Dulce de Leche: Gone But Not Forgotten

Aduana | Customs by exrorro on Flickr I recently read a funny post by Eileen over at Bearshapedsphere about some contraband garlic that caused a stir at the Argentina-Chile border. This spurred an exchange that led to a call for a group post about seized items. Click here to read about the travelers and their beloved snacks that were so wrongfully parted. Without further ado, I present my contribution to the group post.

Last week I discussed the many virtues of dulce de leche, and you may have gleaned from that post that I have a slight affinity for the sweet goo. In fact, I'd say it's probably one of the yummiest foodstuffs they have here in Argentina. Bearing this in mind, it should come as no surprise that as I neared the end of my first trip to Argentina, I decided I couldn't go back to the U.S. without some dulce de leche.

Dulce de leche is commonly sold in thin plastic containers, and I worried that this type of container wasn't up to the rigors of intercontinental travel. In the days before I was scheduled to return home, I searched several locations for dulce de leche in a glass jar or cardboard tub, but I came up empty-handed every time. 

As I awaited the hour of my departure from Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires, I lamented that my mission to purchase dulce de leche had gone unfulfilled. Realizing that it was now or never, I decided to spring for a severely overpriced jar of dulce de leche from one of the airport shops. As I nestled the jar ever-so-carefully among my socks, it never dawned on me that dulce de leche would be considered a member of the liquid/gel/aerosol category that is a no-no in carry-on luggage…

My hand luggage and I successfully cleared the airport security checkpoint, and I made my way toward the gate. Much to my dismay, there was a second security screening right there at the gate. The gate attendants were wanding passengers and rifling through carefully screening carry-on luggage.

I was instructed to place my suitcase on the table, and the gate attendant unzipped it and began poking around inside, investigating all the nooks and crannies. She unzipped a mesh pocket in my suitcase, and at that moment I felt a deep pang of regret at not having stashed my dulce de leche among my unmentionables (she glanced right over those!). 

She began digging around in the mesh pocket and all I could think was no, not there...not the socks! Having laid a latex glove-covered hand upon something that was obviously not a pair of balled up socks, she extricated the jar of dulce de leche from my suitcase as a smug look of satisfaction crept over her face. She set the jar on a table with an assortment of other confiscated items, and I silently mourned the loss of that little jar filled with creamy, caramel goodness.

Call us conspiracy theorists but Daniel thinks that the officials at Ezeiza have concocted some sort of conveyor belt system that transports the seized items from security right back to the airport shops. Ten people had probably bought that same jar of dulce de leche before me only to have it cruelly taken away. My gut feeling though is that later that night, the gate attendant quietly slipped into some storage closet with nothing more than my jar of dulce de leche and a spoon. Dulce de leche has that effect on people. 

Do you have any interesting customs or airport security stories? Tell me about them in the comments.

[Photo credit: exrorro]

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