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Homeward Bound: Part One

by Tyler

It seems that the nearer we draw to the close of this trip, the harder we're finding it to stay positive about the normal ebb and flow of traveling. We are aware of our shortening patience, so we've been making a concerted effort (even more than usual) to start and live each day with a positive attitude. It is difficult at times, to remember that we're living out a goal which we once dedicated all of our energies to achieve.

Case in point: we need a two month visa for our next and final destination: Thailand. When we cycled to the consulate the other day, the line stretched all the way around the building, with a mob culminating in front (the photo shows about 1/10 of the craziness). Our immediate reaction was: forget it. We simply don't have the patience for this type of thing anymore.

Consular Section, Royal Thai Embassy, Vientiene Waiting For Thai Visas

So, we left. We found a travel agency and paid them to have two-month visas made for us. When we went to pick them up a couple days later, we were informed that they weren't able to secure one for me because I only have one empty page in my passport (many of the pages have a single stamp on them, which renders them ineligible for a full page visa sticker). Apparently there need to be two pages.

Then, they told us the American Embassy would be closing in a half an hour, and if we didn't get the extra pages put in right then, we'd be waiting all weekend. So, we were sent away with a scribbled map to go racing through the hot town, on yet another oh-crap-we-might-not-make-it-in-time wild goose chase through a yet another foreign city.

There was a time this sort of thing would've felt like an adventure. Now, instead of feeling exhilarated, we felt frustrated and upset about how nothing ever seems to go smoothly. We did find the American Embassy in time, and were relieved to learn there was a real procedure for what we wanted to do. However, this organized efficiency came with a price. It cost eighty dollars for twenty more passport pages.

I tried to explain that I only needed one measly little piece of paper, but they only offered a one-sizes-fits-all solution. So, I forked over the money, thankful we had juuust enough cash to cover it (they didn't take credit or debit cards). We had about fifty cents to our name when we were done. So, I have twenty brand spanking new pages, of which I will use one—my passport expires next year.

When we made it back to the travel agency, feeling wearily triumphant, they broke the news: we'd have to wait another two days for them to run the entire visa procurement process again. Auughh! My agonizing on the way home was ended only when I realized we could've spent six hours waiting in line at the consulate to learn this.

This little escapade, the likes of which we've experienced countless times, should have been a non-issue, or slight annoyance at most. Instead, it threw me into an emotional tailspin about how we were wasting our precious time out here. The writing is on the wall; it might be time to go home.

And each town looks the same to me
The movies and the factories
And every stranger's face I see
Reminds me that I long to be
Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought's escaping
Home, where my music's playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me…

Simon & Garfunkel