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“IT’S STANDARD PROCEDURE. She’s from a third-world country.”

My partner was told this when he called to file a complaint about what happened to me.

After three years in Japan’s JET Program, and a lifetime of pining to see the world, I had enough money saved up to live my dream. I decided to start in Europe, where my partner lives. I submitted the detailed financial records, travel insurance certificate, letter of invitation, letter of intent, and other documents required for a Schengen visa. I got the visa and was ecstatic. I based myself in Helsinki to explore the continent.

And then this happened. I was returning to Finland from a one-day ferry excursion to St. Petersburg. The trip was great; the immigration checkpoints, not so much. But I’m used to that. Immigration officials have an astounding lack of geographical knowledge, in my experience. Some have questioned whether a country called Trinidad and Tobago — where I’m from — actually exists. An officer once pulled out his smartphone and Googled it to make sure.

There are the myriad personal questions that usually ensure I’m the last person in line to clear immigration. Still, the ache of muscles required for fake-smiling, while I feel my dignity being slowly eroded, is a small price to pay to sate my inconvenient urge to walk the earth. These are all people following guidelines, having good and bad days, and doing their jobs. This I understand.

When people like me journey to more developed shores, purely for pleasure, there’s something inherently suspicious about that. This is how the world is.

Europe, however, and Finland in particular, has introduced a whole other level of unconcealed contempt. Every time I enter, I have to walk with a portfolio of documents and convince someone I’m just a regular traveler, I have enough money to support myself, I don’t engage in sex work, and I won’t try to live here illegally. My friends, who possess more fortunate nationalities, breeze through and wait for me at customs. I have come to be used to this too. I chose this.

But what I went through on my return from St. Petersburg I can’t get used to. After taking longer than usual with my passport, the immigration officer called another to come and take a look. I was questioned in turn by both of them. Then those awful words:

“Please come this way.”

I broke down. I asked why. People stared. They took me into a back room and sent a woman in to deal with me. I requested a phone call to let someone know I was being detained. I was denied. I couldn’t stop sobbing. “Cut the bullshit,” she said. I wasn’t told why I was being detained. She kept asking me vague questions about my life. Made me write down information about my partner. My hands were shaking. The more I asked why they were doing this, the louder she got. When I asked again if I could make a phone call, she responded, “Look, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. Which do you want?”

That’s when I knew I was helpless. I stopped asking questions and did everything she asked. I stopped crying and stared at the floor. I went into survival mode. I heard her in another room mocking my voice. I heard the others laughing. She took my credit card away for inspection, along with my passport. Her face had the look of someone who desperately wanted to spit.

When she let me out of the room, I didn’t look at her. I wanted to ask for her name but I was scared she would retaliate. I chose freedom instead. Twenty minutes had passed but it seemed like much longer. I wished I could make her feel what it’s like to be so powerless. Perhaps, though, she already knew this feeling in some way, and was exorcising it by inflicting the same on others. When I tried to exit the ferry terminal, I got detained yet again by customs. I had my passport seized. I was too numb to feel anything and answered their questions mechanically. They let me go eventually.

My partner was livid when I told him and immediately started making phone calls. He felt the ire of someone who has no expectation of being treated this way, not in a country as progressive as his. As it turns out, this is standard procedure because I’m from a third-world country. This is what they said. He asked if it was standard for them to take someone who had all their papers in order into a back room, to break them down to tears. They said it happens. There is nothing that can be done and it will probably happen again.

I write this for those who are like me, those from places looked down on by the developed world. I’ve met so many of you.

I come from a country where some people are cut off from basic resources in a way unheard of in Finland. I also come from a country where some people enjoy a quality of life and deep happiness that many Finns may never be able to attain. Some of us resign ourselves to the rat race because nothing outside of that seems safe. And some of us go after our dreams, perhaps even if those dreams lie beyond the tiny patch of earth where we happened to be born.

Finns visit countries like mine all the time, soak up the sun that’s so scarce back home, and enjoy the intoxication of big spending power. That is the natural order of things. When people like me journey to more developed shores, purely for pleasure, there’s something inherently suspicious about that. This is how the world is.

