Bargain Passports and Goiters

About 6 months ago my husband and I were awarded a free Carnival cruise just for showing up and hearing a salespitch.  It wasn’t a salespitch for a time-share condo, though we’ve been known to go to many of those.  Back then, we would have done anything short of self-mutilation for a free set of steak knives.  We were young, poor, and naive.  We were always surprised when the gifts broke when used, bent when swung, or dissolved when left in the car with the windows up.  This time, however, we listened to the salespitch to join an exclusive travel club (we didn’t), and the free gift was a four-day cruise to Cozumel, Mexico.

Free means that we won’t have to pay for our cabin.  However, we will have to find a way to get our luggage, our car, and ourselves to the boat dock in Galveston, Texas.  So we have been cutting down on our day-to-day maintenance and saving our pennies.  That means that the only things we don’t recycle is toilet paper.

Unfortunately, if we want to disembark for a day’s excursion into Cozumel, we will need passports.  We will need passports if we want to enjoy the experience of intestinal parasites, souvenir shopping, snorkeling, or 130 degree heat.  My passport expired in 1998.  My husband has never owned one.  So right away, we found ourselves with a $300 expense – $150 for each passport. So my husband made some phone calls, bargain shopping for legal entry into Mexico. 

One thing he discovered is that you no longer need a passport book for Mexico, Canada, or the Caribbean Islands.  You can now get a passport PAPER for half the price.  So an appointment was made at the local library to process the paperwork.  All we had to do was show up with our drivers’ licenses, birth certificates, passport pictures, blood samples, fingerprints, and our mother’s financial records. . . Okay, so I’m exaggerating about the last three, but we did have to know the exact circumstances of our parents’ births.  All I knew about my father’s birth was that he came out of Grandma in what later became the dining room of the family homestead.  At least I knew what farming community their dining room was in.  All my husband knew of his father’s birth was that it occurred somewhere within the continental United States. 

However, before processing all the minutiae of our existence, we had to get a couple of passport photos.  So we went to the nearest Wal-mart to visit their photography department.  Once we stated our mission, I was made to stand in front of a white screen while the two elderly women manning the department went in search of a digital camera.  After about 5 minutes they found it.  Then, after 5 more minutes they found the button that would enable them to take a picture with it. 

Or almost found it.

I stood in front of the white screen, sweating, while Nellie in the photo department repeatedly pressed her button finger to the side of the casing, wondering why there was no click.  I tried to help, but was turned down.  My photographer was becoming increasingly irritated.  She especially became irritated when, after holding my eyes unblinkingly open for 2 eye-watering minutes, I blinked right when she found the button and snapped the picture.  Twice.  However, after persevering for 10 minutes, I was finally the owner of a passport photo.  An exceptionally bad passport photo.  Unfortunately, when I stifle my laughter, my mouth looks like a cat’s sphincter, and my throat inflates like a bullfrog’s.  When I show up in Cozumel, the Mexican officials will compare my face to my photo and wonder where my goiters went.

But you can’t beat a free cruise – even if free ain’t exactly free.  Let’s just hope the boat doesn’t sink . . .

‘And now for something completely different’ – your fun link for the day:  Who was Hugh Laurie before becoming Dr. Gregory House?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV-xLIkxKyw&feature=related

Remember, to leave a comment, click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog, and don’t forget to check out the latest Photoblog on the right!

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12 Responses to Bargain Passports and Goiters

  1. Thea, you will be lucky if you don’t get hijacked to Cuba! Next you have to tell us about Randy’s experience gettin his passport photo. =)

  2. Kipper says:

    My Mammy won a 7 day cruise once. My Mammy and Daddy also had to get themselves from Montana to New Orleans. They also had to come up with cash to pay for the obligatory tip for the cabin maintenance guy. They never saw him, but he always left behind a new animal twisted together from the bath towels they used each day. By the end of 7 days there were quite a few old used bath towels lounging about the cabin. Mammy wants y’all to let us all know if your life boat comes in a 55 gallon barrel. Even though I wasn’t one of the priviledged of my brothers to get to go on the cruise with them, they got a lot of rest and you and Uncle Randy will really get to relax and have alot of fun! My Mammy says have a Key Lime anything for her!!

  3. Samudra says:

    I can answer the Hugh Laurie question without looking it up! Black Adder!! (I’m a BBC fan.)

  4. Thea says:

    Margaret, getting hijacked to Cuba is certainly a possibility, knowing our track record of ‘if anything can go wrong, it will’… I’m imagining petrochemical poisoning as the ship traverses the Gulf of BP… I mean, the Gulf of Mexico. However, Randy took his passport photo without any difficulty. He even looks good in it. Go figure.

  5. Thea says:

    Kippy, tell your Mammy that I will eat many Key Lime things for her while on the cruise. I’m sorry that you didn’t get to go with them on their cruise. They were probably worried that you would be scared of all the pelicans.

  6. Slarty says:

    Just don’t write anywhere on your blog site when you will be gone because then while you are on the cruise ship enjoying the company of hairy chested old men, baking in the 130 degree heat, and then enjoying the intestinal parasites of Mexico, some crazy creeper who knew you were going to be gone will sneak into your backyard and steal your bamboo and hammock! Stay away Margaret!

  7. Thea says:

    Of course not! :) However, you are the only one I know who LOVES the bamboo and hammock in my back yard – so either this is a simple case of projecting, or you are planning a heist and are trying to throw me off the scent by using the words ‘crazy creeper’… So… if I come back to a denuded yard, I will merely have to visit you to recline in some shade…

  8. Thea says:

    Samudra, I am too. Even though I don’t get BBC America, I’ve watched every British show (in the last 30 years) that’s ever been on PBS. Yes :) Hugh Laurie was on Blackadder. This link is to something else – just as entertainingly weird – You just have to click on it and watch :D

  9. Maddy says:

    OOOOHHHHH We are so gonna go in your backyard & sit in your hammock while ur gone!!! & we are gonna take pictures of your house & send them 2 u!!! Its going to be so fun!!!!

  10. Samudra says:

    Yeah, I watched them on PBS, too, before I got cable. Also liked various Dr. Who’s and Red Dwarf and Torchwood (last may be only on cable). The woman on Torchwood (Eve Miles, I think) reminds me of Mary Greene. Did you friend her?

    And when will you be going on your cruise?

  11. Slarty says:

    Haha..denuded is a funny word! Well, I do love the hammock and the bamboo very much…sometimes I dream of them. BUT I think I am too lazy to try to remove the bamboo and hammock from your backyard, and I would not enjoy relaxing in my backyard with the aroma of dog poo, so it will probably still be there when you get back unless a REAL crazy creeper comes by. I guess I will still have to visit YOU to recline in some shade.

  12. Snuffygump says:

    There are also Randy’s boys. They too enjoy swinging on the hammock and fading into the dense darkness of the bamboo. Y’alls backyard IS special and wouldn’t feel right anywhere else but with the two of you in it….and all the rest of your friends! I wish we could join Slarty, Maddy and the rest while they have their wave of parties whilst you two are off plying the Carribean.

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