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Caution: You may spit out whatever you are eating somewhere around photo four. You have been warned.

Four countries and seventeen hours later, I arrived to Santiago’s spiffy airport and followed the usual hamster wheel to International Police, through the duty free shop and to pick up my luggage. Here, as is lately the case, I was asked on several occasions if I’d declared any food I might be carrying. Yes, I had, I responded (almond butter and grapenuts, if you were wondering).

And the puppies arrived, retrievers in little green SAG (Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, the agriculture and livestock ministry) vests and they ran hither and yon, and sniffed and sniffed, becoming privy in the process (no doubt) to who among us had brought clean clothing, and who’d packed up their dirty unmentionables for the trip to Chile.

I was sad to see that the pretty dioramas that had previously displayed other seized items from travelers had disappeared, since the last photos I took of these did not really do them justice. Instead, on the last-chance-before-they-fine-your-unmentionable-clad-posterior table were these pretty bookmarks and postcards and things (at least that’s how I like to think of them. If you’d like some more backstory on my experiences with SAG you can look for the story of the purloined pecans or of the great garlic debacle in these cleverly color-coded links.

First I’ll give a preview of the quickly-nabbed printed matter and then we can go over them one by one. Les tinca? (does that work for you?)

sag lit

Of course I took a copy of each, for future edification, mirth and publication. Thanks SAG! And yes, I have a paper problem, and so many dead relatives that I could blame that on, but this would be unfair, since they cannot defend themselves.

So. Let’s start with the one that I feel is clunky and poorly-worded.

sag lit with questionable translation

Sag has trust in you? What are we, a bank? How about “be honest!” or “SAG trusts you” (which is clearly not the case, since they Xray your luggage on the way into the country). Whatever. I don’t love this one, but mainly think it’s meh, not scorn-worthy, though I wonder why one would bring an apple or grapes into Chile since we produce so many of both, and here’s probably where the came from in your country anyway. I’m just so glad they didn’t try to depict animal semen, which is also verboten. And goodness I hope I don’t get any hits on that.

Moving along to number two, Mr. Apple with his adorable drugstore mask.

sag lit with swine flu hook

This I think is clever, though I question why anyone would bring an apple to Chile. Plus it plays on our exaggerated fear of the swine flu, the poor feverish apple. Don’t spread disease to our agricultural products. You know, it’s fair. In fact, I’ll say it’s adorable. Memorable even. Publishable. I’ll give it a thumbs’ up. Heck, maybe I’ll even tweet it, or stumble it, digg it or otherwise tell my friends inside the computer that I approve.

Moving on.

I don’t
supposed to
(with a tip of the hat to Matt Logelin, who I read even though I have neither a deceased spouse nor an adorable imp of a child, and he is very famous and fabulous and smart and wow does he ever eat out alot.)


sag lit with ghost cow

So here we have the text, “No extingues nuestra Flora o Fauna Silvestre” (don’t wipe out (as in cause to become extinct) our wild flora or fauna).

Okay, point taken. It would be sad if someone rounded up all the pudús and huemules and paico and bailahuén plants and killed them all. Chile is very rich in biodiversity, and this should be protected.

But look at the picture, and tell me what you see. Do you see a cow? as a representation of “wild fauna?” I’m sorry, did I miss something? Are there wild cows in Chile? I’m assuming it’s supposed to be the aforementioned pudú, but how many people entering Chile could draw a picture of a pudú or pick one out of a lineup at 5 meters(or manage to see one anywhere but a zoo, which this photo shows I also was unable to manage, this time in Seattle). Also, this cow/tiny deer is either a ghost (which I believe runs afoul of conservative Catholic doctrine which dictates that animals get no afterlife), or has escaped from some kind of cow/pudú-keeping Aladdin’s lamp, in which case I would like to ask it for three wishes, the first of which is to please not become the icon of SAG, because it is giving me nightmares.

The reverse side of this postcard has three tiny pictures which look to be a vulture, a flamingo and a box of melons, or perhaps they are pears. I’m trying right now to imagine how one would try to secret a flamingo in their carry-on luggage, though this might be easier than a pudú, as they are substantially more plentiful.

I’m not sure if the SAG website has a place for you to comment on this latest PSA, and I will not link to the apparent creators of this item, since their website (like their creative concept) seems to be under construction.

But there you have it. SAG really, really doesn’t want you to mess up the agricultural or livestock-related wealth of the country, or to steal flamingoes. And I’m all for that.

But that floating head? it’s just creepy.