Grandmother’s Land

For our anniversary, we went up to Canada.  It was a great pleasure:  marital togetherness, great hosts, all the scenic beauty Canada has to offer, the basic warm goodwill of rural Canadians, and Tim Horton’s.

Did you know that Indians of the northern Rockies referred to Canada as the Land of the Great Grandmother? We’ve all heard, of course, about the concept of the Great White Father in D.C., though I suspect a few of the Indians realized how utterly paternalistic the reference was (among its other detracting characteristics).  Anyway, since Victoria I was Queen of Canada during the white invasion of the West, and Canada was often thought a refuge (often it was anything but), some Indians called it after Her Majesty.

One of the best parts was our success at smuggling by full disclosure.  We were bringing two six-packs of Ice Harbor IPA to our friends, plus some homemade salsa.  Problem:  you cannot bring in alcohol as a gift duty-free.  If it’s for your own consumption, yes; as a gift, no.  You also can get in trouble bringing in homemade food.  Bozo, our navigator and planner, put the salsa in with the beer in bubble-wrap to keep it safe.

So we get to the border.  I won’t name the crossing lest it get the guard in trouble.  Customs Canada, which isn’t called that anymore, asked most of the usual questions.  They are more inquisitive nowadays, and make an effort to catch one in a fishy story.

“Do you have any alcohol?”

“Yes, two six-packs of beer.”

“For your own consumption?”

“No, it’s a gift for our friends.”  This was an answer so retardedly honest it was plausible.

“In the future, you may want to reconsider that.  The duties are fairly punitive on alcohol, unless it is for your own consumption.  Please pull around to the left and stop, remaining in your vehicle.”

I was pretty sure we were going to be in trouble, at least to the tune of C$50 for the duty.  When I saw a sign about a C$1000 fine directly before us, I assumed the salsa would be found when they inspected.  We would be asked why we had not disclosed it, and there would not really be a very good reason.  Ouch, ouch.  However, I have an inkling that when they have you pull around, in part they are watching to see if you hurriedly dive back into the back seat and start trying to rearrange things/cover up contraband.  That would have been very unwise, so we just sat cool. After a few minutes, the officer brought back our passports and wished us a safe drive.  No duty, and no trouble for the salsa!

When we reached Jenn and Marcel’s (our wonderful hosts), Jenn advised me from the description that we’d gotten the border guard she considered a ‘douchebag.’  Well, all I can say is that in our case he combined taking his duty seriously with a sense of fairness and goodwill, which is a great combo in a border guard.

Score one for giving a response so self-adversely candid and true that it is believed, since no one would make up something like that.   And thank you, Customs Canada, for not being rough on us.

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