Sorry for the week long silence in the blog, but re-entry into life and ministry here has come at a rapid pace. I actually recovered from the long trip home fairly quickly, unlike Steve, but I had a lot of things needing my attention when I returned.
Our last evening in Rome ended in a lovely dinner at a family-run restaurant not far from our hotel. The food was superb and the family who owned the place were so welcoming and generous that we hated to leave, but with the lethal combination of European Daylight Savings Time kicking in and a 6:55 a.m. flight (which meant that we had to be at the airport by 5:00 am) we had to cut our evening short.
Not so short that we couldn’t stop for one last gelato on the way to the hotel. The poor young man running the place was nearing closing time, but he was friend and gracious as we made our selections and enjoyed the last tastes of this sweet treat. Not long after we finished our orders, he was preparing to close the place down, and asked if we could move so that he could lower the awning. Sister Nancy asked him if he was “rolling up the sidewalk.” He looked a bit confused and she explained to him in Italian what the idiom meant. His face lit up as he laughed and nodded. The poor guy looked like he had had a long day. I noticed that many of the workers in our hotel were present from very early in the morning through late in the evening. My hat is off to them and anyone who provides service to travelers.
Our flights home were relatively uneventful. Two other groups were ahead of us in the Rome airport, but finally made our way through check in and security; Nancy gave each of us a hug and wished us well as we prepared for the first leg of our trip home. (Steve had departed about an hour ahead of us, as he was flying through Amsterdam and we were going through Paris.)
When we arrived at the behemoth that is De Gaul airport in Paris, we de-planed through these tunnels that reminded you of something in a massive hamster exhibit. There were tubes everywhere with people walking to their various destinations. We had to change terminals, but did not have to clear security again and by the time we reached our gate it was nearly time to board.
As the cabin door closed, we noticed that the entertainment system was not working and the head flight attendant announced that she was re-booting it. (I prayed to St. Clare, the patron saint of television to give them some help and within 20 minutes the system was up and running.)
As our plane approached MSP airport, I was stunned to see that much of the snow was gone. I had forgotten what the ground looked like! When the pilot announced that the temperature was in the 50’s I wanted to clap…I think that I actually did.
The line through Customs was unbelievable long and I struck up a conversation with a young couple who were returning to St. Paul after meeting in Barcelona and then weekending in Paris. He had been away in Asia for a month and his wife was naturally happy to have him home. “I bet that you missed him during these last snowfalls.” “Yeah,” she said, “He lucked out this time.”
Since Steve had arrived before me, and since he had left his car with the Friars in Bloomington, he was able to retrieve it and pick me up after I had cleared customs. I said my good-byes to many in our group, so grateful for the opportunity to be with them and get to know them.
If you have enjoyed reading this, please keep checking as I plan to continue writing in the days and weeks ahead. Thanks for the many kind words. Br Bob