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Archive for the ‘Mayana’ Category

Passports and visas became requirements for foreigners traveling in the United States in 1918. Since then, the laws, restrictions, requirements, expenses, and the amount of time put into acquiring and maintaining a valid passport and visa have grown to an extremely challenging point. Traveling in and out of the United States is becoming more difficult. The difficulties of obtaining a passport and a visa prevent people from reaping the benefits of travel.

A common challenge people face when dealing with the process of buying a passport and visa is time. The time it takes to receive a passport after the long complicated registering process can be from 6-10 weeks. This creates challenges right and left, and anybody who wants or needs it any quicker can receive it maybe two weeks earlier; but of course they just need to pay another sum of $60-$70 dollars more.

Alex Brown, a Mill Valley local; working in the Mill Valley public library is a frequent traveler. She is constantly in and out of Mexico. Having a friend with a Mexican citizenship she crosses the border once or twice a month. She states in a personal interview on May 9, 2010, “Before the passport laws were changed in 2008 or 2009 I didn’t even need to bring my passport with me crossing the Mexican border.” Later she talks about how the traveling has become more recently, “The Mexican border is extremely lax, going back into the U.S. is such a hassle; driving through San Diego it can sometimes take you five hours. They pull you over to ask questions, identification, drivers license.” Alex now uses a border fast pass just to avoid the constant struggle that comes with returning back into the U.S.

On top of the passport struggle, there is an emigration issue that Alex addressed in her personal interview. The lack of passport ownership has a great deal to do with time and money, but I wouldn’t be surprised if just knowing the difficulties of emigration was a large factor in the lack of passport owning Americans as well. There are numerous reasons why every U.S. citizen should be entitled to the ownership of a passport and visa and have are capable to get a hold of them easily as well.

Although the government has been addressing this particular problem with the passport system by creating the new border “fast pass,” it qualifies only for land crossing such as Canada and Mexico. The process to own a fast pass is even more complicated and expensive than a regular passport but afterwards traveling across these particular land borders is quicker and easier. Even though this seems like a step further in the advancement of passport and visa ownership I believe that these fast passes are really another way to keep the business flowing in and out of the states. In CQ Weekly Liriel Higa states in her Narrowing the Highway to America’s Neighbors article, “U.S. citizens made more than 130 million trips across the borders with Canada and Mexico last year. The stakes are high for companies that depend on routine border crossings…” Higa then points out potential risk about America’s economy if passports continue to be this much of an issue, “Requiring a passport of everyone who crosses the border may have the wider adverse economic effect of slowing the removal of trade barriers begun more than a decade ago by the North American Free trade agreement…”

Money is a significant factor into the recent challenges in obtaining a modern day passport as well. Passports began being purchased for a somewhat decent rate of $60-80 before this generation with a renewal rate of about $60 and that was hard enough for the more financially challenged citizens. Sometime between 2008 and 2009 the price increased all the way up to $97 to purchase and renew and other sources, such as Howard LaFranchi from EBSCO host recorded that the cost of your first passport has skyrocketed to a whopping $135, (not including getting the 2 year or 10 year renewal depending on whether you’re an adult or a minor.) To the successful wealthy American this may not seem like such a large amount of money, but to the average everyday American struggling in our up and down economy this can seem like an exuberant finance which compared to making a living and providing food for the family might not seem like such a critical item to invest in.

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Passports and visas are definite contributors to holding most Americans in their own little western bubble. Obtaining passports in the U.S. while as difficult as it sounds is still admittedly easier than obtaining passports and visas in other countries. The dilemma starts with the motivation of the average American citizen to even want to leave, travel, experience other ways of living and culture. What inspires an American nowadays?

Carol, a frequent traveler, has hundreds of stories about her voyages to many different foreign countries like India, all over Africa, in Sudan and Egypt, all over Europe, and Kazakhstan. She was able to travel to Kazakhstan 6-10 times a year because her husband works internationally. She says, “Other countries make it much harder for local people to obtain passports, they ask you why you want to travel and think you are going to leave the country for good.” After her years of experience dealing with visa difficulties to traveling all throughout Europe and being exposed to such different cultures, peoples, and places, she tells me, “The reason some people don’t travel has less to do with money or time, as it does where their not wanting to step out of their comfort zone. Some people are afraid of language barriers and the difficulties of leaving what’s familiar and dealing with foreign currency, different traditions, and customs.”

The incentive to obtain a passport in other nations is so much greater because people have a higher interest in venturing outside their borders and affiliating with other people. It really all comes down to basic education in a country.  In many other places they speak multiple languages, and because of this, they are exposed to other people and cultures, whereas in America, a majority of the population will only speak English for their entire lives, or rarely use any other languages they might have learned if they had ever learned other languages at all. Later in the interview Carol says, “Once people understand foreign cultures, they won’t see them as threat and may even focus on their similarities instead of their differences.”

With the already instilled Western mindset of “never having to leave” being so comfortable in our own nation without willing to see what the other parts of the world and cultures are like, this is only more reason to make passports more accessible to the everyday American.

