End of an Era

As more of our plans for the next several months have finalized, it became evident that I needed to get my US passport renewed. It expires in March 2011, but since 6 months prior to expiration are generally needed for travel, and I need to send off my passport to get some visas prior to our proposed travels, time became of the essence. The same was true for John Cropsey, and thus we ended up at the US embassy yesterday, and now I'm in Nairobi awaiting a ride back to Tenwek. Thankfully everything went fine, and thus far our plans are on track.

This morning, I pulled out the old passport and thumbed through its well-worn pages. Because I've enjoyed a lot of traveling in the last 10 years, this little book brings back a lot of memories, and it's hard to believe 10 years have passed. Nonetheless, a 19-year old self is staring back at me from the first page, at the time never having crossed a national border on his own. I look up in the mirror and realize that time really does pass, despite our natural inclination to believe otherwise.

The first stamps were in England and Ireland, where I trained around a ton for a month and squeezed in an Irish Literature class for 2 weeks. That was the first time I had a debit card, and almost bounced my account in some very stupid spending patterns, but I had the time of my life, and kicked off a decade of international travel.

The next stamps are from a variety of former east block countries from the next two summers. For some reason that doesn't make a lot of sense now, I always carried my passport on my person that whole time, and thus it has had a well-worn look even from when it was just a couple years old.

My first international medical experience in Honduras as a second-year med student. A visa from Rachel and I's trip to Turkey, and some very expensive stamps from a fiasco involving an accidental business visa in Zambia. Then some British stamps from careening around northern Europe for a week on the way back, where our camera was stolen in Heathrow. Our honeymoon in Costa Rica.

Some days in Dubai, and a very scary moment leaving Bangladesh where the border guard informed us that our visa was a day past due and we were there illegally. An honest mistake, he recognized and immediately pardoned us, but not before we had visions of Bengali police stations flash before our eyes. And now some big fat Kenyan visas, which I have to get transferred to my new passport once it arrives in a couple of weeks.

And a smattering of US ports, where I would be welcomed home, usually with a wonderful sense of homecoming that nicely caps a trip abroad.

10 years behind. 10 years ahead. I'm not sure what all I've learned through these experiences, but I'm quite sure they've had a rather indelible mark on who I am now.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a very good life to me. You are a blessed man! Love you, Mom