Arrivederci Roma, and The Life That Was

This post also has a soundtrack. The André Rieu version of Arrivederci Roma.

It is September 24th, as we left for the sightseeing of Rome. I was a bit worried to go out on the street. There was a long protest going down the street for the freedom and recognition of a people in a region near Georgia. (The country) The parade ended gust before go time and my feet were really sore. My last pairs of socks had holes in them and combined with the bleeding heels walking was getting harder. Rome is also not known for the flattest and smoothest sidewalks/streets either.


We hopped on the bus and went to the area near the Italian government buildings. For there we walked around Rome to the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and various other buildings. We also ran into a group of protestors that were fighting for the right of deaf people to have interpreters at churches. They made a lot of noise.


Then we went for a fancy supper and my feet were killing me. At supper, I had noticed my feet were still hurting even when not standing on them, and my butt and hip were getting a sensation of falling asleep. I stood up and walked outside a few times to relieve the cramps and asleep feeling but it was getting worse. By the end of the night my feet were going from sore to numb.


After dinner we went back to the hostel for drinks as for a chunk of us it was the big good bye night. The rest of the travellers would be heading to London again over the next week. The place was small and cramped but I didn’t want to miss out as this was the last big night with everyone so I stayed until about midnight. The group then decided to go to a club but I really wasn’t feeling it.


An amazing person that was also leaving in Rome decided not to go out and since I have feelings for her and we are in Rome, we went for a stroll around the block and I tried to hit on her nervously. She explained what was important to her, and I respected her and we continued to walk back to the hotel and called it a night.

The next morning I woke up and the scariest thing happened. My feet were still numb and three fingers on both hands were numb. This had me really scared and the hotel had terrible internet so I had breakfast and checked out of The Yellow Hostel. I knew my next hotel the check in was not until 2pm but I wanted to drop off my heavy bag to baggage storage there, as I was planning to travel light for 3 days and had the necessities in my side bag.


To my luck the hotel let me check in early and I started to Google what could be going wrong with me. The main hits were Diabetic Nerve Pain or MS. (In my head better than diabetic as I love good food.) The internet was bad so I decided to go out and went to Termini station to get online. From there I started iMessaging / Facebook messaging and emailing everyone I could back home to get advice.

Since it was just after 6am back home only a few answered. None suggested coming back and several suggested it could be something even worse and that I should go to the hospital. My sister was one of the few that answered but wasn’t happy I woke her on a Sunday morning. I ate lunch at McDonald’s in the station then went to find Michelangelo’s Keyhole that I missed by a few metres in 2013. Once you miss doing something it really sticks with you.


As I climbed the hill and passed the rose garden, I crested the top of the hill and saw a long line of people. This is the universal sign of you found the attraction.

I waited about 45 minutes in line and then made it to the front and looked in the hole. It was cool but had bigger hype and expectations than I was hoping for. On the way back down there is a park with an overlooking view of the Vatican.

Considering how much my feet hurt, I had to rest. I started to question myself on what I should do. It was at that point that I thought I heard a voice say “Go Home” in the wind. As I was walking down the hill, I need to go to the bathroom suddenly and had little control and didn’t quite make it to the pay toilet, that also was dirty and had little paper left. It was not good and I was so conscious of my smell. I went back to the hostel to look at my insurance papers and get my numbers in line to go to Ospedale Santo Spirito near the Vatican. However when reading my travel insurance papers, I read it in detail and noticed an Early Return clause and called them up via Skype and asked about it.

The lady explained that it would cover any economy class ticket on a reimbursement basis. I then was worried about trying to contact my travel agent on a Sunday and jumped on the Air Canada app and looked up flights. I didn’t want to miss the Coliseum tour I had booked later that day so flying out that night wasn’t on my radar. (That would have been the smartest option.)

The fastest and cheapest flight back the next morning was to fly Rome to Philadelphia to Toronto to Saint John. I almost booked it but then I noticed that if I went Rome to Munich to Toronto to Saint John I could leave Rome early rather than stupid early, I would avoid the US TSA, get a Munich passport stamp, and fly in a Dreamliner! (Since I wasn’t paying it what is an extra $40 for more sleep and a wish list airplane.) I booked the trip and coordinated with a friend to pick me up at the airport the next afternoon and bring me to the hospital. The internet then crapped out and I lest for my tour.

As I went through Termini, my mother got back to me and I told her I was coming home. I then headed of to the tour. I had already done this tour on 2010 so it looked the same as before and I was not really into it. All I was thinking about was leaving the next day. I took a bunch of photos to prove I was there but I was so weak and sore that I was glad it was over. I said no more goodbyes and slipped away and back to the hostel. I ordered a chicken burger and fries at the hostel restaurant and thought my sore throat was coming back, but it turned out probably the muscles were going numb and I was loosing my swallowing abilities. I then got my bag from storage and went to bed. I was going to shower in the morning. As it turns out I won’t get to shower again until December.


The next morning I woke up at 5:30am and am really numb. It is terrible bad, I can barely stand from kneeling without the ladder, and I had the top bunk bed. I didn’t pack the night before and I put all my liquids in my main suitcase, and started throwing away clothes that I didn’t want to get at weight. After three attempts I make it to the exact most I can check in. (Wine bottles are heavy.) I grab my side bag and suitcase and am off. It is only a few blocks to the train station but it is a slight uphill slope and my legs can barely make it. Rome at night is also a very scary place in those parts.