My friend said to me, in the aftermath of this, “We are never victims, no matter what the circumstances.” She’s right. That’s not my role. I’m fortunate enough to be living my purpose and, perhaps all the more because of where I’ve come from, I am grateful for my mobility every single day. I must keep moving. Those who heed the nomadic calling understand this.

I write this not for sympathy, but to increase understanding. I also write it for those who are like me, those from places looked down on by the developed world. I’ve met so many of you. You take it for granted that it’s as much your right to wander this world as anyone else, in spite of the extra paperwork. And it is. Just know that some places will treat you like less of a human being and give you extra hoops to jump through. That is their standard procedure.

Human Rights


About The Author

Shivonne Du Barry

Shivonne Du Barry was born in Trinidad and Tobago and now walks the earth. She blogs here.

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  • Danilo Van den Beuken

    Thank you for this eye-opening article Shivonne! I hope that nevertheless you continue enjoying to explore the world!

    • Shivonne Du Barry

      I will! Thank you.

  • Krystal J Gittens

    wow…this was, as Danilo said, quite an eye-openner. Thank you for sharing!

  • Brook Potter

    Very good article that sheds light on something many are unaware of. I’ve been there, from the denials of travel visas to backroom interrogations. It is very rough for those of us who travel often, from the third-world.

    • Hanisha Biswah

      WOW! Great Article Brother SMH!

  • Riyad Khan

    I know exactly what you mean.. from them not knowing where T&T is, to being the last in line, and especially the phrase”“Please come this way.”… I got interrogated for about an hour at Japan’s airport… and it’s a usual occurrence for me at most US airports.

  • Cesco Emmanuel

    Really sorry you had to go through this, there is no excuse as to why customs officers abuse their jobs like this. I hope you never have to go through this again.

  • Marie Lisa Jose

    Shivonne: This is a GREAT piece! I know that feeling! The first time I entered the US to study I was asked if I didn;t have schools in my country!
    I think the best part of being from a third world country is that we are very resilient, we have to be. Things might shake us but it will never really break us!
    Keep traveling!

    • Alistair Earl McDonald

      The first time I went to NY I was working for a woollen mill. I had two huge cases full of clothes and samples of textile fabrics and yarns.

    • Alistair Earl McDonald

      I was asked what I did for a living and I explained I was marketing textiles. The customs chappy said I hope you don’t have any textiles in your cases. I said no, of course not. I got through.

    • Richa Gulati

      not as big a deal as this one, but I was asked “whats up with slippers and socks?”. I wanted to say it’s none of your business to question my dressing sense. But all I could say was they are more comfortable to travel with :|

    • Richa Gulati

      not as big a deal as this one, but I was asked “whats up with slippers and socks?”. I wanted to say it’s none of your business to question my dressing sense. But all I could say was they are more comfortable to travel with :|

  • Tarmo Ntnn

    Oh, sorry about that. But travellers must understand that even it is possible to go Russia by ferry from Finland wtihout visa (it is a special case!)! – it may not be very wise for non-finnish people – nor non-schengen people! Russia is not Schengen country! The situation could be very much worse! If you travel with local people – you must understand that there may have different regulations and formalities – depending on deals between different countries. I think you were lucky that they let you back to schengen country after travelling outside without any visa! :O That situation was not due to your origin, just because of a crazy idea to take such a risk. I wouldn’t go any former soviet countries without visas and documents! :O

    • Shivonne Du Barry

      This treatment happens every time I enter Finland. This was simply the worst example of it.

    • Tarmo Ntnn

      Strange and unfortunate. :( But I think you can learn this something. I am from small country too and since that it is even more important to have all documents – and they have to be perfect and complete – small countries doesn’t have embassies, consulates or even consuls in everywhere. And officials has to do so much work for you, if you dont have all the nessessary documents with you! Where is nearest embassy of Trinidad and Tobago? In France? UK? What was the time when this happened? If night – they may really have problems to solve! Maybe they were googling nearest authority of your country? Do you understand they have to obey rules and protocols? If you are trying to enter any country without visa – and if you can’t buy it from the border – you can get troubles! Really. Own attitude is also important – don’t show wrong attitude for any officials in foreign culture. I would get troubles too even if i am from “western country” if I would trying to enter – hmmm. lets Turkmenistan – without obligatory documents! And they could get mad because of my irrogance. I could blame only myself.

