As I write this blog post, I am sitting in the airport in Rome, Italy, eavesdropping on a smorgasbord of rapidly speaking Italianos… and one annoying American couple. Ugh. But once I tune them out, it’s almost as if I’m surrounded by white noise. I don’t understand anything except for the intermittent “grazie,” “prego,” or “arrividerci.” I had scoured the entire airport looking for a cafe or Starbucks to lounge in as I waited out my layover, but there were none to be found here! Surprisingly, all this terminal has are those silly duty-free stores with nothing actually worth buying. This has not dampened my spirits however- although I’m only in the airport, I refuse to not experience Italy while here. After all, this is my first time in Europe (excluding a trip to Ireland when I was a wee child), and since, due to architectural flaws on the airport’s part, I cannot lounge in a cafe like a true Italian, I must partake in the next best thing– gelato!
Which, let’s be honest, I probably would have found a reason (read: excuse) to treat myself to anyway. So despite it being 10 o’clock in the morning, I just consumed an entire cone of gelato, meaning I have pretty much just eaten ice cream for breakfast. Sure, sure, it has a fancier name, but let’s be honest, they are pretty much the same. Sweet tooth now satiated, I needed something that I now always get a hankering for ever since going to China. Yep, you guessed it, TEA.
Now, the language side of me is already all jumbled up at this point. I’m reading signs in Italian and while trying to formulate my thoughts into Italian (which I have no knowledge of minus the Learn Italian app I downloaded onto my ipod a day ago–and didn’t really look at it that much, if we’re being honest), my words kept translating into Spanish, or even worse, Chinese! I figured sticking to English would be my best bet for successfully ordering the correct beverage, so even after reading “Te Calde” on the menu, I still ordered my hot tea in English. This was one of those express bar places, so after ordering my drink, the man gave me a receipt and directed me over to the drink bar to wait.
Other customers would come up, saying “deux cafe” (or whatever they said in Italian to order coffee) and the man behind the bar would nod, so I started to get worried that he thought I wanted coffee as well! He pointed at my little saucer (empty and waiting for a nice, hot tea) and mentioned something about cafe, so I blurted out (in an extremely stereotypical, potentially offensive Italian accent nonetheless)
“no, es te calde!!!”
First off, I don’t know why, without thinking, I formulated that thought (half in Spanish to make it worse), but I said it as though I was a pizza pie maker on a lovely bella noche eating the tortellini, ravioli, and spaghetti with a meatball, if you get my point. Maybe I fooled him and sounded like a native-born Italian, or perhaps he just didn’t care. Either way, he looked up , gave me a curt nod, and mumbled “si.” Issue diverted- he knew I wanted hot tea, not coffee. But that weird, wanting to speak in a crazy Italian accent (despite not knowing the language) side of me wanted to keep going, so when the other bar guy gave me a coffee and the guy next to me my tea, I again blurted something out along the lines of
“mumble, mumble, te calde!!”
Well, looks like I’ve retained at least one word in Italian. Regardless, my caveman grunting vocabulary worked, the drinks got switched and with a quite nice sounding (if I do say so myself) “grazie”, I took my tea and sashayed away. My “grazie” prompted an Italian response from the man, which I’m assuming was “you’re welcome,” but let’s be honest, he could have said anything.
So there I go. A successful Rome adventure. Or at least, the best Rome adventure you can get when you have 2 hours and are limited to the airport. On to Nairobi.