Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Customs Ball-Busting

DH and I went to Bahrain yesterday afternoon to do some grocery shopping and then to have dinner. We used to go over to Bahrain on a fairly regular basis, but now, not so much. Sitting on the bridge - with far too many uncivilized, disorderly, rude and obnoxious drivers - is just too much to endure sometimes. Thankfully we left early enough yesterday afternoon - before the "out of work" crowd headed that direction - so that our trip over was quick and easy. Forty-five minutes from our driveway to the grocery store. No lines. No uncivilized, disorderly, rude and obnoxious drivers on the trip over. Nice.

We went to the grocery store where I
found baby-sized jars of Miracle Whip [oh, happy day!], got some dark bread - bread is an issue for me - I like dark, heavy bread like Pumpernickel and dark Rye which is almost impossible to find, here. We bought canned potatoes, too! For whatever reason they have been missing from the grocery store shelves on this side of the world for sometime, now. The store only had ONE bag of Schmackos - a treat that The Boy luvs [he is fussy about his treats whereas The Baby will eat everything and anything] - and we got those. The real reason we were at this particular store though is pork. Lots of pork. Yesterday's purchases included 12 pounds of bacon, two packages of boneless pork chops and two boneless pork roasts, two Kielbasa's, four boxes of sausages, and six packages of Hot Links. So, umm, yeah. We bought pork. Lots of it.

Our truck has a plug-in cooler that w
e take over with us when we're going grocery shopping. Not like we really needed it yesterday, because it was pretty cool out, but when you're buying that much - or spending that much - no sense risking it not staying cold. I unloaded the bags and got it all in the cooler. DH and I then headed to Trader Vic's to have a couple of cocktails before we went out to dinner.

This pisses me off: Men dressed in their religious ga
rb who are sitting in the bar swilling beer and cocktails! I've posted on this before. You preach this holier than thou crap and refuse to drive a passenger in your taxi cab if that passenger is carrying a bottle of booze but you have no qualms about sitting in a bar drinking an entire bottle of wine. Yep. One table over from us sat a middle-aged man dressed in his white thobe and a white ghutra fondling his prayer beads all the while he was drinking an entire bottle of wine. Yes. He had a bottle of wine on his table; not just a glass.

I had my back to the guy and it is probabl
y for the best that I did. It would have been most difficult for me to be able to face him without giving him the "evil eye" look of disgust. DH said that the man kept looking over at us with a rather "inviting" look as if to say, "I'm sitting here alone. Why don't you come and join me." Fat chance of that happening. Ever. Oh, and by the way, you DO NOT want me joining you in a situation like. Just trust me. You don't. I have, on more than one occasion, confronted men and asked them if they don't feel like complete and utter hypocrites when such a big deal is make of the fact that their religion does not permit them to drink. Then just don't do it. Simple. Either you can - or you can't - but you can't have it both ways. It is no secret why so many carloads of men head to Bahrain on a daily / nightly basis. And it is no secret that the bars in Bahrain are exactly where many of those men are headed. [I'll take a picture of the parking lot next time we're there - it will be full of Saudi license plates.]

We left Trader Vic's and headed for
the restaurant. There, we enjoyed a most enjoyable evening as we were "uninvited" guests at a going away party. Uninvited in that we didn't know that the restaurant was hosting a going away party where forty people would be. I'm not going to go into detail, here, on that. It was personal for them - the people at the going away party - and it became personal for us, mostly me, too. All I'll say about it is THANK YOU!

It was not a late night for us. DH had to w
ork this morning. And, we wanted to beat the traffic heading back from Bahrain to Saudi. You do not want to be getting to the Causeway at ten or eleven o'clock when it becomes very, very busy. We got there about nine. Not much traffic - and only two lines open - so it was a five, maybe ten minute wait. Reasonable.

What was NOT reasonable though, was the search of our car. We have had several friends tell us that they had a hard time bringing back certain meat products - quite a few had meat products confiscated and disposed of - over the Holiday's this year at the border - Customs. Partly due to the fact that Christmas fell during the same time as Eid. My understanding is that there is no law which says that you cannot have pork, here. The religion which is practiced here, however, forbids its followers to consume pork [it forbids them from consuming alcohol, too, but that doesn't seem to stop them]. I'd be interested to find out exactly where it says that you cannot have pork, here, if there is in fact such a law.

