After an exhausting journey, first from San Diego to New York then New York to Germany, I finally arrived in Italy. Everyone I talked to that has studied abroad in the past told me it would only feel real once I landed… as the plane’s wheels hit the ground of the Fiumicino airport, it was real.
It was early in the morning in Rome and I was already blown away by the beauty of Italy from the plane-window. I grabbed my bag from baggage claim and walked out the door ready to start this new adventure.
Before I could even walk outside of the airport to find a taxi service a man named Eddy Jacellari approached me. He asked where I was off to and grabbed the duffel-bag from off my shoulder. I knew I was probably being swindled but he seemed like a nice guy and I didn’t have the energy to ward him off.
We entered his navy blue Volkswagen station wagon that had no TAXI sign or meter and hit the road. Moments into the drive out of the airport cars started honking at us as they were driving by. At first I thought this was a friendly Italian custom that I wasn’t aware of, but then I realized there was something wrong with the car. We pulled over on the side of the 2 lane airport exit to assess the situation. One of his back tires was completely flat! I was astonished something like this could happen after only being in a country for less than 30 minutes. I also had no clue what the procedure was when your taxi pops a tire but I just wanted to get to my new apartment… in one piece.
Eddy gets back into the car and tells me he is most definitely not going to change his tire himself and that there is an auto-shop “…only 7 kilometers down the road” (a little more that 4 miles). I’m no expert, but my gut was telling me that was a horrible idea. But this was his show and I just wanted to get to my apartment as soon as possible and lord knows I wasn’t going to try to change a tire for my first time on the side of Italian freeway.
The further we continued, the sketchier it got. The car reeked of burning rubber and I could see the wheel loosely shaking in and out from the car as pieces of rubber flew off periodically. Eddy would try to reassure me by saying things such as “…only 4 more kilometers to go,” but I was convinced we were going to cause an accident.
Just as the rim was about to spark on the street we safely pulled into the auto repair shop! As you can seen in the photo to the left, the tire was completely blown out. Lucky for me they had the spare tire put on in only 2 minutes and we were back on track to go to me new apartment!
I’m hoping this wasn’t an omen for how the rest of my trip will go. Although this wasn’t the smoothest transition into my new country, I got a funny story and my first friend in Italy out of this endeavor.