July 7-8, 2000
Iím back in England to get a project going for work. Yep, I found a job out here. It was looking like Europe would take more than a year to cover, and I was feeling a bit out of touch with Ďthe real world,í so I put out some feelers.
In a day there were 10 e-mails and 3 phone messages, plus 2 calls to my parentís trying to track me down. The idea was just to see what was available and what was doable. Half of the e-mailers disappeared when I told them I had no working visa and the others wanted me to have a permanent UK address first. I also made it clear that I was not yet finished with my travels.
An New Zealander understood perfectly and also was able to find half a dozen companies that caught my interest with some of the major WAP projects (basically, Internet on mobile phones); however, a company that had a perfect skills match and were willing to bend to my needs was at hand: Moonpig Ltd.
ďWe donít want someone whoís going to work for awhile and then disappear in travels,Ē they said.
I was blunt about my plans of my personal mission, continued exploration of the continent. They listened well and made the perfect offer. A slightly lesser salary, but double the holiday time (by British standards, already twice that of the USA) provided I start ASAP. Deal. The paper work is in progress now.
So what this means for Sauntering 2000, is that it will continue for a few more years, cover a few more places, and slow exploration down to a digestible rate for those of you who are swamped with other important e-mails already.
On the bad side, it means a guilty feeling of not being home for Christmas for the first time, the queasy feelings of homesickness that can set in during a boring day. The trade-offs that feel right for the time. Iím philosophically in tune with the Europeans, while too different to ever be one of them. Iím following some intuition by staying here and since Iíve been following that sixth sense, Iíve found it never to be wrong, although not always exactly right.
So anyway, this brings me back to England. What leaves me in the port town of Dover is a defect surfacing in my passport. Although itís 5 years old, the extended travel with it close to my body has produce a bubble over my last surviving long haired photograph. They held me behind at the border crossing, peeled apart my passport and made me wait for a call from the American embassy. The bus driver let me get my bag out of the bus (nearly 2 days of travel from Lithuania to Poland and then here) and took off. "Two Poles and an Americanski left behind" I heard one driver comment to the other. "An Americanski too? I heard the other say as their voices faded behind the closing glass door.
It turns out there was a defective double coat of laminate and the body heat had caused it to separate. ďWeíre sorry,Ē they said, handing me back my now definitely looking tampered with passport, ďbut weíve found the problem to be a defect in your passport; however, we donít expect you to have other problems. You can call me if you get stuck at a border and I will explain what happen to immigrations along your travels.Ē
Yeah, right. When I made it to London, I went to the embassy who told me that my passport would get me detained at any border crossing. For a hefty fee, they made a new passport for me, this time with short soggy hair, one coat of laminate, and a note in the back, ďThis is a replacement of a mutilated passport.Ē In cases of mutilation, you arenít allowed to get your old passport back, so there goes all my Eastern European customs stamps. At least now Iím valid until 2010 and have an entire book of clean pages.
Ah yes, we are in Dover, which isnít such a bad place, so Iíll spend the night and the next day here. The hostel was comfortable and allowed me to rest up from the multi-time zoned bus trip and left me to explore the town the next day.
Itís a fine little town with some nature trails I didnít have time to explore, but upon the white chalk cliffs, is an amazing castle fortress area. Part of it were secret planning rooms during World War II and are exhibited very well as such and the above ground castle remains mid-evil from the days of King Henry VIII, who caused problematic riff in England long after his reign. For starters, he was the one with six wivesÖ heíd party when one died and if she didnít die, have her beheaded for adultery (meanwhile, he was already remarried without yet being divorced). That sort of thing didnít agree with the Church. Iíd see the result of that in the next town on my way towards London.