Friday, January 29, 2010

Thoughts on a flight back

Thank goodness for laptops right now, otherwise this twenty-two hour flight would be beyond boring. Right now, I have all this energy still surging through me and the only solution I have is to savor all my memories and my emotions is by writing them. I can’t tell a chronological story about my travel in Roma. There is so much to tell and so many adventures that I am going to have to limit them to only a few, otherwise I think I could write a short novel on it. But since it is impossible for me to follow chronology, I’m going to make this blog somewhat like a Fellini’s “Roma” and in that same spirit, I am a little like Roma itself. There will not be a storyline to follow and the photos, I will add to a later blog. This is the nature of Roma, beautifully ordered chaos.

There’s no place like home…Rome. Amo Roma!
Oh my gosh, I am in love. No, it’s not a prepubescent infatuation with the latest all male pop-star group, my love for Roma is deep and profound. Of course, I don’t think I am the only person that had ever felt this way after visiting Roma for the first time but nonetheless I feel like Roma is my greatest lover. I think it is impossible not to fall in love with Roma, the landscape, the art, and its people are all part of its charm…oh and don’t let me fail to mention the delicious food (anche amo gnocchi allora). Roma is a city of diversity, its inhabitants are from all sorts of different places of the world and walks of life, each one taking their chance and adventure in Roma. Some go to that go to Roma to live like a Roman at least for a little while and some have made Roma their permanent home thus entering that fortunate circle of being called Roman.

When in Roma…
            Romans are one of a kind people—seriously I have no complaints what so ever. They have a fusion of a laid back, careless style of if you don’t like it fanc*lo and yet, they are thoughtful and wonderful hosts to tourists. Rules are illusions and time is an abstract concept that people sometimes choose to follow. There are words and phrases that are fairly overused and rarely backed up by any truly substantial evidence. Everyone promises to provide you something subito (meaning fast/immediately) but one is never really sure if subito will happen and sometimes I wonder if it is said simply out of sheer habit because in the end Romans follow their own time. And Italian men are very good for the self-esteem, carelessly complimenting you as you walk by saying, “Ciao Bella!” (“Hello Beautiful!”) and when they stop to talk to you, they make you think you’re the most amazing woman in the world. It’s no wonder Italian males are known as Latin Lovers.

            Roma is a beautifully ordered chaos—I really don’t know how else to really describe it. How they manage to be passionate and chaotic while still organized, is truly an enigma to me. Yet, it all works in this beautifully orchestrated symphony that only Romans know how to follow by heart.

Most Italians were always happy and helpful when I spoke Italian. Most thought I was a Spanish tourist (you know from Spain) but others asked if I was American. I suppose my accent in Italian must be a mixture of the two. The most interesting and amusing to me is when I told people where I was from I always got the same reaction, “Oooooh California!” with hands thrown back and eyes facing upward. After the physical reaction, came the comment that they wanted to go to California and asked me if I love it, to which I responded to with, “Si, California è bellissima!” (Yes, California is beautiful). I am glad that I’m not from a boring state like Nebraska and that being a California girl made me quite popular. I tried investigating why and from what I gathered it’s a combination of myth and new world glamour that causes the California adoration.

            Sigh. I really feel like I became a part of Roma and a part of me didn’t want to leave but I have to admit that I miss my daughter, family, and friends so much. I want to convince myself that the charm of Roma is that I am not from or live in Roma but I discovered that Romans feel the same way about Roma that I do. Romans love Roma. Italians love Italy! And why not? It’s absolutely amazing. There is an energy that is incomparable and I had never felt anywhere else. Let me paint you a scenario: it is a Saturday night, you went out to dinner with some new Roman friends and maybe had a little too much wine. Then they decide it is too early to go home and as customary it is necessary to have some caffè (what Americans call espresso) as you leave the bar with a couple of beers porta via, you turn the corner there is the Colosseo, huge and brightly lit against a starry night. You and your friends decide that it’s cold but it would be great to sit outside and have a beer on a bench in front of the Colosseo. Yeah, even in the cold being able to do that is really quite outstanding--outstanding that a single street separates the modern life of Italy and can transport you to antiquity.
Mamma mia, Michelangelo!
            Ok, this may sound a little cliché but every cliché stems from some sort of truth. I truly had a spiritual experience while in the La Cappella Sistina. Michelangelo was more than I ever could have imagined and I already had high expectations. I cannot give words to the feeling and there is possibly no image and no words that could adequately portray the experience, it is something that must be lived. Honestly, if I only traveled to Roma to see the La Cappella Sistina, I think I would be satisfied. As I saw it, the colors and shapes seduced my eyes. My irises must have been dilated in the absolute intoxication of the dopamine and serotonin circulating through my body. I probably would have had Stendhal Syndrome if I hadn’t been trying to be so aware not to have it. But another part of the Sistine Chapel that was very special, was the opportunity to look at others relish in Michelangelo. I saw their faces and I could see that utter fascination and awe with it. I wish photography were allowed in there because I would have loved to capture people’s reaction. There was even a teenage girl that went to tears, yes, I felt her energy. As an art lover myself, I felt all the energy and passion of Michelangelo. Even an atheist could not avoid feeling a spiritual experience there. Michelangelo was certainly a divine creature.

