Well, finally after 3 years of work, and god knows how long spent writing my thesis, I have finally gained my Masters degree, passing with a Merit. I was a little disappointed with this, especially my thesis mark, which was the lowest in all my 3 years of study! Obviously it goes to prove that the less time you spend doing a piece of work, the better the marks you get!! I have also managed to get my visa sorted for Ecuador as well, which is a relief and finally means I now have everything sorted for the next part of my trip.
As per usual the World Cup is keeping me entertained. Unlike the first England game, the last two I have watched in bars, hoping for a little bit of atmosphere. So when I walked into a local bar down the road from where I live, and saw about 20 people, some of which were decked in England colours, I thought my wishes had come true. It wasn't until I got closer though that I realised, these weren't English but in fact Americans, all shouting for England. It seems that here in America, you don't have to support your country if they aren’t any good. This was confirmed upon entering a sports shop when after one of the shop assistants recognised I was English, told me in a broad American accent that like England, his team had easily made it through to the second round. Obviously I was a little confused at this, seeing that the USA had been knocked out a day earlier. See my confused expression, the shop assistant exclaimed, that Germany was his team, and you can't go wrong supporting a team like Germany. I was always brought up supporting the country in which you were born and live, but I must be wrong!! I was later informed that Americans hate to lose, so by supporting a team that is actually good at 'soccer' you lose less often! Genius!!!
I managed to watch the third England game in one of the main pubs in Washington DC, and luckily I found myself surrounded by fellow English men, which gave a bit more of an atmosphere to the game. In future though I have made a mental note that it is not a good idea for pre-match preparations to include a trip around a Holocaust Museum. Constantly seeing graphic image after graphic image for this length of time is certainly not good for morale or enthusiasm!! Saying this though, the Holocaust Memorial Museum was an eye opener of how evil the human race can sometimes be and a memorial I would recommend to anyone visiting Washington, DC.
The 10-hour journey to Washington DC was definitely worth it, not only for obtaining my visa. I was a little apprehensive seeing that Washington, DC is said to be one of the most dangerous cities in America, but I failed to see any of this dangerous side when I was there. Being as stingy as I am, Washington impressed me even more as all of the museums and art galleries are free. Although if you want to get in many of them then you have to start queuing at 6 in the morning, and with a free breakfast on offer there was no way I was going to be doing that!!
Obviously I partaked in all of the typical tourist sightseeing, including the White House, State Capitol, Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial made famous by Martin Luther King, and to a lesser extent Forrest Gump. But the thing I found most intriguing about Washington were the homeless people. Now I know almost every big city has homeless people, but it seemed that almost all of the homeless people in Washington suffered from one type of schizophrenia or another. It was almost impossible to walk around and not see this. During the 4 days I spent there I saw one guy riding an imaginary bus, who then stopped his imaginary bus to let on some imaginary passengers. Another guy ran past riding an imaginary horse, whipping it ferociously in an attempt to go faster. There were also the numerous people who must have thought they were Martin Luther King himself giving a momentous speech about a democratic and equal society in front of thousands of people. Unfortunately, they weren’t talking to anyone. It just goes to show what you can do if you have a vivid imagination!!
The only downside with Washington while I was there was being stuck in the middle of a horrendous thunderstorm while on the way back to the hotel. As we were walking through a park with the only cover being trees we decided that getting wet was less of a risk. By the time we had walked the 500 yards out of the park we were already as wet as we would have been jumping fully clothed into a swimming pool, and we still had a 2-mile walk back to the hotel! Unfortunately I had decided to wear a slightly tight fitting shirt, not because I wanted to look buff, because of the weight gain experienced in the past few months. Because of this it meant I had to parade through the entire downtown of Washington as though I was taking part in a prestigious wet T-shirt competition. I have no doubt in my mind that if it really was a wetT-shirt competition I would have walked away with first prize. To help vent some of my anger and embarrassment I decided to stick the V-signs up at numerous cars who failed to stop at the pedestrian crossings for me, which was infuriating. None of the cars though knew what I was implying with the V-sign though, as in America they only know the one finger salute. How rebellious!!
I have now been living in Louisville for 4 weeks and I swear the house I’m living in is haunted. I have always been skeptical of such things until now but when you are home alone and start hearing doors opening and footsteps all the time then you start to wonder. At least I wasn't as unlucky as my girlfriend who, after taking an afternoon nap, awoke to hear footsteps walking towards her and then someone sitting down on the edge of her bed. When she opened her eyes there was no one there at all. Very freaky indeed!! Because of these ghostly experiences I have decided the best measure to take is to sleep with the light on. Quite pathetic when you remember I’ll be rubbing shoulders with Colombian guerrillas in the next few weeks!!
Other than this, I have yet again been amusing myself with my sarcasm, and the fact that most people don’t understand it at all. While watching the World Cup I was asked why only one African team was still in it. I replied by saying that all the others had unfortunately been shot for being rubbish. Upon saying this I was met with a look of shock, horror, and disbelief. It still amazes me after all my time here how little my sarcasm is understood. Maybe it’s just me that’s the problem here!!
My next email will be sent from California as I’ll be travelling there next Monday before I fly to Costa Rica. Although I’m intrigued to see the difference between California and where I am currently living, I’m not really that excited about the prospect of a 55 hour continuous bus journey. The trip to Washington was bad enough but 55 hours is going to be a killer! I'm sure though that there will be enough interesting characters to keep me entertained.