French man with two asses surprises Swedish officials
Published: 30 Jun 08 17:51 CET
Customs officials in Gothenburg were at a loss as to how to deal with Jacques Abdelaziz and his two four-legged pack animals when the trio wandered off a ferry boat from Denmark on Sunday afternoon.
Abdelaziz, who hails from Brittany in northwestern France, has been wandering around Europe for the past two months with his two donkeys, Nounou and Toutoune, according to the Göteborg-Posten (GP) newspaper.
And the journey had been going smoothly, if not slowly, until the pilgrims landed on Swedish shores, whereupon they were met by requests for permits and paperwork.
"I had thought about just going to Stockholm and then heading back but now I'm not sure what's going to happen. All they care about are documents," Abdelaziz said to GP as he nodded toward the customs checkpoint.
While customs officials weren't unsympathetic to the Frenchman's plight, they explained that he lacked important documents required by Sweden's Board of Agriculture, including a veterinary examination costing 250 ($395), a sum which Abdelaziz wasn't prepared to pay.
The whole incident left the animal's owner feeling frustrated, regretting his decision to come to Sweden.
"If the boat had still been here I would have probably gone back to Denmark at once," he said.
After much deliberating, port officials remained stumped as to the precise set of rules governing the temporary import of two asses to Sweden from another EU member state.
"Who was it who said that we had common EU rules?" said one, according to GP.
"Where are the voluntary powers in society which can arrange a roof over one's head and a spot of grass?" asked another.
Finally, harbour personnel decided to take up a collection to pay for the donkeys' veterinary examination in hopes that the wandering Frenchman would overlook the bureaucratic snafu.
"We couldn't just send him back to Denmark. It's actually a little shameful, there's nothing human behind this. That's just the way it is when everything hinges on a bunch of paper," said a harbour worker who wished to remain anonymous.
The vet arrived, Nounou and Toutoune passed with flying colours, the trio was once again on its way.
By Monday Abdelaziz was heading east towards Borås, traveling about 30 kilometres a day.
"Every day I start a new life," he quipped to GP.