I have smuggled since I first began traveling. Not that I’m a professional smuggler, just a convenience smuggler. The element that I believe essential for success is to feel 100% sure that the contraband cannot be found. It is a kind of magic that cannot be explained, but it always worked for me, though it didn’t prevent some tense moments.
In the seventies a colony of Danes were living in southern Sweden. The Swedes were rather paranoid about hash and we had to bring our supply from Denmark and run the gauntlet of the Swedish customs every time.
Once we brought a harmonium, a small Indian organ. Inside it a pound of hash was screwed to the frame and the harmonium, which could still be played, was strapped to the top of the car. The customs zoomed in on us and we had to take everything out of the car and they went as far as emptying every bag of grains and lentils and rice and the only thing they never suspected was the harmonium that sat untouched on top of the car.
Driving home from Paris with Don Cherry, each of us had a small lump of hash. He wanted to smoke his up on the ferry from Germany to Denmark, but I wanted to bring mine with me, so I had hid it inside a piece of French cheese of the kind that Americans call ‘stinky’, and I felt sure that even a dog wouldn’t be able to locate it. We smoked Don’s piece in the car just before arriving and when we opened the door for the customs officer he got a whiff of it and right away he barked: “It smells of hash! You had better give me what you have right away before I bring the dogs and they find it.” But I was undaunted and, looking him right in the eyes, I said: “We don’t have anything.” He took a moment to process this assertion, but by sheer mental force I had conquered him and he came to the conclusion that a search would be futile.
He said: “OK, you can go.” And off we went!
Leaving the Rainbow Gathering in Minnesota we were four hippies who decided to take a swing through Canada. We were riding in a fancy SUV that Adam had bought after he inherited his father and at the border they must have suspected us of being drug dealers. The customs officer seemed determined to get us; we were told that they had found a marihuana seed in the car and now they had to do a thorough search. Our stash in a plastic bag wasn’t very well hidden in a glass with rice; it could be seen and I thought the end had come when I saw one of the searchers holding the glass up in front of his face, staring at it. Either he didn’t see the obvious or he was of a sympathetic mind for he put the glass down and nothing was found.
The immigration officer was a woman. “Do you think I should let you in?” she asked with a smile and when we said yes she stamped our passports. That did not please the customs officer, but his one seed was not sufficient to force the issue and the woman was in command.