Georgia on my mind (or: we're in Georgia)

Dec 30, 2007

Yesterday morning we didn't have any problems with boarding the Atlanta plane in Frankfurt. However, just when the plane started taxiing, freezing rain started to fall and as they didn't want to take any chances, our plane joined a long line of other planes waiting to be de-iced. It took almost two hours before we were finally cleared for takeoff. When we finally arrived in Atlanta, after ten and a half hours, the plane had to wait about twenty minutes in order to get to the gate.

The lines of people waiting for the immigration control were huge, and our line was, of course, the slowest. While we were waiting, there was an officer going around with a dog (called Milo) dressed in a little coat with the sign saying: Protect American Agriculture. And guess what, the dog sniffed our rucksack and didn't want to let go of it. I told the officer that we only had cookies, chocolate, and citrus peels which we forgot to throw in the bin. But without looking into the bag, he took my customs declaration form and wrote: Citrus peels only? - the question mark! More lines, more questions, and we wanted to leave Atlanta before dark!

The immigration officer was rather upset about something that had happened before, so he didn't even ask us why we were visiting the US. Then we claimed our suitcases and joined a long line of people waiting for the customs. Upon seeing our form, the customs officer sent us to a special line. Another customs officer checked the rucksack, took the citrus peels and showed sympathy for us when she saw that we were not smuggling seeds, ham, salami etc. After she read my name with the 'j' (as in Jack), and not as a 'y' I knew I was in my beloved country, for it's only Americans who pronounce my name in this way.

Anyway, we were cleared for entry to the US. But alas, this is the biggest airport in the world and they have their own strange rules. Instead of leaving the airport, we had to give our suitcases away and claim them later! Then we had to go through metal detectors again, with the shoes off. The officer found a half-full bottle of water in our rucksack, and he wanted to confiscate it! I explained that I was not about to border another plane, that Atlanta was my final destination, but he told me these were the rules. As I was thirsty I asked him for permission to drink it up. He allowed it but told me to go back through the metal detector and drink the water there!

Then we took a train that was to take us to the baggage reclaim area, four stops away. There we waited for our bags for more than an hour! It was nerve - wracking.

At long last, we rented a huge car and hit the road to Marianne's beautiful house in the middle of Georgia.

Photos taken in and around Augusta.
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