Written by: ELISSA BETTCHER
On my little adopted rock, I have a deep reverence and appreciation for the melting pot of customs, cultures, and religions represented here from all over the world. From African, to South American, to North American, to European, to all manner of Caribbean nations – it’s a lovely conglomeration of lifestyles and beliefs. Everyone is generally quite accepting of the differences in one another. Voodoo, however, seems to be the exception, as I have recently learned firsthand.
It all started when my husband ran into some um… let’s call them unsavory types who were trying to “toy” (nice word, not so nice intentions) with him and his business. As time went on, the situation worsened, and he became more frustrated and upset by it all. In an effort to cheer him up with a very funny joke – and I do literally mean JOKE – I ordered a silly little Voodoo doll from Amazon.
The doll arrived a few weeks later packaged like a Barbie in a box with a clear plastic window in front exposing the doll within. Let me tell you, this was the funniest looking thing I’ve ever seen. Standing about 4 inches tall and anatomically correct with tousled shaggy brown hair and a mopey expression on its face – it was just as ridiculous as I’d hoped it would be. Perfect for my ruse – and something no one could possibly take seriously except for perhaps the two sharp pins it came with.
The doll passed through the usual Customs checks that all shipments into the country go through. I picked it up with the rest of the mail, took it home, had a good laugh with my husband as we jokingly made a few pokes at it, then put it away to be forgotten – or so we thought.
About a week later, three Customs agents marched into my husband’s office and presented him with a photograph of the boxed Voodoo doll and informed him that he was in receivership of an illegal item according to our island’s Customs laws. There is to be absolutely NO Voodoo here – it’s prohibited!
Stifling a laugh, my husband politely explained that the doll was not being used for black magic, nor was he involved in any black magic religion, but that it was only purchased as a joke from his wife. After some good humored bantering, the agents thankfully accepted my husband’s explanation and left.
We still have the doll and it remains closeted, though its joke status has definitely been raised a few more notches after all that. All I can say is, it must have been a slow day in the Customs office.
Though this little incident did get me thinking about my future purchases – far be it for me to make another cultural faux pas. Should you be planning a visit to us here in the BVI, here are a couple of things on the No-No List…
- No pornographic material. To be safe, you’d best leave your little paperback copy of Fifty Shades of Grey at home too.
- No canned goods, cooked meats, plants, seeds, etc. These pretty much speak for themselves, however, a part of me suspects it’s all just an underlying conspiracy for us to spend big bucks at the supermarket… and trust me, you will.
- You may not bring in more than $10,000 cash without filling out some serious forms detailing out your intentions. And I agree – that much money is a bit on the suspicious side… But on the the other hand, if you do carry around that kind of cash, maybe we should meet, and you can buy me dinner or a yacht or something…
- Last but not least, don’t forget to leave your little dollies at home. Wouldn’t want to scare anyone in case they appear a bit Voodoo-ish!