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I loved Meghan’s post below. You should really check it out. Not that I am trying to steal her thunder, but today brought about a similar experience of never judging a book by its cover.

Fortunately patience is something that has been instilled in me somehow or another over the years, and it has allowed for an appreciation of an otherwise unappreciated demographic in DC.  Maybe unappreciated is not the exact word … undervalued could be a more appropriate one.  This demographic is the ever-expanding Latin American population in the city.  Many people joke about Mexicans and manual labor.  Joke all you want, many came from really harsh circumstances for a better life, for them and their family.  And how many of you think you could cut it doing heavy physical labor a minimum of 10 hours a day, at least five days a week?  Thought so.  But they are not all “Mexicans” and they do not all do manual labor and they do not all just speak a few words of English, and any other negative connotations one may associate with this particular group.

Well … waiting in line at a Bank of America this afternoon there was a gentleman attending two customers.  Silently.  The gentleman a stereotypical example of a middle-aged Latin American.  Pass him on the street in casual attire and you wouldn’t give him more than a second’s thought at his “immigrant” appearance (aren’t we pretty much all just immigrants in this country anyway??).  This attendant gentleman was clean cut in a pin stripe suit sporting a name badge, like any respectable bank employee would be expected to be dressed.  However, he was silent, as were the two young men he was across from.  After a moment I realized that he was “speaking” with the two clients in a third language (I’ve seen him before and he definitely speaks Spanish as a native and educated English as the gentleman he is being referred to in this post).  This third language was sign language.  Maybe English maybe Spanish, I am not very versed in any type of SL.  At this point, I just started smiling.  Not because I was surprised that he was using sign language, or impressed that he knew something more than Spanish, or even that I may have stereotyped him from an initial physical appearance.  I think it was more just thinking of those around me, if they were even paying attention to what was going on, if they were cognizant of how able this individual was to communicate with others.  Of how people stereotype.  Of how people judge immediately.  Of how inconsiderate we are of one another.  I just smiled.  And when it was my turn, he smiled back, and spoke to me in perfect English.

Realmente, como Meghan, a nosotros nos gusta la gente de todo el mundo, da igual de donde viene una persona, de cualquier país … ni importa el idioma ni el color de la piel ni si tiene dinero o no.  El mundo es más rico con una mezcla así.

P

P.S. Read Meghan’s London cabbie thoughts!

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Meridian Hill Park

In each city I’ve lived I have my outdoor happy place, that part of the city I can visit that is good for my soul. I have my favorite cafes, restaurants, etc. as well, but there’s nothing better than fresh air and sunshine (weather permitting) to increase the happiness levels. In Buenos Aires it’s Parque Tres de Febrero (the rose garden! the palm trees! the lake!) and in Brooklyn it’s Grand Army Plaza area, which includes the Brooklyn Museum, the beautiful main branch of Brooklyn Public Library, and an entrance to Prospect Park. In DC it’s Meridian Hill Park, and lucky me I got to go back there this weekend.

Meridian Hill Park is politely tucked away in NW DC, right where the neighborhoods of U St., Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant, and Adams Morgan meet. Although smack in the middle of some busy areas, it does a good job of being fairly isolated and is therefore a wonderful escape. Multilevels, waterfalls, ducks, statues, green space, shade, sunshine, and built in stone benches all make for a gorgeous space. On Sundays you’ll find a talented drum circle going on, and most days you’ll find people sunbathing, reading, running, picnicing, tightrope walking, doing yoga, and everything else you can enjoy in a pretty park. On my short weekend visits back to DC I usually don’t have time to do everything I’d like to, so it was a pleasure to stroll through the park on this visit. Do you have a favorite outdoor spot in your city?
All photos taken by P
M

Café Couture

Potent and delicious Ethiopian coffee and a vegan chocolate chip cookie with a story

Sidamo is hands down one of my favorite cafés in all of DC. It’s an authentic Ethiopian experience on the revitalized H Street corridor in Washington. Authentic because of the wood used to make the decor and the coffee being freshly hand-roasted (you can smell it blocks away – it’s amazing), to the staff that welcome you upon each visit. Yirgacheffe and Harrar are personal favorites and must be tasted pure, without milk, cream, or sugar, or any other sweetener for that matter – there is enormous body and flavor to be appreciated in each tasting. So if you happen to be in DC it’s really worth your while to check it out and meet Kenfe and Mimi, the owners, one of which is bound to be smiling behind the counter, roasting coffee at the large glass windows facing the street, or mingling with the customers.

What I really wanted to write about is a recent Washington Post article regarding two independent roasters, also in DC, that have qualms with offering wifi at their recently established coffee shops. The mentioned “wifi parking” is discussed further in an interview with American University Radio personality Kojo Nnamdi if you have some extra time to tune in.

Oh, and last bit to jot down real quick, referring to the above photo and the “cookie with a story” caption. Sometimes it pays to speak your mind … politely. At Sidamo they have three large jars of indescribably irresistible cookies beckoning your reaching of a hand in to grab one right by where you pay and wait for coffee. A woman was very vocal regarding her desire to have one of those cookies, but expressed how she only really wanted half. Well, it so happens that if you are in the right place at the right time and you offer to help a sister out she’ll gladly share with you. Just remember to be a gentleman and take the smaller of the two halves when it’s offered up!

That’s all for today …

P