    • Tarmo Ntnn

      And yeah, they don’t usually know my country. “Fi… Fin?? What? Finlandia?? what the hell is that?? Neverheard. Is that somekindof country?? Hahaha.. Funny…” I dont mind it. With good sense of humour you will manage these situations… :D

    • Shivonne Du Barry

      @[100000190692108:2048:Tarmo Ntnn] I always have all of my documents. I’m a seasoned traveler. What I don’t understand is how anything you are saying excuses the behavior of this particular official. I don’t think that should be acceptable, no matter where a person is from.

    • Anushka KJ

      I think her point was that the officials were rude and uncompromising. She had done nothing wrong, yet she was detained WITHOUT an explanation. It’s understandable that these people have a job to do, but everyone deserves respect. A woman she had never met before told her to “cut the bullshit.” Really?!?! She’s supposed to have a so called “good sense of humor” after that?

    • Tarmo Ntnn

      Hmm.. I am not excusing anything for any particular official. Maybe he/she is just an idiot. I think idiots excists in many countries.

      You say you did trip to Russia with a ferry. What documents you did have? You may have to have different documents than locals or schengen people!

      But, yes, I admit that culture in Finland is different. Finnish people don’t talk much – if they have nothing to say. They don’t smile a lot. They don’t use compliments nor small talk. The culture is similar in certain parts of eastern europe and russia as well. I understand it may feel “rude” for people from many other cultures. That’s the way it goes. Everykinds of cultural things around the world. I think people from eastern cultures can actually joy in this “talkless rudeness”. I do. Many people don’t like it. Then you should deside wether you like experience that or not. Somewhere in finland or in russia they can say “cut the shit off and eat” in the restaurant – but typically they dont say anything. That is our customer service – one the other hand: in these same regions you can met the most overhelming hospitality you can imagine. You just have to understand the culture and being someone these can trust. Any aggressivity doesnt work here.

      Some assholes excists here as well in other countries too. That is unfortunate what you have experienced. If you don’t like Finnish culture (with simple, plain, silent way – or rude) why the hell someone wants to come here?

      I dont believe that people are treated by their origin systemically worse in finnish borders than some other with different origins. If so, then you should complain about this to finnish authority and that racist mf will certainly get fired! That kind of behaviour is not tolerated and you should complain to authority – did you?

      I think you’re from such a great country, because you dont have any idiots there! Poor me, we do have so many of those here in Finland. :)

    • Shivonne Du Barry

      I have filed an official complaint.

    • Tarmo Ntnn

      That is good. Lets see what happens. I wish you luck for your future travels. Hopefully you will get justice and can forgive past someday – and maybe someday you will spot great places in Finland – outside of Helsinki – of course. ;)

    • Mika Jansson

      The comments of the staff, if proven, would definitely end up in these people getting fired from their jobs – there is no official acceptance in someone saying “we do this because you’re from the 3rd world” or such. That is racism, and unacceptable – full stop.

      Another thing all together is then the “official” accepted reasons for at least a part of the unpleasant experience: Shivonne, I understand that you have a valid visa for Schengen area, and are staying in Finland, but as far as I understand, you do not have a residence status, nor work permit, nor citizenship, so your visa probably has severe restrictions, and limitations in duration etc. In almost any country in the world, this means that you are unfortunately in a very different (read:worse) position when entering the country / departing than someone in possession of any mentioned status.

      As a Finn, in Trinidad I was not allowed to visit Barbados, without proof of having a return ticket back plus also a return ticket out of Trinidad. As a non-resident, I also got in Trinidad a maximum of 30 days stay – so I could not just stay there, and use it as a basis of my island hopping either. They did not like me going out of the country after the given 30 days to another island, so as to come back & get another 30 days visa again. Same thing in Asian countries. Last time I was in Asia on a business trip, I got into a heap of problems with authorities due to not having proper permits, paperwork etc. according to them. Well, it took time & patience, but things were sorted out.

