Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Stratford, Ontario.
Canada is green, lush, and very English. There's a river -- the Avon River, of course -- and a lovely, riverfront park that's internationally famous as one of the most beautiful, riverside parks in the world. All of this is wasted on Bao. You can take the dog out of Bondi Junction, but you can't take Bondi Junction out of the dog. The white ducks are bigger than he is, and the swans are bigger than the ducks, and he finds all the grass a bit overwhelming.
This is a very pretty little town. But lest you be tempted by the beautiful scenery, a word of warning. Crossing the border from the United States into Canada is not a piece of cake. Nor is it a sure thing. In fact, we almost didn't make it.
Is this your first visit to Canada? asked the Immigration Officer in the booth.
Yes, it is.
Have you got a passport or a birth certificate?
I said I didn't think I needed one.
It's not the law, she told me. But it's at our discretion.
So what does that mean, exactly?
In my case, it meant parking and locking the car and waiting my turn in Immigration.
Here, a young woman from Arkansas was in the process of being turned back. They'd been questioning her for an hour. They'd searched her car, which was packed full of personal possessions, including her cat. They'd found a signed, expired lease. She said she just wanted to visit, to have a look around and see what Canada was like. It wasn't good enough. They wouldn't let her in. She had to turn around and drive back to Arkansas.
I was next.
Where was I born? East Orange, New Jersey. American citizen? Yes. Where was I going? To visit my friends Jules and Jo in Stratford. What's their address? I told them. How did I know these people? Jo and I were docents at the Tucson Museum of Art. How long was I staying? Fifteen days. The computer did its thing and she gave me a bit of yellow paper, and told me to show it to the guy outside.
I asked him, Was all that because I didn't have my passport?
No, he replied. It's because it's your first visit to Canada.
I was lucky, because I didn't fit the profile (whatever it is) and I had a destination. If you fit the profile, you're in big trouble. And even if you don't fit the profile, you still have to have a destination, or they won't let you in.
So if you find yourself close to the border and thinking it might be fun to have a quick look at Canada, think again. Or make a hotel booking in advance, and be sure you've got proof of citizenship.
And remember, it's not a sure thing.
They do turn people away.
At their discretion.


Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

Welcome to post 9/11 "open borders". Actually without a photo I.D. the U.S. might refuse to let you re-enter and Canada is stuck with you. In reality its all a bunch of political sniping between governments. Nice, eh?

10:28 AM

Blogger Betty said...

I had no idea it would be difficult to get into Canada. But, I have a feeling it is more because we always make fun of them than fallout from 9/

I love reading your blog. And, Chairman Bao is a cutie.

12:55 PM


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