I reached a rather interesting milestone recently: I had to renew my passport. I obtained my first passport back in February 2006 in anticipation of an April 2016 trip to Dakar, Senegal. I was going to visit my girlfriend (now wife) who was doing a teacher exchange. I had never needed a passport before. I had traveled to Mexico a few times in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and then again in the mid-1990s when I was living in Texas. Those were always land crossings, and in those days, you didn’t need a passport. I can remember walking back across the border from Nuevo Laredo, and simply saying “I’m an American” and showing a driver’s license. I think you had to pay $.25 and push through a turnstile. That was about it. Times have changed.
With an expiration date of February 2016 looming, I sent my passport in for renewal after returning from Guanajuato in October. I didn’t want to let go of the old one. It’s seen some heavy use, and a lot of great memories came from those trips. It’s been used 30 times in those 10 years, mostly to Mexico, but also to France a couple of times, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and maybe a couple of stamps in and out of Canada. The nice thing is, they punch a few holes in the old one and send it back. So I get to keep it, and that makes me happy. Still, having a weathered passport with pages full of stamps always made me feel like an accomplished traveler.
The new one is thicker, and has a shinier cover. It has a chip in it — gotta have the latest technology. It lacks history, but it won’t for long. I’m flying to Guatemala in a couple of days. There’s already a flight purchased to Mexico in February. We’ll end up somewhere for Spring Break. So it will be broken-in soon. I just hope this passport’s ten years are as good as the last ten!