Fall New Autumn Moon
While we slept, the busy folks at English Gate Academy in Saudi Arabia were solving Mark’s visa snags. Dr. Ahmed called a person he knew at the Saudi Embassy in DC. Mark submitted two new forms, a letter certifying that he lived in the U.S. and a copy of his ESL certification, and tomorrow, if all goes as expected, he will have a visa granted by the Royal Government of Saudi Arabia.
Of course, there will remain the return of the passport with the visa stamps and the purchase of an airline ticket, packing, flying. At this point though, almost a month after the visa material went to Travisa and almost two months after we started collecting material for it, something happening this week is a cause for joy.
At the end things change. Frustrations melt away and the awaited blossoms into reality. This will be true for Mark when he steps off the plane in Riyadh to 104 degree day and for Kate and me when we walk up the gangway and board the Veendam. In true Ellis fashion we will set out for parts unknown within a couple of weeks each other.
Holding a passport is not a common thing; an estimate that made sense to me reckoned the percentage between 20 and 22% of American citizens over the age of 18. Neither is the next step beyond holding a passport, international travel. It’s easy to forget these things if you have, as I do, many friends who travel often to foreign shores, but most Americans and many members of Congress don’t see travel, at least outside the homeland, as a important.
For some, it’s a matter of economics, but ask any college student how cheaply you can travel abroad. My own 2004 trip to Southeast Asia proved how inexpensive travel is there. My room in the heart of Bangkok cost $16 a night and my room in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the town closest to the Angkor area, was $32 and included an all teak room, tiled bathroom with high end fixtures, a refrigerator, breakfast and a sign that told me I had to check my explosives at the front desk. No kidding on that last. I forgot mine in Bangkok.