Canada (Deportation)

7th August 2007 – 18th September 2007

After an amazing last chapter with Amanda backpacking through Colombia, we touched down in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Feeling tired from an overnight bus trip and airport waiting, a new feeling overcame us. A feeling of being back in the ‘real world’. That place known as reality, where people work too much and don’t live enough.

As per usual I was feeling nervous approaching immigration, but I had my story, living with my girlfriend, living off money earned on Gas rigs in Canada. I soon forgot about immigration as I entered the passport check and saw the massive queue, meaning we would easily miss our connecting flight to Denver. So Amanda went through the US citizens booth (no queue) to go change our flights and we would meet at Baggage claim.

Without going into too much detail (you can read the extended emotionally frustrating version in my book), after queueing for 2 hours I got to the passport check booth and was told I required further questioning – no surprise. A further 2 hours waiting in a crowded room only to have my file put in an overflowing box, laughed at and told that I would require more in-depth questioning.

At 11pm –our flight had arrived at 3.30pm– with the crowded room emptying out I got called out to another room. I was tired, hadn’t eaten or drunk anything since the airplane meal that morning. Add to this I was worried sick about Amanda who I knew would be beside herself, having waited 7 hours at baggage claim without a clue of what has happened to me. I also had all her money and credit card. The least of my worries was that we had missed our connecting flight.

Once in the room I was delivered the news “we’re not letting you in “! Wow, try and explain that feeling. Then I was told I was being put under oath and that it was against the law to lie to an United States officer. I had to look into the camera, raise my right hand and repeat after the officer who then questioned me on my previous visits to the America and my status as a tourist and working. 

After the questioning they asked “do you have any questions?”, “when can I see my girlfriend as I have all her money and credit cards?”, “you can’t”, “what happens to me now?”, “we send you back to Bogota, Colombia where you came from!”

Even though I was emotionally and physically drained, I managed to keep my sense of humour and have a laugh at my unfortunate situation with the officers. You could imagine what I felt like saying to them, but I realised they were just doing their jobs and venting would get me nowhere. This ended up paying off, although I was unable to see Amanda, another officer had come through and I gave him Amanda’s credit card to give to her. They also allowed me to buy myself a flight to Canada (US$500 one way to Vancouver! – I was in no position to bargain) instead of being deported back to Colombia.

By this time it was midnight, I’m informed that I will be transported to Atlanta City Jail where I will stay the night before flying out in the morning. I was thoroughly searched (not thorough thorough though), my hoodie strings and shoe lases taken out, bracelets cut off and replaced with prison issued double metal bracelets with a joining chain. Me and 4 other deportees were herded into a barred paddy wagon.  We were transported down the highway like high security prisoners to Atlanta City Jail -this was not an Airport holding cell (there is no facility at Atlanta Airport), it was Atlanta City Jail!

2 hours later after the prison induction of mug shots, signing forms, uniform issues and medicals was over, I was standing in-front of cell 210 waiting for the prison guard to buzz me in. That feeling I will never forget, waiting, knowing that there was another American inmate behind that cell door that will probably not be too happy that a skinny funny talking dreadlocked guy has woken him up at 3am. ‘CLICK’ with my fists and cheeks tightly clenched I opened the heavy cell door. A body on the bed stirs, gets up and walks towards me. He puts out his hand “I’m phillip, what you in here for?”

Lights on at 5am, we were assembled in the high walled concrete recreation court to wait for breakfast. We filed in and picked up our tray of bland coloured segmented slop. I approached the dining tables pretty nervously, there’s something about a table full of big guys wearing orange jail jump suits that makes a skinny white guy feel uncomfortable.

After breakfast I was handcuffed to another deportee and transported back to the Airport where I was escorted to my waiting plane. The officers escorting me were good guys and very surprised that they had let me buy a ticket to Canada. In their opinion I had no chance of entering Canada after being deported from US and would probably find myself back in Atlanta Jail that night until I could buy a flight back to NZ! -great.

As an inmate in Jail said (thats sounds pretty hardened aye – I did time, hahaha) “Canada lets anyone it”. He was right, I found myself teary eyed looking out the Vancouver public bus window with my pack on my knees. I booked into a downtown hostel, showered, left a message on Amandas cell phone telling her that I was in Vancouver, Canada and not back in Colombia as she was led to believe. I sent out an SOS email to all my friends that had lived in Vancouver or may still be there asking for a couch to crash on. Then I turned up on the doorstep of my old work and asked if they would employ me until I could get enough money together to buy a ticket back to NZ, he was happy to help me out (cheers mate).

Reunited in……….Vancouver Van City Skyline

Amanda after receiving my message booked the next flight up to Vancouver to spend her last week with me before she started back teaching. Considering our situation we had a great week in Vancovuer, I believe one of the worlds most naturally beautiful big cities.

Amanda left and good friend Lucy who made an appearance in the Banff and Mexico Surfing chapters made a welcomed guest appearance and took her deported friend under her wing. It was through Lucy that I met my Vancouver angel Elle, who after a Sunday afternoon of boche and brews in English Bay offered me her apartment for the month as she was going away for work -actually she didn’t offer it, she told me that I had to live in it and wouldn’t take no for an answer. What a legend, she hadn’t even known me a day and had offered me her downtown one bedroom apartment in English Bay.

Relaxing at Elle’s pad in the English Bay sun Returning to Red Deer 1 year later to collect my gear, there was a new edition.

Ironically her apartment was right across the road from where I had lived previously in Vancouver. The only difference was Elles place had furniture that wasn’t taken from a dumpster and you didn’t have to risk your life poking your head around the 16th storey corner window to get a glimpse of the ocean.

So I slipped into routine pretty quickly, working every hour available to me putting up tents, customizing myself to an impromptu long distance relationship. Spare time was spent hanging with Lucy and friends making the most of the beautiful Vancouver summer. After having enough money, I bought my expensive ticket to NZ via Asia as my good friends in the US immigration wouldn’t let me transit there. I cleaned Elles place like a possessed house wife and filled her fridge full of beer. Good ‘ol’ Lucy dropped me to the airport where I was to catch my flight to the next eventful and totally unpredictable chapter.

 NEXT CHAPTER

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2 Responses to “Canada (Deportation)”

  1. pauline March 27, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    SIMPLY AMAZING

  2. Sarah July 26, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    Im hooked on this blog!

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