Saturday, December 4, 2010

The colosseum

Today I toured the colosseum. Not only did I manage to find it, but also managed to find my way back to the hotel. Double triumph.

And speaking of triumph, my favorite part was the arc just outside the colosseum. During the tour, I learned that it was erected by Constantine in the fourth century to signify the triumph of Christianity. There was also a cross inside the colosseum - just a plain, simple one - and I'm not sure what the significance of that was. I was thinking about all of the Christians who were killed there under Nero.

As i was listening to the tour and walking through the structure, I found myself going from awe to something Ike revulsion. It's an impressive structure today even though it's only a shadow of what it once was. But the thought of all the blood that was shed, both human and animal, is so disturbing to me. It's not a peaceful place. Well, today its crawling with tourists, naturally, but even aside from that. Probably on account of all the books and movies that have been produced on the topic, its very easy to imagine a full stadium with a roaring crowd, demanding that someone or something die. For sport. It's repulsive.

Travel is such a mixed bag of highs and lows - or at least it is when you're alone. I don't know any other kind of travel, actually. Finding the colosseum and also finding that i was just in time for the last English tour of the day were both affirming and satisfying experiences. Even the fact that I found the right line for the right group. I learned from last year that you can't just rely on signs, you have to be pushy and ask around until you're absolutely sure you're in the right spot. Anyway, i felt fortunate to get in on one of the guided tours and all of that was fine (and funny at times, to see the poor tour guide fight off old Italian ladies who insisted on joining our group). But at some point during the tour, and when walking around afterwards, I started to get tired and hungry and couldn't help but notice that everyone else seemed to be with someone. I wanted to talk to someone about what i was thinking and get someone else's perspective. But anyway, still grateful to be there. The low point of the evening came when my plan for dinner failed. I wanted to return to the place where i had aperativo with Tina and three DU students last Monday. It was only ten euros for a drink and a fabulous spread and I knew that I wouldn't have to wait until 8:30 to eat. Since i skipped lunch, i couldn't wait that long. I found the place, went and got a seat, and proceeded to be ignored. For a long time. I must have done something wrong, but I was so overwhelmed by feeling tired and alone and helpless that i didn't have it in me to attempt to talk to someone and figure things out. I just got up and left. It felt defeating, but a cannoli helped (the beauty of Italy). And sleep will change everything. It's a good reminder, though, of the difficulties of being foreign. They're easy to overcome when you're with a group, but when you're on your own it's not always so easy. I think about all of the immigrants all over the world and what they must experience on a day-to-day basis and I admire them for persisting. I've got it easy, I'm only here temporarily and I'm white. But i remember what it was Iike in costa rica when i knew i was there for the long haul and didn't have any resources of my own. Just the opposite - because I was living with a family and in an area with very little, I was the privileged person, except i didn't feel that way. I felt disadvantaged in every respect except that, ultimately, I knew i was leaving and had an education and country and situation with promise. Not just a dead end.

But anyway, back to the present. I am back at the same hotel where i started, reunited with my suitcase and preparing to leave early again for the airport. I'll write from Greece!

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love reading your blog; not only because of the info about places I'll never go but mostly because of your insights and the opportunity to know you better through your writing. I feel sorry for parents whose adult children never write anything - your blogs (you, Jaime, and Clint) are the hi-light of my day!