This will be my final FSO post from Rome. I return to Houston next Wednesday morning. Like one of my blogger friends pointed out this stay in Rome has been bittersweet. Memories of visits here with Camillo from the past 20 years; knowing that he would love the things I’ve done that are different than we had done together; renting the apartment would be one of those. He always wanted to go, see something new or to show me something wonderful that he remembered from his past lives. Staying in Rome for a month is something he never wanted to do, but I did. We didn’t argue about it, there is too much to see to stay in one place, that is a given, but I know he would have loved my little apartment in the middle of a Roman neighborhood with its small supermarket and butcher shops. He would love the daily walks, the few meals with his sister and he would love hearing my enthusiasm for what I have done. And the bittersweet; missing that he is not here to learn I was right, a stay in one place can be wonderful.
Sorry sidetracked. This week’s FSO topic is Mysteries in Your Town, and Rome once again being My Town for the Week has caused me to be on the look out for a mystery, “A Mystery Look around town, can you find something that makes you feel bewildered? Or leaves you wondering what's up with that?” as I have walked and walked about Rome. I have big questions like, ‘how has a city survived since 700 years before Christ’; surviving wars, pestilence and governments, and changes in religious fervor. (governments and pestilence being basically the same thing) There have been a few things that astounds me though, however does that man sit on a pole held in one hand of another man, for hours and hours. Doesn’t that pole hurt after a while, doesn’t that man’s arm get tired. I saw six of these ….. course they were all dressed alike, did not have the usual cup to donate to their pain, so it could have been the same men just moving from square to square. I don’t see a trick, they are in a different state of consciousness?
We have all read of the economic climate in Europe and in Africa, and the boat people swamping Italy, often dying in the attempt, and if arriving safely moving northward in an attempt to find a better life for their families. It is a tide, a tsunami, and on a humanitarian level I understand the governments allowing this to continue, though I fear there is no humanitarian motive just inaction. But if humanitarian motives prevailed, how do you not let them come where there is food, and lodging - except there isn’t. There are no jobs in which they qualify, and old buildings are being invaded for housing with no proper plumbing, running water or heat but are still perceived as better from where they come, a safe roof over their heads. So they squat where they can; they sell things – trinkets, and junk made in china, purses with designer names but made of plastic, and they clog the streets; stepping into your path to try to sell a ‘silk’ scarf or a plastic toy. Desperation in their movements.
To me Rome is a museum of world history, beautiful and full of grace; housed in Rome but belonging to the world. And now it is being invaded by a new foe, and invading army of poor and displaced. The masses blocking the streets, letting only a little path through. I wish I had my 35mm photos so you could see this bridge from 20 years ago, one of the most beautiful sights you might ever see, and now junk.
The mystery: can the governments not stop this tide? Can action be taken that allows these travelers to stay at home and survive. This is such a similar story as the illegal immigrants that find their way into the USA. Why can’t these problems be solved. We have put men on the moon, taken photos of the rings of Jupiter, found new galaxies, waged wars with multimillion dollar weapons; why can’t we feed the hungry in their own home towns? This is my mystery.