Thursday, April 14, 2011
Getting in quarantine trouble at Australian passport control
Tidying up my little boy's room this morning, I remembered a travel story I'd been meaning to tell. See this elephant? He nearly caused me a whole lot of trouble. Let me explain ...
We'd just returned from Germany to Australia and thought we would be breezing through immigration and customs and returning home. Being regular viewers of shows like "Border Security" we felt very prepared with the things we knew we had to declare and had ticked all the right boxes on our declaration forms - some food (mostly chocolate), some wooden toys and some lettuce seeds which my mother hoped they'd let through (they didn't).
All done, or so I thought, and then suddenly the customs official started sounding, well, very official. He started again with the "Did you pack these bags yourself?" questions and us weary travellers started exchanging some concerned glances. Suddenly it hit me. "Ah, the knife!" My mother-in-law had given us a ceramic kitchen knife, apparently the latest in stay-sharp knives. It occurred to me it mightn't have been the smartest thing to bring into the country.
"The knife is fine." Oh. Then I had no idea what he was getting all serious about. He asked if he could open an as yet unopened case. And he pulled out ... this blue elephant. And finally, I knew what was going on. "He's full of seeds!" I cried, remembering the long explanation my father-in-law had given me about the cherry pips which you could heat in the microwave to make the elephant even snugglier. Immediately we went into full apology mode, told the slightly dour customs man he could, of course, throw the seeds away, and he did, gave us back this somewhat deflated elephant, and let us go. I still felt like a criminal for the rest of the day though!