Ten Day

by Berck

I just figured out how to switch a French keyboard to an English one, which works just fine as long as I don’t look down, which I don’t do anyway…

This is necessary because, unlike an Italian keyboard which merely has the symbols in strange places, a French keyboard has all the letters in the wrong place. I have no idea where the french keyboard layout came from, but it seems even less intuitive than Qwerty, which I never thought possible.

So, now, I suppose, I can actually compose something. It sucks, because I just spent 45 minutes reading e-mail and composing a few sentences to you guys on the French keyboard before Robin was nice enough to come over and tell me that some of the computers have switchable keyboards. The computer I was at didn’t.

Since I’m using a French keyboard, I suppose it you’ve gathered by now that I’m in France. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if they used French keyboards in Tunisia, and I could be writing from there.

The possibility of my sending email from Tunisia is not necessarily as far fetched as it may sound. I spent our 5-day break in Sardenia, and I’ve not gotten to a keyboard to write you guys about it. I went by myself to Sardegna, and discovered that I was quite lonely all by myself in a place where NO ONE spoke ANY English, and there weren’t even any fellow travelers. It seems that most Sardenian tourists are German, and they only travel in July-Aug. At the end of March, I was the only tourist I came across. (Even if calling myself a tourist sends chills down my spine…) Anyway, I was traveling by myself in Sardegna, and got quite lonely, and began thinking that my plan of heading to Sicily and then Tunisia all by myself for 10day break was stupid. I tried to think of other places to go that I wouldn’t later travel to with a Eurail pass, thus defeating the purpose of waiting to buy a pass until after the semester.

I was running out of options when, on the night before break, I tagged along with other UD students to The Old Pub across the street for some beer. This was exciting for some, because the Old Pub, a three minutes walk from campus, had closed shortly after our arrival in Due Santi.

(Random note, I’m hurried, and quite annoyed this e-mail is of inferior quality as compared to previous e-mails you’ve gotten from me. Sorry.)

So, I was sitting next to Robin Kniskern who, though she’s not a smoker, asked me for a light. I carry around a lighter, even though I don’t smoke. This has something to do with the fact I really like to be able to make fire at will. I lit her cigarette (is that spelled right?) and informed her she was going to hell for smoking. This is a fun thing to tell the average UD student, because they occasionally believe me. “If I knew WHERE I was going it would be much better,” she muttered. “You don’t know where you’re going for ten day?” I asked in astonishment. “Nope.” I was shocked. Every UD student has been planning since arrival in Rome, or before, where he would go on our ten day vacation in early April. Except me. I figured I’d figure it out even though I still hadn’t a clue, and the stein of not-so-good but really cheap Italian beer wasn’t helping any. So, I found myself quite surprised that Robin didn’t know either. “I HAD plans until yesterday,” she said, which made things make a bit more sense. The people she was traveling with had plans to stay with friends who didn’t have enough room for her. “Want to go to Tunisia with me?” I inquired with little aspiration toward a positive answer on her part.
“What’s in Tunisia?” she asked.
“Yeah, what else?”
“I dunno, you wanna find out?”
“Maybe, I’ll let you know tomorrow.”

I was astonished. _I_ might have someone to travel with? Wow. What a thought. The night progressed with much merriment which progressed with the very cheap and increasingly enjoyable Italian beer. (By cheap, I mean a litre for $5. Which is, well, cheap. Especially for Europe.)

The morning found much excitement and hustling and bustling of people preparing to go places. I found, in my mail box, a little slip of paper with some of the most exciting words I’d seen all semester. “You have a package in the office, pay �4.000 to pick it up.” The package contained a pair of black army pants and some socks my mommy sent me, just in time to head out for ten day, perfect timing. This was good, because it was a bit chilly to be running about campus in my bathing suit, which is basically my only choice when I decide to wash my two pairs of pants. I didn’t intentionally take a bathing suit to Europe, it happened quite by accident, but I’m glad I did, because otherwise I’d be doing laundry in my boxers, which might upset the campus a bit. They tend to get worried enough about my bathing suit.

I went to lunch, still in my bathing suit, and downed the compulsory pasta and potatoes when Robin showed up at my table. “Okay, fine, I’ll go,” she says. “Really?” “Yup.” We decided that we’d be ready in an hour or so to head to the train station. I retrieved my laundry from the dryer which is as lazy as everything else Italian and packed them in my bag still damp. I closed the shutters, tossed my stolen cafeteria items into the dorm lounge in case they did room inspection, and locked the door.

Robin and I then checked the time table for the Ferry from Trapani (Sicily) to Tunis. In 1999, they left and returned on Mondays only. Which sucked, because it was Thursday, and we had to be back not on the next Monday, but the Monday ten days following. We were unsure about additional ferries, but decided to head to Sicily, and find out there.

While waiting for the bus to Rome, the first of which didn’t stop, someone mentioned that I’d locked my roommate out of the room. To begin with, he should have his key. In addition, I thought he was on his way to wherever. Regardless, no one with a master key could be located, and so I had to let him in. Sure enough, as I start walking back toward campus, the bus pulls up. “Meet you in Termini?” I ask Robin. “At the McDonald’s. Downstairs.” There are three McDonald’s in Termini, quite disgusting really. I let my roommate in, caught the next bus to Termini, and found Robin standing in line at McDonald’s. By this point, it’s at least 6 in the evening. Robin has a Eurail pass, which means she doesn’t need tickets, but still has to get reservations for trains with compulsory reservations. Turns out the train from Rome to Palermo, Sicily was one such train. No problem, we take a number, and talk to a ticket person. Problem. You have to make reservations 5 hours in advance in Italy. And the train leaves at 8pm, in less than two. So, not wanting to spend another night at campus, we think of other options. We tried renting a car, but they won’t rent to anyone under 21. Robin just turned 20, and I’m 19. So, for the hell of it, we decided just to head north. I bought an overnight train ticket for Milan.

It’s midnight in Paris, and the metro stops running at 0030, so I’ve got head back to the hostel. More to follow. Sorry for the rushed composition.

I’m headed to Luxembourg city tomorrow morning, I’ll send more later…


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