      I was invited to the Bahamas by a friend, and idea was that I’d stay at their home – but customs & immigration detained me as soon as I stepped in the airport, because I didn’t have a hotel reservation. They weren’t particularly nice to me either, and my friend had to come & bail me out eventually (lucky she knew the customs guys, and could talk sense to them).

      Flying to Tunisia from Egypt, I don’t know how many hours I had to spend at the airport explaining why I was coming in from Egypt, etc. and they had a field day since I did not have a return ticket TO Egypt (I was going to fly directly to Europe from Tunisia). Oh well – as a seasoned traveller, one must also realize that all these people who aren’t exactly friendly at all to you are at the end of the day trying to do their work (some with more respect for individual, some with far less). After 4 hours, I got in, a lot less happy, but hey – I was in.

      European Union does get an enormous amount of people arriving in the countries, looking for ways to get in & then either apply for a refugee status, or work illegally here. A vast majority of these individuals do come from countries from the so-called 3rd world – the movement is from poor -> wealthy. It isn’t an excuse for poor behavior on behalf of customs & immigration, but it may well be the reason for the callous & unacceptable behavior.

      Yes, the citizens of wealthy countries are generally much more lucky (and should be grateful!!) in the treatment they get from officials – but then again, being perceived as wealthy does also occasionally expose one to corruption, and extortion. I had a very unpleasant reminder of this in Thailand while on a business trip, when police wanted to fine me 600 euros for littering with a cigarette but (I do not smoke).

      My point: It can happen to anyone, and racism & prejudice exists everywhere. It’s a tricky world to navigate, no matter what colour or nationality you are. And occasionally we are treated as subhumans, subject to be abused, extorted or even threatened.

  • Neeraj Narayanan

    If you told an Indian customs officer that you were from Trinidad and Tobago, they’d put a garland around you and exclaim “You are from Brian Lara’s land! Welcome” ;) They would want to hug you, but yes know, we Indian males are not cool enough to pull off such a feat with non chalance. Unless, its me of course.

    Heh, jokes apart, a very nice and relevant post, Shivonne. I like the last para, and the line about ‘to increase understanding’. Till that gets realized, chin up and keep walking the earth girl! It is yours.

  • Neeraj Narayanan

    If you told an Indian customs officer that you were from Trinidad and Tobago, they’d put a garland around you and exclaim “You are from Brian Lara’s land! Welcome” ;) They would want to hug you, but you know, we Indian males are not cool enough to pull off such a feat with non chalance. Unless, its me of course.

    Heh, jokes apart, a very nice and relevant post, Shivonne. I like the last para, and the line about ‘to increase understanding’. Till that gets realized, chin up and keep walking the earth girl! It is yours.

    • Duksey Flora

      Great article, I come from Uganda, am sure not many here have heard of it. Once when I was in India saying I was in Uganda earned me two kinds of comments. Uganda- Idi Amin?? and Uganda- Canada? I said yes to both coz it was too much trouble explaining. When I really felt like being nice I said, East Africa, just next to Obama’s ancestral home Kenya

  • Suen Rowe

    Great Article Shiv…. I can’t believe this happened in Finland, a place often praised for it’s very high standard of education. I guess academic brilliance does not equate decency. I will never visit that place, I fear for my life. I am Jamaican, can you imagine if you were Jamaican! We are stereotypically folks with drugs. ( though I have ever even seen a ganja field before in my life) I hope they see this article and improve themselves. For folks like me who often travel alone this is unnerving.

    • Shivonne Du Barry

      Ironically, a 62 year old Finnish woman was held at the airport in Trinidad this week with 5 kilos of cocaine!

    • Suen Rowe

      Oh my word…. well, at least now the one that had to google Trinidad, will now recognize it from the news. I am sorry I have to smile :)

    • Lesline Anastasia Davis


    • Mika Jansson

      Suen, I think its a bit simplistic view to take to say “I would never visit this country etc.” because of one article. In all honesty, similar horror stories could be written about ANY nation in this world I think – its easy to tarnish a country or person in the net world. I know plenty Jamaican who have successfully visited Finland – actually Trini’s also. None reported horrors at the airport. I am not sayin this to discredit the article – but just to remind not to jump into conclusions. Thai police wanted 600 euros in bribes from me for mucked-up charges, I still do not think Thailand should be avoided or blamed. In T&T a street gang almost stab me, I barely escape thanks to friends…Doesn’t mean I blame the nation. Bahamas immigration didn’t like me one bit..C’est la vie.

