When I started to study Anthropology some years ago, the word Border was passing by everyones notes like a ghost, carrying its historical and sociological meaning of wall, fence, division and exclusion.
In a certain way we were avoiding to use it, because we would have rather to talk about ethnic groups in a cultural relationship instead of using strange words like “identity” that was like a summit rising successfully from the pride of being forever diverse in a corrupted world, while becoming immediately corrupted itself. I must say, I could talk about this concept hours, especially when I see people misusing it and defining things just to divide instead of clarify. For me the word identity has been always dividing and find a substitute to it gives me the same pleasure of chatting about love and relationship in the society: null. That is why I never do that.
But borders are real and political and since I started to travel way out of Europe I had many experiences. I got familiar with some special deals in between countries, that is why even if you go many times in the same place, you can have very different experiences depending on where you are coming from, at that specific time. I got familiar with vaccinations, quarantine and the value that some countries give to the food, to the drugs, to organic products or luxury goods.
Crossing by car is very interesting, even if procedures are more intrusive (checking a whole car can take a lot of time). The behaviour of the frontier forces can tell a lot about the country you are visiting but also yuur own behaviour can compromise your staying in the country.
The most beautiful and sometimes long and boring “check in” is by boat, especially when you have to wait some hours or days before you can actually put your foot on land. The reason why I don’t enjoy this process is obviously related to the sailing itself: sometimes you are just busy to find a proper spot, put the anchor or approaching the deck that the last thing you want is talk with somebody. Sometimes the whole trip has been so rough that the boat is a mess (who wants to receive guests when the house looks like hit by a hurricane?) and the first thing you want to do is put everything in order, clean, have a shower, drink some water and wash the salt out of your clothes, cushions, sails, cabins (sometimes it happens) or just sleep for 12 hours. The reason why I like this procedure is because customs people, even if they seem to not understand how hard it is to arrive from sea, they are normally very relaxed and friendly. They don’t deal with millions of people per day and they come ready with all the papers you need. All they ask for is documents, passports and some signatures. In the end, is not a big deal and after that you can enjoy your sleeping time for many many days. It’s actually quite awesome the freedom you can access once you get all this paper sorted. Just try to smile, even if you and your crew know how many times you have been puking or messing around, even if you know how much effort it takes to stay on route and get the boat safe in a harbour. Just try to take it easy, smile and be always polite. People don’t know what you have been going through and neither do you about them.