The flight was good. Nice and smooth with no turbulence. Just how I like it. The food wasn’t bad as airline food goes and I even got free wine. Great stuff Air Canada. Unusually for me I actually watched a film all the way through ( She’s Out of My League) which wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I had a couple of scotches and almost cheered when the pilot announced we’d be arriving 15 minutes early, pretty good as we’d been 40 minutes late taking off. But all the time I was dreading my arrival in some ways.
Last time I took this trip I ended up going no farther than Toronto. Before you transfer to the US bound plane you have to clear US immigration in Toronto and last time I didn’t. The US Border Patrol told me that as I had spent 6 months in the USA already last year I had to be out of the country for 6 months before I could return. I had only spent 4 months out last October and so I got turned back. Yes it turned out to be a very expensive day trip to Canada for me along with the heartbreak of being just a few hundred miles away from my Raven and not seeing her but the full tale of woe was posted earlier on in an earlier blog which you can read HERE…. So here I am wondering if I’ll get problems again entering the US. I had even emailed them beforehand to check. Fine they told me. No problems they told me but they told me that last October too so I wasn’t putting a lot of faith in that.
The descent began into Toronto at and we landed at 2:45pm local time. This had to be one of the smoothest landings I have ever encountered. Hardly a bump before we landed back on Terra firma. I offered a prayer of thanks to the gods of aeronautical engineering and disembarked wondering how the next few hours would go. Luckily my connecting flight to Columbus Ohio wasn’t until 8:20pm so I had plenty of time to get through immigration … hopefully. I was disappointed not to see snow on the ground in Canada as we landed although it did start to snow a little as we disembarked.
I made my way through the Terminal at Toronto and boy was my heart pumping. I hadn’t let on to my Raven how worried I was about being turned away again but I think she knew and bless her she didn’t let on. But anyway finally I reached the luggage carousel. I filled my immigration form in and waited. Before long I spied one of my cases. I have learned to make my cases easily identifiable just for this purpose by putting bright blue straps around them. It makes it a lot easier than trying to spot your case amongst the rest of the similar luggage. I loaded it onto my trolley and awaited the second one… and waited … and waited. Finally I was the only person left there. Oh buggerit! Don’t tell me that the bugga’s had lost half of my luggage? I checked with one of the guys working nearby. He took my bag receipt and disappeared ‘backstage’. I finally saw my lonely case appear and breathed a sigh of relief. It turned out to have got stuck in the conveyor loading area.
Next it was Border Patrol time. I girded my loins and made it through to the immigration hall. Now Border Patrol officers are a special breed. I think one of the entry tests must be to tell them jokes. If they smile???… FAIL! Mercifully the queue was short and I met my man. The usual unsmiling questions followed along with fingerprinting and a retinal scan. And just like last time I got the big red ‘SI’ scrawled across my file. I was directed to the ‘Secondary Investigation’ office, handed over my file and was told to sit. I waited … and waited. My nerves were shot by now and a very very large scotch with a smoke seemed an impossible wish. Was my nightmare about to repeat itself. Along with an inability to smile it also seems a necessity for the Border Patrol not to hurry. Those guys really know how to take their time.
After about an hour I was called. Here we go again I thought. I mentally prepared myself for the third degree and the luggage search. But … it never happened. The guy was actually courteous and after a minimum of questions he apologised to me and told me that he’d made a note in my file so I wouldn’t have problems in future. I could of kissed that guy. I would happily have had his children and mentioned him in my will. And I was through. I had to book in my luggage for the onward flight to Ohio and go through the customary shoes off, belt off, laptop out, beep beep of the scanner but the security guys must’ve thought I was on something judging by the smile on my face. I wanted to shake them all by the hand and thank them personally … but nah. I just made my way to the departures lounge in search of a beer or a coffee. No smoke unfortunately but I needed a drink.
I called Raven first though. I was a little wicked and told her I had bad news. I heard her voice falter so quickly I told her. “The bad news is that you have to pick me up in a few hours … I’m through babe.” We were both over the moon. Only a few hours now and I’d be back in my baby’s arms in Ohio. I decided to get a coffee first as I still had a few hours to waste till I embarked. Finding a ‘hole in the wall’ Starbucks I ordered a large Pike Place, laced it heavily with cream and Splenda (Gotta watch the figure ya know) and headed off to find a seat. I found one right by a shoe shine guy. I nodded hello as I sat down and promptly spilt a good measure of coffee down my jeans. As my baby says “Ya can’t take me anywhere.” but did I care?….Naaaa. I was on my way back home and still sporting a huge smile. The Rabbi having his shoes polished must have thought the beaming coffee stained idiot in the pork pie hat was an escaped lunatic.
I finished my coffee and wandered around the shops for a while. No mistaking I was in the ‘Land of the Beaver’. There were raccoon hats, fluffy mooses dressed as mounties, Maple-leaf beer glasses and all sorts of local paraphernalia by the box-load. I contemplated buying a raccoon tail hat till I saw the price. Maybe I should get into the raccoon tail supply business? This is Canada, there must be shed loads of the little critters willing to donate their tails to help out with my finances?
Looking at my watch I realised that I only had an hour or two till embarkation on the last leg of my journey and it was fast approaching beer o’clock. I headed off to find a nice bar safe in the knowledge that only a few hours remained before I was back with my baby …..
Little did I know how wrong I was…..
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