The strike is on for tomorrow, be warned. My ten day road trip began with an imminent transportation strike slated for the day of my departure from Rome to Paris. I was traveling with my friend Cody for the weekend, and as far as we knew, this demonstration was only effecting the bus lines beginning at 9:00 am. “No problem,” I thought. We hit the ground running early in the morning, caught the bus to Roma Termini and then jumped a train to Fiumicino airport. We’re right where we need to be, and three hours early in fact. “See, that was easy,” I reassure myself.
Reading my book, I glanced at my watch in quicker successions as our departure time approached. I’m ready to get this show on the road, but there is a commotion at our gate. Not wanting to miss out on watching the ancient art form of Italians publicly freaking out, I go in for a closer look. To all of our dismay the strike has gone into effect, and in fact involves all transportation workers across the region. The tarmac is desolate, the swarm of mini-trucks hauling luggage and garbage along the runways are dormant and empty. Nothing is moving, especially the planes.
Visions of the film “Casablanca” began to fill my head, with stranded people hoping to gain passage to the new world. There was nothing we could do except hang on the impressively vague hope the airline employee gave us, “It should only last a few hours, maybe one or two, maybe more. I’m not too sure.” Great, so anytime between today and Christmas is what you’re telling me? It would be six hours before I was flying toward Paris. The plane took me over a night sky that revealed a slit of burning orange streaking across the horizon, evoking the promise of the coming days, and what would be a most memorable trip.