My passport expires on the last day of May 2010, that is a few weeks after my planned return from Belize. Which means that my passport would be valid during my entire stay there and a bit longer.
Yet, the government of Belize decided that any foreigner wanting to visit their very beautiful - and very sparsely populated - country needs to have a passport valid for 6 month after the date of their ... no, not arrival, but departure.
Oh, big brother, spare me!
Add to it that - due to international terrorism activities and ridiculously sharpened - in the wrong way - security measures - it is no longer possible to renew Swedish passports at honorary Swedish consulates - which there are plenty of, in every corner of the world.
No, nowadays you have to go to the Swedish embassy - in the USA a long plane trip from most of the country - be photographed and fingerprinted there... and then wait for the new passport to be manufactured.... in Sweden, sent back to the embassy and by the embassy to the nearest consulate... thus sparing you - generously - a second - expensive - trip to Washington. DC.
Oh, Big Brother.. too many Big Brothers.... utterly silly Big Brothers!
Since I was thinking of going to Sweden before my old passport expired anyway, a very nice employee of the Swedish embassy suggested a temporary passport now, which I could get in Atlanta right away. Alas, Swedish temporary passports are valid only for 7 months - fine if I were going on a short trips of a few weeks duration, but not on a prolonged one.
So on Wednesday I am off to DC, whether I feel like it or not...and no, I do not feel like going to DC in January!
It will be a long day: leave home at 5 am to drive to Jacksonville airport, fly to Atlanta, from Atlanta to Baltimore, take a subway ? bus to downtown Washington, get the passport formalities done... and then back to Baltimore, to Atlanta, to Jacksonville and home, where i should arrive shortly after midnight!
I may not be too old, yet, to survive the rain forest... but the bureaucratic amok of government bureaucrats pretending that they are "protecting their citizens" from either terrorists (USA, leaning heavily on the others) or illegal immigrants ? ... might very well kill me!
Watch out, Belize, for an invasion of European Union members, whose passports expire in less than 6 month after their planned departure!