|FROM ||Rick Moen
|SUBJECT ||Re: [Hangout-NYLXS] Our Friends from Canada love us all
|Quoting Ruben Safir (ruben-at-mrbrklyn.com):
> The trip from New York to Calgary was neither particularly expensive or
> long. I got tickets for less than $350 on Air Canada. There are amble
> hotel accommodations and Calgary is truly one of the most beautiful
> cities I’d ever seen, sleek, modern, lively, and modern. What a gem of
> a town, that I am so happy to discover and expect to revisit …. except….
> Specifically, when I landed from NYC on flight AC585 form EWR
> (Newark) to YYC Calgary arriving at 19:13 on Thursday March 2nd, 2017.
By coincidence, after it being touch and go for a while, I'm right about
to pass through EWR with my wife Deirdre and shviger^W mother-in-law
Cheryl, on my way to STT. No, sorry, there really wasn't the option of
staying in the Big Apple again. Actually, make that two stops through
UA flight 1682
LV SFO 22:36
AR EWR 06:58 (+1 day)
UA flight 1519
LV EWR 09:15
AR STT 14:20
We will be in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands for two
days, then board M/V SeaDream II at Crown Bay Marina on Sa 2017-03-11
between 2 and 4 pm. Here's the itinerary for the cruise itself:
On Sa 2017-03-18, we disembark 8-10am at Philipsburg, Sint Maarten,
UA flight 1631
LV SXM 12:55
AR EWR 17:45
UA flight 0436
LV EWR 19:45
AR SFO 22:09
IATA codes explained:
SFO = San Francisco International
EWR = Newark Liberty Int'l Airport, Newark, NJ
ETT = Cyril E. King Airport, St. Thomas, USVI
SXM = Princess Juilana Int'l Airport, Sint Maarten, Netherlands Antilles
> I went to the passport control area, and talked to the official in the
> screening on the line. I filled out the paper for entry into the
> country and selected that I was there for 6 days on personal business,
> and nothing to declare. The official, who was hard for me to understand
> actually, asked why I came to Canada. I told him I came to see a friend
> and go to DrumHeller to talk with some of the researchers at the Royal
> Tyrrell about some of my thesis work I’m doing in paleontology and see
> the museum. The guard says to me that I checked that I’m coming for
> personal reason, but I’m actually coming as a student.
Yeah, see, this is where you have to always be careful about your
wording. All immigration officials tend to be seriously cynical about
visitors; declarations concerning their categories of travel: tourism vs.
education vs. business vs. immigration. You want to be as clear as
possible about it being clearly one of those, and not say anything that
might suggest one of the others.
Saying you want to see the museum and that it's a world-famous
archeology museum is great: That suggests oddball tourism. But it
started to go off the rails when you mentioned your thesis and talking
to the researchers, as that suggests education. Not to you, but you
have to put yourself in the mine of a bored, probably not too bright,
low-level bureaucrat who didn't follow some of what you were saying and
just (perhaps) labelled you an exception case to be interviewed further
by someone different who's higher up the food chain.
Ideally, you should keep it really simple and cheery, and don't
elaborate. So, for example, I'm going to be telling immigration
officers we're on holiday on a small cruise ship, and then stop and
smile. No further details about how the captain's from my dad's town on
the west coast of Norway, nothing about the umbrella drinks, nothing
about the possibility of kayaking over to Richard Branson's private
island and heckling him, nothing about climbing the highest peak in the
Kingdom of the Netherlands on Saba. Just a direct, simple answer and a
And the phrase 'personal business' should not leave your lips, in that
context. That _really_ would tend to confuse the issue.
> At the window, had my passport stamped without incident, and walked to
> the baggage carousel area. I picked up my bags, and exited the baggage
> carousel area (which had truly nice sculpture in it). And when I walked
> out I flashed my passport at the fellow covering the door, and noticed
> he didn’t look closely. I, being stupid, stepped back about 2 steps,
> despite the fact that I already was out the door, and represent my
> passport, out of respect, and showed the documents again.
And this was the critical thing, even though you did it with the most
respectful good intentions. Most countries of my acquaintance in recent
years have a two-category customs system. You either have nothing to
declare and walk through, stopping only if asked to do so, or you _do_
have something to declare and present yourself. By (in effect)
presenting yourself, you seem to have accidentally put yourself in the
> I pulled out my tablet, hooked up my tablet to the wifi (I carry no
> cellphone). And sent a message to the parties waiting for me that I
> was being held up at customs.
This is a good idea, but be very careful. In many customs facilities
including US ones, they really don't like you taking out electronics,
possibly because they're not sure whether any of it has cameras or
recording capability. US Customs officials often literally threaten
returning Americans that they think are taking recordings or photos.
This is actually a good reminder that I should pack at least one
dead-tree book, and not just rely on my e-book reader tablet when I'm
in certain lines.
> My problem is not presenting myself, or the miscommunication, or the
> lack of signage, or the waste of my time, or even the obvious over
> staffing (which is none of my business), but the threat and proposition
> by your officer that as a US Citizen on Canadian “soil” that I was a
> prisoner without rights or protections and susceptible to the whims of
> individual officers and the institution of whatever they are, without
> recourse just because I made the error to try to visit Canada. That is
Well, in effect, you were encountering cop mentality, and cops always
overstate their rights in any contentious encounter with someone.
And also, remember that they're paid by the hour. If you question them
and want to know how long it's going to take, that's practically
guaranteed to make it longer. They're in no hurry, you are.
> I do not give up my rights and privileges as a US citizen by the
> mere act of visiting your nation and touching your precious soil.
Ruben, sorry to say, your access to your rights as a US citizen while
standing in a different country is almost nil. If you'd been arrested,
the US consulate in Calgary would have not been able to give you really
any significant help. Here, see for yourself:
Of course, you _did_ have rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms. If arrested, you could and would have used Canadian legal
assistance to assert _those_ rights, the rights extended to all visitors
to Canada. But you get nothing specific by waving your US passport and
insisting on your US rights, because you really have none there.
That's just the way the world works.
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