“It’s his first trip abroad,” I say.
“Oh! Welcome to the United States of America, Honey!”
The woman smiles at Mark, who smiles back. He is just too happy to be out of the car seat, and he is enjoying watching fast food employees running back and forth between the cash register and the kitchen.
I’m waiting for my coffee at Tim Hortons. But this is not the Tim Hortons at the corner of our street—it’s a bona fide American branch of the Canadian franchise. My humongous cup even reads “roasted in Rochester, NY”.
We are in Ogdensburg, New York State. Mark’s first international trip. Oh, I’m so proud of him—so far, he behaves.
Okay, this is not exactly and new-and-exotic location. Ogdensburg is the closest US town from Ottawa, a quick one-hour drive from home. But still, technically, it’s the first time Mark goes abroad—the three or four international trips he took when he was in my womb (France, New York State, NY City, France and London) don’t count, do they?
Mark is one of us now, a mini-traveler. We got him a passport. Applying for his first travel document was a strangely formal affair that began with very precise passport picture requirements (no smiling, mouth closed, eyes open, etc.). Fortunately, Mark is kind of used to me taking pictures of him and it was easy to get a good head-shot of him.
I filled out the passport application, still doing the usual double-take—yep, that’s me signing in the “mother” case. We then queued for 90 minutes at the Passport Canada office to drop off the application, and we were told to come back two weeks later.
Indeed, a fortnight later, Mark’s passport was ready. He got the newer kind, a completely redesigned document with a chip, additional security features and some cool images of the country.
So we decided to test Mark’s passport—and his behaviour when confronted to a new environment—by taking a day trip to Ogdensburg. Mission accomplished!
We hang out by the St Lawrence River, enjoyed the local playground and shopped at Walmart for oh-so-exotic US products.
Mark, the mini-backpacker… yep, he is our son!
You can see the complete set of pictures taken in the U.S.A. on Flickr.