As we set out for a morning at the Etruscan Tombs in Cerveteri, outside Rome, our excitement was high as we have heard many tales of these haunting archeological wonders. Almost as soon as we set out, our hopes were dashed by an ominous roadblock.
We kept asking workers how to get around this obstacle. We kept plugging things into our GPS but there was really no way around this barrier. There was a detour sign and no alternative route and no explanation that we could understand. In our frustration, we rattled off so many similar experiences during our travels in Italy . . .
- Do you remember the airport wing that was entirely roped off but supposedly housed our flight?
- Do you remember the sidewalk ripped to shreds that was the only way out of our apartment?
- Do you remember the meal at McDonalds FAST food restaurant that took 45 minutes to be prepared?
- Do you remember the first time we ordered something from Amazon and the shipping said 8-10 weeks?
- Do you remember driving around for two hours looking for a place to properly dispose of garbage?
- Do you remember spending 30 minutes getting out of the driveway waiting for the herder to catch up with his sheep?
- Do you remember all the times we sat, as a family, staring at the spinning rainbow wheel on the computer screen waiting for a book or a movie to download?
- Do you remember forgetting repeatedly, sparks flying, not to use a hairdryer and any other appliance at the same time?
- Do you remember EVER getting out of a post office in less than an hour?
As we sat at this roadblock reminiscing, and laughing hysterically, I had an overwhelming feeling that I would not have found this amusing at all a few years ago. It is exciting that we are growing patience on this journey.
I used to be inconvenienced by ferry traffic on the bucolic island we called home near Seattle. I used to get frustrated if our garbage pick up was pushed out a day due to holidays. I used to go to another Starbuck’s if the line was too long. I used to roll my eyes that the nearest Costco was 20 minutes away or that the selection of children’s shoes was not varied enough.
It is not that I could not have grown patience at home. The difference is that at home I had the perception that I had more control over roadblocks. I know how things work. I know the language. I know how to escalate complaints.
I know, I know, I know!
In Italy, not knowing has led to feeling my way in, around, and through obstacles much more slowly because I can’t rely on any of my old tactics. It was so easy to be impatient in my old life. Everything came right to my door and quickly. The USA is very efficient and goods and services are readily available.
Although frustrating at times during our travels, the obstacles and delays were worth it. The McDonald’s meal we ate after a 45 minute wait was truly delicious and it was served to us by the same lady that made the burger! The laughter that ensued after the Andy Griffith episode paused 19 times on Deputy Fife’s funny faces, while we were trying to stream the video, was so much more fun than watching the show. The incredible meal we made after realizing the sidewalk was jack hammered to shreds, was followed by the most amazing lightening storm I have ever seen. We used to expect the convenience a clothes dryer, toaster or microwave offered and now we celebrate rare sightings!
As all these realizations were swimming in my head, the roadblock cleared. They said it would be blocked all day “tutto giorno” and it was clearing right before our eyes. We were so excited and proud of ourselves for handling it so well, until we arrived at the tombs and they were closed for the rest of the day. The journey continues . . .