I am starving and I pick up a few things at the convenience store style place in Termini and go to the kiosk to get my train ticket to the airport. I decide on the Leonardo Express train over the local train as I don’t know how much effort I have left. The train arrives and I get on barely enough grip to lift my excessive bag.

I then arrive at the Leonardo di Vinci airport and walk a long hall to the Lufthansa checkin for my first flight to Munich. She checks everything for me takes the bag and then I proceed through security. This is a really simple process as I have gotten good at this. I then find my gate and have a seat. Once it comes birding time I have great difficulty standing. I do manage and get on the flight. Scared to death, I start to be even more scared thinking about my mother’s prediction something bad was going to happen.

When the plane arrived, I went to the other terminal to get my flight that involved lots of halls, trains, elevators and, escalators. After getting my Schengen leaving stamp, I go to the gate and wait for boarding. Then boarding gets announced and I cannot stand up. I am really scared and freaking out just like a bathroom in Amsterdam incident. After everyone mostly boards I manage to use my everything to stand and it is not at all good. I get on the plane and have a seat in the second row of economy class. As it happens to turn out the group of people around me work for Air Canada and used their travel perks to go to Oktoberfest (lucky them). The gentleman to my left was leaving the airline to change careers. My hands were not working well to at all at this point so I couldn’t put my seatbelt on and he helped me. I din. Want to keep asking for help so I didn’t get to watch a movie at all for the flight and got to watch as we flew back the map of where we were. Our flight was delayed due to a technical fault, this made me nervous that this was it, the technical fault was how this was going to all end. After they fixed the plane, it took almost another hour to get a new route, and the route took us north until we followed the UK coast then towards Greenland and then direct to Toronto.

As the meal came I could not eat hardly anything and drank the water and wine and bean salad. (Again the bean salad is always a mistake.) I had the guy next to me open the items I did eat. He could tell something was not right and we talked briefly. He was friends with the crew and I think he told them as I was embarrassed to ask for help. I have a bad anxiety for things like that.

Since I had 8 hours to Toronto left I decided sleeping it off was the best decision. I however started around Greenland noticing if I slept I stopped breathing and this scared the hell out of me but not as bad as telling someone and divert the plane in 2 hours to Newfoundland as we were literally in the middle of nowhere and piss off everyone on the flight. I instead waited it out silently as it got worse and worse. I needed into use the bathroom and got up and waited in line to make it just in time. I then returned to my seat. This is the last time I would get up or use the bathroom on my own.

We then land in Toronto. My phone still had my UK SIM card and I physically don’t have a tool to open the SIM card door so I turn it on but can’t use it. If I could I could text everyone or post on Twitter that I arrived. As the doors open, I try to get up and can’t with my own power to the guy next to me helps me up and grabs my bag for me.

I take about 60 steps to get off the plane and the first step is a big one so I roll my ankle and can’t get up and am blocking the door. I am in fear at this point more from blocking everyone behind me, and only having 25 minutes to get through customs and my flight to Saint John. The flight attendant guy was right behind me and I was rolled to the side and covered with a blanket until the rest of the passengers deplaned. Then he took off and the flight crew and airport manager took care of everything asking me lots of questions. The ambulance arrived and I was forced to help due to my weight to get up to a wheelchair and then transfer to the stretcher.

I asked about my checked bag and the Air Canada manager assured me they would take care of everything. I was taken down the sky ramp steps and placed in the ambulance and off we went.

Next post I will continue with the hospital portion of this story. This concludes the travel portion.

Maybe I was Wrong

For the better part of my life I always considered nuclear power to be incredibly clean and efficient way to produce a lot of power. With the recent earthquake to hit Japan and Fukushima, perhaps it is now time to consider something else.

The question is what else? The thought of going back to burning coal, oil, or even worse Orimulsion. Then there is wind power that kills birds, bats, honey bees, and causes hearing damage. Hydro-electric power that kills the eco-system of a river upstream, even if provisions were made not to. Solar? The sun will come out tomorrow but not today and are very inefficient to have reliable energy in short winter days.

I think the most important factor is that although we believe it can be safe, what if nature makes it go wrong. Canadian reactors are supposed to be certified for expected levels of seismic activity. But expected and reality can be different. Like the old expression “Shit Happens”.

The Times They Are A Changin’

A few year’s back I got reconnected to a classic piece of music; Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin'”. Back then was in March 2005. I was a young political supporter taking by first trip by train to Montréal, for the 1st Conservative Party of Canada policy and constitution convention.

Back then I thought we were doing something new a great. The vision of make a new party from scratch. Also, strengthening up the constitution to make it more fair and accountable.

Fast forward to now six years later, and we are back to the corruption as before but the song is developing new meaning. With recent events that started in Egypt and Tunisia we are seeing once more that The Times They Are A Changin’. In hindsight, it appears that change actually happen quite rapidly.

Now that it spreads fast people can compare this turning point in history to the storming Bastille. Where people’s choice takes forefront to prolonged oppression. But of greater concern is that at this point in History the current super-power the United States turns out to be broke, and not exactly globally well liked. Compare them to the Hapsburg Dynasty of Austria that controlled much of Europe at the time of the Bastille.

The French king at that time was completely unaware of the state of his people like leaders today in Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya. One only has to visit Luzern in Switzerland to see the most moving pieces of artwork in all Europe to see this was true. The only protection of a ruler be it King, Sultan, President; is who the Armed Forces supports, in France and now Egypt to military supported to people.

As history goes the Bastille event results in Napoleon, where the Hapsburgs end up dead and everything changes. In the 2010’s can the United States survive or will we see that nothing is safe as The Times They Are A Changin’.