“You went to Mexico for 4 nights by yourself? Follow me please.”
And so, starts my third airport ordeal in 5 days.
You may have recently read my article on what it’s like to be detained in the US. Hell. The male staff members had a lot of trouble believing I was transiting and that I could support myself if I wasn’t.
Despite all that I had finally made it home. Australian soil. Ready to greet my kids and sleep in my own bed.
I had nothing to declare. I bought nothing. A restaurant had given me a small wooden giraffe, and a hotel had given me a bottle of tequila, but other than that I was good to go.
When They Don’t Believe You Have Nothing To Declare
Until I wasn’t.
You can’t even imagine after a 14-hour plane ride which started with an interrogation, how irritated I felt when Australia decided I was also suspect. Since I was a citizen it had nothing to do with supporting myself instead I found the focus was on the impossibility of a woman traveling all that way by herself for only 4 nights. I must be a “drug mule”.
Unlike the US there was no separate room. I was lead to the declared area where my bag was heaved onto a giant table and I was asked politely if they could search it. Like I had a choice. Good naturedly I said, “be my guest”.
Suddenly I remembered the wooden giraffe, sweat beaded my forehead and never one for dishonesty I confessed. The officer barely looked at it before continuing to rifle through my clothes, my underwear, my dirty laundry.
An Invasion of Privacy
A woman officer approaches me while my bag is being searched and asks to search the contents of my phone. As in, put in my password for her so she can nosy around inside. I have never heard of this. Hundreds of flights and no one as ever asked to search my hone, not even during my hours of detainment in the US.
So I protest loudly what an invasion of privacy that is and I have private things on my phone.
“What could you possibly be looking for in the phone? I mean I understand if you want to take it apart and check for drugs, but the contents?!”
“We see a lot of things. We are checking for beastiality, child pornography, etc.”
I am gobsmacked. I don’t know what to do. It’s possible that refusal may lead to bigger problems, but at the same time how can someone search my phone without any sort of warrant or even an inkling of wrongdoing? Why am I being treated like a criminal without any supporting evidence?
She takes my phone.
The other officer continues searching my bags asking all kinds of ridiculous questions, much like the US.
“Where are my kids?”
“Where is my partner”
“What does he do?”
“How come he didn’t come?”
“What is your job?”
“How often do you travel?”
A secondary officer is looking through my passport. When we get to the part about me being a blogger there are a lot of questions about whether I’m actually working in other countries, and finally, he admits, “It is suspicious that you went all the way to Mexico for just four nights, but understanding your job it makes sense now. You travel a lot so it all makes sense, I’m sorry.”
Returning My Things
They return my suitcase, not in any resemblance of the order I had packed, everything is shoved back in and closed up. My phone is returned and my passport is handed over with an “Off ya go, ma’am, say hi to the kids for us.”
Should I have led with I’m a blogger and was away for work? Would it have been any more believable that I just wanted to travel to Mexico to see my friends for 4 nights?
We will never know.
I hoped in my Uber and tears started to flow. Frustrated from the US, insulted by Australia, exhausted from a long flight, I was done. I thought Mexico had been worth it, I’m starting to think it wasn’t.
Will I Ever Travel Again?
I returned home to signs painted by my kids and huge hugs and kisses. There is nothing like going away and coming home to my favourite people on the planet.
As I recall the story my frustration has faded. My anger dissolved. Now all I remember is my amazing adventure in Cabo, sipping cocktails in a pool, waking to the sound of the ocean crashing on the shore, talking all night with my girlfriends.
I guess that means it was worth it. Sure, I’d face the dreaded airport customs all over again to live the life of adventure I have. It’s worth it.
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