After a few days in Tulum, Mexico, visiting some Mayan ruins (by far the least impressive of our travels but it served well to break up the flights between Cuba and US), we headed to Washington DC.
As avid fans of The West Wing and House of Cards we've been looking forward to running around the corridors of power talking very fast and being devastatingly cutting with every wry line but it was not to be. Despite best efforts (our friend Whit had applied on our behalf to his congressman to get access to the White House), and maybe due to our recent time in leftie countries (Nicaragua, Ecuador, Columbia and of course, Cuba) Team Obama voted against our request. Instead we had to settle for seeing things from the outside only, but given the beautiful weather, and the impressiveness of the facades we didn't feel too hard done by.
We rented a room in a fantastic apartment on Capitol Hill and spent 4 days walking miles around museums and monuments. The Smithsonian museums were impressive in range, and value - Kew Gardens should take note of how the Botanical gardens run here- although the American History museum was a bit random. It ranged from the ruby slippers and an iPod with some whimsical nonsense written for half wits, through to an intensive history of wars. I mentioned it went from being inane to impressive to an American friend who aptly replied 'well, that's America'.
As our average time is 4hrs p/museum we had some long long days interspersed with people watching on the mall. The 'suns out guns out' chin up contest, the anti-gay marriage loon with his home made sandwich board and the conspiracy theorist campervan that drove up and down warning us all of the dangers of the US government all made for good entertainment betwixt exhibitions.
On day 4 we met up with friends we'd made on our Galapagos trip and they took us (via a tour of the Supreme Court- very impressive place visually) to their house in Arlington for a few days of home comforts.
'Sorry about the room' they said, showing us to an entire floor complete with bathroom, gym equipment and a washing machine big enough to fit everything we own in. When Trish asked if we wanted fabric softener it bought it home how big the gap between normal living and backpacking has been. We'd be delighted with fabric softener - anything beyond beating our clothes with sticks in a river is a bonus!
Smelling a lot nicer, rested and fed with home made cooking we spent a further day retailing and exploring the JFK centre. Retailing was half-arsed as the day was very hot and the vastness of choice in the shops was all a bit overwhelming. We bought some basics and headed over to the theatre for the most boring tour a venue has ever offered. Whit and Trish joined us as a volunteer worthy of Little Brittain took us up to (but not in) 5 theatres. Basically it was a tour of lobbies with a lot of JFK worship. We did get to see the city from the rooftop though which was impressive - complete with the hole in the Pentagon from 9/11.
Following another lovely meal, this time joined by Mike and Sal (more Galapagos folks), it was time to wave goodbye to DC - an incredibly good looking city we really enjoyed. Even if Obama wouldn't let us in his house.