Escape from Portugal

After two days in detention, Dane Reynolds is released by Portuguese officials

If you follow SURFER on social media, you know that Ventura-based wunderkind Dane Reynolds was recently detained in Portugal for two days after losing his passport. Here is what happened:

On Monday afternoon, somewhere between his seat on a plane from London, and the cringing face of a Portuguese customs agent, Reynolds misplaced his passport. It’s an easy mistake to make, but predicting the consequences is much harder. We were in route to Portugal for a forthcoming profile of Reynolds, but things got sideways quickly after he reached customs. The last thing we heard from him before they took his phone away was that they’d confiscated his shoelaces, were planning on sending him back to London, and he wouldn’t be able to contact anyone until the matter was resolved with immigration. Then, for those of us waiting on the other side, it was nothing but unanswered calls to Portuguese officials, and vague responses from the US Embassy.

We figured there were a few potential outcomes: the embassy would issue Reynolds a temporary passport, or immigration would send him back to America. As it turns out, they decided to do neither at first, and keep him in a holding cell filled with 30 other detainees for 48 hours.

With few options, and a growing concern for Reynolds, we posted on social media, and called the most influential Portuguese surfers we knew. Between Tiago Pires, Nic Von Rupp, and their various contacts, we had an army of powerful people going to bat for Reynolds: visiting him in his cell, making sure he was taken care of, negotiating his release, etc. At the end of it all, immigration did something they seldom do: they allowed Reynolds to get a temporary passport through the US Embassy and enter Portugal. It felt like a tiny win for international Portuguese-American relations, and a huge coup for our little surf trip.

But as good as it was for Reynolds to be free from a cage, the first thing he said after leaving customs wasn’t about his own predicament. “It was minor, really,” he said about the two-day detention. “I feel way worse for the other guys I was in there with—just a lot of people trying to get out of their shitty situations in other countries.”

Immigration has been at the center of public discourse as of late, and Reynolds’ situation begs the question: If one of the most famous surfers in the world is detained for days on end for a lost passport, what can the average joe expect in a similar situation? Well, the answer to that, depending on where you are from, and where you are going is becoming increasingly complicated in an era of travel bans and international refugee crises…and a great reason to keep a tight grip on your passport.

(Photo by Jason “Mini” Blanchard)