In the morning I went into town with Saša and he took a few pictures of me running with his fancy camera before I actually started running. Once again, the way was straightforward and easy...just like a regular run in the park (except I wasn't in the park, of course). I had left Parma fairly late, so I ran while it was hot and got into Reggio in the early afternoon. Thirsty and covered in salt grime and sweat, I asked someone on the street where the nearest grocery store was, and a few hundred meters later I was in an air conditioned "Esselunga" with about 3 liters of Gatorade and water and a cold cup of mixed fruit. From there, I went into the center of town and walked around to a few of the old churches. In one, S. Prospero, I was amazed by how beautiful the stone of the columns was...until I walked a little closer and saw that they were just painted to look like marble. There seems to be a real love of ornament here (even if tacky and artificial) in both architecture and fashion. I have to be honest though, it generally looks good from far away.
I spent a while hanging around in the park, doing some very rare core/drills barefoot just to keep myself occupied and to let my feet see the light of day. I spent some time watching some "drama kids" practice some crazy impromptu/mime/ballet, realizing for the first time that those awkward drama games are an international phenomenon.
At some point, I went into a grocery store and was excited to see some cold Nesquick on the shelf. I bought it just out of principle, because it isn't really something you find here. At the register, I spoke with the checker for a good 20 minutes about what it was that I was buying and why I was in town. When I finally cracked open the first little "Nesquick To Go" pouch and took a sip, I found my mouth filled with some chocolaty mess with a consistency somewhere between mousse and yogurt. What a terrible trick...thanks Italian fake chocolate milk marketing team.
Around 8 pm, I walked by a bar that was pretty packed with people about my age, and while I hadn't eaten dinner yet, I figured I should probably take the chance to meet some new people. After asking someone near the door, I found that the place had a deal where if you bought a drink, you could eat the buffet/tapas type food for free. A good way of killing two birds with one stone.
Somewhere down the line I found myself talking to two girls who were both named Julia, one of which was fortunately an architecture student, so I had something to talk about. They ended up leaving fairly soon afterwards, but after eating a couple plates of pasta, I sat myself down at a table with a group of their friends who had stuck around.
I spent the rest of the night explaining what it was that I was doing, answering questions and asking some of my own. One of the questions that I hear a lot here is "aren't you afraid?"...to which I answer "eh." I don't really know what it is, but whenever something is a little bit crazy on this trip, I just think about the reason that I am in that situation and am immediately relieved. This whole thing is my own creation, and it is because of me that I am here. If I ever feel scared, I just kind of smile and take the jump. I would rather take risks and live my life in a way that’s worth protecting than to spend all my time safeguarding something that I can't enjoy.
After we finished our drinks, we headed off to get some gelato and stroll around the city. I was with a great group of people, and after several changes of plan, I ended up with a place to stay.
At Angela's house, I took a shower and was too tired to wash my clothes (meaning that the next day I would have to wash everything). I went through my normal sleeping routine, except for when I got to the plugging in my phone part, the charger exploded in my hand and the power in the house went out. Luckily, Angela was familiar with where the fuse box was, and the power was back on in no time. For a couple weeks my charger had been making a funny sound sometimes when I would plug it in. I bought it in Amsterdam, so it was proper for the EU...I guess it just got tired of working.
I went to sleep around 1:30, tired enough to sleep despite the heat and the mosquitoes buzzing around my ears.
31 July 2009