Sunday, May 4, 2014

Arrivederci

I went to Rome, Italy for four days. It was just enough time to feel ready to leave by the end of the trip. Of course I wish I would have had time to visit other cities. 



As soon as I arrived in the airport I took a train to the central "Termini" station, where my hotel was located. I found the hotel, dropped my bag off, grabbed a city map and headed out to see the city. As soon as I left the hotel I heard someone say, "Hi," and then "wallahi," which is an Arabic expression common in Senegal & Mauritania. I turned around and said, "nanga def" and two young men replied, "man-gi fi rek," the response in Wolof. Then I asked if they spoke Pulaar and they said yes. So we chatted for a while about life in Italy for "immigres" (immigrants) and they invited me for coffee. I politely declined, anxious to explore the city. Meeting new friends upon arrival was the best welcome to a new city I could ever ask for. 


My strategy the first day was to walk as much as possible without stopping. The entire city is a museum with ruins, historic buildings, and beauty at every corner. Rome is spectacular. On my second day, I went to the colosseum, pantheon, and explored until I literally couldn't take another step. I also got a haircut and pedicure and had a productive and fun day. 

During my third day, everything was closed because it was May 1st, the international day for workers. I needed a new strategy because I felt like I had seen a lot the previous day. So I decided that I would visit churches or anywhere that tourists visited. The art in every church is stunning so I was never disappointed when I opened the door. The paintings, sculptures and architecture was incredible. 



At the end of each day I talked to the people at the hotel about what they saw and did. They explained the places they went and I was happy that I also visited the same places, even if I didn't know why I was seeing them. By following tourists wherever they went, I managed to see everything without any of the planning or research. I also had an element of surprise- I didn't know why I was climbing the stairs or waiting in line but I knew that there was something special on the other side. 

Near the end of my third day I met many Senegalese people selling bags and I was happy to discover that one of them was from the same village as my friends (Bouki Jawe) so we had people in common and it made Rome feel like an extension of my travels in West Africa. 

I thought I was going to a place where I knew no one and had no friends but from the moment I arrived, I found many friends and "family" members. It really is a small world! 

Arrivederci, Rome! It was a truly marvelous visit....


  

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