There was some miscommunication between Sam and I about what he wanted me to bring to USA. I thought it was two loose CDs, but it was a factory CD set that was uncommonly heavy. In other words, Sam put me in an awkward position. Taking something like that to USA is a lot to ask. Florida and Texas are the two worst states for messing with the law, and it made me nervous. In Bogota airport I sought out the canine police and had the dog smell and slobber on it. The police seemed sympathetic, the dog seemed unconcerned, and a policewoman inspected it further by taking out a sharp object and trying to pry the CD cardboard open.
I thought it was the last of my worries, but at immigration in Fort Lauderdale I got a long interrogation. I answered truthfully, but it was stranger than fiction for the immigration officer. He seemed incredulous that someone would spend a month in Colombia as a tourist, and that it was my 4th time there. And I am going to Switzerland next week. And that I travel so much. And my passport wouldn’t scan. And it was my 5th passport. And so on.
I didn’t help my case when he mentioned that I had been in Calgary last year. I was caught off-guard by it and had a blank look on my face. Was I in Calgary? “Oh! Yes, I was in transit from Europe,” I recovered gamely, but the damage had been done. I was asked to provide more identification. That’s never happened before. Since when is a passport insufficient? It dragged on, and in the end he marked my entry form with a big fat red pen “1A” which meant my bag had to be scanned at customs.
I got out eventually, dazed, wondering if the immigration computer system is going to label me as a troublemaker and I will have to give the same unsatisfactory answers every time I arrive in my country.
Minutes later I was being fed ceviche and mahi mahi on a TV cooking show being taped right inside the terminal. Wha’?! Huh? They needed people to be the audience and I looked the part. It was for a guy who calls himself Chef Allen, and I was happy to show enthusiasm while being fed three courses.