I saw a lot of art in Roma. I saw Ancient art, Roman art, Renaissance art, Modern art, local art…should I go on? I was inundated with art. It is an art historian’s dream to be in all of the museums. I wish I had more money and time to go to all of them. I guess this just means I have to return…

La mia dolce vita

Ok, I am almost a little embarrassed to admit how many times I visited La Fontana di Trevi. I think I went a total of four different times because I wanted to capture the different ways light hits the fountain. I went early in the day one day, then late afternoon, and then again when it was nighttime. I suppose for anyone that knows me it’s not really a surprise considering that I have been talking about seeing the Trevi fountain for quite some time and how I joke around saying I would jump into the fountain and reenact Anita Ekberg’s scene at the Trevi fountain in La Dolce Vita. It as so beautiful in person and so right, the little antiquated architecture surrounding it. I loved it so much and I threw in two coins. I was unaware of this at the time that I did it but apparently throwing in two coins not only ensures a certain return to Roma but it also guarantees meeting true love. Hehehe, we will see about that one!

If you have made it this far in my rambling about Roma, I commend you because I have no idea if any of this makes any sense to anyone except me. I have so many tales to tell of this trip but I am afraid I am not quite the best writer and that I can’t tell the concise story with the best details. I don’t want to bore anyone so just a brief little story about my departure and I will end this blog that I have spent writing on and off during this incredibly boring flight that only makes me wish I never had to leave.

Tuesday January 26, 2010 at 9:45 A.M. was my original departure date and time. The morning started off a bit bad. It was the hostel manager’s knocking at my door that woke me up and I immediately fell into a panic because at that moment I knew that my alarm hadn’t gone off and it was certainly late. I look at the clock at it is 8 A.M. I yelled profanities into the air and told the manager to wait. I step onto the ground and my socks got soaked in water, yes, my room was flooded with water. I get dressed the fastest I ever have in my life and miserably picked up my wet belongings from the floor. The manager is trying to get an explanation out of me and I say I have no idea what happened (in Italian because she doesn’t know English) and I rush out. I run to Termini (basically the central station of Roma where you can get buses, the subway, and/or the train). I make it to Fiumicino very late and missed my flight. As I approach the Continental counter the lady looked at me with pity (I must of looked a absolute mess) and said to me I had to pay the penalty fees. This is when I begin to search for my wallet but where was my wallet? Who knows…the point is now I was stuck in Rome without money and nowhere to go. Lucky for me pity went a long way and airline woman waived my fees. But I was still without a wallet and I check my pockets, I only to find a few crumbled up receipts and €4 to my name. I had no idea what to do so the first thing I did do was order a cappuccino to get my head straight: money remaining €2.70.
            “At least I have my passport,” I said to myself out loud as I drank my cappuccino and thought through plans of what I could do. My best idea was to call my really good friend in Amsterdam because well, to be honest, he always has really good ideas. So I go to the pay phone and I try to make a call, I stick in €1 (money remaining: €1.70) and dial the number and I got an error message. I hung up the phone thinking the machine will return my money, nope that didn’t happen. At this point I’m thinking that I was stupid for having a cappuccino. I sit a little longer contemplating and knew the only way I could resolve anything was if I got an internet connection.
            Nothing in this world is free and life is filled with “NO” when you don’t have money or a credit card but I did receive compassion and I got internet connection so I began to mobilize myself and found solutions to my problems. My very good friend in Holland saved my life wiring me money and saved me from having to sleep at the airport for two nights. So maybe everything really does happen for a reason because if I hadn’t missed my plane, I would have never met Gaetano and his wonderful friends. Tuesday night was probably the funniest and greatest night I had during my whole trip and I have to thank destiny for it. They were so much fun and the funniest group of people I have ever hung out with and they all made me feel so welcome, as if I had always been part of their circle of friends. It was truly an amazing and great experience that I will always treasure in my life.

Eccola, the watered down version of my Roma vacation and I know it probably doesn’t make much sense but I have had little sleep and it is 1:10 A.M. in Roma and my body is telling me to sleep but I am trying to stay up until I get back to Sacramento. I still have over seven hours until I get to Sacramento but also my battery life is dwindling down and I lost my American wall plug for my computer (geesh, I am constantly losing things) so I can’t charge up when I am in Houston. So with this I say farewell and soon I will write a recap of my other adventures in Italy, Amsterdam, and Nicaragua but for now this is what I needed to write because I am still filled with Roma’s magic.

Ciao e a presto amici!

I need to travel!