Tag Archives: passport
July 1, 2011

One Year of Travel

One year ago today, we left our home in Juneau, Alaska, and started our trip around the world.  If everything had gone according to plan, we would be returning to work after the Fourth of July weekend.  Thank goodness things didn’t go as planned!

A quick recap:

  • Our trip started with a road trip through the Canada and the United States.  13,000 miles later, we’d visited Seattle, the Redwoods, San Francisco, Las Vegas, the Outer Banks, Key West, Manhattan, and Niagara Falls.
  • An unexpected family emergency delayed our plans and we stayed with my grandparents from mid-August to early November.
  • On November 10th, what we considered to be our “real” start date, we flew to Quito, Ecuador, and met five friends for a week-long trip through the Galapagos Islands.
  • From the end of November, 2010, to May 1st, 2011, we worked our way through South America, exploring Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay.
  • We rented an apartment in Buenos Aires for a month and played the role of ex-pats for a time.
  • May found us in Africa, a first for both of us.  We have since worked our way north from Capetown, South Africa, through Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania.  We’re in Dar es Salaam right now, bound for the island of Zanzibar for a week or two of relaxation.

In all, over the course of a year, we’ve passed through 15 countries.  That may sound like a lot, but I expected to be much further along by now.


August 15, 2007

Naturalization IV: Passports

Looks like I’ve cleaned up a little bit since my pasty convict days...

Oksana and I are hoping to go to Australia this November, but we’ve been putting off purchasing tickets for a long time.  There’s a lot we have to do first: Arrange for time off from work, get visas, buy the plane tickets.  Before we could do any of that, we had to resolve our passport situation.

Primarily, we were biding our time until Oksana received her U.S. citizenship, but I needed to renew my own passport, as well.  I got my first passport in 1997 (a decade ago!) for a Language and Culture of Mexico class and it’s set to expire in December.  While technically it expires after our planned vacation, Australia would prefer I have at least six months remaining on it.

Oksana received her U.S. Naturalization certificate on Friday, July 27th, and we briefly considered submitted the paperwork for our passports within the hour.

We didn’t know for sure beforehand, but she would have been able to apply for her passport immediately after the oath ceremony. She would have had to send off her valuable, original naturalization certificate without making copies of it (but like a birth certificate, you’re not supposed to, anyway. You’re not legally allowed to make any copies of that document.)

We already had our passport photos, so all we had to do over the weekend was fill out the online applications supplied by the state department website. Oksana filled hers out, I filled out a separate renewal form. On the very next business day after the ceremony, Monday on our lunch break, we met to stand in line together at the post office.

It took our entire lunch to get our forms mailed off, but we were happy to do it. Both Oksana and I paid extra to have our passports expedited – we’d read about the horror stories in the news. If our passports were stuck in processing for much more than a month, I doubt we’d be able to arrange our trip to Australia in time. The postal employee who took our certified, tracked, and insured envelopes confidently assured us we’d have our new passports in three weeks. Fair enough.

That was Monday. On Saturday, Oksana’s new passport was sitting in our post office box.  Of course, there was no sign of my passport anywhere, but that’s okay because I figured the renewal process used a different queue. In fact, my passport arrived only five days after hers. Praise be to the Seattle Regional Passport Agency!

We still have to work out all those logistics before we can go to Australia, but I’m looking forward to the prospect of traveling under the same passport as Oksana. Easier visas! Sharing lines through immigration checkpoints! RFID chip vulnerabilities!

November 11, 2005

Green Card

Oksana\'s Green Card PhotoA continuation of this journal.

You’d think that, 38 months after our wedding, we would be all through with the expenses. Not true, when you marry an alien.

Oksana has been keeping an eye on the calendar and, back in February, it was time for her to submit another INS form. Her temporary green card (i.e., her permission to work in the U.S.) was about to expire and she needed to apply for the permanent extension. We fired up the internet, sussed out the appropriate I-551 form, and started to compile the appropriate paperwork. We wrote a check for the form submission fee ($200!) and packaged it up in an envelope with 20 pages of supporting documents. It was mailed off to Anchorage on February 3rd ($4.30).

A couple months later, we received notification that our paperwork was in process – that was a good thing, because Oksana’s temporary green card would have expired in May.

In late August we received another letter from the Anchorage INS office informing us that her petition for a permanent green card (for the INS, permanent apparently means “ten years”) had been approved and that she only need to do a couple things to make it official.

Step One: Provide three passport-sized photos.
Step Two: Submit the photos. In person… at the Anchorage office.

January 22, 2004

Cuba: Intro and Getting Permission

Looking down on Cuba and Florida (25k image)Arlo’s Guide to Traveling in Cuba

In December of 1999 I made my first trip down to Cuba. The University of Alaska, Southeast offered a month-long experiential learning class on the Language and Culture of Cuba. I went as a student and discovered that our media-inspired American fears about communist Cuba were completely unfounded. Just last month I completed my second UAS class in Cuba – going this time as a co-instructor. My second visit only confirmed what I already knew – Cuba is an amazing country; easily the most friendly and safest place I’ve ever been!

In the next few postings, I plan to use my weblog as travel guide of sorts for Cuba. If you have the opportunity to go, I hope that it will be useful. If you’re looking for a place to spend some vacation time, perhaps it will help you decide where. And maybe, just maybe, I can dispel some of our American propaganda against Cuba along the way…