(Continued from my previous post.)
So we had finally arrived in Chile—two days, two airport grandparents, one hotel murder later—and the end was finally insight. Literally. We were waving at Bevin’s friend’s dad on the other side of customs, who had come to pick us up at 6am after finishing his shift as a taxi driver for high-end strip clubs.
And then I was pulled out of the customs line by one angry Airport Chilean who reached into my carry-on bag and pulled out one red apple, holding it away from her face as though it might start launching missiles.
About 36 hours earlier, American Airlines had supplied us with airport meal vouchers to get us through our extra day in Miami. These were obviously of no practical use to us, as we opted instead to go to the beach and sip on $45 drinks while singing whatever lyrics we could remember to “Welcome to Miami.”
When we got back to the airport that evening, we used the vouchers to fill our bags with snacks for the plane, carefully calculating our voucher points to maximize them to our full potential (mostly so we could feel like we had gotten something out of this whole debacle besides a stay at Hotel Shit Hole). The clerk totaled up our purchase and informed us that we had $1.50 left. The only thing we could add for $1.50? One red apple. I tossed the apple to the bottom of my carry-on bag, forgot it existed, and checked the “not carrying any fruits or vegetables” box on the customs form twelve hours later.
Bevin translated for me as the Angry Airport Chilean sat me down in a special room and started silently filling out forms. “She just forgot she had the apple,” Bevin told her. “Can we please go?”
The woman slowly shook her head and told Bevin, in Spanish, that I had signed a binding legal document stating I did not have an apple and had therefore broken Chilean law. She then made a copy of my passport and added me to a list of terrorists.
“She doesn’t even want the apple,” Bevin explained, frustrated. “She doesn’t need it back after this.”
“Well of course she can’t have it back after this,” she told Bevin, rolling her eyes. “She cannot bring an apple into our country. It will be destroyed.” Just then another airport official came over and began wrapping the apple in several layers of thick plastic.
I was then taken into another room, Bevin was asked to leave, and I was told to give my official declaration of why I had the apple.
My declaration: “I completely forgot it was in my bag.”
This was translated to Spanish (Olvidé por completo que esta manzana estaba en mi bolso), typed, and signed with my blood. I then signed papers stating that I understood the apple would be destroyed. Then I was told the minimum fine was $250.
Please take a moment, friends, to wrap your head around two hundred and fifty dollars for one apple. That’s the cost of five beverages on Miami beach.
So then I got panicky-cry-face, and luckily the woman took pity on my American ignorance and agreed to waive the fee just this once, under the condition that I “never bring fruit into Chile again.”
She also asked me not to speak of this to anyone else in line, since they handle each case differently. I happily agreed and walked out with my head held high, five pages of apple paperwork under my arm, right past the next woman in line who was holding a bag of beans and weeping.