Sunday, June 8, 2008

Running in the Rain in Rome, an Alliteration

Good evening, America-

This is Chapman Riedel here, writing from a very wet Rome, Italy. Our day didn't start quite as dreary as it ended. We left the hotel at 9:30 for our short walk to St. Susanna's- the American church here in Rome- where we sang mass and performed a short set of music following the service. The choir was pretty excited to be participating in an english service as lately our very Lutheran choir has been blindly attempting to navigate through Catholic dogma all in Italian. This morning was a nice break from that terror.

When we finished bonding with our new American friends, we headed out into the sprinkling rain- satin robes bundled under our shirts like big bellies- back to the hotel for a few hours off. Most of us ventured out for some lunch and sightseeing. Based on the talk in the hotel lobby, I suspect the McDonalds down the street did a healthy amount of business.

At 3:00 this afternoon, we boarded our busses for a short drive to the Colosseum for a tour that also included the Roman Forum and the so-called "wedding cake"- the monument commemorating the birth of the modern Italian republic. It was an afternoon spent viewing the exact place where Caesar was murdered and burned, where Hitler and Mussolini shook hands at the height of WWII, and where thousands of gladiators and wild animals met their bloody deaths... a lovely afternoon by the by. One special element of note was the earpieces we were each given to help hear the voices of the guides. Nothing like playing spy among the columns of ancient antiquity.

By the time our tours had ended it was feedin' time again. No group dinner was provided this evening, so we split into smaller groups to conquer some sustenance. On the way to a well-earned meal, many of us headed to some famous sights not officially on the choir's docket including the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. By the way, if you're wondering the proper etiquette for throwing a coin into the famed Trevi, you must turn your back to the water and toss the coin from your left hand over your right shoulder while making your wish.

Then came the rain... a large group of us trucked it across town to the Hard Rock Cafe for some much missed American cuisine. After our sub-par meal, we began the long walk back to the Hotel Mediterraneo. We became mildly concerned and quickened our pace when the clouds turned black and the thunder began to rumble. We broke into a brisk trot when the sprinkles began. We flat out ran when the clouds opened up and downpour of epic proportions began to pummel the members of the Augustana Choir. Some of us whipped out rain jackets. Others were swindled into buying over-priced, low-quality umbrellas. Others, like our own Alyssa Nance, proudly marched down the street with no rain gear whatsoever, with mascara running down her face like a girl stood up on prom night. We arrived at the hotel a bit pruney but in very high spirits after our Italian water adventure. After a quick shower and change of clothes, we all came down to the lobby, and are now watching Germany and Poland compete in the European Football (soccer) Championship while blogging with you lovely people.

On a bit more serious note, this may be the last blog for the Italy 2008 tour. We have a farewell concert tomorrow afternoon at St. Maria's followed by a group dinner with alumni before heading the airport in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Tomorrow will be a bittersweet day for all of us, but most especially for we seniors. Tomorrow is our last day as members of the Augustana Choir and students at Augustana College. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we couldn't have asked for a more exciting and inspiring end to our college careers. It has been a great pleasure and immense honor singing in this ensemble for the past years. Not only have we had the opportunity to travel around the country and world bringing a message of peace and love, but we have been given another family of people whom we cherish with all our hearts. We thank Dr. J for his patience, guidance, and encouragement, and we thank our fellow choir members for their enduring friendships. We will miss you terribly, but we will certainly not be strangers in the coming months and years. God be with you 'till we meet again.

Signing off for the Augustana Choir and Italy 2008,
Chapman Riedel '08