As Curt suggested, I ought to blog a little about my confiscated soil samples. I’m still bitter about the loss of my precious dirt, so hopefully I’ll be able to get through this without tearing up.*
Drs. Nelson and Roth and I spent all afternoon Sunday digging holes and doing percolation tests. Dr. Roth had quite the time digging through the plastic bottles, coral, clay, peat, silt, and sand. It was like a rainbow. We tried to take turns digging, but Dr. Roth did most of it. It was tough work for Veronica & me. As Dr. Roth dug, I collected samples at certain depths. The purpose of this was to test the soil for moisture content. This is an important step in determining the strength of the soil. I had my dirt nicely packaged and labeled and I stuffed it into the far regions of my suitcase.
My first thought was to sneak it into the U.S. because I had a pretty good feeling I wouldn’t be allowed to bring the dirt in. My conscious got the better of me, though, and I decided to declare it. I was hoping this would be a situation where doing the right thing would benefit me in the end. Like Uncle Arthur’s bedtime stories.
After I went through the maze of customs with each person sending me on to another who could check my bags more thoroughly, I finally ended up in a big, nearly empty room. It was ominous. Cheerfully I approached the counter and followed all the directions. Here is my passport. Here is my luggage. My name is Kathryn Currier. I have soil samples. I pulled them out of my bag for the guy, and that’s when things went downhill very quickly.
He took one look at my Ziploc bags and laughed. That’s right, he laughed in my face. “You expected to get through with THIS?!” he blurted. “You don’t even have a USDA permit!” Then he went on to lecture me about what if I contaminated the soil and caused some epidemic and then the world really WOULD end in 2012… (okay, he didn’t go that far, but you get the picture). As if I haven’t been trained at all in how to deal with soil samples. As if I was going to just dump it in my yard for fun. After the laughing and lecturing ended (on his part…I wasn’t laughing at all), he dropped my samples in a bin, declaring, “I’m going to burn these now.” Then he told me to leave. And that was that.
Moral of the story: Do your research before you attempt to bring foreign soil into the U.S. (For those of you thinking “DUH,” please cut me a break. I’ve never done this before, and it was worth a shot! No harm done by trying. Besides, that customs worker probably went home that evening feeling like he had saved the world from 2012. I made someone a hero).
*I’m not really going to cry. But it was painful losing all our hard work.