Una Sorpresa

When we watched the  film adaptation of the poem, “Howl,” by Alan Ginsberg, while we were packing for our open ended trip to Europe this winter, one line that James Franco (playing Ginsberg) said stayed with us. The idea is that in order to have had the experience of walking through a city all day, you actually have to walk through a city all day. Many adventurous persons, including ourselves, have vague ideas about the sort of experience that they wish to have. This morning Chris and I had an experience which, once said and done, caused me to quote this very line.

We awoke at 5 a.m., and I uploaded a final letter of recommendation to an online application, submitted the application, and left the house. Details that I will not go into include Chris unplugging the internet connection while I was in the process of uploading the document, and other technical difficulties that always seem to arise in last-minute situations. It seemed as though Murphey’s Law was in full effect.

We left the house, jogging through empty streets (so this is when you should exercise!), past bakers scoring loaves, and farmers opening their trucks in the square for the market. We jogged past a man sleeping on the stone road with two large dogs at his side, and a coat covering his body. We passed drunken youth who called after us in words that I did not recognize, and finally to our destination: the police station. In front of the station stood the a bus that we boarded, I with a small backpack, and Chris with a side bag he normally uses to carry groceries.

We boarded the bus, noticing the time 6:08, and the temperature, 0 degrees Celsius. The driver looked at the tickets Chris had printed the night before, and told us, with his apologies, that he could not scan the barcode because there were two tickets printed on one sheet, when there should be one ticket for each piece of paper. We gave him 15 euro, and took our seats on the empty bus, having paid what we hoped was our only idiot tax for the trip. Less than an hour later we were at the Marseille Airport, and passed through security with eight security personnel watching us, the only two in the room. By 7:50 we were on the airplane, and by 8:20, we were in Sardinia, Italy. Surprise!

Last week, we learned about Rita, a woman who stayed with the Randall’s (Chris’s mom’s family) as an exchange student in high school. Rita and the Randall’s reconnected recently, and when Rita found out that we were in her part of the globe, she invited us to stay with her for a while. We spoke with her, and she informed us that the upcoming weekend would be the festival “Sa Sartiglia.” We decided that we couldn’t pass up a festival, so we bought tickets for a next-day flight to Cagliari, Sardinia.

Rita, Mario, and Enrica met us at the airport, and took us for a tour of the city, including the old city, an esspresso in a cafe looking over the city, and a delicious lunch at a beach side restaurant. Rita speaks English, Spanish, and Italian, of course. Enrica speaks English (she studied in New York in high school) and Italian, and Mario speaks Italian and French. So, if Rita is speaking with Chris, I speak French with Mario, and when Mario and Chris speak, they excitedly form meaning from a few words of English, Spanish, Italian, and French. Chris had Spaghetti with sea urchin sauce, and I had hand made ravioli with potato and mint filling- both traditional Sardinian dishes.

We drove to their home town of Oristano, shared a wonderful meal, and looked at wonderful pictures of Rita’s time in Owatonna, Minnesota.


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