Stuff seems to happen to me when I’m traveling. I never quite seem to get the rules right, whether it’s mixing up destinations or getting the same seat on a plane as another passenger, someone up there has a right laugh as they watch me blunder my way into different worlds.
I guess I just have to laugh with them.
This thought occurs to me as I watch Rupert, the enthusiastic beagle led by a rather less enthusiastic immigration officer, barking at my back pack. Ever watched Border Control? Me neither, but I have seen Bridget Jones 2, and let me tell you, the movie montage of me sitting in a Chinese prison in Guangzhou (where I’d flown from) renting out my bra and singing Madonna was not pleasant.
“Can I see your immigration card please?” The woman says. I instantly panic.
“Um, I don’t have one?” She stares at me.
“Then how did you get through immigration?”
I freeze, wondering if my body had been hijacked by a hypnotist and there was a kilo of cocaine stashed between my knickers and my toothbrush. How did I get through? I’d already been on two 12 hour + flights and could feel the sleep deprivation chuckling at my attempt to recall the past 10 minutes.
“I went through the digital passport machine?”
She asks me to open the bag. Then it hits me. My sandwiches. I’d forgotten to eat all the sandwiches my boyfriend had so lovingly made for me, enough to last the three day trip to Auckland.
I watch Rupert slobber all over the clingfilm, then he goes for them. I don’t blame him, they were delicious.
“No Rupert! Sit! SIT!” It’s too late. He’s gobbled a cherry tomato and looks damn smug about it.
Turns out the Southern Chinese air stewardesses forgot to hand me an immigration card, where it states quite clearly you must throw away any food or declare it. Or it’s an instant $400 fine.
Another immigration officer arrives and stays with me whilst the other takes Rupert off to ask the team leader what to do.
“This… never happens.” The younger woman tells me. Of course it doesn’t, I think, rolling my eyes at the universe.
I sense they want to fine me, but if I wasn’t given a card, it wasn’t my fault. In the end they believe me, thanks to a kind English man who pipes up by the conveyor belt that he hadn’t been given one either. The stewardesses must have been having a really bad day.
Phew. I reach the final immigration officer who asks for the billionth time if I’m carrying any fruit or veg. I declare my cashews (which are allowed) and make it through to the arrivals hall, feeling faint with relief I’ve not been detained for smuggling avocado and hummus sandwiches.
It was only hours later, still sat in the airport waiting for my next flight, that I spotted an apple core, dried up in the outside net pocket of my backpack, ready to be thrown away a month ago. That would have been one expensive Pink Lady if they’d found it.