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Gap Year Abroad

2 posts from November 2015

11/14/2015

Attack

What does one think when their is no time to think, only time to find safety. What can one do when they know that around them there are people who are suffering, bleeding, dying or already dead. What can one say about 127 deaths when 127 is no longer just a number, but the lives of innocent people.

 

I don’t want to write about the facts. I don’t want to tell you what all of the world officials said this morning. I won’t explain the details of the attacks that hit this city. I want to share my side of the night.

 

Time 22:30//Duration 1:20:00

I was sitting by the Eiffel Tower enjoying those shimmering lights that make my heart sing and talking about world peace with my French friend. We discussed how maybe if more people had inner peace, the world would be at ease. The night was fresh and free.

 

Time 23:02//Duration 1:28

“Where are you? Are you safe? There has been a terrorist attack. Two people are dead.”

My friend Caroline spoke in a low and urgent tone. I didn’t think she was joking, but I didn’t process her words. All I could do was repeat “What?” and try to form noises into words. I looked over to the friend I was with, unsure how to relay the message.

 

Time 23:04//Duration 0:43

I made my first call of the night repeating the words I had heard only minutes before...only with each call I made, the description of the attack changed: “Two are dead” “At least ten are dead” “Twenty-five dead and there are hostages”

 

Time 23:10//Duration 1:39

My host mom called. Her voice was rapid and out of breath. Her sentences were broken as she asked if I was safe. How does a mother, even a host mother, make a phone call to see if her children are alive? What about all of the mothers who made the same phone call but will never get a response. 

 

Time 23:20//Duration 3:00

My friend found wifi for his phone and after four shaky attempts, I logged into facebook. I went straight to my sister’s page. “Mad i need you to call mom and dad right now and tell them that i am safe. Please call them right now.”  I held my breath and prayed she would see it. I started to walk to find safety. I lost wifi and my only connection back home.

 

Time 23:22//Duration 8:00

We briskly walked towards the nearest apartment available to us. It was just next to the Eiffel Tower and, not wanting to risk being in the most touristy place in Paris, we had to go out of our way to avoid being caught in anything. Police and military flew by in wailing cars.

 

Time 23:33//Duration 11:59:00

I found myself in the apartment of a friend of a friend. The next few hours were spent moving from one side of the room to the other. Every 25 minutes the numbers got bigger and the calls more urgent.

“Did you understand what we said?”

The soft murmur of French had become background to me. I hadn’t understood anything that night, in fact. Too much was happening to make sense of it all.

 

The Eiffel Tower shut down. I once described it as a Parisian lady dancing alone in a spotlight for all the world to revere. Last night, there was no dance. There was nothing for the world to revere. Last night, the world only observed, riveted by the fight taking place in our city.

 

Time 11:26//Current update

I got home. I closed my front door behind me and I let out to first real deep breath I had been able to take in 12 hours. I called my host mom and then I called my real mom. I told my friends I was inside. I sat down and stared at a wall, unable to move. I made myself eat some food. Then, I began to write.

 

This post has taken me all day to finish. It isn’t my best post or the worst post, but it is the first post that hasn’t come easily and I wasn’t excited about. Usually when I write, the words flow out of my fingers like a bustling stream. This time, the stream was blocked by the debris of last night. I can’t write about the facts because I didn’t live them. I was safe. My friends were safe. However, not everyone was as lucky as us. How do you respond when someone says to you: “I just found out I lost my friend”. What can you say to someone when the story on the television becomes an all-too-real reality? You tell them that we will get through this. You mourn the past, but begin to narrow your focus towards the future. Paris is strong and Paris will rise up.

 

To the 127 lives lost, may you rest in peace.

To the injured, may your wounds heal.

To those who risked their lives in the time of need, may you wear a badge of honor.

To those who reached out to me, your love and support means more than you know.

To Parisians, may you unite despite your differences.

To the world, may we come together in support and make a change.



11/11/2015

Popping over to Naples

Q: How could anyone feel the need to take a weekend getaway when they live in Paris?

A: The getaway is in Italy.

Yesterday morning I woke up in Naples, Italy and fell asleep in Paris, France. From Thursday night to Monday morning I slept an average of four hours per night because I stayed up bonding with people in my hostel. I ate an entire pizza by myself everyday and had gelato at least once a day if not twice. The man running the hostel made us all dinner and referred to my friend and me as the Spice Girls. I trekked up an active volcano (and survived) and inspected the bodies of those caught in the eruption that devastated Pompeii in 79 AD.

The trip began with a long night of my travel partner/friend Catie and me curling up on the cold floor of the Paris Orly airport Thursday night with the hope of getting an hour or two of sleep. We arrived in Naples the next morning with sleepy eyes and rumbling tummies. All of our ailments were quickly forgotten as we devoted all of our attention to staying alive in our first cab ride of Italy. The driver, a fifty-some man who fulfilled every stereotype of an Italian, would either stop in the middle of the road to talk to a friend, slow down so a friend could walk alongside the car or lean out of the window to call to a friend. When he wasn’t catching up with old pals, he was zooming down the winding and busy roads in the center of Napoli. This first cab experience seemed to sum up the relationships you find in Naples. Everyone knows everyone else and their grandmother. Even though we only stayed for a few days, the people in Naples treated us like a friend that you would drive slowly to talk to. 

Over the next few days Catie and I found ourselves eating the best pizza in the world (literally...you can’t beat the birthplace of pizza) and visiting some of the most incredible places. For the sake of not writing too much and the fact that words cannot describe how beautiful everything was (despite popular belief, Naples is not just a gross and dirty place), I will just add some photos for all y'all to take a look at. 

**Sorry some of the photos are sideways...Something is wrong with the formatting and I can't figure out how to fix it!

12227886_918228144934126_1828730417_o(Our hostel “dad”, Giovanni)

IMG_0572(The view from atop Mount Vesuvius)

IMG_0563(Preserved body in Pompeii)

IMG_0514(National national archaeological museum)  

IMG_0505(Because I’m missing my pup)

IMG_0503(Catie won the staring contest, of course)

IMG_0483(Small street art <3)

IMG_0477(More street art)

IMG_0467(This isn’t any specific road, but almost every road looked like this: small, colorful, adorned with hanging laundry)

 

This is in a teeny-tiny chapel called Cappella Sansevero. It may be small, but it holds a few of the world's most incredible marble statues. We weren’t allowed to take photos, so enjoy these google images. (Read more about it in this blogger’s post: http://vivreaveclart.blogspot.fr/2012/12/nora-bunuels-travel-guides-vol-3.html)

  Cristo_velato(Veiled Christ by Guiseppe Sanmartino)

2011_247

(The Ceiling of the chapel)

Deceptio
(Release from Deception by Francesco Queirolo)

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