Veni, Vidi, Vicci
Veni, Vidi, Vicci
By: Joseph Amande / Qatar
I came. I saw. I conquered. What I saw on my mind was a beautiful place. I came to this place; thus, conquered a seemingly elusive dream.
I SAW the need to Escape with a capital E bowed by the weight of a demanding job, a difficult boss and a suffocating environment. I wish I could teleport to a place where I can breathe that much-needed fresh air, a place where I can lie down and listen to the melody of chirping birds, dancing trees and gushing waves, a place where nobody knows me, where I’m free like a bird and free from all the worries of this cruel world!
Sounds like depression, yes! And when I’m depressed, I have this habit of going over my bucket list. The checked items give me a sense of pride and satisfaction; the unchecked ones, a feeling of motivation. Suddenly, an unchecked item in my bucket list came looming large before me. Alas! Backpacking in Europe. Next thing I know, I was on board KLM flying to Italy.
I CAME to the capital and largest city of Italy, Rome. The very first thing I noticed was the different blow of air: cool, fresh, fragrant. The aroma must be coming from the scented candles in the cathedrals which are consecrated almost on every corner. There, I took a big, deep breath like a yellow light going down my lungs, cleansing my body, absorbing all the toxins. And just when I was about to breathe out to release the toxins, boom!, reality kicks in: where is the hostel? what am I supposed to do next? Immediately, excitement was overthrown by a heightened level of anxiety. But being a sociable, toastmaster I am, I’ve learned to break the ice with every man I meet. “Bonjourno! Where is this hostel?” Of course, carefully evaluating their responses. I could care less about the grammar of Italians, but when there are excessive crutches like uhms, ahs, I might be saying hello to Human Trafficking.
Finally, I arrived at the hostel. Little did I know that the letter “s” in hostel as compared to hotel aptly stands for “surprises”. Who wouldn’t be surprised? People getting naked in front of you like they don’t care and thieves act like welcomed backpackers at night. Scary! Then again, good thing I’m a toastmaster. The table topics sessions prepared me to handle these off-the-cuff situations. So, I shrugged it off and started my trip on the cobblestones of this ancient city.
I can talk hours and hours about my trip in Europe so I brought some memorabilia and associate each place with a thing/word to highlight the most memorable events.
Holy water. To some of you, this is just a simple water in an ordinary bottle. But for me, this holy water blessed by Pope Francis himself on my 29th birthday, boy! it holds an important event in my life. This holy water serves as a reconfirmation of my faith in God. It reminds me of Sistine Chapel and of the painting of Michaelangelo, The Final Judgement, that depicts a common theme regardless of religion — do good and go to Heaven; do bad and it warrants you to Hell.
The birthplace of Rennaissance, of Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, Dante Alegheri and others. Using my sunglasses, I spent my whole afternoon observing the beautiful sunset at the Palazzo Pitti. Sunset means a new day is coming in. It means reborn. Sunset is hope.
And so with my reconfirmed faith in God and renewed hope, I went on to my next stop.
I have never seen a place so romantic as Venice. No wonder why George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin tied the knot in here. Imagine having a sumptuous dinner, an authentic Italian carbonara with a glass of red wine, near the Grand Canal which is illuminated by nothing but a full moon. Although, I did not get into the spirit of romance, the spirit of red wine got me. It got me thinking that life is too short, fall in love and drink away!
I wouldn’t have come to Milan if not for my friends. Milan is the business and fashion capital of Italy. Apart from I don’t have a business to do, I’ve got no money to shop. It was because of my friends who welcomed me in their beautiful abode that I came to this city. And as a souvenir, they bought me a trendy scarf. So perfect for this winter season. In life, friends are like scarves. They protect us and give us warmth.
This is the climax of my trip. The Eiffel Tower is my trophy. It’s a symbol that dreams do come true. Upon seeing it, I can’t help but shed some tears. Up to now, I’m still questioning:
What on earth is this poor boy who comes from a big family in the province of Samar that was severely hit by the super – typhoon Haiyan doing on this side of the world?
Suddenly, the words of Julius Caesar rang a bell: Veni, Vedi, Vicci.
I saw the beauty of my dream – to travel is to live. And I’ve come to this world to follow it no matter what circumstances I’m in. With my reconfirmed faith in God from Rome, renewed hope from Florence, rekindled love for life in Venice, supportive friends & family, I know I can conquer everything and achieve the heights of my Eiffel-like ambition.
P.S. Oops! I forgot to mention Amsterdam. Now, now, don’t judge me, you corrupted mind! 😛[Joseph Amande, an OFW, is a professional choreographer, orator, teacher, blogger and a bonafide member of PINOY SINING (The Filipinos for Arts & Culture)]