Friday, November 20, 2009

I Feel Violated

Our flight out of San Jose, California went smoothly. My heavy, beer equipment ladened suitcase was checked in without question despite the excessive 35 kilos of dead weight. My small carry-on case had some additional non-metal brewing stuff that wouldn't trigger any x-ray suspicions but was mostly my clothes.




After a few sleepless hours in the air we arrived in Guanajuato and I naturally got the red light at the imigration inspection station and hoisted my suitcase up on the stainless steel table top for closer scrutiny. I threw open the lid to expose an array of vacuum sealed bags of malt extract and specialty grains along with an assortment of brewing equipment.


"This luggage is not normal."
The inspector said in spanish as he turned to signal his supervisor into action. The superior stepped up and pulled out a bindle of milled pilsner malt and held it up to the flourescent light, squinting at its contents.
"Esto es cebada malteado," I said in broken spanish " esta toastado, no es raw."

He looked at me with a puzzled expression, before continuing to rifle through the odd contents. Fortunately, he was the same inspector that looked in my case last year and after my wife Susan (who speaks fluent spanish) reminded him of this fact, he waved us through. At the last moment he noticed that Susan had a banana in her purse and immediately snatched it out and warned her not to try to take fresh fruit into the country. He turned and walked away with the banana prize clutched in his hands while I swept up my suitcase, its contents spilling out the seems, and headed out of the inspection area with relief.


The unfortunate part of this story is the discovery when I got to our hotel. At some point after the suitcase was check in for the flight, probably in San Jose, it was opened and several items were removed. Namely, a CO2 injector and a dozen 12 gram CO2 cartridges. Everything else appeared unmolested. The reason is a mystery to me although I suspect that an imaginative inspecter saw the materials as the makings of a high tech bomb and removed it all, ruining my evil plan and diverting the disaster of a mid-air explosion. In place of these items was a card informing me that the case had been opened for review. Thank you invisible inspector person. Regardless, I view it as a small loss considering all that did get through customs, and a lesson learned for the next time.

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