I am such an idiot.
When you start a trip, you try to be good. You try to abide by the rules and respect another country's customs. You don't walk through the green lane with weapons in your baggage.
I am escorted to the office for people who don't respect customs of Singapore, and given 'the seat'. On the other side of the desk is a serious looking uniform. I feel like a criminal, and to be fair, with the 30cm long machete and survival knife out on the desk in front of me, I look like one.
"I should call the police and have you arrested" says the uniform.
Gravity kicks in. An old memory of Ben's voice echoes around my head. As we sit in the parachute tent, kneeling by the fire and listen to his lecture on blades I see him mouth the words "Customs can be difficult". Did he say don't forget to declare or was I just imagining it? I could blame the flight or my exhaustion from preparations, or I could bitch that a blade is an essential tool for our basic survival god damn it, but really this is just ignorance. And ignorance is no excuse. Not walking down the red lane was as unforgivable as dropping them in the woods - the consequence of loosing them will be just as severe. Possibly worse.
The official pulls them out of their muzzles and takes a good look. Both are the culmination of a couple of years of research and are just about the most precious things I own. The machete is a Lofty Wiseman and thanks to knife laws in Britain they don't make them any more - virtually impossible to replace, and besides, it's been everywhere with me since I got it. As for the knife, well, that's something that AK gave to me, something that we'd both put days of our lives into making. I'd burnt many packing hours grinding its edge to a razor. These things matter.
Ibrahim explains to me that the police will come to seize them tomorrow. If I want them back I have to take it up with them, and he passes me a piece of paper with the contact details for the "ARMS & EXPLOSIVES BRANCH".
I am such an idiot.
Ibrahim's a good guy, and I try to prevent the cops from taking my stuff - maybe customs can hold it until I fly to NZ in 5 days? I blag every angle I can think of trying desperately not to piss him off. I need him on side, and we chat about knife design and how you go about makinng one. He understands I'm just another idiot and he's going to teach me a lesson. And at the end of the day I don't blame him.
I walk out of the office shaken. The keys to unlock everything I want to do in NZ have been taken off me, maybe never to be seen again. I thought I was looking out for the showstopper... and walked slap bang into the middle of it. I console myself with the fact I am still free and that I didn't get done for drug smuggling instead. That would have been worse ;-)