Saturday, May 17, 2008

I officially suck at blogging

I'm really sorry! I'm not good at this anymore! But, I've got something to talk about now....

So, today was the last event for "Passport DC", which has been a three-week celebration of embassy-ness and DC's international flavor. Two weeks ago was EU Open House day and today was "rest of the world." Plus, I took time off of work yesterday to go to the Russian Embassy. Both days were really long and involved a TON of walking and waiting in lines, but were absolutely fantastic and definitely worth needing a good soak in the tub to make my legs feel better. Is it a coincidence that I passed out in naps both times? Probably not....

Both days involved a LOT of turn-of-of-the-century mansions on and around Dupont Circle and Massachusetts Avenue (which isn't called Embassy Row for nothing). Some were really surprising, like the ultra-modern Italian Embassy, one of the ones I definitely expected to be old. The British Embassy is a MASSIVE compound and, although they only opened one room, definitely won the "free stuff" battle and set a really high bar for everyone else (they were our first stop on EU Day). Even better was me trying to keep a straight face when Her Majesty's Representative spoke and told us how much Britain loved being European. I think he was trying to illustrate their position as a bridge between the US & the EU, but it was kind of funny. Also quite popular were the several different kinds of Scotch that were being served at 10am. And my new British Council flip-flops (I know, I Those rock. Also, the staff all looked rather uncomfortable in specially printed t-shirts with a MASSIVE Union Jack on them! Hee, hee.

Other embassies were a lot more traditional. The Irish Embassy was like that, where all the white people stood in line for AGES to celebrate their heritage and were rewarded with a piece of cheese each. Uh..... I was going to boycott the Cypriot embassy until I heard that they were serving massive platters of Halloumi cheese, one of my all time favorites! I had several pieces and laughed to myself about their promotional materials, i.e. "The Myth about the Isolation of North Cyprus." I brought that one home, but haven't looked through it. Also awesome: the number of different materials designed to explain the EU to children/dummies/Americans (same things, right?), which are EXACTLY what I wanted for my EU class at Earlham several years ago. Win!

There was more of that today, actually, where there was a major focus on South and Central America. The Peruvian embassy and the Colombian residence, especially, were incredibly maintained/restored mansions. Wow. There was a real tendency everywhere to mix modern art with the old houses and we learned that the Colombians fly in fresh Colombian roses every week for the floral arrangements. The Peruvian embassy was a special treat because they took small groups upstairs to see the Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission's offices. The tour guide was their press secretary and he was great. On both this tour and the one of the Venezuelan residence (a purpose-built art deco mansion), I definitely learned more about the countries than I'd previously known (although I later proved just how much Paddington Bear trivia I know with a detailed history of his pedigree).

And, today, there were quite a few modern embassies, mostly clustered up around Van Ness on the edge of the UDC campus. Pakistan definitely won my prize for "architecture that reflects the country" with this amazing modern mosque/Islamic/Mahal blend. It's only three years old and VERY modern, but with windows that are styled to look traditional, with the points, and loads of tile work (that's not really tile, but maybe?). BEAUTIFUL! I totally want to go (although that was kind of the theme of the day, much more than for EU day). Bangladesh had great food and I now know how really good Ethiopian coffee is. Ghana was SO DECKED OUT in flag goodness for their 50th anniversary celebration and someone at Nigeria forgot that they'd signed up, I think (TIA! Also, snerk). Oh, and Australia opened the big open entry space in their embassy, which has a model of the Southern night sky on the ceiling. They were doing wine tastings (yum), had a fantastic digeredoo performer and a very nice photo exhibition commemorating Australian/American cooperation on the Western front in WWI.

The day was all capped off by finding a Peruvian restaurant (it sounded so good when described at the embassy!) courtesy of google maps on my phone (BEST. THING. EVAR!). We tried the traditional cocktail (Pisco Sour) and had an incredible dinner, all for fairly reasonable prices (cocktail, an appetizer & half an entree for bang on $25/each), sitting outside in the perfect weather. Mmmmm. The restaurant was INTI Peruvian Restaurant and it's roughly at S & 18th in Dupont. Lovely day. I'm glad that I'm finally enjoying things about DC, especially since the move to Chicago in the fall currently seems inevitable.