There is nothing like looking if you want to find something. ~J.R.R. Tolkien
You probably figured out by my last post that the apartment that my group is in this week is large—five bedrooms and bathrooms. We needed one that large because my friend, Ed is hosting most of his family on this trip. There are eight adults (ranging in age from 30s-80s) and one toddler (17 months). Add me in, and we have a pretty large group.
For the most part, this group is pretty self-sufficient, but I lead them in the right direction and let them have at whatever activity we have planned for the day. Yesterday, they had tickets for the Duomo, and I had arranged to take them to the Galileo Museum (my personal favorite) in the afternoon.
Around noon, Ed, Bernice, and I left the apartment and headed to Mercato Centrale so I could show them how to get there if they wanted to go there later. It’s about a 15-minute walk, and I pointed out other museums they could visit if and when they had the time and desire.
Mercato Centrale is basically a food and foodstuffs market. Mercato San Lorenzo, a place to buy leather goods, scarves, purses, belts, t-shirts, and any trinket you can imagine, surrounds it. The area is typically very crowded, and yesterday was ten times worse than today when I took the photo above.
We were passing one of the gazillion stalls overflowing with purses, backpacks, wallets, and briefcases when I heard Ed say something to Bernice about the cases and the girls. I continued walking, crossed the street, and turned to say something to Ed and Bernice about a less-than-legal vendor before I continued down the row. I came to the entrance for Mercato Centrale, turned right, and climbed the steps.
The door slid open, and I walked inside. I again turned to say something to Ed and Bernice, but only Bernice was behind me.
“Where’s Ed?” I asked casually, and she turned and noticed he was gone, too. I stuck my head in the door to make sure he hadn’t slipped in ahead of us, but he wasn’t there. Bernice and I turned to go back to the outside stalls. “I thought he was behind you,” I said to her. “I heard him say something about those leather briefcases and the girls.”
“He was behind me,” she answered. “Where is he?” I hopped down the steps and ran to the row between the stalls. I looked left. No Ed. I looked right. No Ed. I stood on tiptoes and looked both ways again. No Ed. “Do you see him?” Bernice asked me.
“No,” tried to calmly say to her. “Let me walk up here and look, and you stay here.” I walked up the aisle five or six stall lengths. No Ed. I walked back to Bernice. No Ed. I walked the other way. No Ed. ” I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I was on the edge of panic. I mean, I’d lost a grown man.
I texted, Ed! We lost you! I got no reply. Bernice seemed to be in about the same state I was, and she tried calling and texting. No answer. She said she was going to look for him and that I should stay where I was in case he came back. Bad idea. She walked away, and I lost sight of her.
I’m not sure how much time went by, but all of these thoughts went through my head. Could someone have grabbed him? Did he fall? Will we find him? What am I going to tell Phil (Ed’s son)? And Bernice was gone then. Good grief, I thought. They’re dropping like flies.
My phone boinged with a text, and I gleefully noted it was from Ed. I am at the corner of del Aryan to O in June Vonn Battista is aenone. That made no sense to me, but I texted back, Is Bernice with you? I didn’t receive a return text, and I started to panic a bit again. Holy crap, I thought. I’ve lost both of them now.
Just then, Bernice appeared in the crowd, and I ran to her. “Ed texted me,” I exclaimed, “but I have no idea where he is. There is no such street as Aryan. Autocorrect must have screwed up what he wrote.” I closed the maps on my iPhone and continued, “Let’s walk this way.” As we headed up the row, my phone boinged again. I am at the corner of Del ariento and Giovanni battista zannoni. We were headed in the correct direction.
“Where did you go?” Bernice gasped when we caught up with Ed.
“Where did *you* go?” he asked. “I stopped to look at a lambskin belt, and when I looked up, you both were gone. I figured you kept walking, so I did the same.”
Bernice grabbed Ed, and we walked back to the market. “Tell us if you want to look at something,” she told Ed as we passed another stall of belts. “Don’t get lost again.”
“I wasn’t really lost,” Ed said. “I knew where I was; I just didn’t know where you two were.”
We walked through the market and then headed to the Galileo Museum to meet the others. On the way, we had to cross through the piazza in front of the Duomo, and it was packed. As we wended our way through the throng, Ed stopped a moment.
“Maybe we should buy you one of those flags, Chris,” he laughed.
That’s really not a bad idea.