People say that “cleanliness is next to godliness”… Well, so is Rome. Leading up to Rome I decided to indulge myself in some dirty math problems. It had been 10 days since I washed my hair and took a “proper shower”, not just water. I hadn’t washed my clothing in 25 days (+3). That is 25 days with 2 pairs on bicycle shorts, one pair of underwear, one pair of short-shorts, 2 t-shirts, 1 towel/t-shirt/tank top, 1 bike jersey, and 2 pairs of socks (though, I had received a pair of socks on Corsica from a kind family that owns a tiny hotel). All of that plus cycling 60 kilometers a day in rain and sun, up and down, with a backpack on. I… Am… The… Dirtiest… I… Have… Ever… Been. Good thing that Rome is all about gods and gods are all about being clean. If my math was right, I would have gotten a shower.
So I thought, until my warmshowers host fell through. My dreams of a warm shower and washing myself were dashed. Instead, I was left to deal with my dirty self underneath the baking Roma sunshine, having to cycle in, around, and back out of the city in one day. However, I have high hopes for a shower coming up, I see some cleanliness in the future for me!
In the meanwhile, considering I am the dirtiest I have ever been, funny things are happening to me. I mean, I haven’t shaved my scrappy chin strap wires off in 2 and a half months. My mustache dangles like rusty worms over my probably dry lips. The combination of everything leads to great interactions with human kind. I say “Ciao” to basically every man, woman, and child I pass. Men respond in kind, but with this whisper of shared grubbiness. As if they know the dirty path I tread. Women usually look me up and down and give a late response with an air of slight disgust. Kids are basically afraid of me, as they always have been, and don’t say anything. The only people who seem to truly understand are the cyclists, whom look at me with eyes full of envy making me feel like I am some deity of cycling.
Those are just the casuals… While eating my accustomed sandwich next to the Colliseum an Asian tourist offered me a cigarette. Then, asked if it was okay to smoke there. I turned down the smoke, because I don’t smoke, and then looked at him with a sort of weird bewilderment. I said probably, and to show my unconcern, I pointed to my bicycle leaning against a barrier not 7 meters from me. Like a rock it hit him in the head. No, he isn’t just some homeless man eating his sandwich in his usual begging spot… He is a touring cyclist… DING! One point!
Yesterday I was sitting in some shade next to the public fountainelle (public drinking fountain) lubing up with sunscreen. This was not in Roma, this occurred in Ronciglione, for your information. A gentleman and his wife strolled past me on the sidewalk. I said ciao and got one in return. They were both past me, when, as the gentlemens kindness kettle began to boil, he turned around. He deftly poked his hand inside his baby blue short shorts pocket and gathered the change that lay there waiting. He approached me and offered what seemed to be around .70 cents… The amount of satisfaction I got from this was nearly overwhelming. I casually denied his act of kindness, motioning to my bicycle to show that I am not “homeless”. That rock fell from the sky and whapped him in the head. With a few more shared words neither of us understood, he was on his way feeling a bit ashamed at his over-boiled kindness and the burns he thought it may have left. Me? I was all smiles because that was hilarious! Needless to say, I look very homeless.
If I can look homeless for the Arthritis Foundation, maybe you can make a kind donation at the link below!
There will be more to come, they just didn’t upload!