We can’t control the people to go somewhere and learn other languages or even to interact with other people and cultures, but we can still control the accessibility of passports and visas for Americans, thus maybe instilling a little more motivation or incentive to travel, grow, thrive, and learn.

I know I’ve found my inspiration to travel. Along with my incredible Manhattan to Kazakhstanian godmother Carol, my uncle Andy’s beautiful wild travels all over the globe have lit up my entire life and exposed a whole another way of life for me.

As written about in my previous blogs (https://njfp.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/the-ability-to-be-the-greatest-inspiration-in-somebodys-life-without-ever-knowing-them/), his ability to embrace the world’s mysteries, beauties, and challenges with such grace and determination has changed my life.

He and others with stories similar to his have inspired me to become the person I am, to grow into myself, and to learn about the others with whom I share this planet. The best (and sometimes the only way) it seems to achieve such self-fulfilling and experiential goals is to leave the comfort zone of our borders and stretch our wings. I hope others find their inspiration as well, hopefully being able to do so with the same ease we have had for years without dealing with the burden of the everyday hassles of traveling; with passports, money, security, and time. We all seem to strive for our balance; we should be able to find that journeying throughout other countries as well.

Without maintaining connection with each other across the nation, I know we’ll lose the very connection we have with one another locally, and even the connection that holds us together within. It is time to reach out, and it is time to choose what each one of us is reaching for.

What are you reaching for? What or who inspires you? Share your thoughts about this issue with me and others on the blog and hopefully inspire many more.

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Question for Jeremy

HEY JEREMY! I’M MAYANA! SAM TOLD ME YOU COULD HELP WITH MY PROJECT! You seem very resourceful and nice and I could use some of your wisdom right now if you have the time…

Excerpt from my blog:

Andy Bonapart. He was one incredibly inspiring human being. Touching the lives of hundreds around him while he still here with us, and continues touch others and myself with his unforgettable persona, wise words, and a beautiful idea on how to live the life you have while you still have it. What I decided to do my half remembered story about, was this man, the uncle that I never knew yet has probably had the largest impact and inspiration on my life than any one I have ever known, without even knowing him.


After looking at the relationship that I seem to have developed with my uncle over and over again, besides all the other things we share, I feel that Israel and our Judaism pops out to me in particular. I understand that there are many stories in the bible relating to loss, brotherhood, family, and Israel playing a large part in Zionists or non Zionist relationships. Do you see any symbolic stories or references that I could possibly use to portray these relationship that have risen in my project?


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Andy Bonapart. He was one incredibly inspiring human being. Touching the lives of hundreds around him while he still here with us, and continues touch others and myself with his unforgettable persona, wise words, and a beautiful idea on how to live the life you have while you still have it. What I decided to do my half remembered story about, was this man, the uncle that I never knew yet has probably had the largest impact and inspiration on my life than any one I have ever known, without even knowing him.

 I started with his post Berkley graduation, in 1982 in Fiji. His friend Phil went with him in the beginning and by the time they went down to Australia Phil decides to stay while Andy treks on to New Zealand. He had a lot of fun in New Zealand especially because he was now a lone traveler, meeting all kinds of people, staying on farms, working for his shelter. He later moves to Thailand and than Nepal where he begins thoroughly documented his travels by recorder and staying in beautiful places in Kat Mandu. He talks about staying in a tea shop, lists 10 minutes of recordings of all the people he has met, their addresses, where they let him stay, the people in the tea shops to the homosexual couples apartments. On his last trek of his journey he hikes Mt. Everest, alone. His recordings are amazing, descriptions of staying at Everest base camp (19000 ft elevation), the glaciers, and his moments of clarity where he breaks down sobbing thanking my grandma and grandpa for bringing him into this world.

Listening to these recordings, hearing the stories from countless cousins, relatives, and friends about the outgoing excited knowledge hungry man he was has been an absolute delight to listen to. Knowing that this amount of respect and attention I am giving my uncle that I have never even met just from hearing about his journey and his life is completely mind boggling to comprehend just how much I would love him if I had actually had the chance to meet him as well.

My love for running, and for carrying an intellectually stimulating conversation, for being outdoors, for clearing and centering my mind and for clearing it of unnecessary clutter, my passion for traveling, for constantly seeking for more questions and answers, the passion I have for people around me, and my unusually extroverted persona, have all been traits I have picked up on and grown on over the years, and traits that I am particularly inspired to keep be proud of and excel on thanks to my uncle Andy.

Self Interview Questions:

Why do you want to escape from suburbia?

What did Andy mean to you?

Why does he inspire you?

Why do you want to travel so much?

In your own eyes who was Andy?

What is the shed?

Why is it important?

How did i come to live there?

What are some of your ambitions you have, was the shed one of them? How is it helping you?

Does a lot of your anxiety come from your strong desire to detach yourself from your family?

How much influence do you think Andy has had over you and how you want to live your life?

Do you think the connection you feel with Andy is something that only you notice or do you think that your dad sees the similarities you feel you have with him?

