Welcome to Chicago

We arrived on an airbus carrying over 380 people and found ourselves in passport control at the back of them as well as all the other flights that had landed. We were shouted at and herded like sheep into lines and if anyone asked a question they were grunted at in Spanish and waved along. It took us nearly 2 hours to clear passport control with few staff on the desks and those that were there seemed to enjoy chatting to each other rather than clear us through. We eventually emerged out the other side rather disgruntled at having to have our fingerprints and photos taken and kept on file. Retina records are soon to be initiated and whilst I have no desire to let terrorists flourish, I resent this Big Brother approach to control my personal data.

Outside it was hot and muggy, we were tired and in need of transport to our motel. We asked for help  to find courtesy phones and but everyone really unhelpful, so we opted to take a taxi. One was quickly found by another member of staff designated to keep passengers on the move and after  asking where we were staying he spoke to the cab driver who had no idea where the motel was. We gave him the address and he eventually managed to find it. The fare was clearly shown as $11.95 and when we paid him he told us it was $15 because it was just short drive and he was told by the man at the taxi rank that he could do this. A rip off, I know, but we needed a bed and paid up because he was getting abusive.

This morning we were awake 3am local time and are still trying to get body clocks in time with our surroundings. We picked our car up at 8am and set off on the first leg of our journey amongst the most impatient and discourteous drivers I’ve ever had to share a road with. There appears to be no concept of actually letting someone indicate and move smoothly into another lane – you have to find a space and go for it, amidst honking car horns and hooting truck air horns. We survived, but my stress levels shot off the Richter Scale. According to people we have met along the way we are lucky to have got away without a bump. They all stated they never drive to Chicago, particularly along the freeway from the airport, because the drivers are ‘too nasty’. So I guess we weren’t driving the invisible car, just the one with prats in who were stupid enough to hold outdated principles of courtesy.

We pulled into a garage for some fruit and coffee that we ate in the car. A huge SUV parked next to us, windows down, blasting out some rap record. The driver got out the car, leaving his music on. He was away for 15 minutes, his music blaring to the point we had difficulty talking to each other, and when he came back he sat in the car, opened his windows all the way down, and turned the music up. We thought this was a one-off, till three more huge cars drove up and the men and women in them did the same thing. What is it about people who think the whole world has to listen to their music at ear-shattering volume? It’s bad enough being forced to listen to the tinny sounds emitted from  headphones; this was in another league entirely.

But to end on a positive note, the people we have asked for help and met along the way have been kind, polite, friendly and extremely helpful. It’s unfortunate about the others, but it gives us something to write home about. Tomorrow is another day and we’ve had sunshine and laughter all the way, so it’s definitely good.

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