SB98. I was ten years old, and that spring break was the best of my life. I spent the week in Miami and Key West with my family and some family friends where we ate big, sloppy nacho plates and played card games by the pool. Not only that, but the Friday before we left my mom picked me up after school to go to any 5th grade girl's utopia... my very first *NSYNC concert. I wore baby blue (oh it's tots Justin Randall Timberlake's fave color, duh) and screamed the words, "Never thought that love could feel like THISSS. When you change my world with JUST ONE KISS!!"
JC totally smiled at me, too.
I've had great spring vacays since then, but that week-long heaven has been hard to top.
Well, I'd say my past 18 days fall at at least a close second.
So what now? I could blog away about the best friends visited on two different continents and the Dragoon damage and the Zeinubs, Muhammads and Esmas and the Vaticans and the strawberry juices and mint teas and the gelatto-enhanced views of Florence and the leather purchased at the Medina and the cross-Italy train rides and the Roman ruins picnics and the Sufi Saint Shrines and the Duomos and the Turkish baths and the statues of David and, of course, the freshly grilled lamb chops under neon-lighting.
But then this post will sound
a) like a list that no one will process
or b) as if I'm trying to.. show off?
or even c) like it was written by a fat kid since half of the aforementioned highlights are absolutely food-related.
So instead I present to you two stories: The Tale of Berlusconi and Jenna and Deel's Great Soccer Adventure.
The Tale of Berlusconi
A wise man once said that short people got no reason to live. Our new Italian friend would agree, at least in reference to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
"We don't like him. He short guy like Napoleon. And Mussolini." Ouch. Minus one for us.
We were in Rome on our way to a leather store (What? It's part of the cultural experience..) when a small crowd and some giant professional video cameras caught our attention. Considering the important looking men standing outside the important looking building, we knew some "poop" was about to hit the fan. Stopping to investigate, we asked some people in the crowd what was going on, and they actually had no idea. Like us, they saw news cameras and stopped in their tracks waiting for something good.
Well ignorance may be bliss but knowledge is power so we made our move. Our friend went straight to the biggest bodyguard for more information. (Seriously, this guy was enormous. You could see the six-pack abs through his suit jacket. And each knuckle was the size of my FACE, but it doesn't even matter because he could probably kill a man with those piercing blue eyes.)
So the Big Event was this: The Italian Prime Minister was going to exit his Roman residence and enter a black SUV.
Oh, yes. It is that exciting.
Since we had some great front row spots, we stuck around and watched the crowd grow in number and confusion. People started turning to us for information, so we just started relaying back what we knew in English, French, and fake Italian (faux-talian?) It was like a bad game of telephone when we eventually heard murmurs of the president's name ripple through the crowd.
Really the only people who wanted to stick around were us foreigners. I said, "Berlusconi," to an Italian woman and the way she walked away I might as well have said, "A fat, bald man dressed as a gladiator selling pictures for 10 euro."
After all that waiting, the man finally emerged. Somehow we got pushed completely out of the way (by the crowd that we were half responsible for!) and I lost my friends in the madness. I ran to the other side of the sidewalk for a better view. Even though I stood on my tippiest tippy toes, the most I could see was Berlusconi's hand waving in the air. My 5'7"+ friends high-fived, right over my head, for being able to catch a glimpse of him.
Ahh, defeated by height, once again. Whatever though, if I did see Berlusconi I'd probably have to pick him up just to say hello.
Jenna and Deel's Great Soccer Adventure
People can really change when they go abroad. Some gain a new perspective on life's hardships and others find in themselves a newfound independence and bravery. Well, the transformation I observed in Miss Dana was way more drastic. I knew things had changed forever when she insisted we go to a professional sporting event.
For the first time this girl has a brother, a very witty and smart little brother, and his Esperance dedication had rubbed off on her. So after asking multiple cab drivers, passersby and even a Tunisian suitor or two, we found our way to the ticket office where we were amazed to find two available tickets to this competitive match.
We knew we had to be at the game by 3:30, but of course about a million and one events and half as many meals were planned for that morning. We were doing surprisingly well on time, but when we came home for a quick pit stop before catching the train to the stadium her host brother answered the door in disbelief.
"You're not at the game!? I've been watching for almost an hour!" We looked at the TV and sure enough those shin-guarded studs were running through the field. After a quick debate on whether or not we should even attempt to go, we changed in a panic, grabbed extra dinars for an emergency cab ride and bolted out the door.
Once at the stadium we ran up a random spiral staircase into our section. We made it in time to catch the first goal, high-five some Tunisians and avoid getting hit by some strange flames being thrown onto the field in celebration. We were amazed that it was somehow only slightly before halftime. We were more amazed by how easily we managed to blend in even though we stood out like... two American girls at a North African soccer game. We cheered along all the way until the Esperance victory before catching a cab home for dinner with the lovely Debabbis.
During our 80% Arabic, 20% French speaking dinner with the family we relayed back our day beaming with Esperance pride. With a huger than huge smirk on his face, that clever little brother asked us how upset we were to have missed the whole game. After giving him some wait-a-minute looks, he burst out laughing saying, "I fooled you! I fooled you!" (In English, just to kick us while we were down with his trilingual powers.)
Turns out he's a better actor than we ever could have imagined and had merely been watching the warm-up when we came home. I guess we're not the overnight soccer experts I thought since the lack of spectators and only one team on the field didn't strike us as peculiar.
Hats off, little bro. Now pass me more Harissa.
Voilà! This post was way longer than anticipated and still doesn't even begin to capture my fabulous spring break. If you've stuck it through 'til here, I'm flattered but know it's only because finals are approaching in real-people world.
Check back soon for a revised version with plennnnty of pictures.