Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Travel Buddy

May 23, 2012

Today I sent my travel buddy away.  Nervously, I packed, and then wished a buen viaje.  Now, to be quite honest, I feel disabled without my travel buddy...because I can't go anywhere.  Admittedly, I am quite reliant on my travel buddy to get me through all these trips.

Here we are at ORD in August 2011.
Accompanying me on every international trip I've ever taken, and helping me get past bureaucratic airport officials, my travel buddy carries a picture of me, and always remembers my birthday.  A good travel buddy like mine never wanders away while I'm shopping or eating or taking too much time.

Together, we have climbed volcanoes and bell towers, shopped at Harrods, built a house, cruised through fjords, and gotten lost in the maze of Europe's crooked little streets.  I love to travel, but my buddy was made to travel.  Clearly, the partnership was meant to be.

Wondering who my mysterious travel buddy is?
My passport, of course!

This morning, for the first time ever, my passport embarked a solo trip.  Rather, I sent it.  Nervously, I wished it a pleasant journey home and then to DC, and requested that it please return before I need to leave Spain in like 40 days...

Wondering what this "solo trip" is about?

"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.  When you read you begin with A, B, C, when you sing you begin...,"  yeah, ok, enough.  So, last summer, it was decided that I would go to Vietnam and Cambodia two days after I arrive back home from Spain.  I could not be more excited to go on this trip with my grandparents, and am very grateful to them for inviting me to join their trip!

The thing about traveling to Vietnam and Cambodia is that US passport holders are required to obtain visas prior to entry.  If I were in the USA this year, this would be simple.  I'd mail my passport and applications to the embassies in DC and be done with it.  However, I live in Madrid.  Since there's a Vietnamese embassy in Madrid, getting that visa was easy.  Actually, getting the Vietnamese visa was unbelievably easier than getting a Schengen visa to live in Spain.  The entire process took one week.

Initially, I thought I could apply for the Cambodian visa online, but later realized I could not since our itinerary changed.  The closest Cambodian embassy to me is in Paris.  Realizing I probably needed to send my passport back to the United States to get a Cambodian visa made me quite nervous since I need to have my passport back within a month in order to fly home from Spain.  But it seemed there was no other sure way.  So, I expedited everything, wished my passport a safe trip, and politely requested that it return ASAP.
Fortunately, last summer when we discussed the trip, I anticipated complications with the visas and brought all the necessary paperwork with me to Madrid.

So now, here I am awaiting the return of my travel buddy.  My passport is my security blanket here.  It gets me through everything, and I feel disconcerted without it.  Hopefully we'll meet again soon.

el 20 de junio 2012

I have an e-mail notification from FedEx stating that my passport is scheduled to arrive by 12:00 pm today.  It's about 11:21 am, and I'm getting anxious.  I know it's still early, but this is my passport we're talking about.  It's kind of important.  Ever since the envelope was shipped from DC on June 18th, I have been tracking it on its journey around the world.

It appears that my passport took a side trip from Washington D.C. to Memphis, where it spent part of the night before hopping on a plane to Paris.  From there, it took an overnight bus (or truck ride) to Madrid.  I know it was ground transportation, not another flight, because of the number of hours it took to get from Paris to Madrid.  I have been (still am) checking on this periodically for the past 30 (ish) hours.


It's 4:23 pm, and my passport still has not arrived.  I think it's stuck in customs.  AHHH!!!!!!!!!

Just a quick follow up:
Here's the rest of my passport's journey.  It seems that it got to Madrid quickly, but that once it arrived at customs in Madrid, it sat around, making no progress at all on June 20th.  Eventually, after calling FedEx, they put an "emergency rush notification" on the envelope (since I need my passport in order to fly home), and it arrived on June 21st around 5:30 pm.


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