Thursday, June 19, 2003

This keyboard is far worse than even the ones in Northern Europe. As I write this, I'm sitting in an internet cafe in downtown Rome, a mile or so from the main Termini. If my grammar, spelling and syntax is off, it's only because it's freakin' hot here, and I can hardly think of anything half straight. I have a great many adventures to tell of, but I can't recall most of them now.

The most important one has to do with how incredibly difficult it is to find your way around in a country in which you neither speak the language, nor overly understand the culture. Our first night here wasn't so bad. We found another backpacker in the airport who helped us find our way to the city. But after that we were on our own. We found a restaurant on the street, ate spaghetti, and found a nice American couple to talk to. The waiter apparently also works at a pub and he gave us free beer tickets, and we went down. We spent the next three hours drinking there. Well, Jody didn't drink much. Just a little red wine. But I had three glasses of red wine, the free beer, half of the strongest marguerita I've ever encountered, and most of some strange tasting fruity mixed drink, which was also quite strong. I didn't get drunk, which impressed me. Anyway, we had to walk clear across the bad part of town at like 3am, which scared the holy living bejesus out of Jody. But I found it pretty funny.

The next day was less funny. A lot less funny. We woke up late, headed out into the midday sun, which was mistake number 1. In Italy, it's way too hot to go out into the midday sun. The locals work in the morning, siesta through the midday, and then come back to life in the evening when it's cooler. But we didn't realize this, so we walked out like little lambs to the slaughter. Now, in the US, and in all of the rest of Europe we've seen so far, when you want to ride a bus, you climb aboard, pay your exact change and just get off at your stop. Not in Italy. In Italy, you have to buy a ticket first. But we didn't know this. So we got on a bus, looked for the change-taker, and got nervous. We asked an Italian lady, who alerted the entire bus that we had no tickets, and everyone was in an uproar. Not an angry one, mind you. It's just that we were breaking the law and they wanted to protect us. But apparently, they couldn't kick us off at the next stop because it was in an awful part of town, and being mostly old gentlemen and ladies, they wouldn't do that to two young girls. An old man sold Jody his ticket, but I was still screwed. So finally we found a safe neighborhood, were escorted off the bus, and walked around lost for a while until we could find tickets.

We found the right bus, among much screaming in Italian regarding which way would be the best way for us to go would be. Note to future travellers: Never ask bored Italians at bus stop the best way to get somewhere. We roasted in the sun; I was massively sunburnt already an hour into the trip. Finally, an English-speaker pulled us on a bus, gave us an address and went on her way. Apparently the bus across Rome takes like an hour, and there's no freakin' air conditioner, so to put it lightly, by the end I wished for death. But eventually, the locals kicked us off at a stop that they said would take us to the Vatican and we went. The fact was that they kicked us off at the wrong spot, and we had to walk forever more, in the damned heat.

But eventually we got to St. Peter's Basillica, which was really amazing. I rubbed St. Peter's right foot, on the statue inside, which apparently means I'm sinless. Or in any case, I was for a few seconds before I resumed my sinning. I stood on the place where Charlemagne was crowned. I took part in mass genuflection before the throne of St. Peter and his bones and all that. I won't try to describe how beautiful it all was just now. After that, we went to the Colloseum. I was tired as hell after that, so I went home. But Jody stayed out, and met some kids from Berlin, who promised to show us around when we get up there, which is cool. In fact, she's out with them now, while I'm wasting away all my money in this internet cafe.

I can't bear to type anymore right now. But you should all go on the internet and check out pictures of the tremendously beautiful Trevi Fountain, which I saw today. I also the Spanish steps, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and more. But I haven't got any energy left, so I'll tell those stories later.

Anyway, at this internet cafe, everyone but me is African, I think. In fact, the vast majority of them appear to be Muslim. They seem very curious about why I'm here. Italians don't come here, and tourists don't usually frequent this part of town. So I guess I'm an oddity. I like it that way. I really quite enjoy being the minority. It's good for me I think.

Jody and I have had many great conversations about God, the meaning of life, and loving our neighbors. I really kind of like her brand of Christianity. She bucks most of the ideas I hate about stupid Baptists, which surprises me a little. Anyway, I'm very, very hot and hungry. So in closing, I'll leave with a terrific quote from the airport, I overheard from some school kid:

Am I hungry? Dude, I'm going to the home of pizza and you ask if I'm hungry? Hell yeah I'm hungry!