Saturday, January 1, 2005


My New Year's resolution is to never again do something so bumbling as losing my passport in a foreign country. I mean, at least until 2006.

If you're not familiar with the story, here's how it went. (If you are, there's no real reason for you to read this.) Last year, I went to Ireland for spring break. It was my first time in a foreign country if you don't count Canada. My feelings about the trip were mixed. On the positive side, there was much about the trip that was really interesting, and you kind of have to visit somewhere overseas at least once. I went with an ideal group of people (Daniel, Clay, David, Kyle, Me). People there spoke sort-of-English. I didn't have to decide anything about the trip except the music, as unofficial trip DJ. (I brought 48 CDs, and we went through all but a few—Madonna's American Life was the only one that didn't go over with the others, and I skipped over the Bubba Sparxxx—and we repeated several. I'm glad I brought 48.) All of these things were good.

But I just couldn't take the fact that, a few miles out of Dublin, everything seemed like my mental impressions of a third-world country. I'm a man of creature comforts and technology: Ireland's one-lane (opposing traffic? tough!) streets and highways, insanely cramped towns, the fact that we constantly passed through areas that I felt the need to refer to as "the Rape District," and the hideous hostels where we spent each night... none of those things made it a pleasant trip for me. It was surreal: I've never walked through such weird towns and cities before. On one hand, I've got great people, weird new experiences, and lots of beautiful scenery and interesting culture. On the other hand, this place is filthy and disturbing, we spend much of the day in a tiny vehicle that simply does not have room for five people, and Diet Coke is like 50¢ a sip and tastes like V8. It was a fun trip, and I don't regret going, but I'm not going back anytime soon, especially not without such a great group of people.

The passport story. The last sightseeing day of our trip was planned to be in Dublin. When I woke up that day, feeling strangely refreshed after our only night in normal beds, I discovered that not only did I not have my coat, but I also didn't have my passport. There was quite a bit of panic in the room... I was pretty calm about it, because I'm usually calm, and I think that really pissed the others off; maybe they thought that I didn't quite grasp the gravity of the situation, that I might be spending a few extra days here and at least a thousand extra bucks to get home. But, we lucked out. It turned out that I left it at the hostel from a night or two before, and the manager saved it for me. So, we went back to pick it up, and then off to the police station to get my passport. I expected a lot of hassle at the police statement... when I got there, I was greeted by a few rude, annoyed-looking people who just stared for a while and finally asked, "what do you want?" When I explained, one of them just handed me the passport, not even bothering to ask me questions about it or look at the picture. Just... strange. So, I lucked out. "All" it cost us was half of our day in Dublin. I felt kind of bad that I was the least bothered by this; I enjoyed our time outside of the cities much more than I did the time in them.

As long as I don't do something that stupid this year, it will be a good year.

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