Making the world a better place…
Again – a post-writing post (…right)… Written on 11 October 2010, the day after I arrived in Europe…
Whew. It’s been a rough couple of days. Pretty super-stoaked my airline decided to leave the cabin lights all the way up for most of my flight here. So they could attempt to sell me duty free shit. So. Dark cabin for… about two hours. Not that I slept much of that.
There were also some issues with foreign credit cards at the Rome train station. And some issues with weather for my ferry to the island. Where I am supposed to be. For a meeting. That starts tomorrow night.
Credit card problem seems to be limited to train station.Thank god. Mini-freak-out with that one.
Hopefully weather will figure itself out. You know. By the 17:30 ferry tonight.
Oh, and I brought the WRONG bag. Seriously. What a nightmare. My own fault. I packed the damn thing, I carry it.
But all in all, things are ok.
Here’s the thing. Just like I think everyone should ride a bike once in awhile to remind them to be courteous to bikers while driving, I think everyone should travel, alone, to a foreign country where they don’t speak your language. Much. And have to take public transportation.
Traveling like this reminds you to be humble. Srsly.
I wish I could wear a sign that says “I am here for seven weeks but I know I still overpacked! Trust me! I agree Americans are lame – I swear I’m not! I’m nice and I dislike most Americans too!”
It also, above all things, drives home how important simple kindness and compassion towards other people really and truly is.
It’s the fact that the lady in the convenience store shook her head when I asked for change, and said “not right now – too hard” (really) almost made me freakin cry at 11am yesterday morning in the Rome airport.
Ok, so I am exhausted, jetlagged, and on my period. And, for whatever annoying fucking reason, seems like the default setting for us girls when very tired or very angry is tears (well at least me – which frustrates me to NO END).
But I am beyond grateful to the Italian woman who smiled as she helped me with my bag on the bus, to the gentleman on the train who tried to speak English and made sure I found my stop (because, oh guess what, that train didn’t announce stations), and the staff here at this cheap hotel. The rooms are as economy as they get, there is no curtain on the shower (and the external drain in the bathroom doesn’t, well, drain – so that was awesome), and the keyboard on the communal computer with internet is sticky but… the guy at the front desk last night actually insisted on carrying my ridiculous bag up two flights of steps, didn’t steal my wallet when I left it on the counter to check train times, and allowed me to hang out in the common room today while I wait for the ferry tonight – even brought me an extension for my computer. The guy this morning spoke no English, but still managed to communicate with me with a smile on his face.
These are the things that are make-or-break when you’re traveling alone and unable to speak the language.
It’s always good to be reminded – but you wish more people were. Cliché as it is, it would make the world a better place.