Monday, June 27, 2005

Train Troubles in Italy

June 10, 2005 7:00 AM, Udine, Italy

Okay, so we’re not in Venice yet. Not that we’re supposed to be, but we won’t be getting there at the originally planned time. It all started at about five-forty-five this morning when Kathy got up to go to the bathroom. Let me just say that prior to this momentous event, the night was pretty good. It finally got quiet out in the hallway, and I slept well. So…Kathy gets up to go to the bathroom, and I’m still half-asleep. Twenty minutes goes by, and still no Kathy. Blessed with the wild imagination of a fiction writer, all kinds of things are running through my head. She’s been kidnapped. She was sleep-walking, and walked right off the train> She met Antonio Banderas while waiting in line at the WC and he offered to take her on a personal tour of Venice. (No, Antonio isn’t even Italian.) Finally, I’m wide awake—besides, I’d sneaked a peak through the curtain to see what the day looked like, and it was bright and sunny, so I’m really wide awake now. I get up and go out into the corridor to find Kathy. She’s standing right outside the WC, and there is no Antonio in sight. As soon as she sees me, she gives me this pitiful look and says, “I’ve been waiting here for twenty minutes, and I’m feeling sick, and my bladder is about to explode.” This, by the way, was the same WC I’d waited at last night for a long time before giving up to go find another one. I was astonished that Kathy hadn’t done the same thing, but when I asked her why she hadn’t, she said she was feeling sick and couldn’t move. Pointing out that it was obviously “out of order”—God knows why the train personnel couldn’t have been bothered to put a sign on it—she finally headed through the next car to find an unoccupied WC. (Ironically, a moment later, I followed her, and found one just inside the next car; she’d walked all the way down to the end.) Okay, so while I was in the the WC, I heard all this activity going on outside—Italian voices yelling, and all this clinking and clanging. When I came out, there were four men working on the platform between where I was and the car where my berth was. After a couple of minutes, I was able to pass through, and thank God, when I got to my berth, Kathy was in there. I knew there was no way I could go back to sleep, and it was a good thing because about ten minutes later, a knock came at the door. Thank God the Austrian guy was there so he could explain what was going on. He kind of laughed as he told us, "We're in Italy. The train is broken."

We had to vacate the car and move forward to another one, and that wouldn’t have been so bad except once they moved us, they didn’t tell us where to go or what to do, so we were standing out in this narrow corridor, waiting for instructions, which, apparently, were never to come. (And it wasn't just us; there was a whole row of car refugees waiting uncertainly with their belongings.) Finally, we saw this official-looking person, and Kathy left her luggage with me and went down to try to find out where we were supposed to go. Well, thank God, he found us a sitting compartment with these three other people, and right now, I’m sitting here typing this and waiting for Kathy to return, hopefully, with two cups of badly-needed coffee (bad as it's rumored to be.) Our luggage, by the way, is out in the corridor because there’s no place to put it in this berth.

Thus, begins our first day in Italy.


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