i have adventures (sometimes)

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Illicit Satsuma

Hey look, I'm in Vancouver!

I've been planning to get to Canada and the States for years, and I finally decided that now, when I have time and a little money right after my degree, was the time to go. Sure, I've had no time to plan (thanks to my dissertation) and haven't had a proper night's sleep in two months (ditto), but whatever, EXCITING AWESOME ADVENTURE. Right after I take another nap.

Until two days ago, the extent of my planning was messaging my North American friends to let them know I was coming, and booking a one-way ticket to Vancouver. No travel money, no other plans, nothing. Thanks a lot, dissertation.

I flew with Air Transat, who inform me that they won an award for Best Leisure Airline, which rather makes me wonder who the competition was, since the flight was delayed by an hour, boarding was absolute chaos, and I spent 9 hours awkwardly trying to sleep in a tiny seat which didn't recline. I can't blame them for the fact that there were 400 BABIES on the plane, or for the fact that my lack of planning extended to forgetting to book a vegan meal, but it didn't contribute towards a pleasant flight.

Still, I survived, and made it to Vancouver airport, where I queued for a hundred years to reach passport control. The problem here was that I was arriving with what sounded like the shadiest cover story in the world.

"Where are you going to be staying?"
"With a friend."
"Where does your friend live?"
"I don't know her address."
"How do you know her?"
"She lived in South Africa for a year. Which is where I'm from. So... yeah. There."
"When are you leaving?"
"Um... I don't know?"

But fortunately, the night before, I'd finally got around to booking a flight back to England from New York, which meant that I could prove that I wasn't quite as shady as I sounded and was, in fact, planning to leave at some point. The next hurdle was lexical difficulties.

"You've ticked on your customs form that you're bringing in animals, plants, or food. What are you bringing?"

I had overcautiously ticked the box because I was worried that I would get into trouble and get deported for bringing my unfinished plane snacks into the country, among them one naartjie. This is a fruit I have trouble naming outside South Africa at the best of times. I struggled for a while, then said.

"A satsuma?"

Which didn't help, because he didn't know what a satsuma was either. Eventually, I had to pull it out of the bag to show him, and he wrote in big red letters on my form, "ORANGE.", so I could show it to the customs people.

Next time, I will eat my last naartjie on the plane. Or pick another fruit.

Naartjie naartjie naartjie.

But they let me into the country despite the illicit satsuma, and I was met at the airport by my good friend Kelsey and her sister, and so commenced my exciting North American adventure.

I'm including grocery shopping and sleeping for 12 hours as part of my exciting North American adventure. Because otherwise I can't say it's commenced yet.



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