My logistical support team informed me that my paddle should arrive in a couple of days. I decided to wait for it in Naples rather than run back and forth.
I went to the American consulate to pick up my renewed passport. When I gave them my old one they told me the new one should be ready in a couple of weeks.
“What happens if I can’t come right away?” I asked.
They told me I had three months. Three months would expire in two days.
The security at the consulate is tight. First there’s an outer gate. After being let in through the outer gate, there’s a cage. Three sides are high fence and one side a booth. Inside the booth visitors surrender their electronics and weapons for the duration of their visit, then walk through a metal detector. The booth lets you into the parking lot where you can wait for someone to open the door to the building for you.
I got as far as the very first gate before the trouble started. It seemed they did not want to let me in to my home country without shoes. So I waited for a while.
An Italian police officer left the booth and approached the gate.
“What do you want?” He asked.
“I’m here to pick up my passport.”
“One moment please.” He went back to the booth and made a phone call.
An American soldier waited behind me. He was a programmer who had never used a computer before he enlisted. The young guy was enjoying his world tour and was something of an advertisement for the US military which occasionally goes to war. I’m not a big fan of war, but I think we should do it more often.
This week the world remembered the liberation of Auschwitz. It’s largely accepted that America did not join WWII to free the Jews just as they did not invade the south to free the slaves. But with a little encouragement from Japan, they came. Better late than never I guess.
How many people weren’t liberated in Darfur, Rwanda, and Cambodia? Hemingway volunteered to fight in the Spanish civil war, presumably because he believed it was the right thing to do. Nobody does that anymore from the West.
A soldier in a suit stepped out of the gate and scanned the terrain. After a moment he gave a serious nod to the civilian behind him and they left the consulate.
I still waited.
The gate buzzed and I was invited to come wait next to the booth.
“Why don’t you have shoes?” The guard asked me.
I explained about every gram slowing my kayak down and me not wanting anything unnecessary with me. I explained how I think It’s healthier not to wear shoes, so long as you stay clear of broken glass and bloody syringes. And I explained how I do have shoes, only they’re neoprene and uncomfortable for walking around in, though they’re great for kayaking.
“One moment please.”
I think I wasn’t wearing shoes the last time I had been there also, but I wasn’t sure.
The guard handed me a phone and a woman’s voice on the other end asked me “Why aren’t you wearing shoes.”
She wasn’t interested in hearing all of it and thanked me.
I was let in.
“Leave your electronics here, ... if you have any.” The guard smirked. He thought he was funny. I didn’t have any electronics.
But the metal detector beeped. I thought I took everything out of my pockets.
Oh, wait, no. There was a nail clipper in there. How did that get there? My nail clipper was confiscated as a weapon.
They let me in and I got my new passport. The guy who handed it to me enthusiastically asked me “How’s the kayaking trip going?” He remembered me from three months earlier and had a big grin, so I forgave the embassy for it’s pesodic attitude.
I walked back to my hostel and was stopped on the way by two pretty girls. They wanted my blood to save the children. Sure, my blood was good stuff and I was always happy to save the children for pretty girls.
While I was filling out a form the young lady had something profound to say to me.
“You don’t have any shoes.”
“That’s true.” I assured her.
“One moment.” She went into the blood van to speak with a woman in a lab coat.
The lab coat then stepped out of the van explained to me that only people born in Italy could give blood. She apologized.
I moved on.
I suspected pesody. Antisemitics hate semitic peoples, or those of Middle Eastern descent. Racists in general hate one race or another. Arachnophobics are scared of spiders, sexists hate sex, and pesodics hate feet. Pes is latin for foot and odi - hate. Pesodics, like many ignorant and obtuse people fight to keep the world in the dark ages. They try to hold back those of us who want to take a step forward, without shoes.
I asked at the front of a cafe if there was wifi. There was, but I had to order something.
I got a hot chocolate and sat down to work on my blog. It was an expensive hot chocolate, but that was okay since I would be there for a while and had a lot to do.
Well before I was done the waiter told me that I could only sit in the cafe if I had shoes. I wish he told me that before they took my money. I left.
I have some advice for you.
If you find yourself talking to someone without shoes and you can’t help but stare at his big beautiful hairy feet...
“Hello, I’m up here! ... pervert.”
Maybe it’s a sexist thing. Maybe people insist that I cover my feet for the same reason ladies, in many places, are expected to cover there boobs.