09
Apr
10

Welcome Back.

With both a bit more color and a bit more, um, me – I’m back.  Getting back into the country could have been tricky, but I have mad problem solving skills.  I slept through the initial distribution of customs forms, so when I hit my button to ask for one, the one they brought me was not in English.

Crap.  As previously divulged, I don’t really speak anything but English.  I took a deep, cleansing breath and remembered that my literacy skills are generally better than my verbal ones and I have YEARS of Tundra Spanish classes under my belt.  I decided that I could do this. 

Crap.  There are a lot of words on this that aren’t familiar.  Wait.  I know the word for ‘no’ in Spanish; it’s ‘no.’  This lists ‘nao’ in the checky boxes.  This is not the same Spanish we learned in the tundra.  Time to hit that flight button again and ask for the form in English.  I don’t relish being troublesome and limited, but I am.

Crap.  They don’t have any English forms; they had some Spanish ones earlier, but I got whatever was left.  The forms are one per family, and everyone near me is either sleeping or did not have to fill out a form.  (I got to sit next to a nine-year-old whose carry-on pretty much just consisted of a LOT of pictures of his dog to show me…better than the actual dog on the plane though.)

All right, I have what I have and I just need to take care of it.  According to the bottom of the form, what I have is Portuguese.   Fine, I don’t speak Portuguese beyond the very basics I picked up while working in food service – thanks, please, fast/NOW.  I can’t spell any of those and it’s doubtful they are on the form anyway.  Oh, but what I DO know are the questions and their answers.  Via my stellar powers of deduction, I manage to fill it out.  Later I learn I even filled it out correctly.  After this strenuous activity, I require (another) le nap.

Fast Forward to Customs.  Me and Mr. Border Control (BC) run through the standard questions: where did I go, why, how long, did I go anywhere else, what did I buy, etc.  He then looks at my form and we have this conversation:

BC: Oh, you speak Spanish?

Me: Um, no.  Not really.  I muddle and point and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ a lot.

BC: <skeptically, eyes narrowing> Then how did you fill out this form?

Me: Well, it’s not in Spanish.  It’s in Portuguese.

BC: <impressed!> Oh!  So you speak Portuguese.

Me: No.  Less so than Spanish, actually.  But I know the questions.

BC: <laughs and waves me through> Welcome back.

Yeah, I’m back.

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