Were we hooked?



2DC1C39F-F1EC-41E0-86E2-05B9DAFC79FCAs we entered the restaurant which had been selected by passing by it with our umbrellas outstretched to help keep us from getting drenched, we were seated by the ristorante staff next to a lone woman separated only by a waist high column with three lit candles.

The dark haired woman was of longish hair which she played with by pulling it back away from her face as she engaged in conversation which revealed an English accent.  And she was talking to us as soon as she realized that we shared the same language.   

The conversation straddled politics and languages known.   Queries from the Rayman began with, “what do you think of the Brexit vote.”  “Fuck, it was rubbish” came the reply.   Okay.  Well, then she went on to expound on America really being a caste system even though Americans don’t realize it.   We understood her point but, the F bomb still lingered in the air.  Hair fiddling ensued.  

Our lady in black explained that her family originated in Milan and that she felt a real kinship to the city.  Her family had moved to England when she was a babe but they spoke Italian to her and she loves the Italian language.  She told us she now lives in London.  

“What do you do there?

“IT but I just quit my job and am in Milan on vacation for the month.  At sometime, I must go back to London to look for work.”  I would put her age at mid 30s.  So looking for a new job would be prudent.  

While grabbing her hair and fashioning it into a ponytail only to let it fall around her face again, she spoke of 401ks, retirement saving while interspersing a few more F bombs which seemed out of place.

We then talked about France when she asked us about other countries in Europe we had visited.  At this juncture of the conversation we learned that her grandparents owned a country home in northern France and she spent summers there and that is how she came to learn the language of french.  When we expressed our admiration that she spoke three languages, she revealed that she actually spoke eight languages, that she had a knack of learning languages.  

We did not test this proclamation.   

She had been to San Francisco.  This too went untested.  Never even occurred to me to try.  

We had ordered dinner and when we did she asked the waiter to bring her something, don.’t know what.  Finally a small glass with a yellow liquid was delivered to her.  Our dinner arrived.  While we ate, she sat with her phone and her drink, in silence.   

We exchanged a few more pleasantries, paid the bill and bid her farewell.  

“Well, she was certainly interesting”, I said as I hoisted the umbrella upward.   

“I think she was a prostitute”, Rayman revealed. 

“Really?”, I gasped.   Rayman suspected this but hoped he was wrong.  

 Well, the more we compared notes, the more I became convinced he was right.  A combo of course language to total strangers of a certain age, sitting alone while sipping on a tiny drink for an hour, alone, no food, unmolested by wait staff caused Rayman to suspect.  8 languages was far fetched.  Honing her story?   Was the ristorante in cahoots?  Where they getting a cut?  OMG.  The questions were fascinating to consider, which we did!  After all, this was Italy.  Where contrasts were in full abundance.  While wearing crosses, it would never ever occur to any Italian we encountered to give up a seat on a train for an old person, who never once was seen to help a struggling mother with a baby buggy disembark a train.  Where they routinely play chicken on the road with other motorists and pedestrians alike.   Individual encounters reveal good behavior but short of that we felt they procured a certain enjoyment in terrorizing you at the same time ignoring you.  

Train station facade facing the freeway. My friend Margaret, cleverly guessed it was a xylophone!

Train station facade facing the freeway. My friend Margaret, cleverly guessed it was a xylophone!

Yesterday while getting lost on our way to Lake Como, a fellow in a van coming up from behind us on the autostada purposely tried the share half my lane until the last second before veering to the left.  He hadn’t need to it. No other cars were in close proximity.  I was so terrified, I laid on the horn as he sped away.  And this was not at that unusual as we saw this same maneuver plied over and over to any number of motorists.   They all think they are Parnelli Jones.   It seems to be a game.  Speed limits are posted everywhere and exactly no one follows the law.   We had a fancy car blow by us going about 120 mph.   Shortly thereafter a polizia car raced by. Oh, great, we said. Finally some one is going to get a ticket.  But, alas, no.  The polizia were rushing to the aid of a stranded motorist which was kind, but we were hugely disappointed.   

In our travels we have become adept at going round and round on their roundabouts while trying to figure out which exit to take.  Really, people, it is that confusing.  Armed with roadmap and Gina, our gps aid…we are in a constant state of confusion because the road signs are so unhelpful.   

Now we are in a village on the eastern side of Lake Como and it about to rain.  Do we want to brave the weather?  Not entirely sure. But Rayman just informed me the day we leave here, it will be sunny and near 80.  It is par for the course on this trip.  Rain has called upon us just as tears follow the untimely death of our favorite character in a movie or as they follow good news on Sunday Morning on CBS…  It won’t relent. It’s got our number.  

This morning we had breakfast with a couple from a Parker (?), Alaska.  He, a man of the eyes (eye doc), she from Massachusetts originally.  They are as worried as we are about Trump.  We had a lively conversation in between sneezes and coughs as they arrived here yesterday having caught cold somewhere along the line.  Would have continued the discussion but there is only so much risk we wanted to take with germs so we politely excused ourselves and scuttled back to our room like runway models heading backstage, with purpose.


Other observations of Italy.  Deer live here as evidenced by the signs on the roads…deer crossing signs just like home.  No skunks.  Lots of bird as evidenced by bird song and a nest in the bottom drawer of our villa in Tuscany in the dining room.  Mallards are on the lake. Pigeons and wrens are everywhere.  Horses and sheep.  Haven’t seen a squirrel yet.  No kangaroos ( just jesting).  Lots of roses, vines, trees of many varieties many of them unknown by us.  We have only seen one traffic jam going the opposite direction, thanks for that.  I think the freeways are less travelled because many are toll roads and trains are everywhere and they are full all the time.  So much easier and less expensive way to get around.  They are so smart that way.  All of Europe is smart that way.  We are so far behind.  And retreating further and further.

One of hundreds.

One of hundreds.



Tunnels are an art form here.  They think nothing of burrowing through a mountain.  They have the resources because their military doesn’t gobble up all the money.   All the major cities have extensive metros.  And busses, and trolleys.  Again, their societies help move people around very, very efficiently and effectively.  Drill, baby, drill takes on a whole new connotation here.  Milan is in the middle of adding a fourth major metro line and part if it was on the street in front of our Airbnb.  Luckily we were there Saturday and Sunday.  When we departed yesterday morning, it was noisy while the weekend was quiet.

An aside, of sorts.  The London lady in the ristorante thinks the U.S. engages in indentured servitude and who am I to disagree.  How proud was I to be in management putting in 60 hours weeks without overtime only to hand out checks to non- management subordinates who made more money without the responsibilities I had.  Or Rayman’s 5th level dropping off a project at 5 p.m. as he was going home for the day and asking for results in the morning, which required hours of work.   Yes, the American worker.  Not sure anything has changed.

So, traveling is eye 👁 opening as well as eye 👁 popping.  Mind expanding and mind blowing. A test of endurance and a test of strength.  A juxtaposition of old and new, ancient and modern.  Of convenience and inconvenience.  Of laughter and tears.  

And did I mention it has been raining a lot?

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