• Alice Whaley

Border Control

Updated: Apr 15

In this strange time of lockdown and upheaval, I’m surprised to find myself in the States at a day’s notice. I had gone from Uruguay to New Zealand, to visit family, and explore a new landscape. I was only in New Zealand for a few weeks, but while I was there, two big things happened. First, work turned up in America, with a rodeo stock company based in Arkansas. Then, the coronavirus exploded.

Thankfully, New Zealand was almost clean of the virus. I was safe and so were those around me, but when borders started closing, I had to head to the States before I lost the opportunity altogether. I took three flights in 24 hours, each more empty than the last. When I took off from Christchurch, flights within Europe were rare, and risky. When I took off from Auckland, all flights between the US and Europe were closed, with the exception of the UK. By the time I landed in Houston, the UK was cut off too. It was a race against time.

As soon as Houston Passport Control heard that I was English, I was escorted through to a little grey room by an armed guard. He tucked his hands into the armpits of his bulletproof vest while I was being interviewed. An officer with a moustache asked me all about where I had been and how long I’d been there; almost nothing about what I was doing in the States and how long I was going to stay. Normally South America might raise eyebrows. Not this time.

“You’re lucky you left home so long ago,” said the officer, “Brits aren’t allowed in.”

He glanced momentarily over my shoulder and a little smile broke over his face. My ukulele was sticking out of my backpack. “You gonna sing us a song?”

I laughed, he didn’t, and that’s how a shaky rendition of ‘God Save The Queen’ got me past the US Border Control.

What strange times we live in.

All thanks go to Lori O'Harver of Bronc Riding Nation for making it all possible.

Instagram: @broncridingnation .

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