“Namaste la vista, baby,” Jay said, mimicking the formerly white t-shirt he was wearing. He lifted the shirt to gain access to the treasures below. Wrapped around his waist and tucked into the front of his tan, dusty cargo pants, the thin fabric of his money belt was already soaked through. But no matter. The treasures would be dry and safe. Jay took out a wad of plastic, then unrolled, unfolded, flipped, and eventually unwrapped his most prized possession: the small, dark-blue booklet of his US passport.
The formalese of government speak greeted him: “…requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection…”
Jay wondered how much he still looked like the photo. The green-and-gold eyes were the same, as was the light-brown hair. But the skin of that face? Dust, heat, sun, cold, ice, rain, beer, hot breakfasts, cold breakfasts, no breakfasts had all leathered his face, hardened his eyes, softened his smile. But it was still Jay. Jay, once from Idaho, now of the world.
He flipped through the pages—past the backgrounds of cacti and mountains, past the important information that addressed everything from about your passport to loss of citizenship. Then he opened the last five years. Visas, stamps, signatures—most of them official and some, to put it mildly, questionable. Jay thought about the so-called visas that had been added not at an official immigration checkpoint, but by hands unsteadied after a bit of backroom blather, boozing, and baksheesh. He flipped through the countries: South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Gambia, Morocco, Ireland, England, Scotland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, Tibet.
There should have been a visa for Nepal, but instead there was only a blank page. Before arriving at the border checkpoint between Tibet and Nepal, the men in the truck had hidden Jay under a blanket. Jay didn’t ask why. They’d hardly slowed down since.
And now—officially—Jay was in India.
Adventures taken, people met, sights seen—all condensed to stamps on pages. Jay re-wrapped his passport in the plastic and stuck it back in his money belt, behind the photo where the man and woman always smiled at him.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish