Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I'm still in Florence, though I'll leave for Avianno here in a couple of hours. I've done so much in Italy that it's hard to keep track of what I've written and what I haven't, and I don't really have time enough to check over things as properly as I should. So if I repeat information, my apologies.

Travelling, I've discovered, is a little like marching band in high school. You're dressed funny, you walk a lot, and you have no idea where you're going most of the time. It's also very hot, and you have to carry heavy stuff all of the time. While I don't dislike travelling, there are certain things that I've discovered that I don't like at all. For instance, while I rather like flying, I detest airport security (I got searched in Dublin, yay!). While I like being a tourist, I hate other tourists. While I like riding trains, I hate finding my platform. While I like being a minority, I hate my own frustration over not being able to communicate properly.

Today has been a very difficult day for me. I didn't sleep particularly well last night. Partly because of loud, drunken neighbors; partly because of heat; partly because I didn't feel well. So this morning has been difficult too. Though I managed to pry myself out of bed, and walk across town, I'm totally beat now. Jody went to a museum by herself because I just plain don't feel like walking around anymore. Though, I'm feeling a little better and more active since I threw up. That's right, I puked in a public restroom, in the middle of Italy. In fact, I puked in this internet cafe. It was horrible, and I thought for a split second, that my misery might either cause the earth to open and swallow me up, or it might consume the entire world in its suffering. But rather instead, I just puked a while, walked out, went back to my computer and have been typing ever since. So far as I can tell, I'm no worse for the wear, though I think I should force myself to eat something now.

Yesterday, I talked about Rory all day because I kept seeing things which would make him happy. I saw Machiavelli's grave, and a statue of him, for instance. And the Church of Dante, among other things. I wanted to find a post card for him. But the best I could find was a totally irrelevant card of Cerberus in hell. Anyway, email me your snail mail address Rory. Mike too, by the by. I seem to have left your address at home somehow too. Hand delivery isn't anywhere nearly as cool.

I'm damnedably sleepy right now. Which is bad because my day has hardly just begun. I have a five hour train ride ahead of me. Though, trains are nice mostly, because you don't have to do anything but sit there and watch for your connections. If you're lucky, you get quiet, air conditioned trains. If you're me, you get loud, crowded, hot trains. When we were on our way to Perugia, this Catholic lady got on the bus and tried to convert us. She was touring holy sites in Italy, I guess, and had just come from some Marian apparition site, and was rather excited. She gave us holy medals, which was nice I guess. But it was the first time I've been prostelyzed by a Catholic. Jody and I were both pretty amused by the whole thing.

In Perugia, we were going to take a train to Assisi, but we got on the wrong one. We asked the tourist information guy, who I think didn't speak English, if the train would take us there, and he was like "Si." So we got on, but halfway there, some English speaker heard us talking about Assisi and told us we were heading in the exact opposite direction. So we got off at the next stop, which turned out to be pretty much in the middle of nowhere. The next train wasn't scheduled to leave for another three hours, so we were stuck. But upon exploration, we were pretty happy to find ourselves on this huge public beach, which was really beautiful. So we spent three hours just relaxing, sleeping and whatnot, which was very much appreciated. Then we went back to the train station. This Italian lady, and her two little daughters came up from the beach riding their bikes. She checked the train schedules with us, and we waited together. Apparently, the schedules are wrong, and no train came until 6:20. But none of us knew that, so we had to just wait around at the station. In the meantime, we played with the little girls, who I'd assume were only maybe 6 and 8. We spoke no Italian, and they spoke no English, but we got along quite well. They taught us important things like how Gatto is cat, and Capello is hat, and that me coloro perforito is azure (my favorite color is: . We actually learned quite a lot of Italian from them. And they were happy because the Whitmans, Jody's friends in Perugia, had stocked us up with pizza and cookies before we left, so we fed them. Eventually, the kids were getting kind of grumpy, so I brought out a pen to draw for them. They ended up drawing on one another, but their mother didn't seem to mind, so we joined in too. We drew all over the kids, signing our own names, and theirs (Natasha and Sharon). They'd squeal and scream "Gatto! Tattoo Gatto!" and we'd draw cats on their arms. It was really a pretty unforgettable experience.

But there were other unforgettable experiences in Perugia. I went to youth group for the first time in my life, for instance. The Whitmans are missionaries, apparently, and I didn't want to be rude about the whole thing since they were nice enough to let me stay with them, so I went to their Church. It was kind of funny though, cause John was like: "Oh, you'll love it! Youth group is great! We have sing-a-longs!" I smiled politely, of course. But I was thinking: "WTF? No! I don't love any of those things! Neither youths, nor groups, nor singing!" It actually wasn't THAT bad. At least I was supposed to look foreign there. And I successively threw a monkey wrench in small group prayer. I just wouldn't shut up about other things, until the very end when everybody wanted to go get ice cream, and they could only throw up a generic prayer. The missionary team of kids staying there actually weren't that bad. I made a couple of friends, which is strange because I don't think I ordinarily would get along with kids from a school called "Bible Baptist College." But I think they were desperate for any fresh blood, so they were glad to talk to me. Plus, it was refreshing to hear American teenagers swearing again. Even if they did have to whisper.

I successfully avoided youth group the next night, by looking very tired and "going to bed" early. And Sunday I flat out stated that I really just wasn't much of a church goer. They seemed very surprised by it. Probably because I was fluent in the Bible, and Jody was willing to travel with me. But they let me stay home, which made me happy. And Jody got to go to a church she could half-understand, which made her happy. So Sunday was a good day.

Anyway, I'm down to a minute and a half on this thing, so I have to sign off. Peace and love, and more return emails soon. Don't forget to send me snail mail addresses.