Are you going to follow in Andy’s footsteps and chase your dream to travel the world, where do you want to be in 10 years?

Is part of your strong desire to see the world underlined with anger toward where you are now?

Do you think the technology-influenced generation we live in now is holding you back in a way that Andy didn’t have to experience?

Does the addiction to cell phones, computers, and technology in general hold you back from your maximum potential? Do you think the addictions holding other people, back as well?

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Cemetery Therapy

Interviewing my dad; wow, well that was an experience. He was my first interview I had every done as well as a family member! It was exciting as well as a bit nerve racking…especially for the reasoning behind the interview. I asked him a bunch of heart hitting questions, I wasn’t even quite sure he was ready for. But we worked up to it and I think I got what I usually get, and what I expected. Instead of bringing out some nostalgic heart squeezing intense emotions, I got a few more exciting stories about Andy, some more background on my dad’s life, and a full on father to daughter lecture on how to go about life safely. I mean what did I expect? I gave my dad a perfect opening for a chance to counsel me and try and give me his words of wisdom when I was completely all ears.

Although that it went well, even though there were still a lot of unanswered questions, the funny thing about the interview was feelings came up for ME that I never thought would be brought up, or even have. During my dad’s speil he said some words to me that really hit me in a place I had never addressed. I guess he noticed a shift in my emotions or something because after the interview he asked me about how I was feeling. I wasn’t really able to describe what I wanted to say, the words wrung my throat like a dishtowel. In trying to explain to him what was going through my mind tears began to swell up inside me like a water balloon and his hug just stuck the tack right in the water balloon and a whole other feeling emerged. He said some words to me that I won’t forget for a long time while trying to explain the protectiveness his brother’s death might have instilled in him as a dad:

“Mayana, you are so busy growing up, running around, trying to get everything done all the time, that you never let yourself stop and smell the daises.”

As corny as it sounds it just made me realize the insanely amount I love my dad.

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TRANSCRIBING

So after hearing about “transcribing” things, honestly it sounded like a complete bore. But while I was doing my first transcription on Andy’s tape recordings from his travels, I have never been more entranced! Listening to his voice was one of the coolest most psychedelic experiences, on the whole hour CD I couldn’t get past more than 12 minutes because I had to pause it every few minutes and quote something! Everything he was saying I could relate to so much. Listening to him jump from one topic to the next with such ease, made me go through a series of emotions, getting this unusual almost nostalgic feeling. I couldn’t help but chuckle at so many parts about standing out as a “white tourist” or talking about Mill Valley like he was sitting right next to me kvetching about the same things I do!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Andy so far:

6:49 minutes in, “I’ve been cruising a bicycle for the last few days and its fun getting right in the thick of the quagmire, the miasma, the congested flair of Kathmandu.”

Andy running a marathon, he developed a strong passion for running after he graduated Berkley

Reading this sent me into my own daze of my love for my beautiful green Peugot bicycle. Reminicing the dreamy bike rides I’ve had around towns, through hordes of people, and got me pondering about my own future cobblestone bike rides through rural foreign towns.

10:33 minutes in, “The old crowd of Mill Vallians, the IJI people, Berkley contents, Biet people Hillel people, Zionest people, Kol Shofar people, Democratic context people, work people, etc.”


The way he calls people “Mill Vallians” pretty much sums up our town to this day.

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Interview Questions for Dad

  1. We are at a very significant place; do you mind talking about where we are?
  2. How does it feel being here with me, your daughter?
  3. Do you feel that we connect here more?
  4. Do you think that the death of your brother has impact over our relationship?
  5. Has this led you to be more overprotective of me than you might have otherwise been?
  6. I under stand Andy had a rebellious nature, could you talk about that?
  7. Do you see that same nature coming out in me?
  8. Do you ever see parts of him in me?
  9. Andy traveled a lot around the world; can you talk about the places he went to and why?
  10. Would you say he had a passion for traveling?
  11. When do you think Andy first developed his passion for seeing the rest of the world?
  12. What do you think triggered his passion to just go out and do it?
  13. Was Andy unsatisfied with the way he saw the world?

Do you think his beliefs and assumptions of the rest of the world correspond with mine? How so?

Questions for me

  1. Why is living is living in this shed outside your house so important to you?
  2. What are some of your ambitions you have, was the shed one of them? How is it helping you?
  3. Does a lot of your anxiety come from your strong desire to detach yourself from your family?
  4. How much influence do you think Andy has had over you and how you want to live your life?
  5. Do you think the connection you feel with Andy is something that only you notice or do you think that your dad sees the similarities you feel you have with him?
  6. Are you going to follow in Andy’s footsteps and chase your dream to travel the world, where do you want to be in 10 years?
  7. Is part of your strong desire to see the world underlined with anger toward where you are now?
  8. Do you think the technology-influenced generation we live in now is holding you back in a way that Andy didn’t have to experience?
  9. Does the addiction to cell phones, computers, and technology in general hold you back from your maximum potential? Do you think the addictions holding other people, back as well?

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