Have you ever wondered who makes up the rules at customs? Or if there are any rules at all?
I question whether a lot of countries have just random “official” people who decide on a person by person basis what they will demand. It was rumoured that one of the UN civilian police who worked with me in Cambodia had a coffin back home in his country ( I will let you guess… yes… you are right… India.. where anything goes) full of money appropriately expropriated from tourists. Having travelled a bit more since then, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true. I have personally handed over a few bills to a Peruvian customs dude when I overlanded from Ecuador. Sometimes, you do what you have to do to get through.
So Suriname (where you say? formerly known, if that helps, as Dutch Guiana) in South America was a lovely spot, well for the most part, where I spent one crazy summer in my university years. Despite having some routine excitement such as escaped gorillas and rumours of huge frogs (like life-size) Voodoo style, I still managed to live a relatively normal life travelling in the jungle measuring students for school uniforms and going out nightly (when I was back in Paramaribo) to dance and returning home around 5am. Yes, it was quite the life for a 20 something doing a mundane BA in a fairly mundane province in Canada.
Well then the excitement really builds… a coup takes place and as a French major/Psych minor, I barely get its significance at the time. All that really matters to me is that food begins to disappear.. like over night. So having the means and the time to do so, I “escape” to French Guiana to visit Devil’s Island which really does exist. I eat as much chicken and rice as I can get my hands on and then I decide I will go for it. I have officially been diagnosed with a protein deficiency in Suriname, so I develop a plan to smuggle peanut butter into Suriname,
Nervously I return to Suriname and greet the customs “official” with a friendly goeie morgen but still he decides to open my bag. It was like he knew and someone had ratted me out. He finds my stache and promptly gives me a Dutch talking to and confiscates it.
I return empty-handed while Mr. Peanut Butter probably made many peanut butter sandwiches on me. Oh well… what can you do?