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Vicki’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 07 Sep 2011

Location: Houston, USA

MapWell, I finally made it to the States, although I wasn't sure at one point that I was going to be allowed into the country!
My flight was 1 hour late taking off so got in half an hour late. The fight was uneventful but the excitement started when I went through customs and immigration. It took ages in the queue then when it was my turn I was asked loads of questions about what I was doing, my work, how long I was staying etc etc, then was told there was a query with my passport and I was taken to another room. Eventually I was taken into an interview room by a female officer and she asked me even more questions about my circumstances. I asked what the problem was and she said there wasn't really one. It turns out that the Americans are so paranoid, especially at the moment with the 10th anniversary of 9/11, that they were suspicious of someone who was in the States for 3 months, was unemployed and was only carrying $300. I had to log onto my international account to prove I had funds, show her all my tickets, accomodation vouchers etc and she even wanted to know why I had stopped teaching, stopped working and how much my divorce settlement was! After 70 minutes I was told I could enter the country, but there was no apology for the delay and not even a "Welcome to America". My friends had been waiting for me all this time, but fortunately they'd had similar experiences with their family so had guessed what had happened. The airport was completely deserted when I finally got out to find my rucksack, which had been put on the floor next to the luggage carosel - but at least it was there. So not the best welcome to the States - at one point in my interrogation I felt like saying I wished I'd gone somewhere else more welcoming - but didn't dare. In the UK we are used to hearing public announcements in stations, airports etc about unattended bags - in the airport they also publicly tell you not to make jokes or facetious remarks - you can imagine how I was tempted to tell them what I thought!
Anyway, I'm here now and looking forward to the rest of my stay in Texas.