Sunday, May 27, 2012

In one piece

Greetings and salutations!

I have arrived in Italy in one piece, and I do mean that literally—that is, a piece that was supposed to travel with me is still sitting in Toronto, or even Montreal. Of course, I am referring to my luggage. Ah, yes. I’d heard many horror stories (well, horror is a bit of an exaggeration, unless people are carrying live companions, human or otherwise, in their luggage, which I’m fairly certain is illegal) over the years about misplaced or, gasp, lost luggage. This happened to my sister a few years ago, and she recovered it after many a telephone call to the airline in question (it was an American airline, but I fail to recall the name, so I don’t want to point any fingers unjustly. Plus, this type of unfortunate event can happen to any airline, I am sure, so it would be unfair to say “don’t ever fly with these people! They lose stuff!”).

I flew with Air Canada for the first time—the first time because my usual transatlantic flights are booked with Air Transat, the cheaper alternative. Transat, however, provides direct flights to Rome only until the late fall, and Air Canada flies year round. So, by necessity, because my return date is in December, I had to book a flight with Air Canada, and my experience with them was stupendous. I mean, a flight’s a flight, leg room is leg room when you’re 5’2’’, and free water or tea is usually a given. But—yep, you guessed correctly: I will be basing my naming Air Canada “stupendous” based purely on food. Allow me to explain: I ordered a vegan meal for my flight, and I’d truly expected that, like Air Transat does, they infallibly provide an Indian meal (which is rad; I’m definitely not complaining) for dinner with a bread roll (which I devour, because I may have a weakness for airplane bread rolls) that is served with margarine that is most likely not vegan, so I don’t use it. Then, for breakfast, they have no vegan options, so I end up eating whatever I packed from home. What really floored me with Air Canada was not only their providing an Indian meal (surprise!) of lentils and basmati rice, with a side of decent canned vegetables, and a bread roll that was tasty but slightly inferior in quality to Air Transat’s (it wasn’t as smooshy, and smooshiness is an important quality for me when it comes to bread. My boyfriend witnessed this firsthand and was either awestruck or horrified a few weeks ago when, in an Italian restaurant amongst friends, family, and strangers, I grabbed a fresh bread roll [fresh enough to burn fingers. Mmm…], ripped it open, and devoured the steaming, fluffy insides before anything else); what wowed me was that my meal was served with… wait for it… a Sweets from the Earth chocolate chip cookie. Whoooooaaaaaaa. I all but squealed when its familiar packaging stared up at me, and had anyone been watching the emotions that my eyes betrayed, they might have stepped back, bewildered by the excitement flashing across my face when no apparent, logical trigger could be found in the immediate vicinity.

Cookies, man! Vegan cookies are all it takes to make a vegan lose her shit (forgive the expression). Take note, Other Airlines—either to avoid making headlines with stories of vegans seemingly inexplicably passing out from sheer cookie-related delight on your airlines, or in order to induce such spontaneous behaviour and garner repeat herbivorous clientele. Whatever. I didn’t eat the cookie on the spot because my meal was abundant, but I did consume the deliciously sweet baked good on the train ride from Tiburtina, in Rome, to Terni, my penultimate destination, sweeping the last crumb from my lap right before a train operator checked my ticket and told me that I was sitting in first class when I should have been in second. Woops. My bad. (Hahaha.)

Okay, Air Canada. You get 389 points for the vegan cookie, but it’ll take a lot more than baked goods to make me love you fully and prevent a brutal decline in your point count. See, my baggage didn’t arrive with me yesterday, like I said, and it was only by fluke that I squeezed a few extra items of clothing into my carry-on luggage. No, I wasn’t trying to prepare for such emergencies as that of an airline misplacing my luggage (that would have been too smart, and I would have selected my items more wisely); my luggage was a few pounds overweight, so I stuffed heavy items into my backpack and purse. Even with that, I had to surrender one of my favourite sweaters to my mum and aunt at the airport. Sniff. How ridiculous to have such an attachment to an article of clothing! Anyway, I asked three members of the flight crew whether, when I landed in Toronto, I had to pick up my luggage and check it in again, and, even after confirming three times that that would not be necessary, I ended up waiting in vain for a giant piece of luggage that never did peek its overwhelmed head through the door-flap of the baggage carousel. One other dude from my flight was affected, though his situation was a little bit more tricky, as he would be floating from hostel to hostel, and it would be difficult to get his luggage to him.

As for me, I’m staying in one place, and it seems like my luggage is, too: I called Air Canada this morning and my luggage did not make an appearance on the flight from Toronto that arrived before noon. Where are you, loyal friend? You contain toothpaste and facial moisturizer and precious Serbian peppers and sweatpants and a tea steeper, only the first item of which I was able to replace last night, along with a toothbrush. 

I must admit, though, how curious it is that “things happen for a reason”: I was dreading having to lug that bad dude up and down stairs at the train stations here, which have no escalators but sometimes elevators that you inevitably behold only once you’ve perspired a marathon’s worth of sweat in under a minute of stair ascension. So, on the plus side, once my suitcase has been located, it’ll be delivered to the hotel where I am staying, without requiring any awkwardness on my part (5’2’’ girl carrying luggage into which she could actually fit [I know from experience]) or the public’s (witnessing a 5’2’’ girl carrying luggage into which she could actually fit is probably comical or maybe just pitiful… which would explain why I’ve always been offered help, and I bow respectfully and gratefully to the Universe for putting these individuals in my path).

But, then there’s the awkwardness of wearing the same shirt for a few days. Sigh.

But then there’s the fact that I’m, you know, in Italy, in the countryside, surrounded by greenery and chirping birds and fresh air and delicious coffee and I’ve reunited with a group of friends who definitely rank amongst the coolest, most generous, and brilliant individuals I’ve ever met. We shared tonnes of laughs yesterday, so many that my stomach literally ached, and despite how tired I was, it was a fantastic day, and I know that countless others exactly like it lie ahead. So, it could be worse.

My new digs, which I will share with two artists two days from now

My literature, to which I've already added a book that I had ordered from an online Italian bookstore before I arrived

The shiny bathroom with my fancy vegan supplements—fancy because the supplements help me stay healthy. If that's not fancy, I don't know what is!

One of the many breathtaking views from the monastery where I'm living. Better and more numerous photos will appear at some point.

My room in the morning, bathed in sunlight

Now, let’s just hope that Air Canada values their point ranking, still at 389 for a single cookie, and delivers my luggage that I know is out there… somewhere… (Cue the music for “Somewhere Out There” by Our Lady Peace!)

Much love,

Vegan in Suburbia


Acquafortis said...

What you wish will somehow come true. So you are in Italy ready for a big adventure. Hope you enjoy it here. By the way you make me smile every time you post cause you go from not writing anything to write a whole novella. I imagine you holding your breathing writing furiously least you forget all you have to stay.

Josiane said...

Hooray for the vegan cookie, for arriving in Italy in one piece, for being reunited with amazing friends, and for laughter! May your luggage quickly get to you in one piece too!

Kris said...

Hahaha. Thanks, Acqua. I see what you mean. In a sense, that IS what I do. :)

Your wishes came true, Josiane! Thank you for your kindness and positivity. I'm sending all the best wishes right back at you! <3