Archive for July, 2014

Return to the Death Star

Posted: July 8, 2014 in Travel

I’m back in Emperor Palpatine’s domain for a few months. Nothing much has changed here. Folks are just as oblivious as ever to the shite that goes on behind the curtain. Or maybe they just don’t care anymore. There’s a sort of glaze that falls over their eyes whenever the term “crisis” sounds on the news. I don’t blame them; they’ve been in Code Orange Terror Alert with a side of Economic Crisis, and a garnish of Green Shoots. Nonstop. For 14 years.

WHEE Fireworks! ‘Murka!

Mmmm, sweet corn on the cob for 10 cents an ear, fresh shrimp caught last night, barbecue, apple pie, and strawberry shortcake. The smell of burnt gunpowder in the air. These things are indeed wonderful.

Immigration in Miami has been replaced with the Looming Big Brother Camera of Doom. Which actually rises up to loom over you when it takes your photo. Not just a rotating camera on a stick, no, they went full on and made the whole thing rise up on a pedestal in front of you. Completely unnecessary but that’s pork for you. I was flagged by said looming evil robot with a big giant X, which I guess meant that I would receive the anal probe in the customs line. Not once, not twice, but at 3 separate points I was asked how much money I was carrying. In fact it was the first question I was asked by the passport stamper guy. They must be instructed to ask weird questions that throw you off; questions that already assume an answer from you… or, perhaps, it’s just the jet lag–

“What’s the name of your band?” he asked, noting my banjo case.

“I don’t have one,” I answered. “A band. I just play.”

Then he asked again how much money I was carrying. “$20, I told you.”

Through the customs lane and I was told to follow the damned line through the anal probe section. Where they went through all my stuff and continued with the money questions.

“$20. Unless you want to count the handful of leftover Chilean pesos I have in here, and probably 10 other currencies?”

“Yes, we need a total of all of them,” CustomsLady demanded.

“Do you have current forex charts for Hong Kong, Indonesia, Canada, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, and Japan?”

“No.”

So I filled in “$100?” on the form, and showed it to her, and she rolled her eyes and took it.

Then went the cavity search through my luggage. She was especially interested in my 3d printer.

“Why are you bringing this with you?”

“Because I already have one in Chile and I want one in the US too.”

“What’s it worth?”

“Nothing. I made it.”

“The whole thing? You made this?”

“Yes.” I don’t think she believed me. She rolled her eyes.

“Why did you go through so many countries while you were gone?” she asked. Since I had put in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile on the form, which was true.

“Because I was gone for 6 months and I did a road trip across the continent.”

“That’s weird, most people don’t do stuff like that.”

“I’m not most people.” Probably not the right answer for GI thugs, but hey, it’s 4:00AM and it just came as a natural response.

“How long are you staying in the US?”

“I don’t know. A couple of months?”

“Well, you should know. Are you planning to stay here?”

“I don’t know. Why does it matter?”

“Because it says here you are a resident of Chile.”

“Yeah, but I’m an American, I can stay here as long as I want.”

To which she rolled her eyes again.

Then she went through every last little pocket of every little thing, and then signed the customs declaration form, and sent me on my way. The whole process took about 45 minutes. Oh, and I had a connecting flight, which didn’t matter to them.

But hey look now WalMart has STROOPWAFEL!!! 65 cents each! NOM NOM NOM NOM

2014-07-08 13.45.54