Never Bow To Customs Agents

DON’T WORRY…this is not another food post, I promise. What?!? We’re in the middle of a pandemic and nothing makes you realize how mundane and cyclical your diet is like staying at home and self-isolating for four months. This then leads to the realization that you need to spice up things with more bacon and chocolate (Quarantine-15 is real y’all!). Anyway, no food talk. Well, I mean, there’s food talk—but it’s not a recipe. It’s actually M&Ms and sorry to all of you out there who have heard this story ad nauseam. It’s probably better told in person, especially when I can demonstrate with aforementioned M&Ms, but, well, social distancing and all that jazz…

This is a great cautionary tale of traveling internationally. I’d like to tell you it’s my only cautionary tale of traveling internationally, but, well, that would be a lie, multiple times over.

Anyone who has ever flown into Australia knows how stringent their Customs process is. Anyone who has never flown into Australia quickly learns how stringent their Customs process is. Despite other airport events to suggest otherwise, I know that you cannot bring fruits and vegetables and general food items into most countries. In fact, you cannot bring fruits between Oregon and California either—in case you’re ever road tripping up and down the West Coast of the United States.

What I didn’t seem to grasp at the time is that this concept also includes snacks…unless they are unopened and hermetically sealed. Even if you purchased a ginormous bag of peanut M&Ms and opened them approximately 14 hours into a 16-hour flight from LAX to SYD and had only eaten a couple of handfuls. They are now considered tainted and must be disposed of before entering Australia. But hello! this is me and I wasn’t going to easily hand over my nearly full bag of M&M’s because some cute Customs agent with a cute Australian accent said so.

Turns out, I was wrong.

PLEASE NOTE: As a general rule of thumb you should NOT argue with Customs agents. That might be Rule #2 when traveling in airports (Rule #1: never mention the word gun at the airport). Not that I was arguing, mind you—I was pointedly asking the cute Customs agent with the cute Australian accent what the difference was in opening a bag of—let’s just pick a random snack, like, oh I don’t know, peanut M&Ms—on a plane flying to a country and opening them in my hotel room in said country.

Please note that this was my very first flight to Australia and my first ever flight over 10 hours. I also spent 15 hours prior to this flight hanging out at LAX. Additionally this was way back when I could never sleep on flights. Needless to say, I was a bit wired and perhaps a little jittery from chugging coffee for about 26 hours straight. Thus when the cute Customs agent with the cute Australian accent told me I had to dispose of my newly opened extra large bag of peanut M&Ms, I just laughed because thought he was kidding.

Rule #2.B: Don’t Laugh at Customs Agents.

When I realized that he was not kidding, I did what I deemed the only sensible thing that I could do: I started eating them. Rapidly. But I am not rude and I offered all the Customs agents some of my M&Ms. Apparently, this is considered a bribe.

Rule #2.C: Don’t Offer Bribes to Customs Agents.

None of them took me up on my bribe. Thankfully, they didn’t seem interested in detaining me—only pointing out that they could. So there I stood. In front of the Customs table, stuffing my face with peanut M&Ms, looking like a chipmunk, batting my eyes at the handful of agents who were very interested in this crazy Yank and her refusal to willingly hand over her chocolate. I knew there was no way I could actually eat the entire bag at one time and began offering them to fellow passengers as they walked by. A shockingly large number of people took some, blatantly ignoring a life long lecture from their parents never to take candy from strangers. Perhaps the clustered group of gawking Customs agents made them feel safer. Perhaps the lure of candy coated chocolate and peanuts was too much to deny. Perhaps it was jetlag and disorientation from being on a plane for 16+ hours. Perhaps they knew this wouldn’t end well for me and were just trying to show support.

Eventually, I thought I got my point across (aka I gave up because I was actually starting to feel nauseated from too much candy). Plus I remembered that I had a connecting flight that I could not miss, despite my desire to best the cute Customs agent with the cute Australian accent who was completely unsympathetic to my chocolate plight. I reluctantly sighed, locked eyes with the cute Customs agent, and begrudgingly made a huge show out of throwing away my now 1⁄2 eaten large bag of recently opened peanut M&Ms. I really wanted to bow, but somehow—either knowing it was a bad idea or fearing I might puke—I refrained. Probably for the best.

Rule #2.D: Never Bow to Customs Agents.

My best advice to you when we can start traveling again is never bring anything ever into Australia. Except maybe clothes and shoes…

MWWC #26: Solitude

This month’s wine writing challenge is SOLITUDE, as selected by last month’s winner Beth of Traveling Wine Chick.  Honestly, I’ve been feeling a bit at a loss with this topic, as I’ve spent quite a few previous MWWCs talking about how wine is best paired with great friends.  But even the most extroverted extrovert needs to reset sometimes, so with George Thorogood playing in my head–click on his name if you need background music!–here goes:

wine stain

I think one of the best things about summer is sitting outside and drinking wine.  Sure it’s a lot of fun with others, but it is equally enjoyable by oneself–sitting on the porch reading a book or lounging on the beach listening to the breaking of the waves.   It gives you time to relax, to enjoy, and to appreciate everything around you, like the delightful syrah-viognier blend you randomly picked out a few weeks back.

The thing I enjoy most about drinking in solitude is that it is very decadent. Opening a bottle of wine simply because you love it–not having to think about catering to anyone else’s palette or worrying that the food pairing is not quite right.  Taking your time to really get to know the wine.  Trying new styles and tastes you might not dream of trying in front of others (I mean, I know very well that my friends drink merlot when I’m not around!).

Plus you get the whole bottle to yourself.  Not that I’m telling you to drink the whole bottle (for legal disclaimer purposes).  I’m sure you can look up on Pinterest 846 things to do with leftover wine.  Personally, I always thought “leftover wine” was a myth or a horror story told to oenophiles…but if it is really a thing feel free to share your “friend’s” leftover wine horror stories suggestions.

whole bottle

If the thought of a bottle is too daunting, find a great little restaurant with a spectacular view and start with a glass.  Take your time to enjoy all the sensations of tasting the wine without expectations or boundaries and just allow yourself to enjoy.  Order food.  Enjoy it more.

Several years ago, I found myself with a free afternoon in Sydney.  In need of a bit of respite, I happened across a little cafe near the Opera House with a fantastic view of the Harbour Bridge.  Fresh oysters were the special and I just couldn’t resist (I never can!).  The waiter recommended a New Zealand sauvignon blanc and while I’m not a big fan of the ol’ sauv blanc, I decided to give it a go.  BEST. DECISION. EVER. (or at least at that moment in time).  The crisp apple finish of the wine enhanced the creaminess of the oysters; the lapping of the waves and the cool breeze coming off of the water provided the perfect setting for allowing myself to just relax and indulge.  While I don’t remember the name of the aforementioned New Zealand sauvignon blanc (I know, epic fail!),  I vividly remember wishing I could bend time and make that moment last forever.

DSCN2815

That is the beauty of drinking in solitude: making an experience and enjoying the moment…of you.  I think in this day and age of technology we expect–no, we demand–to be entertained 24/7, when in reality what we need is more unplugging and appreciating not only what is around you, but what is you.

disconnect

Do yourself a favor and try it–you might like it.  I’m not asking you to make it nightly habit (for legal disclaimer purposes), but as a treat for yourself.  If you want to be even more decadent and celebratory, pop the bubbly (trust me you won’t be disappointed!)!

Still not convinced that drinking in solitude is for you?  Before I go open that blanc de blancs chilling in the fridge for a special occasion (you know, like Monday night), I leave you with this final thought:

drinking with dog

Cheers!