Wednesday, April 16, 2008

One day in Italy

Yesterday was a good day, for the most part. It all started well with a beautiful, no clouds in sight, sunny day. This meant that Fernando was able to ride his bike to work, and I had the car for the day!!! It also meant that I was in charge of taking Nico to the bus stop in time, which we managed to do, with a couple seconds to spare.
After running to get to the bus stop in time, it was quite a pleasure to slow down to share some coffee at the "other" bar, run some errands, and get back home in time to hang my laundry outside... yes, this is something to celebrate as we do not use a dryer, and letting our clothing dry with the spring sun and breeze is really, really nice.
I had enough time to check my mail, read some blogs (I have my priorities straight, don't I?), clean some and get ready for lunch. My friend Maggie (the only other Colombian I know in the area) had invited some friends over to her house. Maggie is a personal chef, and a great one, so I knew I was up for a treat. There were eight of us, three Italians, two Colombians, one French, one Cuban, and one Dutch. We talked mostly in Italian, with some English thrown here and there. The food was an assortment of vegetable dishes and salads as one of the ladies is a vegetarian. We had some wine, and not one, but two desserts... I, of course, indulged, thinking that I was running later in the day.
We had a great conversation, as many of them have lived all over the world, and I even got some advice on how to deal with adolescents (not that I think I need the advice any time soon). Soon enough it was already four o'clock, and I had to head back to pick up Nico from the bus stop. I left in a hurry and on my way back was stopped by the police. Yes, random check-ups are common here, and even though I know I am here legally, I couldn't help but feel nervous about this.
The policeman came over and ask for my driver's license and my car registration. We do not have an Italian driver's license because we do not have a permesso di sogiorno yet. I always carry my international driver's license, which is good for a year in Italy. I gave him this, with my excuse about being a foreigner, and copies of the car lease, copies of my passport, copies of the letter from my husband's job allowing me to drive the leased car, all of this while smiling and using my best Italian. I was thinking of the couple glasses of wine I had with lunch, and I was considering sneaking a mint so that the nice policeman did not have any reasons to give me a ticket.
He took my twenty papers or so, and went back to the patrol car, he checked something over the radio, and took copious notes of all my paperwork. He came back and asked if I was American. I said I was a legal American resident, but that my nationality was Colombian. (He knew this, since he had copies of my passport), he then asked about my husband, his work, our address, Fernando's work address and the kind of job he does. I felt like I was being tested both on legal status trivia, and on Italian. I guess I gave all the right answers, because he told me that I was free to go while handing back all my paperwork. I felt confident then, and I asked if I could take a picture of him (blog opportunity!), he laughed and said that I could take a picture of his partner, who had been standing by the patrol car, holding a machine gun all the while. I thanked him, took the picture and drove back like a mad woman to get to my son in time.
I got there in time, it was a good day after all.

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