Did you know that you can’t travel on a passport within 6 months of its expiry date? I do now. Let me set the scene. We are at the airport – Jenny and I and about 30 old friends off for a holiday ‘sans children‘ in Vanuatu. Many of us haven’t seen each other for years – think a middle aged tropical version of the ‘Big Chill’, but without anyone dying first of course. So there is much slapping of backs and hugs as we work our way up to the counter. I pass my passport over and see a flash of sadness come over the girl behind the counter’s face. She quietly explains that the Vanuatu government demand that your passport still have 6 months to run to go there. This is presumably to stop the flood of Australian boat people arriving on their shores in their Beneteau 50’s. I was going to an island resort for 5 days for heaven’s sake. Do they think I will sneak off into the bushes, build a hut on a secluded beach and drink Kava for the rest of my life? Hmmm. Anyway I learnt long ago that it is a waste of time arguing with anyone in an airport. They always have someone above them on the phone who says no. Or they pretend they do. I remained calm. Luckily our travel agent was with us and in no time I was flying out the next day, provided I could get a new passport by then. So as everyone headed through the departure gate I calmly strode out the front gate and into a poor unfortunate cab drivers life. Unfortunate for him because he had to listen to my rant when the fuse burnt out. I gave it to the entire travel industry, blaming all their staff, the airlines, the government, the greens and the mining boom, along with several south pacific nations.

The poor fellow was from of Indian decent and very clever. When I first got in the cab (before I started raving like a lunatic) I am sure he sounded like he went to university in England, but his English deteriorated as the trip and my rant wore on. By the time he dropped me in the city he was wiggling his head from side to side and talking like an extra on ‘It aint half hot mum’. A very good way of avoiding engaging with someone who is clearly deranged and possibly dangerous. As I did get a passport he mustn’t have called homeland security but I bet he thought about it. Next I need new photographs so in to the city I go. As the girl at the Post Office prepares to take my photo she tells me not to smile. Like that was going to happen. Next it was up to the passport office where the staff was very helpful but had the wary nature of people who spend every day of their lives dealing with people who need to leave the country in a hurry. After deciding I wasn’t on the run nor dangerous (I had ended my rant for now – I am smart enough to realize that an anti-bureaucracy rant wasn’t going to speed things up for me) they granted me a passport and told me to be back that afternoon to pick it up. Oh and here is what you need to pay. That passport is without doubt the most expensive book I have ever bought. A few hours later I had my new passport and the next day on the plane.

Luckily you don’t need a passport for any of our off shore trips starting with the 3 day Mooloolaba 200 to 22 June 2014 or the Yeppoon to Brisbane 6 – 10 August 2014.

That’s all for now, until next time, check your passport.

Cheers Mike Job

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