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Passporting since 1979…

Posted by cybertoad on 07/06/2016 in travel |

I have had a passport ever since I can remember and was surprised to find out when I was in a study abroad prep class in college that most of my classmates had never had one. I assumed everyone had one, even if they didn’t travel!

I still have almost all of my past passports:

  • 1979-1984: I was 5 years old!
  • 1984-1989
  • 1989-1995: Sadly, I am missing this one!
  • 1994-2004: I’m finally over 18 so the renewal period changed from 5 to 10 years – also, read more to find out why it was green…
  • 2004-2014
  • And my current one that is good till 2024.

Regarding the green covered passport, I recently saw an article about passport covers colors and it reminded me that I was fortunate in my passport renewal timing a few years ago and had a special commemorative edition passport…

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According to Wikipedia, the “Green covers were again issued from April 1993, until March 1994, and included a special one-page tribute to Benjamin Franklin in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the United States Consular Service.”

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BONUS PHOTO: My four older passport photos (I hate my current one so I did not include it) – me at 5, 10, 20 and 30!

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Pretty neat, I thought!

So do YOU have a passport and if so, when did you first get one?

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Video Sunday: Girls Steel Drum Band

Posted by cybertoad on 07/03/2016 in belize, central america, video sunday, videos |

I don’t take too many videos when I travel but I have a handful so I thought I’d share them individually at the beginning of the month or so on what I’ll start calling “Video Sunday“.

You can view them all over here if you want to see more and can’t wait…

The first featured video is from our July 2010 trip to Caye Caulker, Belize. We were visiting during LobsterFest and I videoed this group of talented young schoolgirls playing the steel drums. The band was called Pannerific. Don’t you just love the sound of steel drums?

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Introducing Time Travel Tuesdays

Posted by cybertoad on 06/28/2016 in europe, time travel tuesdays |

In the summer of 1996, after graduating college, thanks to my mother’s support and encouragement, I had the opportunity to travel through Western Europe for a full two months as a graduation gift before hitting the “real” world and settling into a full-time job.

This summer will be 20 years since that amazing, life altering trip and since I just refreshed this blog with an emphasis on travel, I thought it would be fun to revisit the handwritten journal I kept on that journey.

I was very meticulous about journaling every day – I often took notes in a smaller journal then every few days would review my notes and maps and write my thoughts out more fully. Places and new terms were highlighted (highlighters were bought in a stationery shop in Florence). Even though it was tedious sometimes to try to catch up, other times it was a great excuse to slow down and find a cafe or park to do my writing. Some days it kept me occupied on long train rides or was a great nightcap at the end of the long day walking.

I won’t publish every entry (I made a point to journal each day of travel) but I’ll type up my favorites so you can join me in laughing at the thoughts and writing style of a 22 year old Elaine. They’ll be featured under this new category, Time Travel Tuesday.

Below is a picture of the journal itself. And it was such a perfect travel journal! Since it was spiral bound and hardcover, I could fold it upon itself and write without needing a hard surface like a table. And when I wasn’t writing on it, I could use it to play cards or write postcards. It held up great throughout two months of travel!

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Dusting this blog off…

Posted by cybertoad on 06/22/2016 in commentary, personal, travel |

Hello everyone! I hope you like the updated look and the new focus on travel. I’ve had this blog since the summer of 2001 and I couldn’t just give it up after 15 years. You can read a little more of the blog’s history here

In addition to simply updating the theme with new background art, I’ve added a page with videos from our different trips and a page of my Instagram feed. I even have some pretty nifty maps detailing my travels.

I hope to revive this blog sharing my stories from past and current trips. I think I will even start a “Time Travel Tuesday” where I write up some of my favorite journal entries from my unforgettable summer in Europe back when I was a recent college graduation. It was 1996, before the formation of the European Union, before cell phones and GPS to help guide me. Can’t believe it’s been 20 year!

That being said, I hope you join me on my adventures!

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One of my favorites…

Posted by cybertoad on 06/20/2016 in caribbean, cuba, instagram, photography |

Taken as we drove along El Malecon.

One of my favorites... 🇨🇺 #Havana #Habana #lahabana #cuban #Cuba #caribbean #latergram #streetphotography #elmalecon #malecon #almendron #almendrones #classiccar

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Caught in the downpour.

Posted by cybertoad on 06/19/2016 in caribbean, cuba, instagram, photography |

Caught in the downpour. 🇨🇺 #Havana #Habana #lahabana #cuban #Cuba #caribbean #latergram #streetphotography #rain #raining #rainstorm

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Just another typical street scene.

Posted by cybertoad on 06/18/2016 in caribbean, cuba, instagram, photography |

Just another typical street scene. 🇨🇺 #Havana #Habana #lahabana #cuban #Cuba #caribbean #latergram #streetphotography

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My Aunt’s House

Posted by cybertoad on 06/17/2016 in caribbean, cuba, instagram, photography |

My Tia’s house is the light coral one on the 2nd floor with the terrace on the far right. You go through the black gate to go up the stairs.

 

My Tia's house is the light coral one on the 2nd floor with the terrace on the far right. You go through the black gate to go up the stairs. 🇨🇺 #Havana #Habana #lahabana #cuban #Cuba #caribbean #latergram

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It’s a Coco-Taxi!

Posted by cybertoad on 06/17/2016 in caribbean, cuba, instagram, photography |

It's a Coco-Taxi! 🇨🇺 #Havana #Habana #lahabana #cuban #Cuba #caribbean #latergram #cocotaxi

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My Thoughts on Cuba & Tourism

Posted by cybertoad on 06/15/2016 in caribbean, cuba, travel |

I know I’ve been posting a lot of photos from Cuba, And it’s funny because through the various Instagram filters I’ve used, I am romanticizing the city. As I edited my photos in Instagram I’d show my Tia Gladys my pictures and she was like, “Wait, that’s my street or that’s the city? You’ve made it look so nice!”

As a Cuban-American who has gone twice now I have mixed feelings on how everyone views Cuba as a tourist destination and how everyone is anxious to go. It’s like a new hipster destination and the old cars and crumbling structures are quaint photo ops.

Look, I’m not against Americans going at all but I do hope that if you find yourself traveling to Cuba, that you educate yourself on the realities of what the Cuban people have been through and are still going through. As a tourist, you see the romantic, sort of cleaned up version of Cuba, not the hardship going on behind closed doors. Did you know they still have rationing? And the reason they have all those old cars is because no cars could be imported until recently? Oh, and Che Guevara is NOT the hero history has tried to make him be.

I can recommend several books if you are interested. “Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know” by Julie Sweig may be a bit heavy & academic on the history but it’s great background.

And I leave you with a picture of the market where my Aunt shops & picks up her rations – whenever they get the limited items they do get.

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