Normally going through customs is a breeze. We've had to wait in some long lines, sure, but most of the time the lines are acceptable and the customs officers are really nice.
There was that one triumph we had in Costa Rica. The lines were miles long. We looked at each other and looked at our kids, and then looked into the eyes of a nearby customs officer. "Oh, you have kids! Go right ahead to the front."
Why, yes, ok Mr!
Then there was last year's New Zealand trip. When they looked at our customs declaration sheet and saw we had a tent.
"You have a tent? And are coming in from Australia? Give us your tent for inspection."
So they inspected it. For 40 minutes. Then gave it back to us in a giant crumpled heap, with a warning that if we ever tried to sneak in a tent to New Zealand we'd be heavily, heavily fined. (We weren't trying to sneak it in. In any way.) Their cute and agreeable New Zealand accents weren't so cute and agreeable at this moment. Grrr!
But, oh. THIS YEAR. This year what happened takes the cake.
You know me, right? I'm Wendy. I have long red hair, innocent blue eyes, the scent of lemons and fresh laundry blissfully emanating from my pure white skin?
Well. The New Zealand Customs guys suspected me of being a drug trafficker.
Let me tell you, in case you haven't had the experience yet- you don't want to be suspected of being a drug courier. It's a long, heated questioning with an officer who is not your friend, does not want to be your friend, who looks at you with these menacing eyes, trying to read what is going on, really. When I kept telling him that really! I am just a mom with a husband and kids traveling on her own (WHY are you traveling on your own? WHAT is your profession? WHO is funding the trip? WHEN did you get here? WHAT is in your bags?) he looked at me like I was the most vile creature on earth.
So many times I was asked my itinerary. Which I admit, it's a confusing itinerary- bouncing from one country to another on one way tickets. But when you are going to take my phone away with my calendar in it that shows dates and times of arrival and departure, buddy, there's no way I can tell you the dates of arrival or departure the same way when you ask me over and over and over!
It was awful.
Now I know, it could have been a much worse country than New Zealand to be accused of drug trafficking. And, i could have been framed… that would have been worse. In the end, I was let free. Almost 2 hours later. 2 hours of a hot, hot room, interrogation, pat-down (wasn't so bad, phew) and nearly bawling my eyes out. So fun.
Welcome to New Zealand, Wendy!
From Rio de Janeiro, two cute Scots.