England has been fun so far. I'm here in Plymouth with Kristene, Marta, and Alan, all of whom I spent a month with at the SharkLab last summer. In what was ended up being a harbinger of further misfortune, the weather dropped ten degrees centigrade and the heavens unleashed a torrent of rain as soon as I tried to get to Plymouth. Steve said, "Oh, I usually leave an hour before the train is scheduled to depart. That will give you time in case of train delays." Well, as soon as I stepped onto the train, it stopped, and the conductor mumbled something over the intercom which was utterly unintelligible. An hour and a half later, I arrived at Baker Street and transferred onto the circle line to Paddington Station, having missed my train -- and the two next trains. So I sat there and ate crappy Chinese fast-food, whose contents have somehow escaped the "no fast food" rule that I adopted after reading Fast Food Nation. Eventually, I arrived at Plymouth, and much enjoyment was had at being reunited with souls with whom I had endured the constant onslaught of biting bugs in Bimini.
The woods near Steve's house
We (Kristene, Marta, Dan, Patrick, and Apple) spent today in Cornwall at some beautiful beaches (the sky had magically cleared up, although it is still frickin' cold), which somehow invoked to me images of the cliff-lined coastline of Northern California, with a hint of East Coast thrown in. Everyone has been exceedingly polite, asking me multiple times each hour if I'd like a cup of tea, and asking for constant validation in that Brit sort of way: "that's strange, itddn' it? that chap's a bit dodgy, itddn' 'ee?" However, I haven't yet had much interaction with the local people here (affectionately called by non-locals in Plymouth as "Janners," which I presume to be a derogatory name). The local student paper even has some stereotypical things to say about their appearance. Bizarre.
Anyway, Karma took over at this point, perhaps annoyed that it was possible to have such beautiful weather in coastal Cornwall. At dinner, I left my Olympus C-5050 camera with 1GB compact flash card on the shelf over the private, one-room toilet at Mutley Spice, an Indian Restaurant in Plymouth. The guy who went in after me said, "hi," on his way in. And den, not 120 seconds later, I darted back into the bathroom to find it gone. The guy whom I had passed was no longer in the restaurant, probably because he had come in for take-out and left with something even better. Patrick was nice enough to walk me through a phone-in of a police report, and now, the camera -- and the $900 (or whatever) in value that it represented -- is gone.
"Can you describe the man you think took the camera?"
"Uh... sure. Caucasian male, just under 2 meters tall, short hair, maybe balding a little."
I just described just about every male in Plymouth. Yippee.
It's 4:35am now, and I am about to go to bed. I washed my face with water that was freezing cold, because for some reason, no faucet exists here that mixes both cold and hot water (the novelty!). Someone could make a lot of money. Heating is also broken here at Kristene's place, and while that means that I probably won't burn my leg on the radiator again while on the toilet, it also means that it is god damn cold because the windows don't close here nor at Marta's place. Actually, they do close, but somehow a draft can still be felt inside. It's magic.
I'm really enjoying my time with friends. Nothing can change that. :) Good night!