One thing I find interesting here, and yes, frustrating, is how long it takes to check out after making a shopping purchase.
First, they clean or fold the item, then they wrap it in paper or bubble wrap, then they re-wrap it or bag it. It takes FOR-EVER. Maybe up to ten minutes, no joke. The Visa key fob (fast pay) you use instead of swiping your credit card to pay for things would NOT work here
Now, I appreciate the care they are taking, it's part of the process, a little ceremony or show you get with your purpose.
But, it's 3:15. I have to get back for a lecture on the San Damiano cross at 3:30. If I leave now, I'll get back up the hill just in the nick of time.
So, he starts to bubble wrap the first piece. Taping each corner, slowly and meticulously, but not very effectively. The tape keeps popping up.
He starts to wrap the second piece. He runs out of tape. The lights flicker. He gets more tape, he wraps the second item.
He starts to wrap them in paper. The paper is too small, so he goes for a bigger piece.
BaBOOM. The skies open up, the worst rain since we've been here. I text John, to tell him I'll be late. He only turns his phone on once a day. Oh well.
The lights go out. Great, now I won't be able to use my credit card to pay.
The paper part of the ceremony is done. I point outside to the rain and ask for plastic bags to wrap it in to keep it dry. He searches.
The lights come back on.
He fits the package neatly into the bags and I'm ready to depart.
The rain is not easing up AT ALL. People with umbrellas are standing under arches for cover because the wind is so strong.
I had said to John earlier in the week that it must be cool to watch how the water drains in this city with all the alleys and culverts and winding, sloping streets.
I did not want to find out by having to run up a particularly steep street with no rain gear. It was sunny when I went out.
In any case, I was drenched. My purchase was dry. Sister Annie caught me up on the 15 minutes I missed. I had to change and spent the rest of the lecture coughing and sneezing. Not my finest moment but not the worst thing in the world.
BUT, if the shopkeeper just rang me up quickly and I left promptly like I would in U.S., I would've been back, on time AND dry.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled pilgrimage.