We pulled into our "slot" at Customs and a young Saudi imme
diately demanded that we open the back of the truck. No problem. Go ahead and look at whatever you want. Don't you know, the first thing he pulled out of our cooler was the Hot Links. "Ahh. Pork. Problem." DH said, "No. Beef." The package clearly says both:

DH and the Custom's guy went back and forth for a couple of minutes. I was sitting in the front seat thinking, "Oh, this is so not good. They are going to take $100.00 worth of bacon away from us and put it in the trash! Nope. Not good."

The Custom's guy had to go get another guy - who had to get another guy - and all of the sudden there were three of them going through every item we purchased and pulling the seats up in the back of our truck [it is a Tahoe - I call it a truck]. I remained in the front seat and one of them grabbed a box that was on the floor under the driver's seat from the back and said, "What is this?" I don't know what it is. No clue. I say, "It is tools." He instructs me to open it. I did. Phew. Completely innocuous. It is the headphones that go to the television screen for passengers in the back seat. I knew we weren't smuggling "real" contraband into the country - just bacon and sausage and pork chops and roasts... I mean, come on. It's not like we had a case of beer or several fifths of vodka. We're not stupid!

DH and two of the Custom's guys continued to
argue over whether or not we should be allowed to continue with our cooler full of pork products - each of the Custom's guys taking time to thoroughly examine each item - even the ones wrapped in plain brown paper. They knew what was in those packages.

Even though the labels said "veal" and "turkey," and DH insisted they contained "fish" [what made YOU say FISH when they asked what was in them???] the Custom's guys continued to fondle our "meat" and talk amongst themselves to decide what to do. Finally they decided that we could have our "stuff" but we were told, "Do not bring pork again." Okay. We won't. Not until the next time. It is a risk. Others we know have had their pork taken and disposed of. Well, we can assume it is disposed of. Who knows? Perhaps they all divvy up the confiscated pork and then take it home and eat it. Hey, they consume alcohol. Stranger things could happen...

As we were pulling away, DH and I were chuckling over the whole debacle. The Custom's guys could have chosen to be pretty nasty about the whole thi
nk and ticked our passports in the system so that our car gets searched each and every time we cross the border - and they could have taken all of the "meat" away from us. They did neither. They just wanted to, according to DH, "bust his balls." They did. Yes. It was all a bit disconcerting and unnerving. Not to mention the fact that I completely forgot we had four - FOUR - bottles of real Vanilla flavoring, which contain alcohol. I had put them in my pocket book so that they wouldn't be in the bags if they were searched - so yes, I guess in a way I was "hiding" them - but if we would have been asked - we would have let the guys go through my bag as well. [Heh. Good luck finding anything in there. If you come across my lip gloss... I know it's in there...] Thankfully they didn't ask. I have no idea how much trouble we would have been in for bringing in real Vanilla that contains alcohol. Minimal alcohol, but alcohol, nonetheless.

This morning I took everything out of the refrigerator and either unwrapped - to rewrap - it or to wrap it for freezing. DH was a happy man and The Kids were happy Kids because I made them all bacon and eggs for breakfast
. DH will be a happy man and The Kids will be happy Kids when I make pork chops for dinner one night this week. I won't eat it - but DH and The Kids will!


  1. Hubby and I were hysterical reading about your adventures in smuggling pork. I can't believe the ragheads actually drink alcohol in public. Isn't that punishable by death or something?

  2. Glad we could provide you and your hubby with a good chuckle. Alcohol - in Bahrain - is consumed by anyone and everyone. Interestingly enough, the liquor stores in Bahrain have signs posted that say certain "groups of people" are not allowed in. [They get around it by having others buy alcohol for them.] Bars and restaurants on the other hand serve to everyone no matter their "persuasion." [Hypocrisy to the umpteen degree!!!]

  3. What an incredible saga!

    I've had the same experience watching Middle Easterners throw down glass after glass of alcohol when I've visited London. Packs of them sitting there with a glass of scotch in one hand, and prayer beads in the other. You can bet I was giving them the di*& eye.

    I'm telling you Sabra I would not do well in the Sandbox. The way you get jerked around!

    (But I truly loved hearing how happy the boys and DH was with the bacon and eggs.)

  4. What irks me the most is the lawsuits in other countries, DL. "We can't touch alcohol." Oh, really?!?

    You'd do fine in The Sandbox, DL. You do what you have to do...

  5. what a crazy part of the world you live in.............how's the lettuce growing by the way?


  6. Mmmmm...

    Bacon! Now I'm all hungry. No pork tenderloin?

  7. Hypocrisy just blows me away no matter where or who or what. "Fondling your pork." HEH!!! Jerks.


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