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When in Rome …

January 9, 2008

Today I got up at 4:45am to get to Rome in time from Amsterdam. The flight went well apart from a excruciating pain in my head while descending for Fiumicino Airport. I had this pain before but not as severe as today and not as unpredicted. There was no time to react (I had no nose spray or painkiller) and pressurizing my ears didn’t work either so I just had to sit it out. The pain became less while the plane taxied to the terminal.

There was supposed to be a driver with a board with my name waiting for me but when in the arrival hall there was no such person. Knowing that Italians are renowned for almost everything except punctuality did I decide to wait. That went on for 10 minutes and then 20 minutes. I lost my patience and called the driver (fortunately I had been given his mobile number) to ask him where he was. ”

“Here!” he said. “Where is here? Inside or outside?” I asked. “Outside!” he said. “So you want me to go outside?”. “Si, si, outside!”. I went outside and within seconds I was surrounded by hundreds of legitimate and less legitimate Italian taxi drivers but no driver with a sign with my name. I called his mobile again: “Where are you?”.  “Here!” he said. I asked “Where do you want me to go? How can I recognize you?”. “Here, I’m here! he said. This went on for a while. I looked around for this idiot of a taxi driver while he was probably looking for this Dutch idiot. I was cursing myself for not having accepted the offer of a colleague to pick me up and this only worsened my mood. I called the driver, shouted to him that I was no longer interested in his service and that I would take a normal taxi. On my way to the taxi stand a guy with a red face and a thick winter coat made for Siberian winters walked towards me with a sign with my name ….

There was no wind in Rome and 15 degree Celsius. Kind of Dutch Spring weather, not even close to a Siberian winter. It was great to see my Italian colleagues again, we had a three hour lunch together (way too much food) and it was great to be back. I always feel directly at home in Italy despite (or because of) every aspect of chaos. At 4pm, after several meetings, I felt drained of all energy so I my driver (yes .. the same one) took me to my hotel. Still full from the lunch I went to bed straight away without going for dinner. 

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