This is my last day in Rome. Tonight at midnight Lydia and I will leave Rome heading towards Aru via Addis Ababa, Kampala, and Arua. We will arrive sometime in the next few days, although it is still undecided if we will be taking the bus across Uganda or the significantly shorter plane ride. Although the estimated time of arrival is unknown, I am excited to start the journey and I will be happy to get there whenever I get there and begin settling into my drastically new and different life.
The last week has been a wonderful ending to Rome. Almost every night of the last week was some kind of feast. On Sunday my parents returned from their travels around central Italy and we feasted American style at the Hard Rock Cafe. I truly enjoyed my delicious American hamburger with onion rings and will miss that food. On Tuesday we held a fiesta with all the fixings kindly donated by some friends who work for the American Embassy to the Vatican. Our fiesta involved lots of quesadillas made with yellow cheese (a rare treat indeed), tacos with American lean beef (most of the cows here are rather on the fatty side), and corn chips and salsa. I am happy to report that the fiestas will continue in Congo with the seasoning packets I just received from the U.S. On Wednesday we were officially sent off with a beautiful mass. Mass was, of course, followed by an Italian pizza feast. On Thursday we celebrated a fantastic Thanksgiving (Part II) and introduced Matteo to the glory of family gluttony. All the traditional foods were presents, although chicken had to step in for difficult to find turkey. We also had to experiment with the green bean casserole since cream of mushroom soup is MIA in Italy. Overall, it was a memorable and lovely Thanksgiving. I am always excited to export Thanksgiving because I think it is such a wonderful holiday- family and food, who could ask for more? On Friday we feasted again on pizza. On Saturday I never wanted to eat again, but still managed to down a tasty panini for lunch and a plate of ravioli for dinner. Although all of our feasting included massive amounts of food, truly it was centered around being with each other. The community here was only improved with my parents being here to share the last week with us. I am so grateful for Sr. Angela, Diggy, Lydia, Trisha, Matteo, my parents, and all the sisters who created an atmosphere of joy and love. Because of these people I leave for Congo full of peace and ready to serve.
The last 2 1/2 months is Rome have been a helpful transition for me. Rome gave me time to reflect and look into myself as I prepare for this service experience. It also allowed me to learn to live in community and in a different culture while still enjoying many of the luxuries of modern life. Rome has been a wonderful formation experience, but I am fully ready to go to Congo and excited that the time is finally at hand. Whenever I leave a place I have been living for a few months I like to reflect on some of the things that I will and will not miss. So first, the things about Rome I will miss:
1. The wonderful community here with Diggy, Matteo, Trish, Sr. Angela, and whatever volunteers and visitors are coming or going
2. Gelato, cannoli, tartufo (chocolate ice cream wrapped in chocolate), and all manner of tasty Italian desserts
3. Italian cooking lessons with the convent cook, Rosa
4. A view of St. Peter's whenever I step outside
5. Stumbling upon ancient ruins on a daily basis
And the things I will not miss:
1. Trash. Rome is the dirtiest city I have lived in
2. Being cold all the time. This house doubles as a meat locker
3. The 982 bus. It's the only one that goes to our street and it's late when you are in a hurry and early when you are late
4. Soaking the floor whenever I shower in the curtain less shower
5. Being confused at the grocery store. This will probably not improve in Congo. Or maybe it will because there aren't any grocery stores at which to get confused.
I don't know when my next post will be, since I d0n't know when I am arriving in Congo. There is a Cyber Cafe in Aru run by VOICA volunteers so I will have access to Internet and will keep you all posted on life in Aru!
I wish you all a belated Happy Thanksgiving!!