You know those moments where your phone isn’t where you usually put it? I had one of those shortly after checking into my hotel room in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. While highly unusual, I figured I must have set it down on the bed or near my bag up in the room before heading back downstairs to pay the bill. I wasn’t overly concerned about it.

I came to a pretty sad realization when I went upstairs to the room and the phone wasn’t there. At that point, I headed back downstairs to check near the front desk. No one had seen a phone. I had tripped coming into the building, so I thought that my phone may have fallen out of my pocket onto the ground. I looked outside – there was no phone in sight.

Considering this was 20+ minutes after arriving at the hotel, I thought that even if it had fallen out of my pocket, the phone would be loooooong gone.

It turns out, I was right. After activating the ‘Lost my iPhone’ feature on my friend’s phone we saw my phone headed out of Erbil. At that point, we set the lost message, locked the phone, and we went about the rest of our afternoon. I had already uploaded most of my good photos to Instagram and was planning on selling the phone when I got back to the U.S. anyway, so while I was bummed, there was also nothing I could do about it.

A little while later the phone got turned off. Even after offering I reward, I figured that that meant there was no hope of getting the phone back. Oh well.

Surprisingly, a few hours later, the phone came back online. This time it was very close to the hotel! I thought that maybe someone was coming back to return the phone for the reward, but after closer inspection it seemed that the phone was actually on a side street near our hotel.

Our guide had just arrived to pick us up for dinner, but since it was so close we decided that the short detour to my phone could be worth it. I lucked out that it wasn’t an apartment building, so it was possible to pinpoint the exact house that my phone was (probably) in. We knocked on the door, and mostly the kids just came and hung around outside. Eventually the father came out and said that he hadn’t seen the phone.

Just as we were able to give up, an eight, or so, year old boy came out holding my phone! He likely saw it on the street as he was headed home from school and just snagged it – something that I would expect a lot of kids (and probably even quite a few adults) to do in any city around the world, so I had no hard feelings. I was just happy to get my phone back!

Lessons learned:

  • Don’t put your phone in the super loose pockets of your ridiculous travel pants
  • Watch where you’re going so you don’t trip
  • Make sure that ‘Lost My iPhone’ or similar feature is on your phone
  • Don’t be afraid to go knocking on a door – especially if you are with someone who knows the local language