Each week, I will be featuring a short journal extract from my years of living and traveling around the world. I have been using these journals a lot lately to help plug in some gaps with my writings. What a joy it is to go back and rediscover the many gifts travel has given to me.
This week’s travel journal extract is an incident in Rome I forgot about and was certainly worthy of making my 23 experiences not to put on your travel bucket list post.
Caught in my Undies on a busy Roman street
I woke at 8am to a policeman banging at the window of the campervan.
Of course it was my night to be sleeping in the front seat; the girls slept comfortably snoring in the beds behind me. I squinted through the hangover to see a very irate officer shaking his baton and screaming in Italian.
My ability to interpret tongues told me he was saying, “Get the #### out of this van now.”
I looked at the cotton sheet covering my scantily clad body. Shit! I was only wearing undies.
I yelled to the comatose girls to help. I could not break through their vodka cloud and the banging continued with more gusto.
“ALL RIGHT! I’m coming. Just give me a minute. Uno momento.” Ah shit that was Spanish.
What was his problem anyway? With no time to dress, I wrapped the sheet tightly around me like a Roman toga and jumped out the van…
..and saw why he was so upset.
Hundreds of cars streamed past on their way to work; our brightly painted campervan was blocking one of the commuter lanes.
We didn’t notice last night when we parked it that it was a clearance zone. We were stoked with how clever we were to jag a free camping spot on the Tiber River with views of the Vatican in the distance.
We didn’t notice it stumbling home from the Irish pub only a few hours ago either.
I tried to dodge the spit flying out with the verbiage from the policeman’s mouth. He pointed to the chairs and saucepans we had conspicuously hidden under the van in the cover of darkness. We had no time for washing up and stacking inside the van, there were Roman bars to visit.
Groggy and half drunk, I ran around the van trying to clean up the dirty dishes with one hand, while trying to prevent the sheet from unveiling a nasty early morning commuter vista with the other.
I panicked and wailed, “Can you just give me a minute to put my pants on?”
No compassion, just a shake of the head and more barking to clean and move the car.
Except I was not moving the car. I did not know how to drive a manual, especially a big campervan, on the wrong side of the road, on a main thoroughfare of Rome.
“Please, just let me put some pants on!!”
My final screech rousted the girls from their sleep. I heard their fits of giggles before I saw their faces peeking outside the window.
From the toots of the passing motorists and the stares of the tourists congregating nearby, it seemed as if everyone but myself and the police officer found it amusing.
“It’s not funny. Can you bloody help me please?”
Shannon must have got the picture that the humour was short lived and jumped in the drivers seat, starting up the van.
The policeman, now content, granted me permission to enter the vehicle once again with a snap of his head, waving us away with a quick double flick of his hand.
I should have mooned him on the way out.