Friday, 2 August 2013

Epic adventures in Italy - Part One

So many times I would watch the sun go down in Cape Town and wonder about the possibilities that existed in places beyond these shores. Places where this sun that had just set on our side would rise again. I get accused of being a deep thinker quite often but I always asked myself what else existed beyond this very tip of African. Would a village girl like myself ever get to explore the opportunities that are the beyond the Mother City or was this the proverbial “it” for me? The constant yearning was for more than I was told it’s enough for one person, a woman.

One day it happened as I got an opportunity to do a bird's view of the city of Cape Town. Up there in the air I felt like I was not seeing the full picture. I have literally been to very province in South Africa and lived in at least three of them.  I've been exposed to all the South African cultures and more. I went back home to Limpopo to see if there's something left undiscovered but I always ended up coming to Cape Town. There is something about the oceans that gives a hungry mind hope and resuscitate dreams. This marathon across South Africa has become my adult life.

You have never fully live until you get out of your comfort zone and take a look at your life from an aerial point of view. As human we are creatures of habit, many of us find contentment in having secure job, long lasting relationships, same circle of friends and an apartment in up-market suburb to complete the picture.  This is the perfect life and its definitive for most people, our families and friends wish these things for us.

I was thought I was a complete project, until if found myself wandering around in a Roman airport of Fiumicino. I had landed in Rome after a 5 hour delay in Ethiopia and missed my connection flight to Bari. I was totally unprepared for the 6 hour "adventure" that followed without even basic Italian to my vocabulary. To make the experience more entertaining was the fact that I had no Euros on me, my two phones’ batteries died hours earlier and it was my first time outside South Africa. The office of the airline that delayed was closed and the airline whose flight I had missed would not help me, not even with a phone call or an alert email to my hosts who had been expecting me.

In any situation when ones sees the police they expect immediate assistance and assurance. I can still relive my sense of relief when I saw a “policio” sign on the door at the airport after wandering around aimlessly for over 3 hours. I explained to a policeman that responded to my knock that I was stuck and asked to use either a phone or an email. At this time I would have been happy to hear him say, they have no choice but to deport me the officer seemed very uninterested in my story. He tried to keep me quite but I keep on rumbling on until he told me to wait right there at the door and he'll be back very soon. He closed the door. Thirty minutes passed and I decided to make myself comfortable in front of the police office entrance and took out a book I had brought with me to read. I spread my jacket on the floor and used my bag as a pillow directly in front of their CCTV camera. I needed to make sure that no one forgets that I was waiting outside for help.

After a while a mean looking police in civilian clothes opened the door and told me in Italian that I couldn't seat at their door forever. I tried to slowly explain to him my situation and I was reluctantly let in and allowed to charge my phone. My joy was short-lived, before my phone could charge enough to switch back on, other officers came in to express their unhappiness and I was asked to go find a plug somewhere else. On my way out I passed by the airport’s Information desk for the 10th time that day to check if maybe this time someone would should some mercy. As my luck would have it I found a woman who allowed me to send one email but would not allow me to wait for the response.

I went to the waiting area next to international departures looking for someone with the most approachable face that I could share problems with. I saw a woman sitting alone with her language and greeted her in English. When she responded warmly with a clear accent, it felt like an angel had just dropped at the airport. It turned out she and her husband were waiting for a connecting flight to Australian and had been on their way from New York. The couple gave me coins to use the prepaid internet booth. Within the next hour my ticket was ready for the next and last flight to Bari which would depart in 45 minutes. I still had to check in, print my ticket and go through all the other points international travelers go through at airports. It was like someone had released the timer. I raced across the airport looking for the departure gate that seemed as if it was deliberately moved to the very back of the airport to see me perform. All the straps of my luggage bag broke loose and my bag fell down as I was running but I had no time to stop and cry. Tempting as the idea of falling down next to the bag and crying appeared; I just scooped my bag up and continued to run. I eventually made it to the gate boarding gate just in time to catch the last shuttle bus to the plane.

Once safely in my seat, I buckled up and went to a deep sleep until my flight landed an hour later. The landed was an end of day one of my Italian adventure. One thing that was clear after this day was the silent message that said my best song hasn’t been sung yet. The adventures and experiences in Italy were as much epic as they were about personal and professional growth. I would do it again. 

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