Crossing the Peace Arch Border

2 friendly and tame racoons beg for food from passerby's at Stanley Park

2 friendly and tame raccoons beg for food from passerby's at Stanley Park

I was in Vancouver for the weekend, compromising between American & Canadian Thanksgiving, my grandmothers’ 80th birthday, and Rememberance Day as reasons to take one trip for all of the reasons above. I dragged along my roommate Maya, and Misha, my brother from another (russian) mother. It was a short 3 day visit, but the time there felt like forever and far away, but now that I’m home, it literally passed in the blink of an eye – as does all travel it seems. I also happened to be sick for all (and only) the 3 days I was there, which was unfortunate for me and everyone around me (people are way to paranoid about H1N1). I was in the airport and a hospital at one point, and everyone that hears you sniffle or cough looks very suspicously over their shoulder at you, and finds the nearest antibacterial pump machine to lather their hands (has anyone else noticed they are absolutely everywhere now?). My response? I point at my nose and say, “dont worry, its just allergies,” since I’ve definitely heard the horror storries of being caught up at a border or airport in quarantine when someone accuses you of having swine flu symptoms.

Fortunately – and suprisingly – it didn’t rain the entire time we were up north, but grey skies and cold rain sent us on our way back to Seattle-Tacoma airport. We flew in and out of SeaTac, which is only 150 miles south of Vancouver, because flights are about one third the cost than flying from the Bay to BC, and I have to admit how much I love taking that I-5 drive and stopping into any of the Washington State rest areas that are fully equipped with free hot drinks and tasty treats for anyone interested. However, to my dismay, I got held up at the border for an hour when they threated to revoke my American Study Visa because I showed them my Canadian passport (which allows free travel between the American/Canadian border) instead of my Icelandic one (which holds the actual student visa). After they asked if I had an Islamic passport (ummm, hello, Islam is not a country, a religion cannot issue passports… are you really qualified to be a border patrol officer?!?), I (laughed) and said, no, I had an Icelandic one. Without asking to see it, they brought me inside, where a pms-ing woman on an authority trip (more of a power struggle, since I did nothing wrong) tried unconvincgly to make me feel guilty or apologetic of ‘misleading’ border officials of my identity and purpose in the states. After threatening to confiscate my visa and doing nothing at her desk but comparing my stamps of entry in each passport for an hour, she told me they never wanted to see my Icelandic passport after my student permit was up, and that I cannot use whichever passport I feel like or is more advantegous anymore.

Too bad I got in trouble for not showing the Icelandic passport in the first place, and, having two valid passports is completely legal so I will continue to exploit my rights as a dual citizen. Argh.

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