  • Maureen Mngola

    Shivonne, I am Kenyan and I have also encountered bad treatment at European airports and other points of entry simply because I’m African. They go through my passport like a million times, in the case of crossing the border points in a private vehicle, they confirm the vehicle registration like a million times, and I’m always the last one to finish with immigration when I’m with friends from Western countries.

  • Shanna Beharry

    Wow. I am really happy that you decided to write this. I don’t understand how they can have a standard procedure for third world persons. What utter nonsense and further more It probably will happen again. What crap.
    And I would like to point out, doesn’t the sex and drug trade start with persons coming from developed countries into “our third world countries”.

    • Alice Zaharian

      Yes Shanna u are so right about that. I am from USA but of Eastern European descent and have seen and heard and read about these rich white men who have high status careers such as politicians and so called religious leaders on tv are married and respected by their peers, and with their money go to 3rd world countries to get in on the sex trade they pay a big money to molest little girls. Such nasty evil people i cant imagine what kind of sick minds these freakin people have. I prefer to be friends with people from 3rd world countries than some others who think they are better came of their status. People from poor countries have more class and more hospitality than the ones who have tons of money. I rather stay with them than with a person with a lot of money who is telling me to not do this or that or not to go there and have cameras on me cause they afraid I’m going to take something from them. You know what I mean?

  • Jessie Beck

    this article has a real message of strength. thanks for sharing.

    • Mika Jansson

      Personally I fully understand the writer’s anger and hurt, but I have to ask, is such behavior somehow specific to Finland only…which seems the main point here somehow. I get the feeling of a vent-out, i.e. “They did this to me, I will now write how sh..t the country treats people”, and it makes this all sound a bit like a personal vendetta…which undermines the overall point that people in authority can really often at airports & ports be extremely obnoxious, and abuse their powers blatantly against the lonely travelers. :-(

    • Mika Jansson

      The overall point in this article SHOULD BE that people in authority can really often at airports & ports of entry be extremely obnoxious, and abuse their powers blatantly against ANY lonely travelers from a different country. :-(

      Such idiots on a power trip are everywhere – an African American lady working at Seattle airport called me a “stupid pig” once, and then proceeded to guide me to a very through check which was completely unnecessary, all the time telling me I annoyed her to bits “because I am stupid eurotrash”. You do not have to be from “3rd world” to face mistreatment – or racism.

      Personally I fully understand the writer’s anger and hurt, but I have to ask, is such behavior somehow specific to Finland only? This seems to be her point unfortunately in the article – Finland is full of horrible people, and all visiting foreigners are abused for no reason, unless they are European. I don’t think so, based on knowing Trinis, Jamaicans, Nepali, Indian, Moroccan, Jordanese etc colleagues & friends who live here, and the millions of tourists visiting the country. You could actually write exactly the same piece on ANY COUNTRY.

      I get the feeling of an angry vent-out, i.e. “They did this to me, I will now attack”. Sad, because Lord knows we already have enough hate talk in this world. Lets not generalize too much please, it’s counter-productive to the message.

  • David Jessamy

    I feel the need to explore the earth like you and have experienced the same thing more than once. I just try to keep smiling, keep my answers to the point and not to lose my cool. Walk good.

  • Brent Alexis

    Great article! I think that many people simply are unaware of how dehumanizing it truly is to go through such experiences. Thanks for shedding some light on the issue.

  • Jenna Van Schoor

    reading this article makes me so angry!

    most of all because people still use the term “third-world”, how is this term still relevant? the cold war is over! isn’t there just one world at the end of the day anyway? I think that when people use the term third world what they’re really saying is third-rate.

    yes, of course, some degree of protocol needs to be maintained at borders, but at the end of the day the whole process is just based on discrimination, and a “first world” superiority complex that is so infuriating.

