On April 6, 2008 Nanta flew in an airplane for the first time in her life, and came to America. The next day her daughter, Ann, took HER first airplane ride and came to America too!
Our first day sightseeing, it was COLD and Nanta had never put on gloves before, but she figured it out!
Nanta and Anne are lucky to come when the cherry trees blossom!
We visited the Jefferson Memorial and learned about our third President, then we sat on the marble steps of the Jefferson Memorial to listen to a performance of steel drum music.
The music was performed by students of a teacher from Trinidad, and Nanta got to try it herself.
After a long day, we relaxed around the kitchen table [bottom left]. A week later, they stayed in New York City, graciously hosted by Sara Tsutsumi (second from left in the photo below).
Ann's last weekend in America
We left New York Friday, and Ann had to return home to Bangkok the following Sunday to get back to work. Her last weekend in America was a busy one!
It started with a Mexican dinner after the long drive from New York City Friday night.
Saturday we went to the Naval Academy ...
... and walked through Annapolis, checking out some of the quaint, historic doorways.
At the little Annapolis harbor, Nanta enjoyed seeing the life-size statue of Alex Haley surrounded by children listening to his stories (some of the children she discovered were real!). Nanta had read Haley's book "Roots" about his ancestor Kunta Kinte.
We went for a few minutes to see the Chesapeake Bay beach. Nanta flew a kite for the first time in her life when we asked if she could hold someone's kite, and we saw the Chesapeake Bay bridge (in the water behind Ann and Nanta in the second photo). The bridge is four miles long.
We ended the evening at one of our favorite Indian restaurants, and took a picture with the owner Kumar. During their visit here, Nanta and Ann had tried many ethnic foods for the first time -- Indian, Mexican, Italian, Middle Eastern -- and loved them all.
The next day, Ann flew home to Thailand, and Nanta flew to visit Margery Obed in Michigan for a week (Nanta had roomed with Margery when Margery was in Thailand in the Peace Corps). Her adventures included a friendly frisk-down at the airport security when the pins in her hair set off the metal detector.
After returning from Michigan, Nanta visited with some of Dona's friends who are blind -- Cecilia Warren, Penny Reeder and Jane and Pat Sheehan.
Cecilia (shown here with her son Patrick -- her mother is in the background with Cecilia's guide dog) took Nanta for a day in Annapolis. They first had English tea and crab cakes, then went on a tour boat through Annapolis Harbor.
Then Nanta went to visit Penny and her family. Penny teaches blind people, and Nanta got to observe one of her lessons, then went to the "White Cane Shop and More" and saw lots of gadgets adapted for blind people.
Lastly Nanta visited Pat and Jane Sheehan. Pat and his friend took Nanta for a tour of the National Library of Congress (where she touched a tactile globe of the world for the first time in her life!) and visited the gift shops at the Smithsonian.
Nanta's last weekend in America
Nanta's last weekend was a busy one. Saturday morning found her still at the home of Jane and Pat Sheehan. Pat, Nanta and Dona looked at some accessible pedestrian signals in the area.
Nanta and Dona then went to McDonald's so Dona could get some milk for her breakfast, and they explored the maze and rode down the slide.
Saturday afternoon, at the picnic of the Metro Washington Association of the Deaf-Blind, Nanta learned some sign language. Blaise Delahoussaye, who is deaf-blind, used many ways to teach her the meaning of the sign for "yes," including printing letters in her hand (she knows English braille but doesn't recognize all the English letters), and showing her what it means to shake her head "yes" and "no" (she had never realized that people move their head up and down and sideways to mean "yes" and "no").
Below, Blaise signs "nice to meet you" while Nanta reads it with her hands ...
... and Nanta signs "Nice to meet you" while Blaise reads it with his hands.
Blaise signs "good bye!"
The next morning, Nanta and Dona brought their breakfast to the beach by Chesapeake Bay. On their way to the water, they met a man with a metal detector. He said that he is part of a group that comes to the beach a few times a year -- they hide a lot of coins in the sand, then find them with the metal detector -- he found about $75 worth of coins today. When Nanta tried it, she heard some metal, reached down and found -- her cane!
[Left, below] Other people pass by with their metal detectors. [Right, below] Nanta and Dona sit by the beach.
Nanta goes wading for the first time since she was a little girl. As we stood in the water, another man with a metal detector passed by, collecting treasures along the bottom of the water.
Nanta could hear two families enjoy the water near where we sat in our chairs -- the closer family was from the Middle East and the other family was from China. Dona described to Nanta how the two fathers played with their daughters.
In the afternoon, Dona's husband Fred, son Paul and Paul's wife Jomania went with Nanta and Dona to Baltimore and ate crabs at Obrykie's restaurant in "Little Italy."
After dinner, we walked to a street that was blocked off to celebrate Cinco de Mayo ("Fifth of May" -- Independence Day for Mexico). A crowd gethered around a stage in the middle of the street with music and dancing. We tried to talk with some of them but they spoke no English, only Spanish.
Baltimore is well-known for the little stairways in front of its homes, where people sit in the warm evenings to get fresh air and chat with neighbors. Paul and Jomania, Nanta and Dona sat on some of the steps, and later talked with one of the residents [far right]. She said that the homes that have steps are the ones that have a basement, because the floors of those homes are raised above street level. She showed Nanta how the marble steps are caulked together and explained how they are cleaned with "power washing." She sometimes goes to her neighbors around the corner and sits on their steps to visit.
Paul and Jomania have a car that is a convertible, which means that the top of the car can come off. Nanta got to feel the top come off, then Paul drove her around the block before we went home.
Nanta and her daughter Ann got to experience America in very special ways, meeting people and seeing how they live. We're very grateful to the people who hosted them, and shared a part of their lives and homes.