspiracy theories and the potential mini series I shall be working on when I return “The Case of the missing Ports”, Kotoni and I did our usual school day before meeting with Judith the lovely Australian consul to discuss the best way to proceed with replacing our stolen passports.
We will still need to obtain original birth certificates from Australia and Scotland but were very relieved to hear that if we needed to leave Tonga in a hurry for an emergency we would be issued with an emergency passport on the spot. Yay! This was something positive to come out of a mountain of paperwork which we still have to traverse… but really what else is there to do on a Sunday but hunt down receipts and rip your hair out trying to download forms on an internet that is fickle and often totally non responsive. Patience is something we are learning to be a virtue we had not wished to develop.
The moral to this blog post is life is one long learning experience. Just when you thought you had all your vessels sea worthy and on course along comes a tsunami to throw you quite away off course.
So, to all you regular intrepid travellers out there be aware… having a photocopy of your passport is next to useless and if you travel for an extended period of time either carry a copy of your ORIGINAL birth certificate stowed somewhere safe on your person and take along some photo ID or know where to get it back home by leaving these documents with someone you trust. Believe me it will make the process a whole lot more simple if your precious passport is nicked or falls overboard as it is all the same to the guys in Canberra… and you have to pay an extra fee on top of the replacement fee for being a careless Aussie.
We were also told that I would need a change of name’ certificate as a marriage certificate is no longer considered enough when you have changed your name in a moment of wedded bliss. Sounds all like extra red tape and revenue raising to me but thems the breaks. Because of a few unscrupulous people breaking the rules security and identity fraud is a major issue and lots of extra hurdles are in place to seemingly make it harder to scam a passport illegally. Now knowing that we have another 10 months to finalise our insurance and all these passport fees need to be included we feel as though the pressure to gather all the paper has been lifted a tad.
On a lighter note, after an early morning panic when the ordered taxi didn’t arrive Gina made her flight and by all accounts has settled into her new island home in Vavaú. She is probably dining on lobster, snorkelling or swimming with a whale as I type and turn slowly green.