Monday, 22 July 2013

Crossing a Big Border

On Saturday, Matthew and I had a well-earned sleep-in. But after that, we drove to the border for a day in America.

The border line was bloody ridiculous. We waited at the Peace Arch in the car, listening to classic rock, obviously, for about an hour and a half. In fact, the line up was so crap that there was an ice cream man making a killing rolling his trolley up and down the queues. The weather was hot too.

And then when we finally got to the checkpoint, we had to go inside and get Matthew's short-visit-visa (all $6 of it). That took another hour. By that time, I'm not joking, it was 3:30pm. Day = wasted.

We drove to Bellingham and did a totally Canadian thing: went to Trader Joe's and stocked up on cheap American groceries. And enjoyed the novelty of buying wine in a food store. For $5 a bottle. Yes. Actually, the very best things about Trader Joe's are the cheeses and the deli items. Sadly, we knew we were not going to get across the border home in time to preserve the integrity of any cheese, so we refrained.

We then went to a horrible little shopping mall and Matthew bought some excellent clothes, including a pink tie with recurring mini hula-girls and palm tree motifs on it. Clearly we need to go on a tie-worthy date asap. I'm working on it.

This is why I did not buy any clothes in America.
By that time it was in the region of 6pm, so we headed back to the car with quite heavy hearts, and drove North in the bright evening sun back to Canada.

Matthew's working holiday visa was set to expire next week (it has been two years since we landed), and we have been through quite a lot of strained international phone calls, hundreds of dollars, and several 'what are we even bothering with all this for?' moments over the last couple of months. It has been trying. At one point, we were advised that Matthew would be at least a month between old visa and new, meaning that he would be unemployed for that time. After the initial shock, we actually grew to look forward to this impending unemployment, planning that Matthew would cook all the meals, meet me for lunch and walk me home from work, and do All The Taxes. (Can you tell who was making these plans with Matthew's time? Yep, not Matthew.)

And then, last Thursday, the new visa arrived! We were relieved, but also a bit deflated. How nice would a month off work be? Exactly.

On with the story: Matthew told jokes, and I gave 'that was funny' in response instead of laughing, and generally the tension in the car increased. We rocked up at the border and actually turned out to be waiting in line right in front of my friend Alec (from UBC) and his wife! We waved to Alec and Caity, and listened to more classic rock, and generally freaked out.

As we were walking in to get assessed, Alec drove by and called out 'good luck!' He had no idea. We waited a mere 15 minutes, and the stern-faced but kind border security guard asked us some questions, and voila, 2 more years of work and play!

On the way back to the car, while wearing massive grins on our faces, we saw Matthew's friend from work, Bao, drive past. He gave us a wave and shouted something hilarious about us getting nailed for shopping too much (ie. having to pay way more tax. Not so.). Even though it was totally random and unlikely, it was actually kind of heart-warming to know that we have been here for long enough to recognise not one but two friends in the border line-up.

We celebrated by, the minute we got in the door (at like 8:45pm) by scrambling into our date-night clothes (dress for me, shirt for Matthew) and heading to a local Italian restaurant. It was hugely relaxing and romantic, and we generally laughed and enjoyed ourselves. We had three courses and wine, and it was just the best.
Matthew with a cappuccino stache, enjoying the lighter side of life.
Cheers Matthew. So here's to an extension of our holiday. Family, we miss you. Friends, we miss you too. We're not sure how long we'll be here, but we're doing our best to make the most of the time we have.

1 comment:

  1. yay for visas!! neil's has always been handled externally by an agency, so the stress has never come home (i'd be rubbish at coping with it anyway).

    this means we definitely have to make time to come visit!