So, I am waiting on my new passport and contemplating heading East in a few months.
I was worried about the processing backlog, but I called this morning and was told my renewal application was moving along well. The man on the phone was actually very nice (even wished me a happy day before my birthday), but I suppose I'll believe him when the passport is in my hand, hopefully soon. In my procrastinating glory I waited until the beginning of July to apply for my renewal.
The U.S. government changed the old rules for travel, which permitted travel by land, air, and sea to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada and subsequent re-entry to the U.S. with only valid photo i.d. or a birth certificate. Unfortunately, they didn't bother to adequately set up the infrastructure to process all these new applications, leading to waits of up to three months. My, I feel safer already. And, human nature here being what it is, Americans are shocked to find out about all this after a year of notices in the media and from travel professionals. When I turned in my materials, the woman behind the counter had all sorts of horror and humor stories such as people applying a week before their date of departure under the assumption they'd get their passport overnight. It says a lot, to me, about this country that only about %25 of Americans hold valid passports.
I am looking into CELTA certification programs in Istanbul, Beirut, Cairo, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and Morocco. There are several that begin in October. I would love to make use of my Arabic, but also wouldn't mind building up my Turkish. If anyone has any feedback (positive or negative) on the programs, please let me know. Other than Istanbul and Beirut, the courses are all through the British Council. Or, if you would like to sell me on a particular city, offer to pick me up at your airport, or buy me a beverage, feel free to speak up as well.