I’m sending my passport in to get renewed instead of saying I lost it. However, being dishonest was my first thought. My passport is really the last physical item that connects me with the places I’ve travelled to. Most of my traveling was done while studying abroad in Bulgaria and traveling through Eastern Europe in 2002. I guess memories are enough though. Pictures also remain. From the days of film. The infancy (more like pre-conception) of my photography career. Bear with me:
Bulgaria: I studied in Bulgaria for three months. I had no idea where it was before I left. It was the only place I could study, get credit towards graduation, and facilitate a significant culture shock. When I landed in Sofia I thought I had made a mistake. I was terrified. After getting to Blagoevgrad, the town I would call my home, I felt much more comfortable. And it was a sad, sad day when I left.
Serbia: I went home with some friends from to school to celebrate New Year’s in Belgrade.
Macedonia: Emil welcomed John and I to Skopje. He showed us around his hometown and even took us to an Amorphis show.
Romania: My friend Andrea invited me to spend Christmas with her and her mom in Timisoara. It was the best Christmas anyone could ever spend away from home.
Greece and Turkey: I went to Greece a few times. The first trip was to rescue my friend Adam on the island of Corfu. I got an e-mail from him saying he couldn’t access the ATMs and needed help leaving the island. That was the last e-mail I got from Adam (didn’t have a cell phone!) before my classmate Marie and I took some overnight busses (figuring out connections along the way) into Greece and on towards Corfu. We boarded a ferry and landed on the island as the sun came up. We didn’t know where on the island Adam was so we called some hostels describing him until we got a lead. When we got to the hostel we were told we had just missed him. He had gotten a hold of some money and moved on. Marie and I relaxed for the first time in 24 hours with two Mythos on the beach. That moment alone was worth all the trouble.
Adam and I eventually met up and spent some time in Bulgaria before going to Turkey. We came back to Greece so Adam could catch a plane back to the States and so I could return to school in Blagoevgrad. I snapped a picture of him on the bus as we parted ways.
Ukraine: I left Bulgaria and made my way to Ukraine to find my ancestral homeland. After some miserable winter travel situations I got off a small bus in a small town where my great grandparents are from. I learned once I got there that Montastyriska doesn’t have a hotel. Soon after that I learned there were no more buses back to L’Viv. A man named Igor ended up taking me into his home, and I stayed there two days. It was an interesting trip with some unanticipated stress I turned into a multimedia project (it’s very rudimentary, and I’m embarrassed by my 22-year-old observations and voice. Please forgive me).
Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Austria: I flew home from Vienna, but traveled through Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic on the way. The Eastern European-solo-winter travel was miserable in the moment. But the edges of my memory are soft, and I now only remember it as one of the best times of my life.
Canada: Brooke and I met for the second time when she flew out to Michigan and drove with me to Vermont in 2006. We stayed a night in Niagara Falls.
Dominican Republic: Brooke and I honeymooned in Punta Cana. A beautiful place to catch our breaths and get excited for the rest of our lives.
Whew! What a trip down memory lane. I feel better about losing my passport now. I’m going to send it in and get me a new one I can fill up. Although our back porch is my favorite destination these days, it’s fun to go see something new once in awhile. And in 4 to 6 weeks I’ll be properly documented to do so.