My protective and well-intentioned husband who’s sure I will lose my passport if left in charge of it keeps it in his safe at work. When it needed to be sent to Kinshasa for an updated visa, he took my stapled-in yellow fever vaccination card out before sending it on. Normally, a good idea. When my passport came back from Kinshasa with the updated visa, I wasn’t even allowed to see it. “It’s in my safe, it’s safe! Don’t worry,” he assured me. The night before we left for South Africa, he brought both our passports home. I admired my new visa for a few moments and put it away in my travel bag for the trip.
The next afternoon we landed in Johannesburg. At the immigration check they asked me for my yellow fever card. It’s stapled in the back, I said, instinctively. No, it’s not, they answered. I asked to see it. There’s the mark of the staple, where it used to be. Confused, I checked my bag, thought for a few moments, then looked over at Seb, who was just getting the green light at his immigration check and heading on through. “Where’s my yellow fever card?” I hollered. Also confused, he thought for a few moments, then remembered: “Oh, shit, it’s still in the safe.” I stared at him, dumbfounded. This can’t be happening. He came over and we tried explaining the situation to the immigration gal. She clicked her tongue and shook her head and said, “It’s gonna be a long trip back to Congo.”