Nothing to declare

After nine wonderful days in Spain, we returned home to the Big O last week. I won’t tell you about the hours of packing we endured, trying to bring home every Spanish and pan-European delicacy possible. Suffice it to say, 15 kilos per person is NOT a high enough weight limit. Curse you, Ryanair!

I will, however, tell you about our experience with the U.S. customs agents. Because it was funny.

Shortly before our descent into Newark, the flight attendants passed out the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Declaration Form 6059B. Because I am a law-abiding citizen, because I really was not sure which of my foodie souvenirs were legal to bring into the country, and because my husband is the type of guy most favored for random searches by guards everywhere…I declared everything.

Pork products, fresh cheese, alcohol, olives, jam, soda, candy…the list filled all of the form’s available space. I didn’t (and don’t) believe that any of our purchases were dangerous or should be illegal. In fact, most of them are easily purchased from within the United States. But I really did not want a $1000+ fine.

So after disembarking, having our passports stamped, collecting our luggage and me fainting (bleah), we finally made it to customs. Our five bags passed through an x-ray machine, and a customs agent pulled two bags aside for closer inspection. First he pulled out a chorizo sausage and confiscated that. Then another sausage. Irksome, but not entirely unexpected.

Then he pulled out the hermetically sealed chicken-and-cheese sandwich served (but not eaten) on our Continental flight.

“You can’t bring this in.”

“Really? It’s from the airplane.”

“You can’t bring it in.”

“Oo-kay.”

Next he discovered a wooden box that (when purchased in Spain) had contained fireworks. Pictures of rockets and fireworks were emblazoned on the top.

“What’s this?!” A note of panic entered his voice.

I watched blearily from my wheelchair, wondering what on earth the agent was freaking out about. My sweetie, however, cottoned on quickly.

“It’s just food!”

“Food?” He opened the box and was so relieved to see membrillo and cheese instead of explosives that he just closed it again. (I’m still wondering if they’re legal.)

Finally, from among the dirty underwear and stinky socks, he unearthed…a Kinder Egg.

kinder-eggs1

For the uninitiated, Kinder Eggs (a.k.a. Kinder Surprise) are hollow chocolate eggs roughly the size of chicken eggs. Inside each Kinder Egg is a hard plastic container that holds a toy. Sometimes the toy requires assembly; sometimes it doesn’t. The plastic container invariably occupies most of the space inside the egg. It would be nigh impossible to swallow, and biting into it would lead to a very sore mouth. Besides, the packaging clearly states that a toy is inside. Much like a box of Cracker Jacks.

The customs agent lifted the egg carefully from our suitcase with both plastic-gloved hands.

“What’s this?”

We were flummoxed. Could he possibly think it was a chicken egg? “Chocolate.”

He passed the egg to another agent. They conferred. Asked if we had more.

“Yes. We purchased them in the duty-free shop.”

They told my husband to retrieve them. He did. Then…

“Come with me.”

The Bean and I watched in puzzled amazement as they disappeared into another room, four Kinder Eggs in tow.

“What is going on? They’re Kinder Eggs. They’re just chocolate!” I said to the world at large.

Another customs agent commented that Kinder Eggs are a choking hazard. Choking hazard. Yeah…

At this point, I was superficially distracted by the woman behind us in line, who had attempted to import roughly 60 pounds of fresh seafood packed on ice.

Within a few minutes, my husband and the agent emerged. I watched as the agent directed him to throw the Kinder Eggs into a nearby trash bin. The agent made it clear by his actions that HE was not going to touch the cursed eggs.

And we were free to go.

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3 Responses to “Nothing to declare”

  1. Dixie Says:

    That just seems weird. I think they were bored and trying to seem important.

  2. fractone Says:

    That’s the thing, though. It isn’t like the customs agents were just sitting around. There were a ton of people coming through, and they were busy, busy, busy.

  3. Dixie Says:

    Still, seems like a power trip. What are these evil chocolate eggs? I must protect the children of America!

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