My first Passport stamp. Ahh, memories. I miss it already. I had to send my passport in for renewal this week because it expires in September. It's hard to believe it's been ten years since I first got that thing. We sure've been some places together, by gum. This stamp is from my first trip abroad, obviously; I'd just gotten back from working my second summer in Alaska, and decided to spend my hard earned cannery and crab boat money and some time in Europe. My return ticket wasn't until like three months later and I only had about $3,000 on me. The British immigration lady gave me a very stern look and made sure I realized that I wasn't allowed to work in the UK. "No worries," I said. "I'm staying with friends." I was a terrible liar in those days. But I wasn't going to allow them to turn me away, or buy another ticket. Anyway, I wound up working legally in Germany instead so, no harm no foul.
Here's another page I'm very fond of. My Kuwaiti residency visa. I was only actually in Kuwait for about 2 days before we left to drive up to Baghdad, but we had to get the residency permit because at the time, there was no border control between Kuwait and Iraq. Technically it was a closed border. So, because bureaucracy is always so efficient, what would happen is that we'd have left Kuwait without going through border control, and two or three weeks down the road someone in some office in Kuwait somewhere would say "Hey, these Americans came in to Kuwait and never left and now they've overstayed their Visa (which was only valid for like a week or two). Issue a warrant for their deportation and don't allow them to ever come back." Which, of course wouldn't really be that big a deal since I never planned on going back to Kuwait but still, you never know. So my company did the right thing and got us all residency permits. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure how that helped. Because we were supposed to go back to Kuwait and fly out from there on our first vacations, but we never did. Instead the company got a deal flying us out of Baghdad in the back of a cargo plane to Dubai. Huh. I wonder if I'm banned from Kuwait after all? Crap.
I love this one. It's my passport stamp from Israel. You'll notice it's not actually on my passport. That's because at the insanely busy border control there (I came from Amman, Jordan. I blogged about that adventure way back.) they ask you if you want the stamp on your Passport or on a separate piece of paper, for the reason that certain Middle Eastern countries, if they see an Israeli Passport stamp in your passport, won't allow you into their country. I think it's quite sporting for the Israelis to offer you an alternative, actually. Well, I know that many Arabs in Iraq loathe the Jews and consider Hitler to be a hero (They don't actually know all that much about him, European history not being taught much in their schools), and I wasn't sure if the Iraqi border control, which was up and running at that time finally, were one of the group of those that would spit on white boys that had visited Israel. And you know, I was working in Iraq, so I didn't want to mess with my bread and butter.
Another favorite of mine is the time I was running out of room for stamps, and so while I was in Morocco, I stopped by the American embassy in Casablanca to have more pages added in, and got a neat embossed stamp. You can vaguely see the embossment on the right there. And that's an Iraqi passport stamp covering over the Moroccan stamps on the left.
I'm a bit nervous about having to send in my old passport in order to get a new one, but they say they'll send back the old one with the renewal so, fingers crossed. I love my passport. It kind of stinks that I have to start all over again... I doubt I'll travel internationally as much in the next ten years as I have in the last ten. Sigh.
So anyway, life goes on. Yesterday was an eventful day for me. There were two tests I'd been trying to pass all week and had failed. The first one was my Motorcycle permit test, and the second was a test for work; I had to learn a particular program we use to administer Microsoft exams to our students and the information you have to know in order to pass is extremely arcane. For both of these tests I didn't study very hard at first, because they seemed like easy meat. After failing them both, I annoyed myself by sitting down for hours and hours practically memorizing the PennDOT Motorcycle Operator Manual and delving into the mysteries of Prometric, the program for work. And yesterday, I passed them both. I know it's not big news, but it's a relief because I hate having to work at learning things. It's much more fun when they come naturally. Is that lazy? Anyway, now I don't have to study any more and can spend more time doing useless things at my computer, as is my wont.
I am buying a motorcycle though... I've always kind of wanted to ride one, and there's a shop across the street that refurbishes and sells them, and they happened to get one in that stirred my biker lust anew. It's only a 250, but I've never driven one before and I figure that it's a good starter bike. It's only got like 65 miles on it because the guy at the shop, also named Michael (Michael Michael motorcycle!) got it from a girl who had bought it new, and then her father wouldn't let her ride it! So it's been sitting in a garage for a few years. Michael is fixing it up and hopefully I'll have it in the next week or so. I can't wait! I think it's a Yamaha, I forget now. It's all shiny black and chrome. I'm very excited.
Ok ok I can't resist. One more.