Today began the annual Embassy Tour in DC, when most of the foreign countries' embassies open their doors to visitors.
Today was the Saudi Arabian, Thai, and Ukrainian. I got choked up in the Saudi embassy by the great food (especially the chicken & rice Al Khabsa), amazing photos of camels, Mecca), the tented seating areas with their glorious Oriental carpets, and the flowing robes for both men, women, & children.
The Thai embassy had fabulous fruit & vegetable sculptures, exquisite musical performances on the Khim (hammered dulcimer) and ranket ekh (like a xylophone), massages, and fabulous food & drink. I had six sips of Thai iced coffee, and I'm STILL wide awake!
I got choked up because I grew up on the flat, virtually treeless tundra in ND surrounded by rather chilly, blonde Lutherans, and all the while there were places like Saudi Arabia with dark-haired, dark-eyed, gracious people, palm trees, camels, amazing hills/mountains, and food like delectable dates growing on trees!. And the carpets! And the designs they painted on their hands! Unimaginable
Lastly, we found the Ukrainian embassy on M Street, between Dean & DeLuca & the Key Bridge. I admired this one man's shirt, and he told me his mother had hand-embroidered it. Then I told him I used to live 1/2 a block from the Ukrainian Orthodox church in NE Minneapolis, and he LIT UP! "My grandfather used to be the pastor there!" he said. Then I told him how our kids' schoolmates were often first-generation kids from the Ukraine--Luba Smolka, Kalina Kramarchek--and he just beamed. "I KNOW the Smolka family," he said, and his grandfather raved about them as pillars of the church. Turns out he was born in Baltimore, as was my friend Cathy, (partner in crime mentioned earlier). Talk about a small world! And we watched a demonstration of a woman making pysanky (Ukrainian Easter Eggs).
The Ukrainian guy in the embroidered shirt from Baltimore used to visit his grandparents in Minneapolis--doubtless while we were living half a block away from the big, beautiful new church! I made a mistake and called it "St. Casimir's," but he reminded me that it was St. Constantine's. St. Casimir's was a Polish uniate church two blocks eat of St. Connie's. There were more than half a dozen Catholic churches of all kinds within three blocks of our house in any direction in NE Mpls, and the racket on Sunday a.m., when they all started ringing their bells made sleeping in on Sundays impossible.
Can't remember when we've had more fun at exhibitions in DC! Next week: the European embassies: France, Germany, Italy, et al.....!! Can't wait!
NB: Pictures to follow when I can figure out how to get them off my Blackberry. .... NB2: Groan....How can Blackberry be so effing STUBBORN??? Still haven't got the photos pried out of its grip!