Monday, August 27, 2007

Washington - Dulles Airport

I don't remember where I learned this tid bit of travel information, but I've learned that when you are leaving the country and carrying camera and computer equipment, it is a good idea to have documentation that you LEFT the country with them. Otherwise, our friendly, helpful customs people will want to charge you customs on them. If you are traveling from an "international" airport there will be a customs office. Since we were leaving Austin so early in the morning, my first guess was that the customs office would not be open. We had plenty of time with our layover at Washington Dulles so I figured I could take care of this detail at Dulles.

I left Henry sitting by our departure gate and headed off to figure out where I needed to go. Dulles has these cute little boxy shuttles that get you from the various buildings. We rode one from the D building to the B building. I saw the one from B to the Main Building, but it said 15 minutes till the next shuttle - so since I saw a walkway to the Main Building I headed of. I had already checked the Airport Map Kiosks - looking for the Customs office - even looking for an information booth - without a lot of success. There was one security guard that pointed me in the direction of the baggage claim area (asking if I had my boarding pass with me - I had already anticipated that - I had both ID and the boarding pass so I could get back where I needed to be.) Near baggage claim, I found an information booth with real people. They pointed me to a wall where there was a bank of phones. I was looking for a red phone - all the phones were yellow . . . ah there it is over by itself on a different wall. In picking up the red phone I was directed down a narrow obscure hallway. Yes, this was the right place. They had the form. But . . . they wanted to see the equipment. Yes, I did have plenty of time to go back . . .

Back through security - they marked my boarding pass (inwardly I wondered - when I came back through again . . . would they still let me in if it was already marked?)

Henry was a little disconcerted, especially when he realized that he would have to go through security AGAIN. But he followed me onto the shuttle through the maze of hallways. The customs people checked every piece of equipment, making sure the serial numbers were correct (and some of them come with very tiny letters!) Henry and I each have our Certificate of Registration For Personal Effects Taken Abroad duly signed, stamped, and initialed.

We got back over to our terminal building - I never figured out how to get to the shuttles to go back from Main to B - so it was a hike walking in the wide tunnel under the taxi way.

I had an interesting chicken curry salad sandwich at one of the airport restaurants. I stayed there because I had a nice table and access to drink refills. All too quickly Henry came and got me - apparently we needed to check in again at South African Airlines.

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