Its supposed to be spring in 2 weeks, and we’re much further south here than in Boston, but still a snowstorm came tumbling down on us a couple days into March. After partying into the wee hours of Sunday morning with my best friend Ursula, we spent all of Sunday hosting a brunch for 25 people – not an easy feat when you’re jet lagged, hungover, and have no idea who anyone is. But I knew my mimosas and bloody mary’s just fine so the food turned out great. Sunday night we went to Mayor Vincent Gray’s re-election party, someone I had never expected to meet in person after seeing him so often on TV with President Obama.
The snow came while we slept, but everything was decided hours before the first flakes of snow fell and all hell broke loose with school closures and cancelled flights. In the end, only a few centimetres fell, but without enough snow plows or winter tires, everything still shut down. The capital wash an eerie ghost town on Monday, barely a car or person in sight on the mall where we went to check out all the major monuments. We saw Abraham Lincoln, the new MLK memorial, the Washington Monument, Capitol Hill, the White House, and finally the Jefferson memorial where our only company was a stray (or rabid) fox.
Then Tuesday came, not any regular Tuesday, but Mardi Gras Tuesday, and some schools were still closed and flights were still delayed. Me and Ursula had breakfast with her mom, who was on her way to the elementary school she works at, where President Obama would be visiting that afternoon and deliver his budget speech. She sent us minute by minute updates on his whereabouts in the school, had her car swept by security, and later showed us the footage of his visit on the 5 o’clock news. We visited Ursula’s 94 year old grandmother, who was once the Mardi Gras queen in New Orleans back in the 40’s, then went for our own Mardi Gras party with a whole lot of beads and a feather mask.
When Wednesday came, there were no more politicians to meet or flight cancellations, so I headed to Reagan National Airport to catch my on-time flight to Haiti. Since I was flying via Miami, there were a lot of over bookings and stand-by’s from the last 2 days of delayed flights, so I volunteered myself off for a travel voucher. I returned to Ursula for Ash Wednesday, where we broke all the rules of lent, and tried to book her on my new flight to Haiti with the voucher I received. That didn’t work so well, but my feelings of failure only lasted a few hours until Thursday, when I woke up to a phone call from American Airlines that my flight had been rebooked for tomorrow.
Now its Thursday, and instead of flying to Haiti, I walked around the Smithsonian museums all day. I learned a lot about American history and natural science without paying a penny, and saw some of the most beautiful buildings and exhibits I’ve ever seen. At the portrait gallery in the Reynolds Center, I saw images of all 44 American presidents except Obama. I also saw the first piano ever placed in the White House, a beautiful 1903 Steinway and Sons painted grand Piano, chosen by President Roosevelt. Then I saw an amazing 1930’s box piano at the American history museum, followed by a contemporary grand piano smashed to a million pieces at the Art & Destruction exhibit at the Hirshorn Museum. Interesting how history has developed…
The most amazing things I saw today included the original, torn and tattered, Star Spangled Banner, the 30x40ft 15 striped, 15 starred US flag hung after the war of 1812, and inspiration behind the American national anthem. At the Air and Space museum, I saw the original Wright Flyer, the actual plane built in 1903 by the Wright Brothers and the first aircraft to ever make a manned flight. Shortly after, I touched a piece of the moon, and felt like today’s accidental day in DC was definitely worth being delayed for. Now I just home that tomorrow comes and brings me to Haiti, since this will be the 5th confirmed flight I’ve had booked to Port au Prince but still never made it on one!