When I woke up this morning, confused as usual, and glanced at the clock, I couldn’t help but be overcome by the following thought: What time is it in Cambodia? Sometimes you wake up dreaming of Phnom Penh or just consonant clusters in general. And that is indeed what happened this morning at 6:18am. Wake up. What time is it in Cambodia. Phhhhhhhnnnnnnnnnnn.
Actually, that didn’t happen. I did wake up at 6:18am. But what I really thought about was: A) Should I go back to sleep, and B) Is Christian Pulisic going to start today? Chelsea play Liverpool in the Premier League this morning at 8:30am PDT. To say I’m excited about this game would be a statement. Another statement would be, “Black tea makes me nauseous.”
But anyway. I’m not here to talk to you today about Christian Pulisic. I’m here to talk to you about the the last new country I added to my illustrious list, since this is, ostensibly, a travel blog.
I will give you a hint about what the last country I visited was. It’s completely landlocked by Italy. That should be hint enough. No, it’s not Monaco. Monaco enjoys some beautiful Mediterranean coastline. If you guessed “San Marino,” you win 16 shekels and a pat the on the scapula.
What happened was the following: I was in Rimini, a nearby coastal town, a bit late in the season (December). Let me tell you about Rimini: Rimini is a town where people from countries like Austria and Russia come to get away. Which means it’s essentially two towns: The part by the sea (awful), and the old town (quite charming). I stayed in a small hotel by the sea and would make the walk into the old town at least once a day, often twice. In the old town I would usually go to a bookstore called La Feltrinelli. This is a wonderful bookstore chain in Italy. I later went to one in Rome. At La Feltrinelli, I would sit in their comfortable chairs, reading one of the following books: Silence: In the Age of Noise, by Erling Kagge (Pantheon Books; $19.95), and The Order of Time, by Carlo Rovelli (Penguin; £8.99). While sitting in the chairs I would also gaze at the customers around me. A fat man from Slovakia with a face like a drunk hedgehog. A young Italian girl playing hooky. An older man with a wheezing problem and a penchant for blinking. A lot of people would just come sit in the chairs. They wouldn’t even read books! But oh, I was there for the literature. I was there for the enlightenment. Though to be completely just I did feel like dozing off from time to time.
I don’t know why I read these two books in particular. The one written by the Norwegian guy resonated with me because: A) I like being alone, and B) I like weird missions. This guy walked to the South Pole. He WALKED. Towing a sled behind himself like some kind of deranged Siberian Husky. And what did he do when he got to the South Pole? Why, he turned around, of course. Mission accomplished. He’d almost frozen to death, but mission accomplished.
As far as the one about time, I was interested in it because I spend a lot of (-) thinking about (-). Does (-) exist? Also, how is it always possible that things that seem like they’re going to take forever to happen always, in retrospect, seem like they happened in the blink of an eye? And what’s the difference between yesterday and 10 years ago? Ten years ago might as well be ancient Rome at this point. Or ancient Rimini. Or ancient San Marino. Which might be more appropriate, since San Marino’s government’s claim to fame is that it runs on the oldest written government documents, written some time in the 1600’s in Latin.
The day I went to San Marino I got the bus from the arch near La Feltrinelli. I took the bus up to the castle, walked around the castle, and then took a mountain path town. Whelming. But then, THEN!, I went into a cafe, where I was able to observe the beautiful San Marinense people. Oh, how I long to be San Marinense. To have one of their fat license plates. To have one of their passports, provided they have their own passports. To have their nationality. To speak Italian. To be married to a girl from San Marino.
But alas, all I did was sit in a cafe. And drink tea. And when the bus came, I got on it.