(The second of two guest blog posts from Rachel’s friend Anne.)
Buon giorno! This blog post is coming to you direttamente from Rome, where my husband is attending a conference, and where I am seeing the sights. Sights seen so far: the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Largo di Torre Argentina (a square filled with various Roman ruins and various Roman cats), the Colosseum, the Forum, and Palatine Hill (one of the famous seven hills of Rome).
Whenever I visit someplace I’ve never been before, I’m always struck by how many things I thought were outdated stereotypes turn out to be true.
The Parisians really do carry baguettes down the street. There really are red telephone boxes on the streets of London.
In Zambia and Botswana, I really did see African people carrying objects on their heads.
In the Netherlands, I spotted a pair of wooden shoes on the doorstep of the rural family I was staying with. When I asked the father what they were for (I was assuming they were planters for flowers or something), he replied, “Um, those are my shoes.”
And yesterday, as I rode a public bus on my way to the Vatican, I really did hear a young Roman man exclaim, “Mamma mia!”
It’s all kind of comforting.
Now, I’m not trying to be a condescending Yankee who thinks that other cultures are adorably quaint, or that people in other countries run around acting like cartoons of themselves all the time. When I visit France, I don’t expect to see Pepe le Pew sauntering down the street (“Le skunk! Le stink!”).
I mean only that in an age when American culture seems to have spread over the globe, it makes me happy that there’s still a purpose to travel, that other places really are different. It reminds me that there is more in this world that I can imagine. That—as difficult as it is to remember sometimes—the world does not begin and end with my tiny little mind.