In Eton, In DC

From Shaftsbury, Lynn and I drove to Eton where I would house sit for a month.  But first we had to find it.  It looked so easy on the map but as usual we got terribly lost and since Sam was expecting me at 12:30 I got panicky and may have been a bit short with Lynn.  Well, I know I was, but as a Minnesotan this took the form of hinting about what I thought she should do.

The map wasn’t detailed enough. We didn’t have a GPS.  I couldn’t call Sam with my phone because I didn’t have international service and I couldn’t message him because I had let my data plan lapse because I “never needed it.”

“Use my phone,” Lynn offered.  I managed to switch it to airplane mode and it took me 20 minutes to figure that out, with Lynn trying to assist while driving 80MPH.  I got Sam’s voice mail.  We drove in circles around Windsor, the town across the Thames from Eton.  Looking back, I don’t know why we didn’t try to find it using Google maps on Lynn’s phone, but we didn’t.

Finally I glimpsed a cathedral-like building in the distance. “That must have something to do with Eton College,” I said.  “It looks like one of the colleges at Oxford.”

“Well spotted!” Lynn cried with relief.  “Now what’s the address?”

“123 High Street,” I said confidently from memory.  We paced the high street, and Lynn declared, “There is no 123!”  She burst out laughing when I checked and said weakly, ‘Oops, it’s 321.”

Five minutes later Sam was greeting us at the door.  Greeting me, I should say.  He gave Lynn directions to Heathrow, waved her off, and ushered me in.  Poor Lynn, I later learned, had had hopes of using the bathroom but she kept a stiff upper lip until she got to the airport.

In real time, I just returned from Washington, DC and I’ll write a few posts about that before returning to my summer in the UK.

I went for a workshop for grantees of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, or DRL.  Don’t ask me why it’s not BDHRL, but I’m okay with that.

I won’t go into the content of the workshop because then I’d have to kill you.  Just kidding, you would die of boredom before I could kill you.

The building in which the workshop was held does not have an address and is not on Google maps.  Really.  I don’t know if this is intentional—for security purposes?—or just part and parcel of the crazy patchwork of streets that is DC.

The cheapest hotel our travel agent could find was $585 a night.  That wasn’t some 5 star place, just a Marriott.  I found a studio apartment on Air B&B for $182 within walking distance of the venue. My expectations of it were low but when I arrived I had to lower then further.  The studio was in a 40s-era building that had been badly renovated.  It was on the George Washington University campus and in keeping with that was reminiscent of a dorm room.  Not that I’ve ever been in a dorm room, but think: cheap Walmart navy blue bedspreads with pilly grey sheets on twin beds, bare walls, a giant-screen TV, and a window with a view of a brick wall.  Here is a picture of the bathroom “door” from inside the bathroom.

Good thing I wasn’t sharing the room with a coworker.  I was motivated not spend any time here.

I did a recon to ensure I could find the workshop in the morning.  I copied the map from the agenda onto my palm.  There was no signage, but I was pretty sure I’d located the building, so I wandered on and accidentally found the area with the Washington Monument, White House, and other iconic places. There were the usual protesters in front of the White House, but far fewer than I remembered from past visits.

Darkness forced me to return to the room.  I crawled into bed fully dressed so I wouldn’t catch cooties. Thank god I was only here one night.

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