Last week, my mom and grandma visited me. We spent our weekdays in Rome and our weekend in Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. I never get this way when I’m gone for a semester at Hope, but wow… There is something emotional about getting to see (and also say goodbye to) your family when you know you’re thousands of miles away. Yes, I may or may not have shed a tear or two when they left on Monday morning.
Regardless of teary-eyed reunions and too-soon goodbyes, we had an amazing time. It took me three weeks to feel completely used to and (mostly) comfortable in Rome when I first arrived. Obviously, I’m entering week 10 now, so it has been a good seven weeks of comfortability.
What I mean is… Sometimes I forget just how incredible Rome is. Getting to watch my mom and grandma with stars in their eyes as they walked those cobblestone streets was reinvigorating. It was a breath of fresh air! New light shone upon what was beginning to feel like an old place.
But that “ooo-aaah” feeling was ripped away from us when my mom was pickpocketed on Thursday. First, let’s rewind.
The plan was for me to meet up with them after class and take them to my apartment and show them my neighborhood. While they were waiting for me, they met a man who was selling tickets to the Vatican outside my school. He was extremely extroverted and kindly answered their “silly American questions” to pass the time.
Who would have it that by the time we reached my tram stop, he was also there. I got to meet him and we enjoyed chatting about all of the cultural differences between here and home. He was such an extrovert! The tram doesn’t come for twenty minutes––which is pretty unusual for what I deem the most reliable Rome transportation source.
When we finally got on, there were tons of people piling in, squashed like sardines. Our new friend (Hani, was his name) starts yelling at us and corralling us. What’s going on?! We all thought. He points and suddenly everyone on the bus is yelling, trying to get the tram driver to stop. My mom looks down, and her purse is wide open, her wallet gone.
The tram finally stops and Hani goes sprinting out the door, after the culprits. We followed as closely as we can, but it soon became clear that they were long gone. A feeling of devastation falls over us like a wicked veil.
Hani quickly gets us to a police station and translates with the policeman for us. We file a police report and are told there is nothing left for us to do. We leave with a bittersweet feeling. After all, had my mom and grandma not run into Hani outside of my school, we wouldn’t have had such a kind soul to help us. Even more, we’re not sure we would’ve ever realized my mom’s wallet was taken for an hour or more. It all had happened so seamlessly and quickly, there was nothing to do.
But that wasn’t our only run-in with serendipity that weekend.
The next morning we picked up our spirits to go to Sorrento. Upon arrival it was pretty clear that this town was not like Rome… In Rome, you can roam around (no pun intended) and happen upon museums, monuments, churches, and tours for you to decide upon in the moment. Sorrento… Not so much.
We spent Friday swimming in the hotel pool and relaxing, which was definitely needed. However, we were lucky enough to be there on the last night of a very large business conference. This means, there were travel agents on site to help the business people occupy their families during meetings.
That’s when we met Kellie. Kellie was a UK native who used to be a wedding planner before she completely fell in love with Sorrento. All I had to do was tell her we wanted to see the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, and eat at some good restaurants before we left. In minutes, she texted me with a full itinerary including guides, drivers, and affordable prices. A weekend vacation planned in ten minutes!
We had an incredible weekend that was absolutely needed after the fear and chaos that Rome gave us on Thursday. Had we not met Kristin, we would’ve been aimlessly wandering around Sorrento without a clue of what to do. We certainly wouldn’t have seen the Amalfi Coast (which is a must-do if you’re in the area), and getting to Pompeii would’ve been quite the hassle.
God works in mysterious ways, as many Hope students and profs might say. Even in your craziest (abroad) hour of need, serendipity, destiny, God, whatever you may call it, will find you.