Border crossing

Apartment above the shops in Montreal
Apartment above the shops in Montreal

The day dawned bright and beautiful once again and I set off just after 11am, energised by a breakfast of French toast, ready for the next sojourn in Newport, Vermont. On the way to the bus station, I had one little mishap when the train started just as I was sitting down and, with my backpack on my back, I completely lost my balance. However, in true Canadian fashion, several people immediately rushed to help me up and check that I was alright. I managed to twist my already dodgy knee but otherwise all was well.

I had a little while to wait for the Limocar bus, which arrived right on time and was very luxurious, as the buses are wont to be. It was about an hour and a half’s trip to Magog where Judith and Peter, the Swiss couple whose house and dog I was going to look after, were waiting. I had researched far and wide (i.e. Googled) to see if there was a bus to Newport all to no avail, so they very obligingly came to meet me.

So far, so good, but then came US Immigration. The fact that we were travelling together caused a little confusion to begin with and we (especially me) ended up being given quite an interrogation. There appeared to be absolutely no comprehension or awareness that people:

  • advertise for house sitters on the internet
  • are happy to leave strangers to look after their house and pets with no monetary compensation
  • do travel indefinitely
  • do not necessarily know when they are going to return to their homeland
  • are able to support themselves financially without working in the U.S.
  • may have two passports

I was also asked the date of my last entry into the U.S. and if I had an ESTA (visa waiver). The officer then hunted through my passport for the stamp until I suggested (very politely through gritted teeth) that he scan my passport and this might show the exact dates as well as my visa. Isn’t this what electronic passports are for?!

I had to wonder what criteria the Immigration service uses to select its officers and also what training they are provided as this one certainly didn’t seem to know what he was doing. Anyway, the outcome of this little farce was that I had to pay $6 for a visa waiver despite the fact that I already an ESTA, which is valid for two years and allows me to come and go from the U.S. for up to 90 days within that time. At least it kept the officer busy for a while as he appeared to have nothing better to do.

Grey view from my bedroom window
Grey view from my bedroom window

We all breathed a sigh of relief when we got back into the car, as it would have been very stressful and inconvenient for all concerned if I had been denied entry. The rest of the journey was uneventful and we arrived back at about 3.30pm to be greeted by Bubba. He is supposedly a labrador but I think that might be pushing it! Possibly a large amount of husky…… Luckily, he neither barked, growled or bit my arm off when I got out of the car, which surely augured well for the housesitting.

I was shown my room, the house and a large gin and tonic. I felt very much at home! Later, we went into town, a 10 minute drive, to the Thai restaurant and had an excellent meal, a good end to an almost perfect day.

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