Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Reflections From Roma #01

Reflections From Roma #01
04 ottobre 2017

Hello there… Rodger French here.

So… greetings from Rome. Finalmente. We’ve now been here for almost three weeks and I’ve been meaning to correspond, but have been kind of busy. I would like to report that we arrived and were immediately swept up in the history, beauty, and romance of the “Eternal City.” Yeah, that would be nice.

But, not so much. We’ve spent days getting over some heinous jetlag (Delta Airlines Official Motto: “Sure, our seats suck. So?”), getting organized, and taking care of official bidness. Tri-Mission Rome consists of the American Embassy in Rome, the American Embassy to the Holy See, and the U.S. Mission to the U.N. It is freaking enormous and there’s a lot of information to absorb. Fortunately, the local staff really has their collective shit together and provides excellent assistance.

The major hassle we face is that we are basically squatting in temporary housing while our actual apartment is being “made ready.” This can’t be helped, but it means (a) we’ll have to move - again - and (b) we won’t be able to receive our stuff for several more weeks. It’s a pain-in-the-neck, but it would be churlish to complain. Sometimes that’s part of the gig.

[Our Official DoS Motto: No car, no pets, no kids… no problem.]

Fortunately, Anne is getting up to speed nicely at work. Her boss has been great and the folks in her section seem very helpful. The Embassy itself is grand (statues; lots of statues), and provides many services. And, although our eventual permanent residence will be a bit closer, we’re currently still within walking distance to work, which we were counting on.

Since the (idiotic) federal hiring freeze remains in effect, I abide in a state of gainful unemployment. That hasn’t posed a problem as yet, what with all the schlepping, shopping, cooking, housekeeping (well…), and practicing of the accordion. And since the best thing we’ve found on TV is C.S.I. reruns dubbed in Italian (nobody dubs like the Italians), we watch less of it. But we’re really looking forward to our DVD collection catching up with us.

What else… oh, right. Rome. Well, it reminds me a bit of Buenos Aires, only smaller, denser, and with many more really old things. We’ve taken in some sights and done a bit of serious eating, but since the place is swarming with tourists at the moment, we’re planning to wait until the low season to see the major attractions. Mostly we’ve been exploring public transportation, scouting out where to obtain necessary goods and services, and walking our asses off. We’re very grateful that the weather has, so far, been terrific.

[Podiatric Sidebar: Rome is hard on the feet and legs. Ancient brick and cobblestone streets are picturesque but brutal, and the place is lousy with hills. Ergo, Rule #1: Bring the absolute best walking shoes you can afford.]

If we stay on the current schedule and have a bit of luck with our shipments, we should be completely settled in before Christmas. And yes, there will be a guest room. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to put one foot in front of the other, remember to be grateful, and try to make the most of our great buona fortuna.