Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Land of the Free?

We are almost a week into our 'Disneyland' visit and the 'oldies' are having a 'down' day which has given me time to digest the holiday! They call the United States the 'Land of the Free' but I often wonder who or what they are describing?

We landed at Orlando International Airport and immediately had our thumb and forefinger prints taken and then moved onto a retina recognition test (even my eight year old grandaughter). Now my inclination is to rail against the erosion of individual freedom but if our immigration authorities employed this strict entry criteria then every single, individual 'Mohammed' could be identified.

Our luggage was pounced upon by a large, black, jovial porter who counselled us to follow him because he knew 'how things worked'! My first British defensive mechanism kicked in when I reasoned that all he was after was a tip. Ten minutes later we doubled his tip because he had been fantastic! When you hire a car over here you get a choice of vehicle...just pick one, load up and drive off!

The roads are almost too safe. There is a speed restriction on every yard, traffic lights on every corner and overtaking in every lane. It is however, easy to get lost!! We were offered a satnav for $140 at the onset and declined....on hindsight it would have saved us time.

At Disney the fingerprinting continues. Your every move is monitored and I never thought that I would have to give up my very personal identification to get into a funfair!! What a simple way to collect personal information without disclosing your eventual motives. How free is free I find myself asking?

I find the American people generally very helpful and always polite. Service is an artform and as yet I have not begrudged a tip. The weather has been blistering and stormy.

The grandkids triumphed when they conned grandad onto a really, 'gentle', roller coaster called 'Everest'! I must be getting old! They also joined me for their first sea swim in the Gulf of Mexico amidst some surfing rollers which was some 'first' for the girls who described is as 'awesome'. The tropical storm that lasted for well over an hour on the return journey was also awesome. Go Grandad Go!!

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