Monday, October 1, 2012

anything but bored at the border.

Setting: In the aduana, the frontera (border) between Argentina and Chile.  23rd of September 2012.

Plot: Police and agriculture monitors are about to check the passengers' bags as they return to Chile from Mendoza, Argentina

Characters: Rachael (me), Meghan, various Police members

Scene 1:
Rachael: (just waking up) Where are we going?

Meghan: To check our bags I guess. The Chilean border is always more strict than Argentina's.
(Meghan runs her bag through, no problem and is slowly waiting for me)

Rachael: (to the officer) Do I put my bag here? I don't have luggage below the bus, just my backpack.

Evidence #1 me and my trusty backpack hiking through La Cordillera and Mt. Aconcagua

(Officer 1 takes bag and runs it through the scanner and the panel signals that everything in my bag is fine)
Officer1: Are you carrying any fruits, vegetables or animal products with you?

Rachael: No, I am not. No type of food what-so-ever.

Officer1: I am going to have to hand check your bag.

Rachael: (Confused because they didn't find anything) Sure.
(Officer1 proceeds to pull out all of my dirty mountain clothes, notebooks and every scrap of paper in my hiking backpack... in public, in front of everyone from the bus)

Rachael: Todo esta bien? Is everything alright?

Officer1: Si... wait here a minuet.
(As I am waiting, I see the officer take Meghan into a back room for about 15 minuets. Meghan leaves and rolls her eyes at me, but she is looking a little flustered)

Officer1: You can go in now.

Scene 2:
(I enter the room, closed door, blackened windows and see two ladies, one from SAG (Agriculture monitors) and one Carabinero from Chile)

Rachael: Hi, what can I do for you?

Officer2: Please show me your identification (takes my Chilean ID and my passport and then looks through every card, bill and piece of paper in my wallet)

Officer3: Rachael, why are you going to Chile?

Rachael: I live there, I am studying abroad in Valparaiso.

Evidence #2 Hanging out in my hometown of Valparaiso

Now reader, you must use your imagination to picture the next 10 minuets. I am being berated with interrogation questions from "Where do you live in Valparaiso" (down to the street and house number) Who I live with, what school I attend in the States, what my major is, if I plan on traveling after I graduate, what I was doing in Mendoza, which mountains I climbed, did I talk to locals while I was there, what my parents names are, who I am traveling with, how long have I known her... 

Evidence #3 here I am with Mt Aconcagua because I went to Argentina for the mountains

(Suddenly, in the middle of me answering a question about Meghan and I going to school together...)
Officer2: Have you ever smoked marijuana? Have you tried cocaine? Heroine? LSD?

Rachael:... NO.

Officer2: Are you carrying any drug paraphernalia with you across the border such as (starts listing words for drug paraphernalia that I don't understand)

Rachael: I don't know what those things are (thinking to myself, because this isn't my first language and I am not a drug dealer...)

Officer2: (in a very, very slow, monotone voice) Do...   you...   speak...   Spanish?

HOLD ON. I haven't spoken a word of English since I left the bus to go into security, even when waiting, Meghan and I were speaking Spanish. The whole interrogation was in Spanish. That question from Officer2 was uncalled for.

Rachael: (face getting red with frustration, plus I already am sun-burnt from the mountains) Of course I do and I obviously don't have any drugs or paraphernalia with me.

Evidence #4 mountain sunshine toasting our happy little faces, hence, the red face.

Officer3: It's not obvious to us.

Rachael: But you checked all of my stuff...

Officer2: We need to check it again.

Rachael: ...Okay.
(Officer2 dismantles every single thing in my backpack. Those with favorite hiking bags know that everything has its own special place and also knows that you can fit a lot of stuff in those pockets)

Officer2: (throws everything into the main pocket of my bag, and stuffs everything in there[probably because it smelled so rank]) Okay, you are good.

Rachael: ...So you didn't find anything.

Officer2: You can go now.

Rachael: (Hugging my backpack to me like a long lost friend) Chao.

So maybe it had to do with my XL Frida Kahlo tshirt, ripped leggings, wool headband and hiking socks.
Maybe we were the most sketchy looking gringas (there were a lot on our bus).
Maybe it was a routine check... awful specific for that.
Maybe we looked like Marijuanistas.
Maybe we smelled bad.

But all that matters is that we finally made it across the border to our home, safe and sound.
Oh and how could I forget: the worse the experience the better the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment