Today started with last minute packing, waiting for our rent’s deposit cheque to be returned and the untold possibility of what laid ahead. Vancouver was her own winter-y self – 10C outside with heavy rain – the perfect encouragement to get out of the city and find greener pastures.
We drove to Peace Arch crossing, excited to cross the border and head down the coast to discover fantastic scenery and parks. We knew that our time at the border would be long, as the truck was fully loaded and we wanted to import Travis’ truck. So, it came as no surprise when we were sent inside for further questioning.
See, as a Canadian I go back and forth the US all of the time, without any issues. We figured that this would be like every other time I went to the States – actually, scratch that, we didn’t even think at all, we only assumed. Boy was that the wrong way to go! Little did we know that when we had told our story to the border guard, that we basically gave him red flag after red flag.
Here’s how it went (approximately):
– What’s the purpose of your trip today: We are driving down to Texas to store our belongings (flag #1) because we are going traveling for two years around the world.
– Where do you call home: We left our apartment (flag #2) and employment (flag #3) to go travel.
– How long do you plan to stay in the US: We are flying out on the 19th.
– What’s your relationship: We’re married (flag #4).
And the result: Tears, frustration and disbelief. They figured that I was trying to (illegally) immigrate into the US. Apparently you can only enter the US if you are a resident of somewhere, and having no apartment (parent’s house apparently doesn’t count) count as my being and alien. I was denied entry into the US, finger printed and got my picture taken. As the custom guy said, this will follow me forever and will negatively affect any further attempts of entry into the US. And the kicker? Travis wasn’t even allowed to drive down with any of our belongings to the US. Apparently his stuff is mine too because we are married, and it’s illegal to store any belonging of non-Americans in the US. So much for honesty.
I mean, yes, looking at it from his point of view, my story had a lot of potential for issues, but isn’t it their job to figure out the difference between honest folks and the ones actually trying to screw the system? It just makes little sense that a rule would be applied identically across the board regardless of the person’s actual story and situation. I have a lot of money in my bank account. I have flight tickets and visas in my passport. I have a blog, photos, and family and friends who could all attest that I am going on a trip around the world. And really, why would I ever want to live in the USA? They have a shitty education system, horrible policies, extremely questionable politics and don’t even have free health care. Come on!
And damn in, if I wanted to move to the States, at least I would have tried to move all of my belongings instead of selling / donating everything first.
We were turned around and had to reenter Canada. I was worried that now they wouldn’t let Travis in anymore (since we apparently don’t reside there, and he’s American), so we shifted the focus on only part of our story. I just couldn’t have dealt with being separated and stuck in different countries… at least we made it back together.
We drove to the first coffee shop we could find and laid down our options. 1) I fly directly to Houston or Chicago to catch our flight to Japan on the 19th, while Travis goes down with the truck (apparently transit is OK, but 19 days doesn’t count as transit). 2) We store our belongings in Vancouver and fly out to Japan right away. 3) We drive to Montreal first, store our stuff there at my dad’s house, then catch our flight. Well, it turns out that catching the Houston – Chicago – Narita flight we had wouldn’t work because the transit time would be to long (I’d have to be detained in custom – in the holding area – until my flight. We also learned that we couldn’t just cancel the Houston part and keep the Chicago flight – we’d have to cancel it out. So we really had only 2 options: leave ASAP from Vancouver or book a flight out from Montreal.
After learning the cost of storage for our 10 boxes ($84 a month) and talking to my dad and my mom, we decided to opt for the cross-Canada road trip into Montreal. It’s quite the change from the original plan, and I am disappointed about missing out some of the great sights in the US, this will be a really great road trip. I’ve always wanted to do it, and it will take us through the Rockies, the prairies and the Great Canadian Shield. We’ll take great photos along the way and just have a different story to tell! We’ve already made it to Kamloops, so it’s a good start.
Overall today was pretty disastrous, frustrating and quite the roller coaster. But I’m really happy with how well we’ve handled it. We didn’t dwell on it nor played the victim. We both realized that it was so out of our hands that all there was left to do was to figure out plan B and execute it as soon as possible. I’m glad that we’re both able to deal with life’s travel challenges!
Today we will be purchasing our ticket to Japan + Singapore, canceling our original ticket and contacting our insurance company for the trip cancellation insurance, and changing our hotel reservation in Tokyo. And after breakfast, we hope to drive all the way to Banff. It should be a stunning day!