Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at
Fri Mar 1 07:29:08 EST 2002

I wonder if there would be any questions if you happened to have a 55 gal drum
of fertilizer in the back. "Just farmin'".

We had that experience when we were flying to Puerto Rico with a gallon of
formalin to preserve fish and inverts.
We put it in a box labelled formalin and hazardous and no one asked any

When I cam back from Peru 30 years ago with suitcases full of bird specimens
(some mummified and some in formalin), I wanted to ship them.
I took them into the shipping agency and explained to the girl in my limited
Spanish that they were scientific specimens in formalin.

"Qu'est es formalin" she asked.
"Una preservativa"  I answered.
She made a horid face.  "No me gusta" she said.
That was understandable.  "No me gusta tan poco"  I think I answered.
She refused to have anything more to do with me.
Turns out that "preservata" is the word for used for inducing abortions.  (Now
is that a scientific or a common name).

Anyway I carried them back in four suitcases.

At JFK Airport, Customs said---"from Peru we have to search everything".

He opened the first suitcase,  reached in an found feathers (ignoring the
dermestid that was crawling across the top).
He opened the second, reached into a plastic bag, touched the wet slimy
specimen, smelled his finger tips, and made a face even worse than the Peruvian
women. Passed me on through and left his post to wash up.

Thanks for the memories.


> Ken wrote:
> P.S. Speaking of bringing things across the border, I've been advised by
> the Customs people at the Alaska border station on the Alaska Highway
> that I should have a covering letter from the University this coming
> summer explaining why I am travelling with a gallon of ethyl acetate
> (for two UV moth traps) and half a dozen small killing jars with potassium
> cyanide. Tolerance for odd chemicals is decreasing fast!


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