I arrived in Australia after a flight I was glad to sleep through a lot of. The fifteen hours from Vancouver to Sydney is a long time to be in a seat. I was in the window seat, which is good for sleeping but bad for getting up to pee and feeling like an asshole because both of the people between me and the aisle were asleep when my bladder reached its limit. I was limber and ready for this kind of occurrence, though. I launched myself over their somnolent forms, using the armrests between them as stepping stones. They were awake when I returned from my piss and walkabout so I repeated my stunt with a very close audience.
Having just flown across Canada twice in the past month, I was nonplussed with the movie selection (though again, Air Canada’s personal video players are a godsend on these long flights – thanks Austin for installing them). I watched a shitty Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie movie and marvelled at how little like an actual human Ms. Jolie looks. I also watched The Fighter, which I liked and The King’s Speech which was all right. I could completely see what Marlis was talking about in regards to that textured wall she wanted to shoot people in front of. It was a very good wall.
I slept too, which was a good thing because the grilling I got at Customs was the most intense I’d been through since those Minneapolis customs guys took apart my bag and read my journal. (Yes, this was worse than when Sean and I came back from our forest and desert travels.) I was hoping it would be sweet and easy, especially since I didn’t want to get into the complications of my occupational training visa that hasn’t come through yet. Just talking as if I was a tourist coming for a couple of months. And well, that story got stress-tested.
After standing in a big long line the guy who stamped my passport barely asked anything and I thought, “Ah well, that was pleasant.” Then as I got past those desks, there was a guy in a blue shirt who stopped me to talk. He was the one who asked what I did and how I knew my friends I was coming to visit. And when that was done I thought, “That’s clever of them to have a secondary person to do the questioning once you think you’ve gotten away with anything you’re trying to pull. All catching you off-guard because you think you’re in the clear and can relax.” While I was thinking that there was another blue-shirted guy who popped up at a post-luggage carousel choke-point and went through my story.
“How did you get the money to come on this trip?” I never know how to answer that. “Well, you see sir, 30 years ago my father died, leaving a clear line of succession directly to me when my grandparents died so I obtained a lump sum of money and bought a condo and then sold it to go to library school.” Or is this money the money I saved working at the library in Winnipeg? Money is such a fiction, who really knows where “this money” came from, unless you’re tracking the actual physical legal tender as it came from the mint. I didn’t get into that with the blue-shirted guy. I guess I just don’t look enough like a man of independent means to have my assertions of multi-month holidays blithely accepted.
But in the end I got through. And they didn’t take apart either of my bags when they did their quarantine X-rays. Australians take their quarantine seriously: all of us on the plane had to sit for five minutes once we reached the gate so we and our possessions could be sprayed with an insecticide. Did you know you aren’t supposed to bring wood to Australia?