Monday, June 3, 2013

Welcome to Swampy DC

First and foremost: title credit for the blog goes to the lovely Mister Jack Kerouac and his Desolation Angels.

I arrived in DC yesterday morning, stepping straight from the plane into sticky, swampy air and temperatures in the low 90s.  After a bus, a train, and several confused blocks in the wrong direction, I managed to make my way to the hotel and check my bags.  I had several hours to kill before registration (such a strange phrase - yes, mum, today I executed 3 hours, 28 minutes, and 6 seconds, but believe you me they deserved it) which left me wandering around the sticky city with a cell phone, a book, and a handful of dollar bills.  After an over-priced half meal at Starbucks I found a small park on Pennsylvania Ave. with a few appropriately fearless pigeons and settled in for a solid hour's reading.

Later I strolled toward the White House, past the hordes of befuddled tourists in matching t-shirts and the little tent of Concepcion Picciotto, wandering here and there through carefully groomed parks until I arrived, two and a half miles later, at the National Museum of the American Indian.  I highly recommend it to those who have not yet been.  The surrounding area has been carefully sculpted, designed, and maintained to reflect various native habitats and cultivated crops, complete with a miniature northern forest and a small wetland filled with lily-pads and glittering dragonflies.  The interior is equally stunning, if somewhat dizzying when dehydrated and low on energy.

After a very brief pre-orientation at the American Councils headquarters a splinter group of us set off for a tiny Greek cafe called Zorba's which makes, I may attest, excellent felafel.  Today was the actual orientation.  I got up just before 6:00 to work out before the scheduled start time of 7:45.  8:00 am until 5:15 pm saw us sitting in the same room, at the same tables, in the same chairs, while various and sundry people talked at us.  Some were funny, some were cautionary, some were too quiet for us to hear.  Food was brought to us and was promptly consumed.  The water jugs kept mysteriously refilling themselves.  Though my memory of today is already confused and foggy I have retained several important things, such as the fact that yes, someone will be picking us up from the airport in Tangier; yes, we are allowed to travel independently during the program; and no, toilet paper is not commonly available in Moroccan bathrooms.

Oh, and by some lovely miracle I have been placed in the intermediate group.  Imagine my shock.  I am, of course, busy cataloging all the words I do not know.

Tomorrow we have free until a 1:15 bus takes us to Dulles for our 5:15 flight.  A lovely 21 hours of travel should follow.  And though leaving the airport during our layover in Barcelona is discouraged it is not prohibited, so within a few days I may have pictures of la Sagrada Familia or Parc Guell for you all. 

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