To give this story some background info: I studied/lived in Spain last Fall semester. (I’m super ~cultured~ now as you can probably tell). However, my abroad experience was not all sunshine and roses, and this is mainly because I’m actually pretty stupid and honestly NOT that well traveled or cultured at all.
So let’s dive into things here.
My friends and I planned a few trips to go on while in Europe, one of them being to Lisbon, Portugal. Believe it or not, finding transportation to Portugal from Salamanca is not as easy as one would think. After a ton of planning we decided to take a bus (for 9 hours) to get to Lisbon and then take a plane home (this plan was cheaper and more convenient in terms of timing). Now, taking a bus across country borders in Europe is not at all like flying from an airport. There’s no security, no baggage checks, no metal detectors, they don’t even check your passport when you enter the country……
So as I was packing to go to Lisbon I decided that it would be a good idea to take a bottle of tequila that we had bought from another trip (but never opened) with me so that we could drink it while we were there (totally not a problem right? …WRONG). I packed it away, deep down in my suitcase, and went on to my travels to Portugal.
After one very long and horrible bus ride surrounded by smelly people and sketchy bus stops, we finally arrive! The weekend happened so quickly it’s almost a blur. One second we’re in Portugal and the next second we’re rushing to pack all of our things to go to the airport (I never even got the chance to fully unpacked my suitcase). So as I’m packing I realize how stupid I was to have brought my full-size toothpaste and contact solution because I wasn’t going to be able to take them on the plane with me back to Spain (this hadn’t occurred to be at all when packing for the bus because liquids are allowed in any quantities on there). So I very angrily throw away my too-big toiletries, empty out my water bottle, pack everything, and head to the airport.
Of course, once you get to the airport you have to go through security. So I’m standing there with my shoes off waiting for my bag to go through the little machine, and as it comes out the big, scary airport man pulls it aside and motions for me to come over. *Cue internal screaming*.
He asks me if I want to speak in English and I say yes and he says “You have something in your bag?” in his thick Portuguese accent.
I respond “Not that I know of” as I’m trying not to sweat profusely or look guilty in any way because I’m literally standing there completely confused as to what he could possibly be talking about. He then tells me that there’s a “container or bottle” in my bag and asks if I know what it is. I give him a confused look and tell him that I have a plastic water bottle in my bag but that it’s empty. He responds by shaking his head no to tell me that this isn’t true. So now I’m even more confused (and panicked!!!!).
He asks me to open my bag so I do and I pull out the water bottle and say “This?”. He shakes his head again and then begins to dig through my bag. My friends are all standing off to the side, looking as if they want to kill me for holding them up, and suddenly the big, scary airport man pulls out of my bag the UNOPENED BOTTLE OF TEQUILA. My jaw literally dropped. We’d never had the chance to drink it while we were there and since I never unpacked my bag I had completely forgotten that it was inside!!!
So now I have to stand there and convince this foreign man that I was not at all trying to smuggle alcohol across the Portuguese border. I explained to him how I had brought it there on the bus and had never drank it and had forgotten I even had it with me. He seemed like he kind of believed me but was still continuing to examine my entire bag and scan my hands with some sort of thing that they probably use to make sure I’m not casually making bombs in my off-time. I repeatedly tell him that I don’t even want the bottle and that he can take it if he needs to and blah blah blah as I ramble on and on and he asks me question after question. To my advantage, since the bottle wasn’t opened he was way less suspicious that I had used the alcohol to do anything weird (or threatening) and it made my story of forgetting about it seem much more believable (even though it was the truth!!). Once he had his fill of intimidating me, he said he needed to confiscate the bottle. I told him he could 100% take it and he made some kind of joke about how he wished he could keep it for himself and have a good night *cue fake and uncomfortable laughing as I try to calm down and be friendly with the scary man*.
He then sent me on my way with my suitcase just a little lighter and less alcoholic, and I practically ran to my friends who literally would not stop making fun of how stupid I was.
So yeah I almost got arrested in a Portuguese airport, but yaknow what’s even more tragic? I fact that I wasted an entire bottle of tequila.
To bring this story full circle here’s an actual picture of me in the airport directly after this event happened:
Don’t I look so happy?????
From me for you,