Last night, I realized it was only two months since I left Santo Domingo. It seems like ages ago. Time to check what happened in the world, where I am, and where I should be going in the next month. Under the generic gest of "I'm BAAAACK"!
Lemme see. What happened with me?
Coming back from the Haiti emergency early June, I had one week at work in Rome, followed by the first week of my sabbatical during which I picked up work on my blogs.
Then I flew home for two weeks. Kids ended school, and we transitioned into the holiday. I reinstalled Windows XP on Lana's laptop three times. It is a challenge to re-install a laptop which randomly shuts down because of the heat. It was sizzling hot in Belgium. And curses were uttered.
Then we drove to Rome. The car broke down just after the Brenner pass, and miraculously rose from its ashes the next day, as if nothing had happened... Only to break down again in a major rainstorm just past Florence, where I had to push the car uphill to an emergency lane, avoiding people crashing into us from the back. Reminded me crossing a street in Basrah while people were shooting around us.
The garage's verdict: fuel lead contained metallic splinters, which broke the low pressure pump, which damaged the high pressure pump, which blocked the injectors. We picked up a replacement rental car to finish the last 200 km to Rome. Eight days and 2,000 euros later, the car was repaired. So they said.
Was sizzling hot in Rome. I reinstalled Lana's laptop once. The breeze at the beach was really soothing, the food was great. Tine, the kids and "H" loved it all.
Then we moved to an agriturismo in Le Marche, on Italy's east coast. Superb setting. Sizzling hot. Reinstalled Lana's laptop once. The food, the people and the wine was great. The vistas even more greater. Highly recommended.
Whoosh, then back to Rome for a week. Relaxing at the beach, strolling in town. It was less hot, and I did not touch Lana's computer. Bought an iPad, though, in an impulsive reaction to a dream I had. About buying an iPad.
I also had a dream about buying a Landrover 90. But will keep that idea ashore for a while.
Drove back to Belgium last Thursday morning. Left Rome at 8 am. Got into a horrible storm as we entered Tuscany, and an endless traffic jam around Florence. The car broke down at 3 pm, and we got to a hotel by 9 pm. Which was run by an Indian crew, so we had the best Chicken Tikka Massala in years.
Car was deemed as needing another week of repair - same problem, contaminated fuel line. So decided to have the travel insurance get the car to Belgium, while we got a replacement car. Meanwhile it was the start of the 'Black Weekend' - the horrible event where the end of July and beginning of August falls on a weekend. Half of Europe travelled South on holiday. And the other half drives back North ending their holiday. They collectively decided to use the same road as we did, resulting in many many many many many hours of traffic jams. We only arrived home in Belgium on Friday.
Time to repair Lana's computer for the last time, fill in all the claim forms for the travel insurance (1,100 euros without the repair costs), put two Tshirts in a bag and fly back to Rome.
Spent one night here, travelled in Italy for several excellent meetings in different places, and arrived back in Rome last night.
I will be here until end August.
And no, it is not sizzling hot anymore. And I can see Lana on Skype which means her computer is still working...
PS: I loooove Italy.
PPS: And yes, my car is still somewhere in North Italy waiting to be picked up by the towing service.