June 12th, 2007

Rome

My mom came. Admittedly, not to Stuttgart, but she did make it to Europe. I'm in Rome now, where I went to meet her. I came to the airport looking for the, “short scared lady”. I didn't find her. I found my mother totally engrossed in making some electronic gizmo function.

I had been told that using Spanish on Italians is almost as good as using Italian. I figured Portuguese would have worked as well. That, however, exposed one of my kryptonites. I couldn't bring myself to do it. Our hotel caught me with a funny joke. They spoke Italian and French. Nothing else. And, they wanted us to actually do stuff at check-in. Had I known this in advance I could have spent a few minutes learning some Italian (or reviewing French). I'm not supposed to have to use French. I was only there for 2 weeks. After a few minutes of aggressive interrogation tactics (I spoke “French”) they admitted to a little bit of English.

An exciting thing happened after I met my mom. She gave me my computer back. That means that I can start catching up on writing and organizing photos (which will have been happening for a long time before anyone reads this entry).

Our first full day in Rome, we walked around and couldn't help but noticing the huge numbers of police around.

“Is there a lot of crime in Rome? Do they have riots a lot?”

“Those are not riot police. They don't have the shields or batons and they do have guns. Plus, they're dressed really well.”

“What about those 20 police over there. Oh yeah. They're riot police, but there different than almost every cop we've seen on this walk.”

“Do you think there are normally cars on the roads?”

The epicenter of the police seemed to be the American embassy. Apparently, Bush had followed me from Germany and was shutting down Rome. He was satisfied after he met with the Pope, took off and the city returned to normal.

I guess that people consider the president more important than me, because I didn't get a chance to see the pope for several days after that. When I saw him, he looked old.

Anyone who knows both me an my mom can probably guess what we did while were traveling together. My mom always says, “When I travel, I like something-something, something-something, to eat well, and something-something.” I have selective listening, so I only pick out the important bits. Slow food is an Italian movement (it was started by a journalist). We decided to give it a try at the epicenter and looked up a bunch of slow food restaurants online. I think the grocery stores get great results from following slow food principles (local products), but the restaurants weren't remarkable.

What is remarkable is how I drink everyday when someone from my family is visiting me even though I pass the time between visits without imbibing at all. What else is remarkable is that during one meal, my mom ordered a second bottle of wine for the two of us.

Italian was hard for me. It was hard in a new way. There have been no environments where people start conversations with me. I need that to pick up the cues of how to start conversations in Italian. Without it, I was trapped in English for most of my time here. Eventually, I remembered that my computer speaks Italian and asked it for a quick lesson. After an hour, I learned that Italian is pretty easy.