They say that Rome was not built in a day. Now, I don't know about all that but I do know that Rome is taking a helluva lot longer than that to fall apart. This is not our day in Roma.
We arrive at a hostel with paint pealing from the walls, a sink lower than my knees and hairs all over the floor. Nasty. (This is the same place that the owner will burst into the room with "breakfast" at 8am the next morning.) But, hey, we're not here to sleep. We're here to experience Rome. We set off to see the sights and, by God, they're all ruined! Falling to bits of rubble. The Coliseum: a shell. The Aqueducts: barely standing. And what's more, they are charging people to see them! Highway robbery. I can appreciate now the birthplace of the mafia. Hell, I have seen double wides in Ohio kept together solely by one 2x4, a roll of duct tape and three cinder blocks. That, friends, is a miracle worth paying admission to see (and for free you can sit in the rusted out Buick in the front yard). The marble pillar that (miracle of miracles!) has been able to lie in a field for centuries. . . hardly worth twelve euros. In London: Big Ben, Parliament. In Paris: the Eiffel Tower. In Rome: broke-ass bricks. Part of me cannot help but wonder if the ancient Romans would laugh to see touristas paying to walk through their old outhouses and pig stys. I smile to myself.
Still, because it's what we do, we continue to meander our way through the hot streets - enjoying the statues and fountains and avoiding entrance fees. Kelly's new shoes are hurting her when we stop for a beer. This is when the email comes.
Oops, you didn't remind me you were coming and I forgot. I already have some HelpXers who want to stay a while longer. And I like them. I won't be able to host you. Best of Luck, Simone in Spain.
Uhhhhhh. As you can imagine, this comes as an unwelcome surprise. What do we do now? We had planned for two weeks of helping in Spain. Just bought our plane ticket from Madrid to London. We are f**ked.
We order another round.
Perplexed, we do what we do best: walk. Ah, another dried-up fountain and more rocks (or is that a ancient Roman bath house?). Our map does a poor job of delineating the gems of the city from what could easily be mistaken as a condemned tenement. We choose a route to the Vatican. Surely the Pope (or at least a bishop) will know what to do. And even if Pope Benedict is not available, there is nothing like the sight of apostles to brighten the day.
Straight away we stumble across a cybercafe. A sign. We go in and do some HelpX searching. This makes us feel better. Not completely helpless. We are back on the road when. . . what's this? Pints of Peroni for 2.50! A steal. This is too good to pass up. We step inside and pull up a stool. We don't end up making it to the Vatican that night but our luck is improving.