Back in the proverbial saddle…

I suppose I’m going to find out rather quickly if this whole blogging thing is like riding a bike…you know the old adage…about once you learn, you never forget.  I guess a brief explanation of my absence is in order too.  Simply put…I got deported.  Well, not really, but close enough.  Turns out when the government says that it could take three months to process your paperwork, they really mean it will take the entire three months to process your paperwork…even if you need said paperwork to stay in the country.  So that’s it in a nutshell, my paperwork wasn’t processed in time so I had to return to America for three months…which turned out pretty well since it meant I got to spend the holidays with family.  And Brittany came back for a couple of weeks over Christmas as well.  If you ever need information about a Family Reunification Visa in Italy, I’m the man to ask.

Back to the blog…turns out it’s not as easy to get back into the swing of things as I thought it would be.  I got back to Italy on February 25th and we went on a southern tour of Italy four days later.  The easiest way to get around here is by train, so we took an inter-city train to Rome…sounds easy right.  Well, it was easy…except for the fact that I fell asleep during the train ride and when I awoke…I completely forgot about our camera, which I had tucked underneath my seat.  Don’t worry, I remembered it…roughly thirty minutes after the train had departed the Rome station.  So here’s that story…

After walking, with suitcases, about thirty minutes, I saw a cool little garden and wanted to snap a photo.  That’s when I realized I didn’t have the camera.  Now, normally, I am OCD when it comes to the camera…I check to make sure I have it 20 or 30 times a minute…but I usually don’t fall asleep on the train…so I blame that (really it was just my stupidity though).  Anyway, we rushed back to the Rome station and found a Customer Service desk.  Luckily the lady there spoke excellent English and we were able to convey my stupidity.  She was skeptical that we would be able to get the camera back because she thought someone probably claimed it as their own by that point.  But she called the train and they found it.  Now…here’s where the story gets convoluted.  Inter-city Italian train don’t have a lost-and-found.  But she spoke with the conductor of that train and he/she said that he/she would be coming back through Rome that night and wanted us to meet them at the other station when they came back through.  At this point we were so relieved that someone had the camera we really weren’t thinking straight; so instead of having someone put our Italian phone number on the camera bag (just in case) we headed out determined to meet the conductor later on that evening.  Turns out the station we were meeting the conductor was not in the best part of town, but we made it there about an hour early just to make sure we could find it.  When the designated train came into the station, no one on board had any idea when we were talking about.  These trains are on very tight routines so we had roughly five minutes to ask everyone we could find…the only bit of information we could get…go talk to the police that worked at the station.  So we did…none of the police officers spoke any English (I should clarify that we didn’t expect them to speak English…we are in Italy after all), but they were all really, really helpful.  Thank you Google Translate.  We went back and forth explaining the situation using our phones for about an hour, but the end result was that they didn’t know what to do.  An employee of the train station had our camera, but we had no idea who that was.  The police recommended that we go to the train station customer service again and speak with them…only they were closed by that point.  So we walked home in the cold with no camera.  I was so mad at myself, but Brittany was great.  She kept telling me that it was just a thing and we were in Rome, to forget about it and be happy.  I tried, but I couldn’t help running through the scenario over and over again.  First there was my initial stupidity.  Then to find out someone has the camera.  Then to realize we didn’t get that someone’s name, nor did we give them ours.  All the possibilities just frustrated me so much…I couldn’t sleep.  We had already booked our ticket to see Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel, so the next morning we got up and went there first.  I was still upset with myself…here we are at the Vatican and we only have our phones for a camera…but my mind was eased a bit by the fact that you weren’t allowed to take photos inside of the Sistine Chapel.  After that we headed to the nearest train station to try and speak with someone.  When we arrived, there was only one other person at customer service and there were two counters open, so we went to the open counter.  Fate…luck…whatever it was brought us to that counter.  We started explaining what happened to the lady and she stopped us midway through.  Somehow, randomly, one of her good friends was the person who had our camera.  She had spoken with the friend that morning about having a camera bag that was supposed to be picked up but never was and how she wasn’t sure what to do with it.  It was like mana from heaven…she took our name and number and told us she would get back in touch with her friend and find a way to get us our camera.  And she did.  About an hour later she called to tell us we could pick the camera up from the train station the next morning.  We went the following morning sure enough it was there…

I’m not sure why the process was as convoluted as it was, or why there is no lost-and-found…I mean I get it if someone leaves a pack of gum, but for luggage or a camera or something like that…but the situation was resolved.  And everyone we dealt with was very helpful.  I guess the moral of the story is don’t leave your stuff on a train.  I’m just thankful we got it back.

Pictures (from the famously lost camera) and Blogs about the trip to follow!

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