The first part of my harrowing passport tale took readers through the odd and at times utterly scary moments I experienced while trying to travel from France to England on my Barbadian passport.
That airport experience – and others – led me to realise that passports are not created equal, especially as things are drastically different when I’ve used my British one in the past.
When I left off, I’d just managed to cross the final barrier before being spit out into the busy Charles de Gaulle airport. My next task seemed simple: Ignore the men with machine guns and find my way to the check-in area. Though I had hours to spare and Parisian exploration was suggested, my paranoia heightened. My interest was in the destination . . . end.
After making it to the terminal I rid myself of the “suspicious” makeup brushes. I wasn’t about to go through a strip search in the next wave for some perfect contours.
My pseudo-zen was short-lived. Sniffer dogs and their beefy, no-nonsense looking handlers entered the terminal. I paid little attention, until a dog took way too much interest in my bag. My stomach catapulted from my body and landed on the floor.
The dog was called away, but during their up and down trek, both dogs stopped at my bag multiple times. This made one security guard stop for a closer look once, but luckily all was well. Until . . .
Time to check-in.
I would show my passport, then my ticket, and voila, onward to the departure lounge.
Instead of heading straight to the counters, there was a pre-check of passports. The male and female security personnel were friendly enough. The woman took my passport, peered at me, then my passport again and asked, “What is your business in England?”
With a bright smile, I informed her I was going to live as I was a citizen. For a reason I couldn’t get yet, she didn’t like this answer and asked me for proof. I showed her my expired British one, and as she started to shake her head, I wondered briefly if I was going to be stuck in France till ‘Wheneverary’.
She questioned me about why I didn’t use my British passport to travel. In this moment I tried to keep my head as the answer seemed obvious enough, “Because it’s expired and I’ll renew when there.” She didn’t like this answer either and explained that they preferred if British citizens travelled on British passports. Who are they?
In this moment the Caribbean woman in me tried to take hold, but I managed to keep most of the edge out of my voice as I explained how expiration works . . . again. None of this mattered. I was told to wait on the side while her colleague made a call.
“We have to make sure it is okay to let you through.” she said to me.
Stepford smile baby. Stepford smile.
Final part: Visas, weird questions, and how many checkpoints are there?