Monday 29th September. Washington D.C, USA

It was a lousy, drizzly day in Pittsburgh, and since I didn't have a host specifically lined up along the way to Philadelphia, Amy said I could stay another day rather than try to hitchhike in the rain. After all, I have my record to protect; not a drop of rain on my head during the past three months' hitchhiking. Amy was working all day at her second job, and her flatmate doesn't want her guests hanging around when she's not there, so I spent the day wandering the city, trying desperately to find somewhere I could log onto the net with my laptop. Three different Kinko's stores in three far ranging suburbs, and still no success. Lucky I was enjoying my exploration of Pittsburgh, and the occasional stop at MacDonald's.

Finally, I found a co-operative librarian who let me rip the cable from the back of one of their computers, and I got a bit of work done. By then it was almost time to meet Amy at her work, back on the opposite side of town. Neither of us felt like doing much, so after she rustled up a snack, we watched a bit of tele and called it a night. I knew I had an early start in the morning.

Today I cheated a little bit...again. Another large chunk of my pride was swallowed, my budget gurgled further down the toilet, and I caught the Greyhound to Washington D.C. An old mate of mine, David, lives in D.C. David and I met in 1996 while volunteering on a Kibbitz in Israel, and since we only have one day to catch up on seven years worth of stories, I didn't want to risk getting there too late. The bus fare was forty bucks which I just can't bear to think about, but I just couldn't imagine standing by the road for hours, while valuable story-telling time was going to waste. After a few miles, I wondered if I should have tried hitching after all. That bus was jam packed and with the air conditioning blown, was even less comfortable than usual. They should've paid me to ride that damn clunker!

I noticed that the armrests on all the aisle seats were designed to fold down out of the way. How this could be a useful function, I didn't know. Then I looked up the aisle and saw at least three passengers who had one huge bumcheek hanging over into the aisle. I guess Greyhound just can't make their busses any wider! Bon Appetit, America.

David met me at the Washington Greyhound station, and scarily looked younger than I remembered him seven years ago. He doesn't drive a car, so we walked to the Metro station, and as we walked, we tried frantically to catch up on as much of each other's news as possible. David had far more news of the other volunteers than I did. Over the last few years, I've fallen out of touch with all but a couple of them. David, on the other hand, was recently re-united with several of them. Barbara, one of the volunteers from 1996, recently got married in Ireland, and invited quite a few of our old workmates. David showed me the photos when we got back to his place. My old roommate Alex was there, looking no different to the last time I saw him walk off to milk the cows in Israel. And Sanna the young Finnish girl who, at seventeen years old, had actually lied about her age in order to be able to come and work on the kibbutz. Now twenty-four, she's the only one who'd changed... she's hot! David said the strangest thing about the reunion was that no-one had really changed, but were now 'respectable', wearing suits and dresses instead of ripped tshirts and bandanas!

for photos and stories from my time in the Middle East, click on 'It's Fun To Be A Volunteer', an account of daily life on a Kibbutz, 'Jerusalem, City of Gold' my escape from the kibbutz with a crazy Japanese girl or 'A Voice On Mt.Sinaii', when six volunteers run away to Egypt

David asked me what sights I wanted to see while in town, but with so many stories to be told, I couldn't see there'd be a spare minute for sightseeing. He made us a cup of coffee and captivated me with all his news. We did end up going for a walk around town and having lunch in a coffee shop, where I checked my emails on David's laptop, through the cafe's free wireless network. David works from home, and wanted to get out into the fresh air. Since being laid off early this year, David has taken his future into his own hands, and is forging his own venture in video production. *no, not pornos. Educational language learning videos*

Chillin' on the front steps of David's house. David and I tucking into a huge steak.

The rest of the night sort of goes without saying. David talked of the night we'd hidden from the Egyptian taxi driver, and slept on the ground in the Valley Of The Kings. I reminded him of the infamous day that we'd been required to help with the chickens. We reminisced about the good times, the bad times, the freaks, and the great friendships that were formed in that strange little country so far away from anything that we now accept as reality. I felt sad for falling out of touch with so many terrific people.

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