Sunday, April 06, 2008

What's the Best Way to Hear God Laugh?

Sometimes it doesn't matter what plans you try to make. It seems like every time we try to make plans on this journey, we get shunted in another direction entirely. You'll see in a moment.

England has been fantastic so far. I've been here several times before, but the last was about 9 years ago, so this is really my first trip as a conscious being. There's lots of images and places and things in my head, but I'm finally sorting them out to make a real concept of the place. I fully intend to not let nearly so much time pass before I return here. I may even look for jobs here once I get back to the states.

After our mad dash out of Africa our arrival in England was fairly low key. Though we did encounter, within the Underground, and out of nowhere, a woman who had attempted to come visit me in Niger, though we had never really got it worked out. Turns out she is friends with another Australian who had been on our plane out of Ghana and had come to meet him at the airport. After a little brief chat in the tube she asked if I was indeed Seabass who she'd been emailing. After that I remembered her emails and the fact that I had kind of dropped the ball on arranging a meet. Luckily she felt the same way about her role in things and we've been hanging out off and on all week. Miranda is a hoot. Small world.

Keeping ourselves busy in London hasn't been terribly hard. On Monday we went and visited Parliament courtesy of my cousin Lizzie. We watched the entrance of the Speaker of the House of Commons. Talk about pomp and circumstance. As Djimi put it so eloquently "It's a good thing I went and watched [the parliamentary debates] because otherwise I would have had no respect for your government." It was actually quite interesting to see the style of discussion. Very different from our own, though not entirely dissimilar. After parliament my aunt Tam took us to Tea at Fortnum and Mason's, the queens grocers. We kept waiting for them to kick us out as we sat there in our hoodies and things. All very posh, but very fun too. The waiter even set the napkin in my lap for me. Kind of awkward.

We've spent several days walking around and seeing the sights too. London Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace. The galleries are all free which is nice too. We explored the Tate Modern with the A team on Thursday which was neat, but slightly overwhelming. After having been deprived of art for so long, absorbing that much in a day was a little staggering.

Upon arrival we had sort of decided to spend the week in London and head up North to visit my aunt Sue in Yorkshire on the weekend, before heading back down to London for our last several days. Well, as the weekend rolled around we kept finding things in London we wanted to do, so we decided to stick around. We had already announced our previous plans to Lizzie, our host, however. So come Friday, we were suddenly without a place to stay as she had other friends coming in to stay from out of town. Luckily Helen, the girlfriend of a friend of ours from Niger, put us and the A team up for the night, though she had been worried that her lack of heating and hot water would make us suffer. She forgot we are RPCVs and didn't need luxurious accommodations. Just give us the floor and a blanket and we'll survive. She took us out to a pub for pizza and things too which was delicious.

Sadly, she was heading out of town yesterday so we couldn't stay there more than the one night. So I spent most of yesterday calling around various friends and contacts trying to find a place to stay. The result of this was that all our London contacts were exhausted for the weekend, but my aunts out of town were more than eager for us to come visit. So...London basically kicked us out and made us stick to our original plan.

I collected Djimi and we hopped on a train around 7 o'clock to Darlington in Yorkshire and are now being pampered and over fed by my aunt Sue. It's wonderful. We went on a nice walk this morning and saw some of the English countryside. Even more reasons to come back. The pace of life here is a little closer to what we're used to than London, also, which is comforting. So we're taking the chance to relax a bit and figure out where to go next.


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