July 6, 2010

Apparently All French People Are In A Secret Society

(Shhh. I'm not actually here. I just got into Grasse after a twelve-hour overnight train ride, a one-hour regional train ride, and six hours in the car crossing the south of France. I'm all kinds of exhausted. Plus I just spent most of the ten minutes I had put aside to write this post before passing out in bed to fighting with the internet connection on my laptop and trying to avoid at all costs having to write this blog post on my aunt's french keyboard, which is practically as difficult as writing with a Russian one. I finally fixed the internet problem, but now I only have a couple of minutes. I'm just here to tell you a funny story. I'll be back tomorrow in full capacity).

The overnight train we took from Madrid was also an international train, and it left us in the teeny tiny little town of Cerbere, on the French side of the French-Spanish border. As both countries are in the European union, the customs routine is now much less strict that it used to be, but they still occasionally make you pass through a police check point for a passport check.

So when we arrived they herded everyone getting off the train into this big room in the train station, and made everyone file through two velvet ropes (yes, I know, très secure) while showing their documents to the (très cute) policeman standing by the door. Standing a few people ahead of us was a group of young Spanish backpackers, and the policeman waited patiently while they all took out their IDs, and then he meticulously checked everyone's name and photo. Same for the group of Spanish hippies behind them, and the Canadian backpackers behind them.

Finally, when my mom and I get to the front of the line, our passports still sitting in our purses, the policeman looked us up and down, and asks us, "Are you French?" When my mother answered in the affirmative, he paused for a second, smiled, and then waved us through, saying "Ok, ok, go ahead," without even a hint of an indication that he was interested in seeing our IDs.

And then he began again carefully inspecting the passports of those in line behind us.

Apparently French people can recognize each other by sight, or sniff each other out... or something. We must all know each other from a secret society.

That was possibly the most ridiculous (albeit convenient for me) excuse for a border check that I have ever experienced.


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