Party on the Big Bambu

The streets of Rome took their toll on Shade. Yesterday he was running a fever, we think an effect of exhaustion. Even though he’s sitting most the time, the constant jarring bumper-car ride he experiences throughout the day leaves him sore and bruised. So Shade and Aitza stayed in the apartment for the day while Mayan, the Big Kids and I went out exploring.

I’ve been very proud of Shade. He’s been extremely patient. He hasn’t complained once. He eats anything and everything you put in front of him.

His Italian is, however, is pretty shoddy. He learned, “Mi chiamo Shade.” Which means “I’m Shade.” But now he uses “Mi chiamo …” in front of every English phrase as if it means “I want to.” “Mi chiamo stand up.” “Mi chiamo eat some spaghetti.” “Mi chiamo to the bathroom.”

He’s also very observant of Roman history and culture. For example, he noticed that the Romans perfected plumbing with the aqueducts because their toilets are uncloggable.

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Mayan picks his tomb

Saint Mayan

Saint Mayan

Shade was very happy staying in with Mami and playing on his iPad, while the rest of us went to the catacombs of St. Domitilla. 11 miles of underground tombs. We only got to see 2 floors below ground and perhaps 500 square feet of it. Unlike the catacombs of Paris, these had no piles of bones or altars made of skulls. It was basically passageways with small holes dug into the walls. The ones that were sealed up had bodies in them. The open ones were the victims of relic sellers, which was a hot business back in the heydays of Renaissance Christianity. “Get your thigh bone of St. Peter right here at Relic Warehouse! Buy two and get a third one for free.”

Some dude

Some dude

After emerging from the cold damp underground air into the bright Roman sun, we celebrated life by opening a bottle of red wine and drinking it on the bus back. Well, Brett and I drank it. The others had too much couth for that. I guess it’s bad form to drink wine from the bottle on a bus. We kept getting stares and whispers from the locals. That wasn’t enough to stop us though.

A bride and groom sweating in the sun

A bride and groom sweating in the sun

Another wedding

Roman wedding

We hopped off the bus, and climbed a steep hill to a row of beautiful churches that overlooked the city. Nearly every church had a wedding in progress. Cars with bows tide to the hoods lined the streets. Families dressed in Sunday’s best walked around the church gardens. Photographers snapped pics of strolling bride and groom or wedding parties on the church steps.

Our soccer field

Our soccer field

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Soccer with the locals

Soccer with the locals

 

Mayan had carried his soccer ball with him, hunting for a good spot to kick around. He found it in the courtyard of Basilica of St. Bonifacio E Alessio. The wall of the church was 80 feet high with no windows to smash, so it became our goal. We shot balls on each other for over an hour. A couple local kids, who managed to escape a wedding, came over and played with us. It’s easy to meet people with a soccer ball to introduce you.

When we returned to the apartment, Shade was feeling better, so Aitza and I decided to leave the kids behind and go to her new favorite restaurant with the gluten free menu, Il Tuli Panonero. This time she ordered lasagna “sensa glutine” and I ordered pasta with frutti de mare (clams and mussels). When the dishes came, Aitza’s lasagna was regular, while my pasta was gluten free. The waiter took her lasagna away but left mine, so I started eating. About 5 minutes into the meal, the waiter came back with another dish of pasta with mussels, and putting it on the table, took my already eaten dish away. He then proceeded to deliver that to a lady two tables down from us. She looked over at me and I gave her the “Don’t eat that pasta” signal, which consists making the international movement of eating spaghetti while frantically shaking my head and slicing at my throat with my other hand. She got the picture and sent the dish back. Besides this minor issue, and the fact that the waiter kept hitting on me and tweaking my shoulder every time he passed me, the dinner was perfect.

IMG_2920I wasn’t ready to go to bed after dinner, but Brett was the only one still feeling adventurous, so we decided to go clubbing. We wandered across the Tiber river and found a Brazilian bar where we drank beers with some locals. At the next table was a transsexual that looked like a rugby player, about 6’ 4” with a bucket head draped in a bleach blond wig, locked in a loving embrace with a guy that looked like a young Inspector Clouseau. Surreal.

Roman Beerfest

Roman Beerfest

IMG_2927We meandered a bit farther and found Nirvana, a huge building that was once stables and had been turned into a beer garden. There were dozens of microbrews presenting the love of their labors for thousands of happy consumers like us. I was double fisting beers.

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The Big Bambu

The Big Bambu

We thought it couldn’t get any better until we turned a corner and saw a massive bamboo structure that looked like a Tim Burton movie set. Turns out it was not just a sculpture; you could walk up the entire thing. Inside was a labyrinth of paths that lead into dead end lounge areas or split into other side routes, which eventually would take you to the top, about 100 feet high.

Lounge area in the Big Bambu, with my new friend Vincenzo.

Lounge area in the Big Bambu, with my new friend Vincenzo.

Called the Big Bambu, it’s a hands-on art piece made from 8,000 pieces of Balinese bamboo and constructed by 30 rock climbers. Not quite OSHA standard safety measures over here, especially if you consider the gargantuan bird nest was infested with drunks. The good thing, you couldn’t fall more than 5 feet before landing on another platform, though I could envision bouncing like a pachinko ball down to the ground level.

Eventually Brett and I left and found discotheque row on the Via di Monte Testaccio, where clubs were pumping out loud dance music. But the club Brett and I visited was a let down after the Big Bambu, so we vacated and staggered home.

We snuck into the house as quiet as ninjas, despite what Aitza says to the contrary.

Today is our last day in Rome. Then we’re back to the UK to visit with friends, Andy and Trish and fam. See you in London.

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