Susanna and I were the last ones to board--- the back of the caravan making sure no one was left behind, making sure no one left important documents, nor water bottles nor jackets. We pulled our suitcases across the asphalt towards the ferry--past the diesels waiting to drive aboard, passed by the Mercedes carrying a first class passenger who didn't have to walk through the dark, fight the crowds or fight to keep her possessions in tact.
We came upon Sam, still calm, though frantically searching for his ferry boarding pass. The hardened Greek face told him he couldn't board without it. I silently promised to stay by his side, even if it meant getting kicked off the boat with him. I wasn't going to leave him alone, no matter how I wanted to lay my head down at the midnight hour, no matter how I wanted out of the smoke filled port terminal.
I watched from the corner of my eye as the plank on which we boarded started to lift.
"Keep searching Sam; the door's about to close. They want to take off as bad as we do."
We went through his jacket, his backpack, his passport folder. Sam didn't have a ticket.
The plank was half way up. We were almost safe.
Sam explained how he once had that ticket.
"You must have a ticket to board," the hardened Greek voice spoke.
We showed the room key in his name. Surely that would help?
The plank was three quarters closed.
Our Italian guide stepped in. "He has a ticket, he obviously just lost it. His name is on the ship register."
The hardened Greek face started to soften.
The door was almost shut tight.
The hardened Greek relented, "Okay, he must leave his passport and we will check it against the ship's registry. You may pick up your passport at the purser's office."
Phew. The ship was sealed. Sam's fate was sealed. He was going to Italy.
As we all walked down the hallway somewhat relieved, we all tried to make light of what appeared at least to be a momentary potential disaster. It was then that I remember the best travel advice I'd ever heard, "It's not an adventure until something goes wrong."
An even better adventure when it's something that ALMOST goes wrong.