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Monday, 01 May 2006

On The Road To? - Page 2

Written by Rick Robiar
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The problem was, I had written down the address, but I didn’t have it on me.  I thought I did. I was sure I knew where I was going.  That’s the strange thing about all of this.  One can feel so confidently on target, yet one is lost.  Maybe it’s hard for you to believe that on my first trip to Europe I lost my destination.





The first unfortunate mishap occurred before I even reached the airport.  We must have hit too many pot holes.  We arrived, the cab driver popped open the trunk, and we both noticed the white rice river that had engulfed his spare tire and my suitcases.  My ill-fated case of rice milk had been crushed by a thoughtless tire iron.  My dairy replacement, which was needed to support me in a cow-infested environment, was now a casualty of big city travel.

I pulled the case out of the trunk, leaking and spraying, took one last look and chucked it into the nearest trash barrel.   The driver had a roll of paper towels and we mopped up as best we could, and then I dragged my luggage into the men’s room and gave it a bath.  Ten minutes before departure I arrived at my gate where the attendant pleasantly informed me that my plane had been delayed…. seven hours!  I plowed through a lot of snacks in those seven hours.  Energy bars without rice milk was heretofore unthinkable, but I somehow managed.  Funny, what you can endure when life throws obstacles in your way.

Boston to Paris, Paris to Rome, Rome to Palermo. Hop on the bus that says Palermo Centrale.  Bing, bang, boom.  A delay here and there, a rice milk shower or two, but other than that, things were clicking along well.  Day turned to night.  At some point I realized it was time to pull out the address of the apartment in Palermo.  I checked my jacket pocket: nothing.  Wallet, jeans, books, bags, wallet again.  I checked and rechecked.  Everything was there except the name, street, and number I’d scribbled on a piece of paper just before I left my apartment back home.  Eight pounds of snacks and airplane food began to rumble in my queasy stomach.  A heavy rain began to fall.  On occasion the bus would make a stop and people marched on and off.  From my seat, I peered out the door, fully expecting my girlfriend to be standing there, saying: “I knew you’d lose the address!  This is it!  Get off now!”

ImageThe luggage storage compartment was on the lower right side of the bus and with each stop the compartment was opened and departing passengers pulled their belongings off.  Since I was seated to the left, about halfway back from the driver, the only way I could make sure my luggage wasn’t being stolen was to stand up in the center aisle and look menacingly out the window pretending I had infra-red eyes that could see in total darkness.  While doing this I hovered over the heads of seated passengers, whose concerned, suspicious glances moved over my pale, unstable figure.  Each time the bus stopped, my impatience grew.

Had I already passed the place I was supposed to be going to?   I knew the meaning of knowing nothing in a whole new way. I was now completely left to my own, intuitive, travelers instincts.  I felt my right brow raise as I began to violently turn my head to the right, to the left, and then to the right again, in faster and faster repetitions.  As the bus roared on I was determined to notice every detail of the wet, dark landscape.  My goal was to pick up any psychic signal that would trigger a bio-chemical mechanism inside my brain which would somehow morph into an internal GPS system.  At one point I think I heard myself whimper.

For whatever reason, my previously mentioned GPS system said it was time to go. As the bus slowed down I approached the driver and, for the 47th time, asked in my best Italian accent: “This Palermo Centrale?”  For the 47th time he spoke incomprehensively as he made a bunch of hand and arm gestures, first to the door, then the road, myself and my seat.  I made my move toward the folding doors but they had already closed.  A rush of indignity filled my lost soul.  I turned and looked at the bus driver and said in perfectly useless English: “Please open the door!”  The once reserved, paternal look on his face made a slow transformation to concern.  He began to look at other passengers, perhaps for support.  People began to stand up and move toward me.  A rather large-bellied compact elderly woman managed to strain out the words: “You have more time.”


(Page 2 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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