Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm Surprised I'm Not Dead...Yet

In response to some complaints, okay one complaint, I now provide the following entry.

Here are some things to note about Rome:

1) The drivers here are insane! The rules of the road are mere suggestions no one takes. Weaving in and out of traffic is the norm and signal lights are rarely used. Nuns are no better than the rest. Sr. Pat, although I love her dearly, is a prime example. She weaves in and out of traffic with the best of them. "What do you want?" she shouts at a driver she just cut off. "I have the right of way," she shouts to a pedestrian. On approaching an intersection where she needs to make a left turn Sr. Pat does not wait patiently at the red light behind the driver that arrived first, instead she swerves around him into the intersection and waits in the middle of the to make the turn. Another driver follows her example. The driver we cut honks to make his displeasure known. Sr. Pat takes no notice. She also takes no notice of 'Stop' signs. She brakes slightly but it is barely perceptible. Again these signs are mere suggestions to Romans. When asked if the police pull anyone over for traffic violations she responds "Yes, of course." I am not convinced.

2) Parking. All Romans do what is convenient for them. If this means parking in the center median, so be it. If this means double parking and completely blocking a lane, no problem, everyone will go around. Parking in the opposite direction of the flow of traffic is done with ease. Completely blocking a street to wait for someone with tons of cars behind you honking because they cannot get through is yawn-worthy.

3) Crossing a Roman street is not for the meek of heart. I have yet to truly master this art. The best way to cross a street here is to simply jut out into traffic boldly. Cars and motorcycles will slow down automatically but if you hesitate they will continue on their way or simply give you a dirty expression for wasting their few precious seconds with your indecisiveness.

The above may explain why manual cars are largely preferred by Romans as I am told that with a manual car one has more control and braking is much easier. Although, the aforementioned is without a doubt crazy and chaotic (at least to a foreigner), I will admit it is a kind of organized chaos and I have not seen one traffic accident during my time here, although, I have heard the ambulances around here many times but I'm not sure what that means.

That is all for today's post. I will continue next time with my observations and complaints about the Italian way of housekeeping.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


So this past weekend we had guests. They were a Polish couple, named Sally and Chris, that had returned from their mission in East Timor. They were an incredibly cute and kind couple. They told our group about East Timor. They seemed to have been almost fluent in Tatu or whatever the language that is spoken in East Timor is. Did you guys know that East and West Timor have very distinct languages? East Timor's language derives greatly from Portuguese whereas West Timor has more of a Dutch influence. It's kinda weird because they're one small island. I know, I know, boring but I just thought I'd give you some cocktail party knowledge ( random knowledge to throw around at cocktail parties so that you appear smart).

It might also interest you to know that I played soccer or futbol with Chris and Martin and Tomas. Chris was my partner and, I felt bad for him because of course I played badly. It was really my first time ever playing soccer. He was incredibly kind, however. I credit Chris, however, for my increased interest in playing soccer. I have played two more times this past week and have improved slightly but I am by no means a natural.

My newly found interest in soccer has not taken away from my interest in baseball, however. I would formally like to state that I am extremely disappointed that yet again, for the 12th year in a row, the National League lost in this past Tuesday's All Star Game. It really is pathetic when the President of the U.S. brings this fact to the attention of the nation. I apologize for the tangent but I am upset for the 12th year in a row!

Anyway after Chris and Sally came and went we received another guest, Sally's sister, Dagmara, who has worked on and off in East Timor for the past three years. She says the best thing about her missionary work has been the people and the worst thing she's ever had to deal with was the time when their was conflict in the region and all volunteers had to be evacuated. Dagmara said it was very difficult for her to leave because she didn't think it was fair that she should get to leave the island when the Timorese people had no way of escaping the violence themselves. She said she had refused to go with all the volunteers that were being evacuated but finally she had no choice and was forced to go with the last group leaving.

We have had many visitors in the VOICA house and they have all been interesting and inspiring. Okay well I gotta go cuz Martin is reading over my shoulder. 'Til next time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Housemates and Stuff

Okay, I'm not too sure what to tell you all in this post. It has been a week or so since my last post and no, I don't have pictures yet. I need a converter thing for my three pronged American laptop plug and as you all are aware, I can't post pics if I can't access the photos on my computer and I would rather not download pictures from my camera onto the house computer because then everyone would have access to them. I found a converter here in Rome at some store near St. Peter's but, unfortunately, the lady there did not know the price and told me to come back later. I attempted to come back later but Italy and its siesta hours can be so frustrating. A person doesn't know what stores will be closed during what hours.

So this past Tuesday, four of us went to this church on the outskirts of Rome called Eur. We went in Sr. Pat's car which is a small five seater but we fit quite comfortably. At the church we helped box blankets, clothes, and medicines that are to be sent to the Sudan in a few weeks. We help out this church in exchange for drugs, no, not the illegal ones, but medicines for the people of Africa. Sr. Pat received several boxes of medicines which we shall ship out in a couple of weeks also to the missions in Togo and Congo. Unfortunately, these boxes created a problem with space when it was time to transport them back to the convent with us. Because there were so many boxes Mary had the unpleasant task of having to sit in an awkward position on the laps of Tomas and Martin. Mary was none too pleased and it didn't help that Martin jinxed her half way through the car ride and she couldn't speak. It was hilarious.

Oh a little about my housemates:

Mary and Martin are from the U.S. Mary's from New Mexico but was born in Germany and lived there until she was 10 or so. She's 22 and just graduated from a university in New Mexico with a degree in Biology. She and I will be traveling together to West Timor and Mary hopes to help out in the clinic there.

Martin is from New Jersey. He's also 22 and graduated from Middlebury college in Vermont. He has studied abroad in China and Uruguay. He is half Spanish and half white and speaks not only English and Spanish but also Chinese and French and he's picking up on Italian pretty quickly which I find quite annoying. He identifies strongly with Latino culture and likes to speak with me in Spanish.

Rebecca just turned 30 on July 1st. She is from India but lived in England these past four years working for the Leimann Brothers bank. She's an incredibly kind person and the boys, unfortunately, torture her incessantly.

Tomas is our 22 year old Czech seminarian. He is very knowledgable about scripture and is kind for the most part, except that, as I mentioned before he insists on torturing poor Rebecca and sometimes myself. He is quiet when he's not being a nuisance and is very helpful to us all.

I'll end this post by letting you know that I have started my Bahasa lessons and that they are going fairly well. The language is unlike any I have studied before because there are no conjugation of verbs. Mary and I mostly have to memorise words. This is simple enough except there is one little difficulty. Mary and I travel every Wednesday and Friday by train to Ottavia which is on the outskirts of Rome. We go to the Canossian Sister house there and meet with Sr. Joanna for lessons. Unfortunately, Sr. Joanna speaks no English. She only speaks Italian and Bahasan. Since Mary doesn't know any Italian I am left with the unenviable task of having to use my horrible Italian to translate what Sr. Joanna is saying to Mary. I also have to use my horrible Italian to ask questions Mary and I have. On the bright side I imagine that my Italian will improve, although, I have to work on my accent. (The different Italian employees of one of the local gelaterias are always able to pick up on my Spanish accent.)

Okay well that's all for today as another needs to use the computer. If anyone has any questions just ask or message me through Facebook.