Reporters on the Job

Sure, Take My Passport: It had been six years since correspondent Michael Jordan had lived in Eastern Europe, so he opted to spice up a recent reporting trip on Bulgaria and Romania's EU accession with an overnight train ride between the capitals.

When people who learned of his upcoming trip started warning him of pickpockets, unscrupulous taxi drivers, ATM scams, and thieves on trains, he began to have second thoughts about his decision. Somewhat anxiously, he went ahead with the overnight trip anyway.

During the 11-hour journey, he was awoken numerous times by officials who would knock and ask for his passport.

The first few times, Michael says that he could see the silhouette of a uniform in the dark hallway and complied.

"But the sixth time, I was just like, 'Yeah, yeah, I know the routine,' and sleepily handed my passport over to the hand reaching through the door."

Michael fell back to asleep, only to awake with a start, realizing he had no idea to whom he had just handed over his most vital travel document.

He stumbled down the corridor, only to find the Romanian border official, smiling, on his way to return his valued ID. "I'd wanted a Balkan adventure, but that was almost too Balkan-adventure for me," says Michael.

Follow-up on a Monitor story

Readers have inquired about how to help a group of Muscovites who visit and aid orphans in Russia ("In remote Russia, 'Murziki' bring cheer to orphans" Dec. 26, 2006). To find out more, including how to make a donation, go to www.murzik.ru.

– Christa Case
Europe editor

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