Monday, August 18, 2014

A Journey I'll Never Forget

Front of the apartment building 
 Side view
 Tiny little austere bedroom
2nd bedroom.  Note the clothes "drying".  The infamous outfit  I wore three days!

On this day eleven years ago, I was newly arrived in Verona, Italy for a month long total immersion class. All my visions of experiencing an  exciting, dreamy and perhaps romantic time in Italy, a la "Under the Tuscan Sun" (or the later "Eat, Pray, Love") went quickly by the wayside when, upon arrival in Verona (after an extremely frustrating and definitely non-romantic layover in Paris), I discovered my suitcase did not make it to Italy with me.   I waited in vain all weekend for luggage to appear; all the while wearing the same pair of blue jean shorts,  a sweaty icky travel stained tee shirt and big old clunking sneakers (because, of course, everyone knows you wear your clunky shoes on the plane, you don't waste precious suitcase space on them!)  By the time I wrote this particular entry, I was in a near panic state; on my way to begin "school" looking like a slob with no clear idea how I'd ever be reunited with my luggage.  I'd arrived at my destination but wasn't so thrilled with the journey so far. Thus follows a classic example of God's sense of humor and a reminder of who, really, is in charge!
Mrs. B

18 August 2003, 7:30a -- My Apartment
My suitcase did not arrive.  I spent a fairly miserable, self-pity filled evening alone.  I was afraid to go out lest my suitcase chose to arrive at the moment I left.  Because I didn’t go out, it didn’t show up.  That’s the way things work.

No matter what today, I have to figure out what’s going on with this.  Because of the language barrier, I’m not 100% sure my landlady was telling me they’d deliver it or if she was telling me, “Sorry, too bad, figure it out yourself!”

I hope the people at the school will help me get this taken care of.  I don’t think I can manage one more day like this.

I’ll try to think positive but right now I’m starting to wonder if all of this was such a hot idea.  Time to leave and head over to school.

Random Thoughts Written on the Back of the “Lost Luggage” Instructions the Airline (Air Dolomiti) Gave Me

18 August 2003, 8:30a  -- Caffe al Teatro on Via Roma

·      I am sitting here an hour before I am due at school.   This is where I met Eva yesterday (the young lady who was kind enough to let me borrow her cell  phone to call the airline about my luggage).  I’m wearing the same stinky clothes.  This R&R Hall of Fame tee-shirt is getting a lot of mileage.  I am wearing my Tommy Hilfiger blue jean shorts, too. They are probably not appropriate for school, l but I have nothing else.  I refuse to wear my sweatpants and swelter to death.
·         Italians are a bit aloof.  I stand out like a sore thumb and they notice and look down at me.  Of course, they can’t know this isn’t how I intended to appear!
·         No one looks into windows as they walk past.  I’ve sat at my window for hours last night, watching.  Eyes straight ahead, no glancing up, down, left, right.
·         I can’t believe how noisy it is at my apartment at all hours.  Street noise.  Cars passing, people walking by talking, etc.  Except this morning it was quiet.  Funny.
·         It’s real humid here.  In addition to making me a sweaty, icky mess, it’s rendered my appetite to next to nothing.  If anything, with this situation and all the walking (Eva said I should rent a bike), I should manage to stay in good shape.
·         I used the carta telefonica this morning to call regarding my bag.  It worked, amazingly enough.  Too bad it hasn’t been so easy to get my bag returned to me.
·         It only took me 15 minutes (or less) to walk here.  Good to know.  Why take the bus (except to learn how, I guess)?

Later, 8:45p -- Caffe Colonial (near Ponte Nuovo)
Woo-hoo, my suitcase showed up this morning!  During the afternoon break, I ran back to my apartment and was able to change clothes!  Glorious!  Now I feel a bit more “at home” and able to relax.

And school was fine; but when they say “Total Immersion”, that is exactly what they mean!  The staff and teachers try not to speak any English.  Yikes!  I ended up (I think) in a very basic class.  I’ll know for sure domaini (tomorrow).

The good news is, everyone is very nice, including most of the other students.  The bad news is, I comprehend about ½ of what is being said.  Ok, more like ¼!

There was a 2 hour lecture this afternoon on the city of Verona, ancient cities in general, arenas, gladiators, etc.  The instructor, Andrea, (a man),  speaks very fast Italian, says “va bene” a lot and reminds me of Cesar (a friend from my TRW days). Luckily, he also throws in some English so you can somewhat follow what he’s saying.  He also gave a 2 hour walking tour of Verona which was good to get oriented.  I think I understand, basically, how to get a bus ticket and where they go; also, where to buy groceries (there may be a store closer to my apartment but I haven’t found it yet) and what the best wines in Verona are.  He also told us a lot about the Arena di Verona.  Maybe I will see if some of the other students would like to see an opera.

I left the tour when we got close to my place.  I said, “Parto, abito (I'm leaving , I live ) plus  (the word for “over there”, which I know can’t spell, sounds like “la jew”)

I went home and unpacked/got organized.  Now I’m out having dinner (pizza and a beer, I figure I deserve the beer).  I’m not too worried about drinking too much over here, it’s too hot to get drunk.

Yes, it’s steamy, steamy, steamy qua (here).  I’ve never sweated so much in my life.  I need to buy a fan for my room.

Tomorrow I have to buy a notebook.  They haven’t provided me one.  My notes are all over the place.

I hope now that school has begun, I will start doing things in the evening with other people.  I didn’t come here to hang out by myself.

I’ve made myself go to restaurants, etc., by myself and it’s ok, but, other than Eva, I’ve yet to see any other “single” women.

I would also like to find the gym, but we’ll see.  I need to get the Internet thing figured out soon, too.

And, I need to remember that I am here to learn and grow.  Who knows what direction this will take?

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