the grand popo

Thanks for the free tickets to the Vatican, Linda – if
that’s even your real name – Maloney. She must be an older lady because
everyone on the bus was over 60 and the only guy that looked around my age was
wearing pleated pants, so he doesn’t count.

The first stop we made was to a souvenir shop just
outside the Vatican where you could buy everything from multi-coloured rosary
beads to Vatican cigarette lighters (yes) and then into the square itself.

Linda must have sold a lot of icing sugar to get these
seats because i was right on the edge of the aisle that he was meant to come
down. I was sitting next to some Americans today as well – this time from noo
yawk – and they were cool apart from some crazy talk by the husband about how
the decline of the US was due to the ‘muzzies.’ I said I thought it was Jerry
Springer, but he was convinced.

Then he says: ‘Ya good kid – Australyaz a good country
cos they don’t take no crap from nobody.’ I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean that
we take crap from everybody but I had no time to clarify because the grand popo
had arrived in his Jeep.

His JEEP. It was white which makes it kind of holy and
increases the resale value, but it’s still a Jeep. Where are the chariots, and
who’s the new pope? This wasn’t the pope from the postcards – it was a new one,
and he had shifty eyes, which you could see were shifty in High Def cos there
were gigantic screens everywhere.

Impostor pope did his spiel for an hour and a half – even
the devout Catholics were nodding off – from the shade, on his royal la-z-boy,
while we sat there sizzling in our uncomfortable plastic chairs. Then someone
else went through the names of every single group, from every single country
that was in attendance, and it was exactly like a school carnival because we
had to wait for each of the groups to cheer after their name had been called
out.

The good thing about having a crappy morning is that the
rest of the day can only get better. And it did.

In the afternoon I wandered up to the Villa Borghese which
is a beautiful garden/park, just up from the Spanish steps (and fairly close to
the Vatican), and I really wish that I’d gone there first and just spent the
whole  time there. It was by far the best part of my trip to Rome – there was hardly
anyone there because there’s nothing to “do” in a park. Perfect.

After walking around for a while, I decided I’d try one
of the hire bikes. Dona worry, you’lla be fina said the guy who ran the racket
when I asked him if it was easy to use. Very simple – he said. Anyone could drive.
He’d taken my licence, so that wasn’t technically true. I can only describe
this contraption as a kind of formula one rickshaw – you had to pedal/run
fast and then it would hoon off after a delay of about ten seconds.

After I finally got the hang of it I decided to take it
off-road and find a place where there were no people at all, but I got stuck in
some  lover’s lane mangrove that had trees everywhere with really deep
roots, and I had to spend about 5 minutes going back and forth trying to get
out of there, which is an excruciatingly long amount of time when three couples
are looking at you like you’re a pervert with poor motor skills.

I’m back at the hostel now, and I’m going to be sad to go.
I just had break a twenty to pay the accommodation because the lady didn’t have
any petty cash so I’ve gone outside and in an act of desperation, bought the cheapest thing in
a souvenir shop that’s till open – a miniature calendar of the new pope with 12
creepy photos for every month of the year.

It’s going in a Christmas stocking.

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3 thoughts on “the grand popo

  1. I can’t wait to read your blog and I’ve been checking every day. Thank goodness one arrived today and I had my dose of laughing out loud. You are really hilarious. I cried when I read the bit about the bike and the to-ing and fro-ing!

  2. megs, great mental pic of lovers lane and the 10 sec delay on bike- just laughed out loud in class and all the kids turned and looked at me…

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