Take Your Pants Off in St. Lucia

Take Your Pants Off in St. Lucia if they are Army Pants“You need to take your pants off,” the customs official told my wife. He pointed down at Marissa’s spandex Lululemon camouflage yoga pants. He was indifferent to our infant daughter, who Marissa clutched in her arms. He completely ignored the husband who stood baffled by the command.


“Sorry,” I said. Had I heard correctly? And if I had heard correctly, was he harassing the woman that I had vowed to protect or had he failed to master the English language and innocently proposed that my wife prepare herself for the tropical weather of St. Lucia with the skill set of a first-year ESL student?


“Take off your pants,” he repeated. “You must do this before coming into St. Lucia.”


I had crossed many borders and besides the one between Peru and Chile, I had never been instructed to remove my pants. (At that South American border, after sitting on a bus for ten straight hours with food poisoning rumbling in my guts and a broken bus toilet, when we arrived to the border, I sprinted for the bathroom. The agents became suspicious of my full-speed pursuit for the border long-drop and a strip search followed.)


But at the airport in St. Lucia, where we had moved at a rather languid pace through customs on account of the heat and our baby, there was little reason for this unsmiling agent to state his obscure or criminal request of my wife.


Marissa looked at me and I looked at her. We were confounded. After all, this was an airport in a foreign country, with foreign laws. This agent had both the eyes in the sky and a cadre of guards to back him up.


“What?” Marissa asked.


Suddenly another man approached. “You cannot wear these pants in St. Lucia. Only the army can wear camouflage.”


“Oh,” I said, appreciating the clarity of the explanation.


“Oh,” said Marissa. She walked to the restroom to change her yogic fatigues.


“It was on the itinerary,” someone from the Coconut Bay hotel told me after we had arrived to the open-air lobby where the rum punch flowed.


“Oh,” I said. “I guess I should read those things more carefully.”


“Oh,” announced Marissa. Maybe if you read your itinerary, she meant and went to fetch a rum cocktail a little more conspicuously.


(Photo Note: A reenactment of the scene back in New York. Less palm trees. More frost.)



Posted on by Noah Lederman in Lost In Translation, Or Bust

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