My traveling companion of the last 10 years has made its last journey.
In these days of electronic tickets and pocket computers, the passport seems like a throwback to a century ago. A time when steamer trunks were pasted with colorful stickers from the owner’s grand tour. Today our travels are documented by poorly inked stamps that you have to squint to read. Except for Japan–I have an actual sticker from Japan.
There are a couple countries that I have no record of at all. We rode a train from Lake Como, Italy, into the Swiss Alps. Armed Swiss Guards walked through the train and checked our passports once we crossed the border, but there was no stamp. We drove from Brussels to Paris once and crossed through Luxembourg. As I recall, the border guards were in a little turreted house. They checked our passports, but offered no stamp. I was too intimidated by the surroundings to ask for one. Why is it I always hold my breath in such situations, even when I’m innocent of any malfeasance? Too many viewings of the Von Trapp family hiding in the convent? Or maybe Midnight Express?
Each page is divided into quadrants–perfect little squares that are meant to be filled with precise stamps. But as you can see, the stamping is pretty haphazard. Looks like Ireland and Belgium have the most trouble with the system.
But now my little blue book is about to expire, so I’m sending it off for a replacement tomorrow. I know I’ll get it back, but I’ll miss it on my next trip. The new passport will be all stiff and shiny. It won’t know the ropes of international travel. It might wander off instead of sitting quietly in my pocket, always there when I need it. I’ll keep it in a drawer next to the old one, hoping that some of its experience will rub off on the new one.