Back outside we see real customs officers at work. Trucks from the boat are immaculately examined, cargo doors open, diesel tanks measured, mattresses behind the seats checked, the kitchen shutters under the trailers viewed; nothing escapes the attention.
From the passenger's cars all doors are open. Searchlights inspect corners, holes, cardboard boxes, garment bags and all sorts of zippers. That is waiting us too when we return in May.
It is now well over half past eleven, the ship is empty and we can return to counter 3. Now the story fits. Another note and another stamp. At the adjacent desk (4) we have to ask a staff member to check the car and sign off.
At this counter are two ink stamp boxes. It looks hopeful. Without ink stamp, this world is silent, so there is always someone coming along. For a moment M plays with a naughty thought, is not that, without this ink stamp ..... etc? Just Kidding. You shouldn't defy fate too much. The wait is long, but it appears no one is short for ink stamp. Lets ask one more time. It seems you can wait in the car, someone will just come along. This is called an unexpected automation.
Quarter past 12.
S is dozing away with the music of a local radio station for minorities.
Half past. Meanwhile, ship 1 is being loaded with an endless row of Ford Ka's, probably meant as a rental car for the upcoming summer season. Most offices are shut or at least dark. There is still a single truck that is inspected and the last person's car drives away now. It is almost one o'clock.
No police car seen, probably no contraband was found. Worked well, the boys can go home. Ehh, at least if we can go too.
It is about a quarter past one as a staff member comes along the line of waiting cars and gives his signature. No control, except for the plates to be the same as in the papers.
Now we go back to office number one for the last initials and .... one paper, the size of a post-it sticker bearing registration number and another initial.
Happy as a child we turn around and stare into the face of the man in the orange overall. He is in a hurry. He remains friendly, but wants our tickets, tears out his copy and wants our newly acquired post-it-sticker. Quickly to our car, we are the first to drive on the boat.
It is well past one.
With extreme precision, the LandRover is tightly directed next a wall. Little forward, some backwards, slightly to the left, a bit to the right. Oops, almost the mirror, no it is all well. You feel the man in orange is growing in his role. His vigour suggests that the fitting and measuring is necessary to have all vehicles placed on the narrow boat. Car on the handbrake, no alarms please.
When we come back later in the hold we see our car grouped with four other cars, then 20 meter nothing and than exactly 5 trucks. Behind that a stray passenger's car. In short it was a calm crossing.
No fighting for the luxury seats, plenty of free places at the window, no long queues at the buffet (with delicious tea). Here and there a deep snoring passenger on the floor or on a continuous row of seats.
Fortunately too, the smoking ban is emphatic present. In the salon no one smokes.