Thursday, March 15, 2012

Around the World: Pompeii

March 15, 1992

Preparing myself for the trip to Naples to see the preserved ruins of Pompeii.  I remember the story of Pompeii from my grade 2 Italian teacher who showed the class a movie about the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD.  Now, it may seem an odd thing to show a bunch of 8 year olds, but at the time, I was already fascinated with hurricanes and tornadoes.  I was captivated watching a recreation of Vesuvius being able to destroy in seconds that which took generations to create.

The train to Naples takes longer than I anticipated and a few delays add to the travel time.  It's almost 3pm when the train pulls into the station and I quickly figure out how to take the subway to Pompeii.  When I finally get there, a little after 4, the site is closed for the day.

I see what I can through the locked, iron bar gate.  I'm disappointed that I won't get any closer to the ruins than I am, but also a little glad.  I learn at the gate that not only is there a charge for admission, there is an additional charge to hire a guide and you kinda have to take the whole tour.  I don't think I could handle an entire day devoted to death.  My morbid curiosity is satisfied with the purchase of a few postcards.

Plaster injected into voids in the ash layer
recreates the forms of Vesuvius's victims.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons

Naples is filthy.  Dogs and birds have marked everything possible.  Street signs, sidewalks, benches, even the subway platform is not immune.  On the way to the station, I pass an elderly man walking through a park.  Pinch! With only him and me in the park, there is no mistaking who is the culprit.  Irritated with Italy and fed up with men handling my behind, I drop my bag of water and oranges and chase after the pervert.  He obviously knows what's in store for him and wisely runs faster than I can.  Content at delivering an assortment of obscenities and insults, I walk back to collect my bag, regretting that I hadn't thought to bring a few oranges with me.  Picturing myself chasing after an old man while pelting him with blood oranges makes me burst out laughing.  I get a few odd stares from the other people I pass on the path, but at least they keep their hands to themselves.

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"I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humour in it."
~Frank A. Clark