Four little items, all travel-related. Make of them what you will:
- Four out of five Americans don’t have passports. That means they’ve never been outside the country, except possibly to Canada or Mexico. For that matter, some Americans who have passports don’t use them. Travel broadens the mind wonderfully–but then, I’d guess a significant percentage of Americans (and much higher percentage in some other countries) never travel more than a hundred miles or so from where they were born.
- We’re all tourists–as at least one travel writer has said, breaking down the snobbish distinction between (mere) tourists and Travelers. Unless you’re actually going to live in another country, it’s an arbitrary distinction. The rest of us our tourists, whether we wear the silly clothes and offend the people we visit or whether we try to enrich our lives by seeing what’s there to be seen and appreciating the differences in people and places.
- True story: A California couple—a California couple!–was turned away when they wanted to board the plane to fly to their cruise in French Polynesia. One of the two said: “Nobody told us we needed a passport to cruise French Polynesia.” (Actually, I find it extremely unlikely that any cruise line cruising French Polynesia doesn’t have explicit statements in its brochures and travel packets that passports are required–most of them require you to send in your passport number before tickets are issued–but it’s possible that the travel agent didn’t explicitly read those instructions on the phone.) I wonder where in the U.S. this California (California! As a native, I’m stunned…) couple thought they were going on a nine-hour east/southeast flight?
- “That’s the men’s room, Margaret.” I wrote that down in my little notebook one evening on Crystal Harmony, somewhere in Alaska, in one of the public spaces. And yes, Margaret–a wee bit older than I–was headed into the inappropriate facility. It took three times, but her companion managed to steer her toward a more suitable room. I thought there might be a story there, but maybe not…
[Alternate name: Clearing out the "blog possibilities" notebook.]