I came to Drummond Island, Michigan via Toronto and Sault Saint Marie, Ontario. My flight from Munich came in late and it took forever to get through customs in Toronto, so I didn’t have time to check in my suitcase again to make my connecting flight. I ran to catch my flight, because taking a later one would have been too complicated: The Sault Saint Marie airport is 2 1/2 hours away from my family’s cabin, and I wasn’t certain I’d be able to get in touch with my brother Larry.
So I had to take my suitcase on board the plane. That meant, of course, that I had to give up all liquids at the security check-in: all of my cosmetics (suntan lotion, skin lotion, shampoo, shower gel, insect repellent) and, even worse, a huge bottle of duty-free Tanqueray gin which I had brought as a small gift. It was still sealed in its dutyfree package, but it is a liquid, so it just might be a bomb, right? Thank you, Shoebomber. Grrrr. I’m afraid I used a four-letter word as I handed everything over. Oh well. Never mind. As I sit, sunburned and mosquito-bitten and drinking a much cheaper brand of gin (!), looking out on beautiful Whitney Bay, life could clearly be a whole lot worse.
My brother didn’t have his passport with him but still got across the border with his driver’s license. The border patrol asked him for his birth certificate, which you generally also have to show if you don’t have a passport. But from next year, all IDs at the US border will have to be machine-readable. US-citizens will still be able to travel to Canada and back without a passport as long as their drivers license has the right kind of bar code. Birth certificates will not be accepted anymore.
It turns out that telecommunications here are very easy. Even at the tiny airport in Sault Saint Marie I was able to use my credit card to make a call on a public phone, without typing in a code. My brother Mike has set up DSL at the cabin, so I just plug in my laptop and can surf and email as easily as I do at home. Last time I was here we had a modem, so I thought the connection would be slow. To think we didn’t even have electricity or running water at our summer cabin 20-25 years ago, and now we have DSL. Watching my niece playing online games, I remembered how cut off from the world we were in the old days: we didn’t even read the paper while we were up here, and thought up games in the woods. At the time it was magical, and I loved it. But kids today are different, they have their own games and secret places. And frankly, I’m very grateful for the perfect infrastructure.
It’s funny: There is no English word for “Mitbringel”. We just talk about small presents or gifts. I still have a package of Mozartkugels left. They’re available here, so they’re not too exotic. Of course, children here have a real sweet tooth. You can’t get German type licorice here, so I used to bring it, but my American family simply doesn’t like it. Gummibears are ok, but you can get them almost everywhere here, so they’re not special. I brought some pretty summer jewelry with seashells from Croatia, and that was good. Anything related to Munich is popular, but I simply can’t carry a stein, it might break. You see, even after many years of travelling back and forth, I still have the same old problems ;-). One thing is sure: Next time around, my small gifts will not be liquids.
Learning the ropes
to take – dauern
customs – Zoll
make a connecting flight – den Anschlusflug erwischen
cabin – Hütte
get in touch with – kontaktieren
liquids – Flüssigkeiten
suntan lotion – Sonnenmilch
insect repellent – Mückenspray
I’m afraid – leider
four-letter word – ****
to hand over – abgeben
sunburned – mit Sonnenbrand
mosquito-bitten – mit Mückenstichen
brand – Marke
a whole lot worse – ein ganzes Eck schlimmer
get across the border – die Grenze passieren
driver’s license – Führerschein (BE: driving licence)
border patrol – Grenzschutz
birth certificate – Geburtsurkunde
ID – identity card, Ausweis
it turns out – es stellt sich heraus
seashells – Muscheln
stein – Bierkrug (nach Steingut)
tiny – winzig
in the old days – früher
paper – newspaper, Zeitung
At the time – damals
frankly – ehrlich gesagt
sweet tooth – Appetit auf süßes
licorice – Lakritze
learning english – englischlernen – learning english – englishlernen