They say that the Camino provides what you need in a time of need. We found that to be true across Spain and we certainly have found it to be true on this journey. I talked about our times of need while traveling with too much stuff yesterday. June says, and I agree, that I really didn’t say enough about the “angel” that helped us in Torino when we got off the bus and had a block to the train station with all our bags and no cart. Not only did she show us where we needed to go to catch the train, she and her daughter discontinued whatever they were doing and took us on. Carrying bags, translating our needs into Italian and getting the information we needed to continue on our travels and walking us (carrying bags) to the platform to see us off. It was an incredible action on her part toward total strangers and I really do not know what we would have done without her.
Today should have been easy. I was to go to the school to pick up some papers that I needed to add to mine to take to a 2:30 appointment that the school had made for me. The appointment was with an agency that helps foreigners like us apply for our Permesso de Soggiorno per Residenza Elettiva. We have to apply for this within 8 days of arriving in the country. It requires quite a bit of stuff which is why the school refers students to this agency for help. At the school, while meeting a staff person, Hanna (another angel), and getting my papers, we met another student, who will be in my class, and her husband. She is from Quebec and speaks French, English and Italian. The Italian part is because she is married to an Italian from Florence. They live in Canada and haven’t been back to Italy in 9 years. They had alread found an apartment and told us who to contact and about other available apartments they had seen. They were very encouraging. We then parted ways. June and I headed back to the B&B because I had not made copies of some of the documents we submitted to the Italian Consulate in Chicago and now we found out they were needed for our Permesso. I was able to go through my e-mails and print most of the required documents, but some of them were letters I had received and I had no way to recover those.
We went for our appointment to the agency anyway hoping we really didn’t need those particular documents. There we encountered Kathrine and Dave (our “new” friends from Canada). It turns out they had just finished but offered to stay and help us becaue the person at the agency didn’t speak any English. They helped immensly. The agency person told us what we needed to have and told us to get back to her quickly. One of the must have items was an address (with an apartment contract to back it up eventually). Kathrine and Dave had an appointment with their rental agent to finalize their rental agreement so they offered to take us with them to introduce us to him. Our intention was that we would be just making an appointment to meet with the agent. The agent asked us a few questions about what we were interested in, said he only had one that met those requirements and we went to look at it…all with the help of translating from Dave and Katherine. We decided that we did want that apartment and now have an apartment to finalize the Permesso deal. We will have an address to provide in the nick of time. It was happenstance that we met them when we did. It was happenstance that they spoke Italian. It was happenstance that we met them the second time when we needed them again. The “Camino” provided what we needed when we needed it. By the way, it is also happenstance that Katherine trained to be a chef and met her husband David, who is a chef, when she was working in a restaurant in Italy to gain experience. She has since gone back to school to get her bachelors degree in nutrition. But two cooks that just happen to live about a block from us…happenstance? No, it’s a miracle!
After taking care of many, but not all of the details nagging at us (including getting a converter plug so I could contiue using my computer), we relaxed in a cafe downtown with a glass of wine which came with the Italian equivalent of Spanish tapas…some cheese, some bread sticks, some tiny sandwiches one with sliced boiled egg with asparagus puree and the other with some ham and cheese. A great way to end the day. We made an easy pasta dish at home tonight (we have a small kitchen at the B&B) and enjoyed some more regional wine.
It wasn’t a bad day. There was lot of worry and frustration over the paperwork but it looks like it will be resolved. We found a place to live that is right in the middle of downtown and a block from the bus to school. And we met some great friends who were there just when we needed them. We hope we will be spending more relaxing time with them telling stories over the table. And, considering the program I’m in that is almost certain to happen.