  • Pernell Phill Phillips

    Hi Shivonne,
    Great article, traveling the world myself I feel u on this. Often the respect for u as a human is lacking. But we have to stand raise our heads and keep walking. I once overheard it said about me “he is from a little island in the Caribbean what could he know?” luckily the conversation continued with a response that indicated that some people coming from those little islands know way more than you :-)
    Keep your head up and keep walking, if it does happen again u will know how to deal with it, and not be broken down.


    • Arlène Rivers

      Thanks for sharing @[668730468:2048:Shivonne Du Barry]‘s story @[611795323:2048:Pernell Phill Phillips] and eye opener for me.Keep doing ya thing traveling.

  • Upasana Mallick

    That’s such a brave post Shivonne! This had sort of scarred my first few days of travel (that was my first real travel out of India) 2 yrs back and it was Europe. I remember the slow moving ‘Non-EU’ immigration queue at Schipol airport, Amsterdam and then it was my turn… and the officer said something in the lines of “Look at the clothes she is wearing, and she is travelling for pleasure” and I was wearing Dorothy Perkins.. and DP is ‘British’, and yes, then comes the lady officer and those awful words “Please come this way.”. At that moment, I was shivering with embarrassment and anger at myself, my nationality and just in being there. I have been to Europe three times since then same airport, same people and it got easier. Probably it is the stamps on my passport or its my Ralph Lauren polos or maybe the officer was just having a bad day..but it has all stopped to matter to me and I have learned to live with my nationality and the wanderlust together. What has stayed with me is the wonderful people, Dutch culture and the beautiful city and “no standard procedures” can terrify me to travel. This is a great piece really.. Thanks for writing this :)

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. Sounds like the official was indeed rude and was probably having a bad day or maybe she just was a shitty individual, who knows. There is no excuse for her behaviour.

    However, as someone who knows quite a bit about Finnish customs and border control, I’d like to clarify some things about the official policy. I’m not sure if they were indeed referring to you as someone from a third world country but rather as a “third country national” which refers to someone travelling from Country A to Country B without either of them being their country of origin (as in your case you were travelling from Russia to Finland with your country of origin being Trinidad and Tobago). The standard procedure is indeed to check if you fulfill a certain set of traits which light a red flag at customs/border control. For the most part, this is in order to protect, for instance, victims of human trafficking. As you might or might not know, human trafficking from Russia to Finland is extremely common.

    As a Finnish national, I have been stopped and questioned at Finnish customs just because I was travelling from a third country (not a third world country but not an EU country either). They checked everything I had in my bags and asked questions about my trip. It’s completely normal and while it may be a bit uncomfortable, it serves a good purpose as it prevents dangerous substances and individuals from entering the country.

    Someone from Jamaica was concerned about travelling to Finland. You shouldn’t be. Customs officials and drug dogs check passengers from certain places (such as London, Amsterdam, Delhi, Copenhagen, and Tallinn – I have no idea if Jamaica is on the list) more often than from others because these are places from which people try to smuggle illegal substances most often. However, you will not be questioned if you are clean and are not marked by the dogs. Occasionally they may do random checks amongst passengers. It’s nothing to be afraid of. Trust me, you will not be the first and or the last Jamaican passenger on Finnish soil.

    All of this happens according to international and national policies. It’s not personal. It’s not racist. It simply is.

    I am sorry that you weren’t better informed by the officials. Because as I said, there really is no excuse for them to be rude to you. None. I hope your complaint has an effect.

  • Alice Zaharian

    I am so sorry that u had to go thru that experience. I still cant believe how people are these days they are so blind and stupid and with no feeling. I never been to Trinidad and tobago but I know about the great food and music that comes from your island. Be proud of where u come from. You are a beautiful young woman and don’t let anything stop u. I for one would not ever go to a muslim country where I am forced to cover up. That is my own choice. There are other better places to go where u wont be harassed and u can enjoy the local culture food and the people and their music. Be brave chica go and see the world. This is 2012 going into 2013 if people are backwards for no good reasons then its them not u who is falling behind in life. Don’t cry in front of people like that they do it on purpose to get a good laugh they make others suffer cause they are not humane they are ignorant people just working a mediocre job that makes them think they are God, but always remember God is within u and He will protect u. Never let the evil ones get to u no matter what always always as woman u must be stronger than a man mentally. Be good and sweet and continue with your ongoing travels.

