Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Greatest City in America

As soon as I moved to Baltimore one of the first things I noticed were signs that said "The Greatest City in America."  These signs were literally everywhere, including the bench at the bus stop that I wait at every morning.  I continue to laugh at these signs every time I see them, I mean, has anyone even been to every city in America!?  It's just a ridiculous assumption.  While I am in no position to state which city in America is the "greatest," I am slowly starting to get to know Baltimore, and I wanted to tell you about it.

My house is in a neighborhood called Charles Village which is due north of downtown a couple miles.  CV was apparently named after the Village People and Charlie Chaplin (not true) and is on the east side of the Johns Hopkins campus (my current location due to lack of internet at home).  It's a relatively nice neighborhood with a lot of college students, some restaurants and bars, and a lot of activities.  This has been slightly hindered in the last few months due to a large spike in violence that continues to have the whole village talking.

My work placement is in a part of the city called Fells Point.  It is directly east of the inner harbor (downtown) by about a half mile or so.  The specific part of Fells Point my work is in is not the greatest area, with a huge housing projects right across the street.  But one day while walking around during my lunch break I headed towards the water where I discovered a huge area packed with bars and restaurants.  We went there later that night and will certainly be a location that we continue to visit.  My work is also just a couple of blocks from little Italy.  I've spent only a small amount of time in little Italy but with lots of restaurants and shops, I'm sure I'll be stopping by frequently.

Last weekend I finally had the opportunity to visit the Inner Harbor, the main tourist area of the city.  This is a very cool area that has been renovated over the last twenty years or so.  It nestled snuggly between the harbor and the main downtown area.  There are a lot of things to do here; take boat tours, go shopping, eat at great restaurants, rent paddle boats, and of course visit the National Aquarium.  Due to our limited budget we won't be able to spend much time in this area, but in September and October the National Aquarium and one other museum in the area have $5 Fridays, something I desperately want to take advantage of.

Since Baltimore is such a large city, there are still a ton of things I haven't seen or done in the city.  I've spent a little time in some other areas.  Hamden is one such area, where the Ace of Cakes building is, and a very hip area with lots of bars.  I went there last weekend for Hamden Fest, mainly just to see the toilet bowl races.  And yes, they're exactly what they sound like.  Yesterday I went to an area called Federal Hill, which is apparently where all the college students of the city go out on weekends.  Again, I'm sure I'll be spending lots of time there.

Some other things I've been up to:

Every JV house is responsible for throwing a party on whatever holiday they're assigned.  The Baltimore house, affectionately called the Pedro Arrupe house (look him up) is always given the task of throwing the Labor Day party.  Our party was a huge success (I think) with people showing up from a majority of the houses (the furthest coming from Raleigh, NC and Bridgeport, CN) and other people that we know from Baltimore.

Through my roommate Tim we have met some other volunteers that are living in the community.  These include 2 houses of Lutheran Volunteers, Mennonite Volunteers, a group of guys from Germany who are here volunteering and when asked what they like to do respond "you know, drinking, partying, clubbing."  They're fun guys.

Work has been going great.  We just got a new intern from University of Maryland who will be doing the same thing as me on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  While she was doing her training this past week, I got to do some other things that our agency does.  On Tuesday I worked in the meal program, our lunch program that serves almost 400 people a day.  This was a great opportunity for me to talk with many clients and serve a lunch number of people.  On Thursday our head of security was out doing training, so I stepped up and worked the front desk; talking to clients, watching the security cameras, answering all the calls, and doing other responsibilities.  This job was much more difficult than what I was expecting but was a good learning experience.

Life with the roommates has been fun.  We've had some good talks, spent a lot of time together, and we haven't had any problems thus far.  Living simply together has made life interesting as we look for things to do together.  Our favorite things have been watching the Wire, an incredible HBO show that shows the "true" side of Baltimore, and working on puzzles.  Yes...puzzles.

I can't believe it's already been over a month since I've left.  Last weekend was the first time I really started to feel homesick.  This wasn't too surprising for me since I experienced the same thing while in Italy.  It's been a difficult transition not being able to see friends and family whenever I like but I've gotten a lot of support and this year is already flying by.  Thanks for reading and please share any comments or questions you have.  Love!

1 comment:

  1. Whatsup Mennonites! We have been working on puzzles in our apartment too. They kick ass! Also, a bunch of anarchists told me The Wire is super tight. I really need to watch it. Keep it real bro! Peace!

    -ben adam