An unfortunate first two days in Washington

My arrival in the capital of the United States was one filled with drama.

The flight from Los Angeles to Washington had a quick connection at Atlanta, Georgia. But the LA-Atlanta flight landed very late and that resulted in delays of the connecting flights out of Atlanta. The plane bound for Washington was to have left by the time I made it to the gate but the flight was waiting for delayed passengers.

So I landed at Reagan National Airport an hour behind schedule, only to find that my bags were not on the carousel. They were apparently not loaded onto the connecting flight in time and were probably still in Atlanta. This happened to a few other passengers too and we had to fill out some forms. We were also told our bags would not arrive in Washington till a day later.  Oh, this was on AirTran Airways by the way.

This all went down at about 11pm and I still had to make my way to Hostelling International Washington on 11th Street, where I had booked a bed for the night. Dismayed, I caught the metro to the city. Mind you, this was my first time in DC; I was alone, tired, without my bags and it was late.

When I reached the hostel and checked in, the other people in the room were asleep already but I was starving and had to grab a quick bite. I also called Gladys to lament about my horrible day – the delayed flight, my lost luggage and not having any clean clothes to change into. It was truly tragic, that day.

The next day, other than having to retrieve my bags, I also had to find an apartment for the next five weeks while I was in town for my summer journalism class. I shortlisted a few rentals and e-mailed the owners, hoping to meet up with them. I also put up an ad, hoping that a potential landlord would get back to me. Now, the bags. It was yet another tragic day. The last time I heard from the airline staff, they were going to bring the bags to me. I was then told that the bags had arrived at the airport but they were only able to deliver them much later that day or the following day. And I couldn’t wait that long! So I decided to collect the bags myself from the airport. Getting to Reagan National Airport took half an hour and it was quite a pain to be lugging my bags in the daytime, with rush-hour crowds.

On the accommodation front, I wasn’t having it good either. I had arranged to meet a potential landlord earlier but she didn’t show. I got in touch with a lady who was subletting her apartment for a pretty reasonable rate and I was quite desperate by then. I took a taxi to the address she had given me and I was quite disappointed by the neighborhood. The area looked quite dodgy and I later realized that it was far from where my classes were to be held. She was a no-show too, she didn’t respond when I knocked on her door. So I was left with no options at all and that night was to be my last night at the hostel. There were no more vacancies left after that night.

Truly truly desperate and without a clue of what to do next, I decided there was not much I could do anyway since it was late already, so I went walking around to explore a little of the city. The next morning, however, proved to be the turning point. A lady had responded to my ad for a place and although the price was steep, it was within my budget and it was almost perfect because it was where I was looking for – Adam’s Morgan. Fantastic.

After speaking to her on the phone, I checked out of the hostel, grabbed my bags and took a taxi to the house. She must have been surprised that I brought my bags along since I hadn’t even seen the house yet. But it was do-or-die – I would have no roof over my head that night.

It was a really nice and cozy three-storey townhouse. The owners were a American couple. They recently had a baby but I didn’t mind that. The price was steep but worth it. After looking at the house, I knew this was the one, and after discussing a little, I moved in and paid for the next five weeks in cash, plus a check for the safety deposit. The rent included Internet and utilities, and I was free to use the kitchen and laundry facilities. My landlord had visited Singapore before and had friends there too, so that was a bonus. My week was finally starting to get better.


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