So, I’m pretty sure I just got reciprocity shod. What the hell is that, you ask? Well, I just got through security at the Quito airport, which they call the Quiport here to my great amusement, and I was the ONLY person they asked to remove their shoes. Was it coincidence that I was the only one showing a U.S. passport? I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure this was a tit-for-tat move, or rather sole-for-sole move, as my tits remained unchecked. (Suckers! That’s where all the illegal sh*t’s hidden! Hiding sh*t in your shoes is so 2002…)

Anyway, I bring this up not just because it was weird, but because the idea of reciprocity is a growing trend in international travel, it seems. For instance, several countries now have implemented a reciprocity fee to get even with the United States for charging $100 just to fill out a visa application. Chile charged me $131, if I remember correctly. Not sure what the other $31 is for, but they make no qualms about why they charge U.S. citizens more than others — they call it a reciprocity fee. Russia, I believe, has implemented the same policy. And there are probably countless other countries that do the same that I just haven’t been to yet.

While I’m certainly pissed at having to spend what seems like unnecessary cash money, as well as having to untie and retie my footwear, I’m not sure how I feel about all this. I mean, $100 seems like a ridiculous amount of money to charge a person just to fill out an application, especially when approval of said application is not guaranteed and, chances are, it will be rejected. But here’s the catch — several millions of people per year try to visit the States, which means the paperwork involved is almost too much to even fathom. Somehow, we need to pay for the consular officers to stamp “REJECTED” on all these millions of pieces of paper without further going into debt, no? At least I’d like to hope there’s a method behind what seems like monetary madness.

But now let’s turn to Chile’s reciprocity policy. Is it truly fair? No offense, but I don’t think the paperwork involved at the Chilean border calls for that high of a fee. In fact, save for the few Americans I met while living in Chile a couple of months ago, I think I know maybe two others who have been there. I sure hope the $161 I spent to get through that five minutes of customs gets put to good use. Maybe they should spend it researching how to make a decent cuisine. Hot-dogs are not a food group.

OK, so I’m a little bitter about all this. I mean, it’s not my fault my country has implemented ridiculous fees and airport rules. In fact, if it was up to me, I’d get rid of all regulations and just open the borders and allow people to fly planes themselves like they drive cars. It would be a world not unlike that of The Jetsons, except if my robot tried to sass off, I’d simply reprogram her to shut up and obey.

And speaking of, that’s exactly what I did while getting reciprocity shod. I just took it like a little bitch. As much as I wanted to say something, two things stopped me: 1) My ignorance of the Spanish vocabulary necessary to complain; and 2) My wish to stay out of South American prisons. So far, so good. Emphasis on the so far…

I guess we’ll see how Colombia treats me…