Bharat and I were lucky to arrive at the train station only 15 minutes before the next fast train to Rome. We bought our tickets and ran to the platform. We had good seats.
Both of us recharged our phones on the train’s electrical outlets and fell asleep. We had a long night and a longer day ahead of us. It was finally day time and it was possible to see the Italian landscape. Green rolling hills surrounded us on either side of the tracks. I was too tired to bother, though. I had missed so much already that it didn’t really matter if I missed more. My priority was to get home and in order to get home I needed to preserve my energy. I needed to sleep.
The train trip to Rome is about three hours long. Before I slept, I could swear I heard an Egyptian man speaking somewhere in the same train car we were in. I stood up and looked around for anyone who looked Egyptian. I found one and asked him if he was. I was right.
We got to talking. This man, whose name I forgot to get, had lived in Italy for 35 years. He was taking a young Qatari couple who were stranded in Europe to Rome to catch their plane back home. They were friends of his. The Egyptian man told me his story. He worked long ago in the Egyptian intelligence service, mukhabarat. I’m assuming this was during the days of President Gamal Abdel Nasser. The man told me how Abdel Nasser was the only president that gave Egyptians something to be proud of. He also told me he was happy the day he heard Sadat was killed. Sadat deserved it, he told me. He had betrayed his people by signing the Camp David Agreement.
This man was on his fourth marriage. His first three marriages were to Egyptian women. His mother arranged those marriages for him. “I have the perfect girl for you this time,” his mother would tell him. But each time he’d bring a new wife to Italy, they’d dye their hair blonde and open their blouses to show cleavage, he explained. “Why would I marry an Egyptian to do that if I had the original stuff right here in Italy?” he said. But the Egyptian wives could not understand his need for their Egyptianness. He divorced them one after the other and married the Italian woman he has now been with for the past 20 years.
Egyptian man currently had an import-export business. This got us to talking about travel to Egypt by means of sea ferry across the Mediterranean. According to him, there is no way any longer to travel by sea from southern Europe to Egypt. These ferries ended years ago when people became more able to travel to Europe by plane, he explained. Traveling from the south of Italy to Egypt would not have been an option for me, he stated matter-of-factly.
Arriving in Rome
After my short talk with Egyptian man I went to sleep. I woke up to the sound of the train breaking at Rome’s train station. Our plane to Amman was at 3pm. It was now 11am. Bharat decided we had time to take a taxi ride to the airport rather than take the more direct airport train. It would be an opportunity to see a little bit of the city rather than spend time in yet another train, he said. I agreed. We stood in line for a taxi and got a ride for 40 Euros.
Driving through Rome was the most exciting part of the journey. It was bright and sunny outside and we were driving right past some of the major monuments of Rome. We asked the taxi driver who knew little English to tell us what we were seeing. We saw ancient Roman temples, churches, and magnificent fountains. But to me what was most exciting was suddenly seeing the Colosseum standing proudly at the end of one road. We were right in the middle of a bustling city and straight ahead of us was one of the world’s most important historic structures. Bharat and I busied ourselves taking pictures from our mobile phones as the taxi moved on.
We arrived at Rome Airport at 12pm, three hours before our scheduled flight. I stood in the long line in front of the Royal Jordanian Airlines check-in desk while Bharat went for a quick change of clothes. I decided not to check-in my suitcase. It was small and it would be safer to keep it with me rather than lose it on the way. I had a very short transit time in Amman and I felt the chances for my suitcase to be transferred to my plane were slim.
Bharat returned just before I reached the front of the line. We checked in. He asked for a window seat and I asked for my preferred aisle seat.
I needed food. We headed upstairs and had a quick meal of pasta and bread. We were both completely drained. We went through the security check and passport control in a zombie-like state.
Bharat had access to the British Airways VIP lounge and asked to take a guest. They said yes. So as Bharat worked on his computer, I went to the BA VIP lounge bathroom
and washed up and changed my clothes as well. Although I changed into clothes I had already worn several times in London, they were cleaner than the ones I had worn from Paris to Rome. It was nice to be if even a bit cleaner.
We then headed to the boarding gate. I dropped to the floor – most of the chairs were taken up – and fell asleep. Bharat stood by so he could wake me up when the boarding started. We boarded the plane and both fell asleep almost immediately. I have almost no recollection of that three hour flight.