Writer on vacation! – part 3
Admit it, you didn’t believe me when I promised I would have been back soon with other travel stories. But I like to surprise people, so here I am with the story of our day in Washinton DC.
We had a tight schedule for Washington. Our plan was to take a bus in NYC, arrive to Washington in the first hours of the afternoon, leave our luggage at the hotel and start touring the city. We had a day and a half, so not much given everything there is to see.
But as it happens with plans, our went wrong. A journey which should have taken four hours at worst, took almost eight due to the inexperience of the bus driver. I have never seen anyone driving so damn slowly in my entire life, not even old farmers on old tractors on narrow country lanes. But that was not all. The bus had to do a stop in Baltimore, nothing exceptional about that. So he driver exited the highway, stopped in a big parking lot and then, instead of going back on the highway, she took a completely wrong road and we found ourselves in the middle of the city traffic jam around a stadium where there was I don’t really know what kind of match.
At some point Andrea, my husband, considered going to the driver an help her with direction. A third of the time we should have spent visiting Washington was going out of the window because of this incompetent driver. You can imagine my thoughts on the matter. I was already writing a furious e-mail to the bus company in my head.
Then the writer in me got the better of the infuriated tourist and started painting a picture. What did I know about that driver, beside being the slowest in history of travels? Nothing. So how could I judge her? Maybe it was her first day as a bus driver and she wasn’t sure of the way. Maybe it was her last chance to prove her boss she could do well after a series of disastrous trips and she was nervous (and it that case she wasn’t doing very well). Maybe she was a mother of six who had to take the only job she had found even if she hated driving. Maybe it was her first day back at work after a dreadful accident and was still suffering from the trauma but couldn’t stay home from work because she needed her wage.
Daydreaming about the thousands possible lives of the bus driver helped me pass the time. Finally we arrived in Washington DC, with just three hours and a half delay, more or less half an hour later than the bus which departed two hours later from NYC. While getting off the bus, I gave a better look to the driver. She was a young girl, with several inches of painted nails, and a minute or so after turning off the engine she was cheerfully chatting on the phone.
Definitely she wasn’t a mother of six, nor she had the look of someone healing from a trauma, and something about her lack of awareness of the fact she had caused so much trouble to a two level bus of people annoyed me. But hey, who was I to judge?
When we finally arrived at the hotel—which was beautiful, the best we had in the entire journey—we just had time to have a shower and go out to find some place to dine. Anyway, decided to make the most of hour time, we couldn’t resist the chance of going to the White House, a place I learnt to know through the TV show The West Wing. Do you know it? It’s still one of my favourites shows. It was strange to be so close to the White House, a place so well known and yet so inaccessible even when you are just a few hundred meters away.
The following day we bought two tickets for an hop-on-hop-off tour bus and started our tour of the city. Actually, it was more of a run through the city and it was the hottest day we had, but I enjoyed it immensely and would like to go back for a quieter visit one day. We visited all the most important monuments, but I’m not going to bore you with the enumeration.
I want to tell you just about one, the Korean War Veterans Memorial. It’s made of a triangle intersecting a circle. The part which moved me the most were the statues inside the triangle. A series of stainless steel statues represents a platoon of soldiers on patrol. Wherever you place yourself around the triangle, there’s always one of the soldiers looking at you. It’s a symbol of the loyalty among soldiers, who always protect each other. I found it moving ad clever at the same time.
On our second and last night in Washington DC we dined in a pretty restaurant near our hotel. We sat, we read the menu, placed our order and had something to drink. Before starting our dinner I wanted to go to the restroom to wash my hands. So I placed my napkin on the table, I got up and went to the restroom. When I came back I saw my napkin was again perfectly folded beside the plate. I was sure I had left it unfolded on the table, so when I sat down again I looked at Andrea who, with an amused smile, told me the waiter had come to the table as soon as I got up and folded the napkin. Don’t ask me why I still remember this episode, but it’s something of that day that left me a strong impression.
So here we are, at the end of part 3. Just on last city remains. Next episode: Chicago.