Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Travelling with Boxes

Space on a boat is always tight, so when it comes to packing in England we choose cardboard boxes and a roll of tape.  We perfect the weight allowance at the airport, tape them up, then unwrap when we arrive and throw the boxes away.  It works great, always has. Admittedly no straps for carrying but they fit on top of your head just brilliantly.

This time, however, we took our boxes through three different countries of Central America.  Smuggled might have been the word chosen by any of the three customs officers who stopped us on our trip south.  The last customs guy, when we rolled in to Guatemala; tugging on the solitary wraps of gaffer tape, was surprised it didn't pop open revealing a stash of contraband.  He looked at me sternly as I explained, poorly in broken Spanish, that it was just stuff for our boat that we had left in the Rio Dulce.

We were searched first in Mexio. With a fresh smile, we gladly unpacked. The customs officer seemed most interested in the absolute worth of the boxes.  It was perhaps fortuitous for us, that the last items tossed in our boxes were tea. They bring our hold weight up to the 20 kg in manageable 125g leaps.  Sifting through them I picked up our recently acquired epirb; perhaps the most expensive item, he wasn't interested.  With a dreamy gaze of one who has realized that fighting Mexico's colossal racketeers by stopping tourists in airports is futile. He was playing with the hand drill, spinning the drive whilst he watched the drill end spin.

The same inquisition happened as we entered both Belize and Guatemala.  The same inquiry; quizzing us about the contents of each box, a kind of vocabulary test if you like, followed by uncertainty as to which box they would like to look in, in the hope, I presume that our faces will change to a look of fear as the box with all hand guns padded with cuddly toys stuffed with drugs is selected.

We did however arrive, with all the contents of our luggage; including CO2 canisters, burgeoning first aid kit and the usually not packed, though frequently mocked kitchen sink; our current one so deep that an inch of ocean always resides in the bottom of it.  Once stowed in the appropriate lockers, we unavailled ourselves of our suitcase of choice. The cardboard box.

1 comment:

Mike Wagoner said...

Just another great story and the last photo is priceless.