It took us 36 weeks to travel the first half of the globe. It took us 36 hours to travel the second half. Our return flight via Air Canada was uneventful, if not long. At least we can say that we went to Europe, if a 6-hour layover in Geneva counts. Everyone in the airport terminal wore black Armani suits, long coats, and were carrying briefcases. It was as though we had landed on the set of a James Bond film. We stood out like a sore thumb, having come from India on a 9-hour flight, looking disheveled and travel weary in our Goan Raver duds, but we were too tired to care.
Thankfully, we slept on our second transcontinental flight of the day, and arrived in Toronto in the early evening. Canada Customs and Border Patrol can seem relaxed compared to their cohorts in American Homeland Security, but our customs officer was all business. She asked us the usual questions, each answer leading to a deeper question when she realized this was no casual trip to Switzerland we had been on. Noticing Cyrus’s deviation in last name, we explained his family ties.
“And you of course have a note from the boy’s father giving consent to your journey?”
I was floored. I stood there with a shocked look on my face, and I’m sure the customs officer was thinking she had some work ahead of her, and that she was going to get the opportunity to make our lives a living hell. In all our travels, no one had asked to see our documents proving we were allowed to travel with Cyrus. Australia had required it ahead of time to get our Visas, but at no border had we been asked for any physical proof of Nico’s consent. And here in Canada, our own country? How ironic would it be to get hauled into some office, interrogated, tortured and beaten in the very last step of our journey? Not that Canada Customs is in the habit of beating people, but I have heard horror stories from American friends of mine of how thorough they can by if they should choose to put you under their oh-so-friendly microscope.
“Um, yeah, I’ve got the documents”, I said slowly. I pulled the papers out of my bag, and handed the woman every legal document I had, just in case she had any more questions. “You know you’re the first person in 8 countries to ask for this. Isn’t it ironic that we’ve had them all along?”
“That’s because you’re responsible travelers,” she said, giving us the first smile we had seen from her yet. “Welcome home.”