  • Anna Korr

    Oh dear, I understand you… I live in a European country. But that is for other European countries think Ukraine is the “third world country”. When I go somewhere, border guards look at me like I’m sick and contagious.
    But I’m human.
    My biological cells are the same as other people.
    I’m not a threat to society.

    • Shivonne Du Barry

      Yes, I think that’s the thing. Everyone can sermonize about official procedures and don’t take it personally. But it’s hard to mistake the look of hatred in someone’s eyes. That coupled with their power over you and your life is downright scary.

  • Atma Maraj

    As someone who has travelled quite extensively also the one thing I have noticed is this.Do not expect the same human rights as a citizen of the country you are visiting.Note: I am not saying it is right, I am just saying that is the sad reality of the world.The former soviet republics are amongst the worst.They are the same way with their own neighbours.

    • Mika Jansson

      I agree with you Atma. Unless you are a citizen, resident, etc you will be treated differently. Sadly in many cases also you will be treated differently because of the colour of your skin – and contrary to what many seem to think, being white European for example is increasingly NOT seen as a positive thing in many places. My uncle who is a anesthetics specialist doctor went to work for free volunteer in a hospital in East Africa, on the way there he was stopped, mugged & beaten close to death (arranged driver was in on it), and ended up fighting for his life in the same hospital he came to work in, to help save lives. He & his colleague were targeted because the robbers presumed a white European will have a lot of money with him. Authorities did nothing about this, except try and get money. What to say? It is not right, but it’s a dangerous & sad world we live in..caveat traveller.

  • Ronald Hinkson

    Trinidad police treat people in a similar manner, maybe TT really is a developed country.

    • Mika Jansson

      What comes to mind is ask Grenadian workers how T&T authorities use to treat them…Nice? Doh tink so…

  • Tere Estudillo

    I really liked your article. I am mexican and have not faced this situation but it may be because my passport has student visas from the U.S.A and they usually ask about that experience. SO the first world country makes it easier to enter.

  • Nicky Classen

    Thanks for sharing, I am from South Africa and know exactly what you are talking about…

  • Vimal Esvaren

    Shivonne loved this and it feels soo alleviating to have read it. I’m a Malaysian and the trouble I went through to go to Germany and US were tremendous and heart breaking for me. I felt so victimised by these high and mighty customs officers just because I’m supposedly from a country not equal to theirs. But I have to say I did meet some who were understanding and I had a great time in my travels because of them. Hope to visit T&T one day!

  • Zenaida del Mundo

    Thank you for writing on this interesting piece. You bring out very important details about third world traveler. I also get asked about my home. “Where is Guam? ” There are times it bothers but I do not let that get the best of me. Keep traveling!

  • Donthave Aname

    The worlds so materialistic *sigh*.
    Sad that you are never safe till you run in the “rat race”.
    I think these people just got a lack of moral education.
    Bangladeshis can relate to this 20 years ago……………
    Heard stories from my father when he visited Hong Kong in 1984.
    Though things weren’t this bad but, every-time he went somewhere, he had to start a history lesson to get some recognition.
    To be honest I admire the people of Trinidad and Tobago because I’ve seen them lead a care free fun life,(source-West Indies cricket).
    which I found impossible in today’s world.Wish I could live like that.The purpose of life to me is to live happy.
    I think you guys are one of the very few people that achieved something they always aimed for.Others are just misguided to the materialistic world of fake wealth.

  • Winston

    From what I understand you were blacklisted because of a girl named Cherisse I Rampersad and Sasha Rampersad who were blacklisted by the FBI and your blood relation to them.Its unfortunate but it made the papers here last week so I guess you were on the receiving end

  • yogezwary

    Thanks for writing and sharing this. This is so touching and as an Indonesian I can really relate to this.

  • Shivonne Du Barry

    Thank you sir! I always have this experience with Indians abroad. When I say Trinidad and Tobago, they usually don’t get it. But when I say, you know, West Indies? Brian Lara? They start to smile :)

  • Leslyn Brito


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